Becoming a Fabric Designer

If you love fabrics and think you would be great at designing your own, a career in fabric design may be right for you. Fabric designers must have a creative flare, along with patience, persistence and a knowledge of how fabrics are actually made.  While a degree in this profession is not strictly needed, it is definitely a plus.   Degrees are offered in fiber technology and textile design by several universities across the nation, including Purdue, Cornell, and Parsons The New School for Design.

An assortment of drapery fabrics. OFS carries over 14,000 drapery fabrics.

The Textile Society of America lists many schools offering programs in fiber and textiles.  Some of these programs are at  schools which offer only design majors, while others are at universities offering a wide range of majors.  Schools which offer only design programs sometimes do not offer a business component as a part of their majors, while schools which offer a variety of academic majors generally offer textile majors an opportunity to learn the merchandising part of the  industry.  Before deciding on any school (for any major, design related or not) be sure to check out its accreditation and reputation.  Of course, even if school as great accreditation and a perfect reputation, you will want look over the curriculum and see exactly what you will be taught. You don’t want to wind up in a program where the emphasis is on business if you want to concentrate on the creative side or in a program where the emphasis is on creating, when you are more interested in merchandising.


Beautiful upholstery fabric, featuring Swavelle Full Bloom Spice.

The Textile Society offers scholarships for students seeking a career in textiles.  A degree in graphic arts/design can also lead to a career in fabric design.

Fabric designers can work for prestigious companies such as Covington, Robert Allen, Waverly, and Premier. Designers of  fabric at large textile manufacturers work as a part of a team and generally don’t become famous like so many fashion designers have; however, some fabric designers, such as Amy Butler, have made a distinct name for themselves apart from a company brand.