What I Learnt From an Armani Jacket

Posted by on Jul 11, 2013 in Uncategorized | 2 comments

I am not sure if many of you know but I am a Saturday 7am Lycra clad, Beach Rd cyclist. I love it because it de-stresses me and I also get the chance to ride down the Paris end of Collins St while everyone sleeps.It almost feels like I am playing Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (although slightly healthier and at a much faster pace). Every time I ride past Armani I am reminded at of the day my passion for pattern making was ignited. Many years ago when I was fresh out of fashion school, I attended an industry event. I can’t remember what it was about but my guess it was about quality and fit of fashion. One of the attendants brought along an Armani jacket and I was privileged to try it on. I am not sure how many of you have had such an experience but to me it was truly life changing. 18 years after this event, I can still remember the feeling of the neckline hugging my neck, the balance of the jacket which gave me the confidence I would never have to readjust it whilst wearing. The natural swing of the slim sleeve which still allowed for movement and the fit of the body which hugged in the right places and skimmed over the flaws. I have to say that this was the pivotal moment that set about a chain of events, long hours in the workroom, hundreds of hours observing the human figure and the way clothes fit on people and what pattern solution could flatter the body in order to aim for near perfection in pattern making. The skill and knowledge of the pattern maker as much as the designer were evident in this Armani jacket.Someone asked me the other day ‘what is this ‘fit’ thing you always talk about’. To answer this question I must know about the quality of clothes you wear. The art of fitting has been lost on some labels and the customer does nto know the difference…until the day they try on a label that does care, then the customer will never turn back and will be a loyal customer forever. I am often asked for a set of blocks for a company to use as ‘the block seems to be having an effect on the end pattern’. Or they ask for hints on the top 10 fit issues of a shirt pattern so they can communicate these to their factory. I am sorry to tell you, in pattern making there is no magic formula. 1 + 1 does not always = 2. A block does not make a garment any more than a pattern makers skills are improved with a good block. If someone cannot see how to fit a block then I am sorry to say there is not much hope in...

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You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear

Posted by on Jun 23, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

This week we met with a lovely lady, Jessica who is a fabric agent for a range or amazing men’s suiting fabrics. These fabrics are some of the finest in the world famed for dressing the likes of Prince Charles. As a long time fabric collector just touching these supper fine wool and silk/linen fabrics made my go all gooey inside. At $300 a meter it is not something I am likely to work with on a regular basis.Jessica had contacted Sample Room (www.sampleroom.com.au) to have some items made for her to wear to show customers how these fabrics can not only be used in $4000 suits, but also in women’s wear. We are using patterns from the Pattern Room (www.patternroom.com.au). These patterns have been perfected over a number of fitting session with professional house models and re-sampled till they are perfect, so they are ready for immediate use. Perfect for the styles Jessica needs.Jessica is new to the rag trade and whilst she can obviously see the quality and value in such fabrics and is passionate about selling them, choosing styles to create for herself was a little harder than she originally thought. We had discussed the style she was looking for and the conversation quickly turned to what fabrics were appropriate for what styles.I have been sewing since I was 10yrs old and have been pattern making for 20yrs so I often forget the knowledge built up of many years of experimenting with fabrics as well as fit. Many mistakes have been made in the pursuit to understand what I now know.We have been working in the background on a range of men’s patterns for Pattern Room. It has become very obvious (and we have a little sarcastic chuckle at times) that men’s wear is designed for comfort and women’s wear is designed for looks. When we fit a women’s pattern we require a smooth fabric surface everywhere (armholes, crotch, back) when they are standing straight with their arms relaxed at their side. For men it is the opposite. Men’s pattern making and fitting requires that they can sit with their legs spread and their arms out at an almost 90 angle and there is no restriction in movement. To fit a men’s garment like a women’s garment will result in a very feminine look.The fabrics that Jessica had bought to us whilst beautiful are designed for this relaxed styling. She had garments made previously where this had not been taken into consideration so inner leg seams had split as well as upper arms. The styling of the garments was quite fitted, as women’s wear often is, which did not suit the fabric. Women’s wear has benefitted greatly from the introduction of Lycra so we are able to slim down sleeves and created fitted pants whilst not compromising the look and durability of the garment. Looser styling must...

