Comments on: Why larger sizes cost more or Size is nothing but a number How to start a clothing line or run the one you have, better. Mon, 15 Sep 2014 15:22:01 +0000 hourly 1 By: Kathleen Fasanella Tue, 25 Jun 2013 00:08:19 +0000 I think that by depicting a marker, it made this too literal as opposed to conceptual. [In my defense, I used a marker since people thought fabric was the only hang up -altho it is a big caveat.] Consider garment complexity; if there are few style lines, just a flat body (consider a tee), there aren’t any smaller pieces you can stick in with the larger sizes if you don’t have the aforementioned 0’s and 2’s to fill in with the size 18’s and 20’s.

But that is a distraction, it is closer to a concept. Once you consider cutting, bundling, handling, thread, pressing, finishing etc, the larger sizes cost more. Sure they use the same tags but they take longer zips and more buttons.

For example, let’s say a medium costs $10.
A small would cost $9, extra small would be $8, a large would be $11 and the xl would be $12.
All of these average out to a cost of $10 -the base size which is what you’re using for costing.

If you were to add a range of still larger sizes but no smaller sizes, the average garment cost wouldn’t be $10, it would be higher. Theoretically, the costs would be an average of $11.
XS-$8, S-$9, M-$10, L-$11, XL-$12, XXL-$13, XXXL-$14
However, the real cost would actually be higher because there wouldn’t be XXS or XXXS to pair with the XXL/XXXL so the larger sizes might actually cost double ($20 ea), raising the average price of the style by 30%.

By: Judy Mon, 24 Jun 2013 21:25:18 +0000 Kathleen, I’ve been thinking about this for a bit – can’t you do a ‘mixed’ layout/marker? by that I mean – in your second diagram, with the ‘white space’ – you can put some of the smaller sizes pieces to fit in the area and use the fabric, (or even some patters of the larger sizes that may fit.) I know this gets confusing when you start cutting and you have some small sizes then cut X-L sizes etc, but it does make better use of the fabric. Perhaps what I’m cutting is on the smaller scale so I am able to keep track of the different sizes. It can be hard to plan the layout this way as I don’t have a computer program to do a marker – just cardboard patterns that I shift around to see how it works.

By: Kathleen Fasanella Mon, 24 Jun 2013 21:10:46 +0000 Quin: I’m not sure I understand this:

and then widening the width for larger sizes

Are you saying that you think manufacturers are buying wider goods for the plus size sets? While I can’t say it is false for all manufacturers, I would think it would be false for 95% of them.

I also don’t understand this:

realizing that factories aren’t going to be laying out fabric on the generously wide floor

It is true we don’t lay out on the floor but we do lay out fabric on generously wide tables. Mine are 72″ wide. The most common table width is 60″ to 66″ wide. Mine are too wide, it was a take it or leave it auction deal.

Ever wider goods won’t keep costs down, it will increase them in direct and indirect ways.

Direct cost: The mill arrives at the unit cost of fabric per yard based on width. For example, one can buy a 45″ fabric for $5 p/y but the identical fabric in 60″ widths would be $6.50. Since it is common to already use 55″-60″ goods, wider fabrics would be on the order of 72″ (usually). I personally don’t know someone who can cut fabric that wide. Their tables would have to be 78″ wide to handle 72″ goods (table widths increase in 6″ increments and the table has to be wider than the fabric).

Indirect cost increases related to wider fabric is infrastructure. If everyone had to start using wider fabrics, we’d need wider tables (each 4 ft length is $450), wider spreaders ($500-$500,000) and would require the cutting area (and possibly the plant) to be reorganized. Many shops are so cramped as it is that even if they had the money to buy new tables, spreaders etc, they would have to move into a new facility. Even if they didn’t move, there is significant downtime to reconfigure the plant to adjust to wider fabrics.

Last of all… no one thinks about this (much to my dismay, hence my continual reiteration)… but how are we going to cut these extra wide lays? People’s arms are only so long. If the lays are so wide that it is difficult to move a knife into the lay, it is only logical that style complexity will remain stagnant as cutting difficulty can’t be resolved. And if one were fortunate enough to find people who were 7 feet tall to cut fabric (only they have arms long enough) the tables would be too short for them so they’d have back pain.

And sure, one could say the manufacturer should use automated CAM cutting to eliminate those problems but now the barre is very high -cost wise- with a lot of risk. Considering the risk, the manufacturer is going to stick with best bets of the market (what many might consider pablum) and of course, fabric selection in wider goods is extremely limited.

