Norris's first credit as costume designer was for The Late Liz (1971). She went on to design costumes for several iconic films of the 1970s and 80s, including Capricorn One (1977), Days of Heaven (1978), Victor Victoria (1982) and Scarface (1983).
In 1980, she designed the costumes for The Elephant Man, the first of many collaborations with director David Lynch. For her next project with Lynch, Blue Velvet, she received her first credit as production designer, taking responsibility for the entirety of the film's decor, not just the costumes. Norris continued to work on all of Lynch's films, up to The Straight Story (1999).
In recent years, Norris has collaborated with Plan B Entertainment on The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007), Killing Them Softly (2012), and 12 Years a Slave (2013).
Norris has been nominated five times for the Academy Award for Costume Design, for Days of Heaven, The Elephant Man, Victor Victoria, 2010, and Sunset. She won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Costume Design for a Series for the pilot episode of Twin Peaks.
- "Production Designer/Costume Designer Patricia Norris to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award From Art Directors Guild". Weissman/Markovitz Communications. Marketwired. November 22, 2010. Retrieved November 3, 2013.