7 tips to better photos for fittings

By Kathleen Fasanella on Aug 12, 2014 at 5:47 pm

1 nice_but_useless_ftting_photoWhen communicating desired fitting or design changes to a pattern maker -or even to use as a record of your progress- it is critical to take useful photographs. Taking the time to take good photographs can reduce your costs and your provider’s frustration. If a fitting problem cannot be analyzed from a photo, it is not likely to be corrected quickly and will end up costing you more money and time. Toward that end, here are guidelines to taking photos for fitting that are sure to please everyone.

Setting up the fitting photo shoot doesn’t require professional photographers and you don’t need an expensive camera -as long as you have a steady hand and a cell phone that takes pictures. You will also need lighting that is bright enough to eliminate shadows. The photos I’m using as examples were taken with an older iPhone and the less than optimal shop lighting here, but even so, these photos are (tragically) 99% better than many of the photos I get from customers. Two other things to keep in mind are your model and to minimize distracting backgrounds. You wouldn’t realize it but I’ve had backgrounds that were so noisy that I couldn’t see clear outlines of the garment.

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Why you shouldn’t hire a tailor to make your first designs

By Kathleen Fasanella on Aug 6, 2014 at 5:34 pm

female_machinist-ovalMany start ups try to get a jump on getting to a finished product by hiring a tailor or “couture” seamstress to make their first prototypes. While this can be a great solution for a designer who cannot visualize the finished product without a physical sample of their idea, it’s a problem because neither the pattern or sample can be used in manufacturing. Just so we’re clear about this, the reasons you can’t use these samples and patterns is not because the tailor or “couture” seamstress are incompetent (often quite the opposite) nor that a patternmaker or grader is penalizing you for not having come to them first. The problem is not the tailor, seamstress, patternmaker or grader; it is a conflict between how each party arrives at a finalized prototype and how this process dovetails (or fails to dovetail) with manufacturing.

Yes, tailors and patternmakers render samples and patterns using an iterative process -but how they get there and how it impacts manufacturing, is another story.

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What is cuttable width?

By Kathleen Fasanella on Jun 12, 2014 at 5:24 pm

What is cuttable width and why does it matter?

1. Cuttable width is the measurement of fabric from side to side, less the selvedge. Usually.

2. It matters because the marker must be made to use only the inside area of the fabric.


An example is the brocade above. It has a clearly defined woven edge. The cuttable width is the width of the fabric, less the woven edge.

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Meet up at TexProcess

By Kathleen Fasanella on May 13, 2014 at 7:07 pm

Howdy all. Just a quick message to remind those attending the show here in Atlanta, to meet up with us. If you’re interested of course.

Midday meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) to eat lunch is at noon, meet at the food kiosks at the back of the exhibition hall. We are the friendly folks with little stars on our badges.

End of day, we’re meeting at the top of the escalators at 5:00 PM and will go someplace for dinner, TBA. Tonight we went to Truva, there were 20+ of us there. Join us tomorrow, we’ll be delighted to meet you, no need to be shy.

Worst case, call my cell, 575-635-8131.

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Top 10 technical fabric innovations

By Kathleen Fasanella on Mar 25, 2014 at 5:18 pm

mushroom_materialsCourtesy of FabricLink comes word of their annual pick of top textile innovations for 2013-2014. Sure, we’ve all heard of textile prototypes in a lab but all too frequently, the fabrics never get out of beta. All of these have and are ready for sale. Here are the ones that I’ve been keeping an eye on:

From dirt to shirt, CRAiLAR® is a linen fabric that requires less water and chemicals in at least two ways. First it uses less pesticides and fertilizers in growing, and second, the fibers are processed into thread with a proprietary enzymatic process. Moreover, it is virtually indistinguishable from cotton (yay, less ironing!). “The fiber is strong, dries quickly, wicks moisture and is shrink resistant.”

The EQ-Top Seismic Wallpaper caught my eye because I wondered, idly, if it could be used to make corsets. That’s me, always wanting to repurpose materials however possible. Seriously, it’s a fiber product designed to stabilize walls during earthquakes -see what I mean about industrial grade shapewear? Okay, I don’t expect this material will have much appeal for this crowd but isn’t it cool?

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Meet up at TexProcess 2014

By Kathleen Fasanella on Mar 12, 2014 at 2:15 pm

texprocess2014As we do every two years, visitors and members of the Fashion-Incubator forum are meeting at the TexProcess trade show in Atlanta GA, USA. The trade show takes place at the Georgia World Congress Center, and features the latest and greatest machines, tools and technologies in the apparel industry. It will be held May 13-15, 2014. Previously, the show was free but the brochure says it costs $25 with advance registration and $50 at the door. No matter, it is a small price to pay and well worth the cost of admittance.