In sum, I don’t see how a manufacturer can easily and with commensurate risk, resolve the problem of cutting plus size clothing by using wider fabrics. Either way you slice it, with direct or indirect costs, the cost of goods increases.

By: Quincunx Mon, 24 Jun 2013 18:54:42 +0000 It bent my brain to realize that manufacturers’ fabric usage and costs are calculated by the length of fabric (ideally) remaining the same to keep the price the same, and then widening the width for larger sizes. That’s exactly the opposite of the average home sewist’s thinking, as we are buying fabric and laying out on the lengthwise grain and not much caring that we have to spend more per larger size layout. Thinking about it like that, and realizing that factories aren’t going to be laying out fabric on the generously wide floor like those of us at home, was illuminating.

Incidentally, if ever-wider width of goods helps keep the costs down, no wonder some plus size fashions look like they were made out of sheets and home dec fabric. Those kinds already ARE much wider than what we’re used to working with.

By: Penny Thu, 10 Jan 2013 07:23:53 +0000 If fabric came in widths wider than 60″ a lot of the problems would be solved. I can’t tell you how much fabric I could save if I had just 4 more inches of width to work with. Size matters.

By: Judy Gross Sun, 06 Jan 2013 15:16:40 +0000 I just saw this post and find it interesting (as with this entire blog). I will soon be making a unisex hiking kilt. The size range will go from womens xs to mens xl, I don’t have a marker for it yet as the designer is still tweaking the pattern, but it will be interesting to see how it all works out. The womens medium will be a mans small, the mens medium will a womens large etc. I may be able to get a good/ even spread -

By: Poll: What is your base size? Wed, 17 Oct 2012 21:54:55 +0000 [...] puzzled and surprised when I mentioned that many designers these days are not using a size 8 or 10 (tsk tsk) as the basis for their pattern and style development. I told her that instead of using the [...]

By: Adrienne Myers Sun, 06 Nov 2011 19:20:41 +0000 It’s difficult to take a complicated subject and reduce it to simple terms. The subtleties of it matter. The starting point of costing should be a pretty high priority for manufacturers, but consumers concern is more with the styles available to them and their cost on their end. They are necessarily at odds for goals, and too far apart from one another in literal needs will lead to the companies dissolution. Not that I think there are a great deal of good choices for plus size as it is (I’m an 18- 20), but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

By: Russell Sat, 05 Nov 2011 03:28:14 +0000 As a fashion designer and now a technical designer that has worked with factories all over the world for the last 35 years, you should also note that in time studies it takes longer to sew, press and finish larger sizes. Plus there is more thread used in these larger sizes, not to mention the extra yardage for interlinings, fusibles and additional trimmings. Every little piece in the making of every garment is added up when you sit down with the costing engineers. It is fascinating to watch them work up the price. We sometimes only think of the additional cost of fabric and not the other items and labor that go into making a garment.

It is a slow process to get companies to buy additional larger sizes. However, as more research is done in consumer studies and marketing, many companies are adding additional larger sizes to their size ratio in their buys. The average size consumer now in the USA is a 14/16 depending on the brand. But, the interesting fact is that in all of the companies I have worked for (many major main stream brands) the sampling and fitting is done on a size small. Of course today’s size small is what back in the 70’s was a size medium–but that is another topic of discussion.

By: Carrie Sat, 05 Nov 2011 02:40:54 +0000 This is so interesting to read right now. . . I literally have pattern pieces lying all around and a spreadsheet with widths and grade rules to see what sizes get us into trouble. Because we’re doing made-to-order, our sizing/cost problem is slightly different. I’ll try to explain (with apologies off the bat that I don’t have Kathleen’s gift for clear articulation!): there are many pieces in our patterns that nest side-by-side quite well. However, at some size, these pieces no longer nest side-by-side and must be laid end-to-end. As some of these pieces are quite long, having to lay a piece end-to-end means adding something on the order of another yard of silk per garment (ouch).

Aside from the cost implications, we found that some pieces were so wide (those that included trains on dresses) that it would be impossible to grade up normally beyond a given size. One thing we’re considering on those is “tweaking” the grading a bit so that the pattern doesn’t increase evenly in width beyond our size 12 (this would yield a slightly shorter, less full train for each size above our 12, but would at least allow us to offer the larger sizes). Other than that the options are to not offer the larger sizes or change the pattern for all the sizes (which would then mean a less attractive product- in my opinion- and a higher cost for everyone due to the increase in sewing).

I never considered any of these factors before. . . it would be very interesting if this kind of thing were better explained to consumers (and naive DEs!).