It has again been so long since my last blog, sorry. As a perfectionist I am waiting for the right thing to write instead of the latest question I have been asked. As always these blogs are developed as little messages to you, based on what we have seen in our work room and what we have explained to our customers to make their life easier and help them understand a small sections of the technical side of the industry.
Specifications are a mystery to many and through the development of the fashion industry over the last 10 years, they have lost their way a little. Originally a specification was created after the pattern was made to assist the manufacturer and ensure that any noticeable shrinkage or discrepancies in the pattern making process where caught through the aid of measurements.
With the change in processes 10 years ago, and more people moving offshore for their development and manufacturing, the process and reasoning behind a specification got a little bit lost.
The change meant specifications were created by measuring garments and guessing numbers. The idea being that a pattern could be created from these measurements and then through fitting, the correct sample would develop.
From the pattern makers' perspective it is important to note that a range of numbers do not make a pattern any more than a dot to dot makes the image of a kangaroo.
I have seen very few specifications created in a way that a pattern maker can correctly interpret.
In light of this we have found that when designers who traditionally work with overseas manufacturers move to local pattern makers they still feel the need for specifications.
The general process plays out like this:
A garment is brought in to the meeting and discussed, including what changes are needed and what the desired result of the design is.
A specification is presented.
What then happens from a pattern maker's perspective is a pattern is made and then just as much time is taken to try to fit back to the specifications that often goes against what was discussed and against the desired result.
I will then ring the designer and ask permission to use the garment that we have and my pattern knowledge to create the desired look and then create specifications after approval of the sample.
I understand that many of the designers we work with have never worked in an industry where you have direct and easy contact with technicians to discuss their needs. I also understand the need for some sort of control to keep the range consistent and for the buyers of their product to understand how they came to this desired result based on past sales and company design culture.
However, I feel it is important to discuss that if you invest in a local pattern maker and expect superior quality patterns, understanding the process of pattern making and specification is essential so you don't waste time in developing specifications yourself that won't be needed, and so you know what information to give to a pattern maker that is critical for the outcome.
So here are my five tips:
1) Find an inspiration image or three so it's easier to discuss what elements of each garment you like, and pulling together to the desired look.
2) Give critical measurements such as high point shoulder (HPS) to length and across bust and maybe across hem so we have an understanding of the proportions that you are looking for and we can design the pattern around these.
3) Allow the pattern maker to use their knowledge and help establish the fit for your brand.
4) Fit the garment with the pattern maker and make any changes that can easily be discussed face-to-face to bring your vision to life.
5) Create a specification based on the correct pattern, graded for your manufacturer to check your production and ensure that any shrinkage is accounted for to bring it back to the original fit.
With computer pattern making this is much easier than it sounds.
There are ways of setting up specifications on patterns so if anything changes we can easily convert the new measurements to a specification. If you are looking for a block to work from to communicate your design more easily, then the new Pattern Room website will definitely excite you and give you a lot more scope in your design.
More details on the new and improved Pattern Room website will be coming soon.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.