Q&A with patternmaker Katy Patzel

One of our favorite parts of our master classes and intensives is connecting our students with instructors who are industry experts.

Katy Patzel, an NYC-based patternmaker, is teaching our upcoming Draft a Sleeve for Any Bodice Master Class on May 22 and our Flat Patternmaking Intensive this June 16–17. We are so excited for our students to learn the basics of patternmaking from her while she is here!

Recently we chatted with Katy about her background in patternmaking. Read below for our interview with Katy, and see her most recent work on Instagram!


After working around the world in biomedical laboratories with a doctorate in biochemistry, Katy Patzel decided to develop her interests in patternmaking, fit, and construction by pursuing a second career in the fashion industry. She then completed the Fashion Design program at Parsons School of Design, and has interned at various designer and luxury brands before joining Shilo Byrd Studio as Assistant Patternmaker.

WS: What was your background and what inspired you to learn patternmaking?
Katy: Patternmaking is actually my second career. Before studying fashion design at Parsons I worked in biomedical research studying rare human genetic disorders. After a day in the lab I’d unwind at home with sewing. Making garments for your own wardrobe forces you to consider fit and proportion so alterations and pattern manipulations were a natural development in my hobby. My interest sort of took off from there.

WS: Tell us about Shilo Byrd Studio. What did you do there?
Katy: I was assistant patternmaker at SBS. We used the flat pattern method to create woven and cut-and-sew knit patterns for men’s and women’s ready-to-wear. It was an excited environment to work in because we had a range of clients from established brands to emerging designers. Everyday was something completely new. I’ve patterned evening gowns, t-shirts, and zero waste raincoats.

WS: What’s your favorite part about patternmaking?
Katy: Fit

WS: What’s the most difficult part about patternmaking?
Katy: Fit 😉

WS: What is your advice for hobby/craft sewers interested in drafting their own patterns?
Katy: I think alterations and pattern hacks are a great way to start patternmaking. It’s like bite size patternmaking. Choose a sewing pattern you 90% love or better yet a tried and true pattern from your stash and add a ruffle or a button placket. This way you can practice one principle at a time such as slash and spread. I got hooked on patternmaking in this way and this approach was the inspiration for my master class. Statement sleeves are a major trend in fashion and a great way to make an old style new.

WS: What sewing projects are you currently working on for fun?
Katy: I’m working on a button front pencil skirt that I lovingly refer to as fan fiction because it is heavily inspired by a style from one of my favorite brands, “Walk of Shame Moscow”.

WS: What’s next for you?
Katy: Unfortunately Shilo Byrd Studio closed in March (small businesses are hard) so I’m interviewing for new RTW patternmaking positions in New York. The transition has given me extra time to pattern and sew my sister’s wedding dress so there’s your silver lining.

Thank you so much Katy!