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Offshore V’s Onshore Production- The Pros and Cons

Posted by on Jun 17, 2013 in Uncategorized | 2 comments

Of all the enquiries we receive at Sample Room the most heartbreaking involve offshore production. Whether it is the money lost, the time lost or the frustration. On the flip side we love creating a smoother development process that involves offshore production BUT with pattern and sample development locally so you can ensure the right product is made the first time, saving time, money and frustration. The choice between offshore and onshore manufacturing is not a clear one to make when you are starting your label. You may have heard of cheap prices etc. To make a clear decision it is important to know the pros and cons for both. A bit of background information including a few examples of how other people work as well as some examples of where it can go wrong and you can make a more informed choice.I have worked with both, local manufacturing and offshore in China, Fiji and India.The first thing you need to be clear about is quantity.Offshore manufacturing is generally about large qty production. This is one way they are able to offer lower prices (we will talk about this further later)I have heard of manufacturers who are happy to make small qty but their prices are high and normally somewhere along the production schedule you become less of a priority when someone come in with a larger order.Local manufacturing is more accommodating to smaller qty. You can find manufactures who are happy to make qty of 100 per style, 50 per style, even 20 per style. This can be over a few colours.Overseas if you are looking to these small qty they will be made in a sampling room where you are competing with space from large qty production who are using the sampling room for samples. They will take priority. Generally overseas manufacturers would like 1000 per style (can be approx. 3-4 colours)Price-Yes is seems the price from an offshore factory is lower than local manufacturing. It is important to factor in a number of extra costs. Freight, import duty, Hiring a QC person to check the quality, you also really need to make a visit to the factory to check your production to make sure it is what you want. Even the price of couriers between overseas factories for samples, and trims for approval can add up (this can be $100 each way). Not to mention if you need to airfreight to reach a tight delivery which can add $7 to the price of a garment. I think offshore manufacturing works is you are making 20 different styles and 1000 pcs and you are traveling back from an overseas buying trip via your overseas manufacturer. On top of these hidden costs there is also an issue with faulty goods. You will normally have to pay for the full production run before it is shipped and if you find...

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Pre-production samples- your last line of defence!

Posted by on Jun 10, 2013 in Uncategorized | 1 comment

Why sample? Hi all! We thought we’d make the subject of today’s post, the pre-production sample. That’s a sample made after you’ve got your fabrics and trims, just before you go to production. We work together with you and your choice of manufacturer to get a garment that will work perfectly on the production line. Some designers think that making a pre-production sample is a waste of time, and a spec sheet should be enough. But to us this sample is the key to a great result – and a safeguard against disaster. Here’s why. Fabrics change. When you order sampling lengths of fabric from your fabric supplier, they come off a small run of development fabrics. Once bulk is ordered it is added to a large quantity of other orders and then thousands of meters are produced. There is no guarantee that the bulk fabric is produced in the same way as the sampling. It could be wound tighter, which would result in more shrinkage than the sampling fabric. Or it may stretch more. Colours may be different, as dye lots are notoriously difficult to match exactly. More than one designer has been horrified to find that the fabric they’ve bought looks or reacts so differently that the garment no longer works. Sample again, be sure, make changes, and you won’t be lumped with a full run of unsellable garments.Trims change The trims used on your first sample will almost definitely be different to the trims used in production. The elastic may have been bought locally, whereas you production elastic was bought bulk. The stretch and return of this elastic may be different. You will need to see if they react and give you the same result at the end.All machinists sew in a different way We have seen as many versions of a welt pocket as we have known machinists. All achieve the same result, but it depends on the method they learnt at the factory they worked at. Some like welt pockets sewn as one piece for 2 welts, some like 2 x 7cm pieces, some like 2x narrow pieces to fit exactly. No one is incorrect.Machinists require different indications Some machinists like .5 clearance from the end of the drill hole, some like .7cm. It is at the pre-production stage that the factory sample machinist is able to work this out and change the pattern accordingly. Sure, you could tell them to just suck it up and do it your way – but wouldn’t you be happier knowing that the machinist was doing her best work? Making a pre-production sample makes sense – it’s your final bit of insurance. Make one every time you order fabric for a new run.If you have any questions or would like to know more about the process from design to production, please let us know in the comments area...