If you are interested in meeting with others from Fashion-Incubator who will be attending the show, fill out this form to be notified of activities and plans. If you’re a forum member, you can also post to the forum thread for this event. The latter could be helpful if you want to share a hotel room or arrange transportation.

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Bewildered by sewing factory services?

By Kathleen Fasanella on Mar 11, 2014 at 4:01 pm

In Bewildered by pattern services?, I explained how the industry has traditionally used pattern services, and how technology and trends have created sourcing difficulties for new entrants today. Much of the same applies to sewing contract services too and I’ll explain that now.  As an aside: a re-read of this topic before publishing dictates you must understand what “manufacturer” means or none of this is going to make sense. For the record, the party (usually you, AKA the DE or designer entrepreneur) who is responsible for creation of the product, is the manufacturer. Manufacturer and contractor are not interchangeable terms anymore than cyst and tumor are mix and match (more). Moving on…

In the olden days, most manufacturers did all of their own sewing under their own roofs. We did have sewing contractors too but their role was nothing like what it is today. The function of a sewing contractor was to handle the overflow from established manufacturers during peak times of production. Using contractors was the only way that manufacturers could avoid hiring people for the busy season, only to lay them off once production leveled off.

During the post war boom of 1950’s, land values increased and since cutting takes up so much square footage (100 foot long tables were and are, not unheard of), cutting services were the first spin off. This was most common in New York City; manufacturers there, moved cutting operations into New Jersey. Later on, these facilities became stand alone operations that did cutting for a variety of producers. The fabric was sent to NJ and then the cut pieces were trucked back to the city for sewing.

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Bewildered by pattern services?

By Kathleen Fasanella on Feb 7, 2014 at 6:08 pm

confused_fi_jpgAre you bewildered by pattern services? Have you been frustrated and wondered:

  • Why can you only find pattern makers who make patterns or grade patterns, but not both?
  • Why won’t my pattern maker make markers?
  • Why won’t pattern makers illustrate my designs?
  • Why won’t pattern makers write sewing instructions?
  • Why won’t pattern makers make samples?
  • Why don’t pattern makers just know how my patterns should be graded?
  • Why can’t pattern makers tell me where to buy fabric?
  • Why wouldn’t a pattern maker have pattern making software?

You’re suffering and it’s not your imagination; the market for pattern services is [seemingly] schizophrenic. Understanding why can reduce your frustration and enable you to ask better questions to find the best provider for your needs. But first, a short history lesson which explains the legacy of what ails us -which is the only clue to a cure.

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8 reasons you can’t use retail fabric for production

By Kathleen Fasanella on Feb 1, 2014 at 7:12 pm

Please note that this applies to fabric for production. I realize that not everyone has the option to buy full bolts wholesale when they’re first starting out or even know how to buy wholesale fabric . This post is intended to help you understand that the fabric store is not a long term strategy. For many, it’s not even a short term option. Read on to see where you fit in.

1. Continuity
You have no guarantee that fabric you buy at the store (or from a jobber) will be available if you need to reorder.  If you want to guarantee supply, you’ll be forced to tie up money to buy fabric for a product that may not sell through. Experienced practitioners design based on sample fabrics and then order for production if sales interest is sufficient (the process is explained in my book). It’s hard enough to make a go of this without tying up your capital in aging fabric inventory. Seen eBay lately? That’s where everyone who went broke are offloading their inventory.

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Review: Patternmaking for Menswear

By Kathleen Fasanella on Jan 24, 2014 at 6:13 pm

cover_patternmaking for menswearA frequently heard lament is the dearth of pattern making books specific to the male form. Toward addressing the oversight comes a recently released title called Patternmaking for Menswear by Gareth Kershaw, from Laurence Publishing.

Before I start though, I confess a bit of wariness. Whenever I review a book, the most frequent response is whether the book will resolve whatever ill one has or whether it is the Holy Grail/Rosetta Stone of drafting texts. Few books are that. Drafting books are no different than cook books and although few of us are professional cooks, most of us have a variety of cookbooks. As such, if this is your profession or your professional interest, you’re well served to have a variety of texts that speak to your interests. If your budget requires closer scrutiny to acquire books, consider the library as an option. Keep in mind that I don’t review books that I feel are without merit. This one is relatively inexpensive ($40 list) and represents good value. Oh, before I forget, how I review patternmaking books may be helpful too.

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The Entrepreneur's Guide to Sewn Product Manufacturing

Often described as the garment industry “blue book”, the most highly rated book in the business is guaranteed to get you off to a solid start or your money back. Many service providers require you read this before they’ll work with you. Learn more »

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