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Orientation of a Design

Posted by on Apr 16, 2013 in Uncategorized | 7 comments

  Every customer who comes to our business to create a pattern, a sample or a specification has a different end goal in mind. The design brief process helps us understand what that goal is for you.Whether you run a boutique design house, or a large company producing sportswear for major retail stores, particular areas of the design process will be important to you so we use the design brief to save you time, heartache and money.What to bring: When you meet us for the first time, bring a sketch, maybe some measurements, maybe a garment and sometimes a pattern to work from. We’ll use the meeting to talk about these, and discover which of these is the most important to you, and how they fit together. We’ll ask questions such as:Do you need the end garment to look EXACTLY like the photo or sketch you first bought in?Do you need the end garment to fit the same way as the pattern you have bought in?Do you need the measurements to be as close as possible to those you bring?Do you need the end garment to look and fit EXACTLY like the original garment you bought in?Most likely, the measurements won’t give the look of the sketch, the design won’t match the measurements, the pattern may not reflect the design, or the garment may be a very bad fit (in our eyes). To save your time and money we need to know how much leeway we have to create the end result you need.This might be sounding odd to you: you may have heard other pattern makers and designers talking about a ‘spec sheet’ that does a lot of the talking. That’s another way of working, which we don’t prefer.Design oriented pattern starts with a sketch and a chat: we create the pattern, make a garment, try it on a fit model – maybe we go back and forth a few times to perfect the fit – and only when the fit, look and feel are perfect do we make the spec sheet. A spec oriented design follows a different path – the pattern is created using pattern making knowledge but using spec measurements.  It is very hard to solve fit issues and design issues with this method.We don’t like starting with a spec sheet because unless you’re running a huge fashion house with a precisely defined spec list, you’re not getting the full range of service from your pattern maker. We believe that if you are going to spend the money to use a local pattern maker, you should get your money’s worth and use the design knowledge we can bring to your design!  A good pattern maker has a very strong sense of design, they should know how low and wide a neckline should sit or a hem line should be. These are the design elements we work...

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What is your target market?

Posted by on Mar 13, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

When you start working with a pattern maker, you’ll need to be really clear about your target market. It’s helpful to do some thinking about this before your first meeting.Finding and defining your target market is very important, for a lot of reasons.First of all, you need to know there IS a market for your product. You can use the Bureau of Statistics and other resources to look up how many people fit your product. You may find, for example, that your dream product would appeal only to a tiny number of people – better to know that before you invest all that time and money! Or you may find that the market is not saturated and that all the elements of your label fit that market: style, fabric, price, product, and placement.Second, when your design ideas dry up (they always do, at really inconvenient times!) knowing your customer also makes it easier to put together your next range or make any decisions on your style.Third, your description will help you design each season and keep to your customer’s expectations. You will be building a loyal customer base and they will want to come back season after season and buy from you knowing that you are still designing for them.And fourth, it makes talking to your pattern maker so much easier!When we brief our team on a new designer, we will discuss things like: ·       Where does the customer live? ·       What would she wear to work? To a wedding? ·       How old is she? ·       What body type has she got? (For example – is she a sporty 15 year old, an ambitious career woman of 30, or an older mum of five grown kids?) These ladies will (probably!) want to wear different things and have them cut differently. They might shop in different stores, too.Why do we do this? We are creating a picture of the client so if we need to make any design or fit decisions we can do easily, with a clear idea of who will be wearing the clothes. For example, necklines are different for every demographic.A customer such as an up market, mature ladies brand would be described as follows: ·       Middle age- 45-60 ·       Lives south of the river (in Melbourne) ·       Well to do, likes to wear classic styling and look polished ·       Would more likely wear a floral sun dress to a BBQ than a pair of jeans.  She’d want that sun dress cut no higher than just above the knee ·       If she did wear jeans it would be with a loafer and pearl necklace ·       She is mature in her figure, slightly rounded back, wants to hide the arms at armhole ·       Prefers her necklines not too low, but flattering. It’s important to understand that we’re taking a broad, average view. Nobody ever fits these descriptions perfectly,...

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