Because there remains ambiguity as to the time and complexity involved in digitizing sewing patterns, I’ve created another video for you. In this video, you can watch my CAD screen while I digitize 10 pattern pieces. Including set up time—creating a file, taping the pieces to the board—digitizing 10 pieces takes all of 30 minutes.
There are actually two videos, here is the second:
Behind the scenes, I’ve been trying to learn screen capture video (again) which will be so helpful to explain things. For example, below is a short video on how to adjust shrinkage or stretch properties (it is the same thing) for a pattern. I used StyleCAD but any industrial CAD program provides the same function.
The matter of knowing what percentages to use to attain a given grade -say 2″- is but a bit of math or even, iteration. When I’m not so pressed for time, I’ll do a video on that too and post a link accordingly. In any event, the video is useful because you can see that if a service provider needs to adjust your pattern for shrinkage, it is fairly straightforward.
Returning to the list of topics from the reader’s poll, stretch knit pattern grading is next so that’s what we’ll do today. To refresh your memory, I’d said, knit pattern grading the way that Stuart does it which is very different from how we do it in North America. To discuss the dichotomy of Stuart’s approach requires that you already understand grading to see why his method is a departure from what we typically do and we can discuss why it may be better and easier. My role is best described as a facilitator of this discussion because my experience with his method is very limited, albeit successful. And by the way, I refer to Stuart Anderson whose website is better known as Pattern School. Pattern School is offline for now but you can easily access it via the WayBack Machine and all links I’ll use will direct there. Ready? Okey dokey.
Stuart says there are two types of grading, incremental and proportional. Traditionally, we use incremental which means we attach a value to grow or shrink a given point according to X or Y coordinates. [At right is an illustration of rules applied to a pattern the traditional way.] Stuart uses another way, namely proportional. This requires calculating the degree of stretch in the fabric and using a feature common to CAD programs, stretch the pattern pieces in accordance with the stretch properties. Doing it this way can be easier, faster and more accurate than grading via XY coordinates.
Returning to the poll of preferred topics, this one deals with #4, the fastest way to pattern and prototype. As I mentioned in that previous post, I think the topic is a bit self serving and accordingly, was a bit dismayed that it won the poll. This post won’t work for everyone so use what you can and leave the rest.
Being able to pattern and prototype quickly requires the right mix of people, skills, tools and most all, time. Lack any of those and you can’t speed up much. If you’re the one doing it all, your cycle time will be related to your own efficiencies and time. If you have a nicely equipped workroom (CAD, machines, cutting table etc) then there isn’t much I can tell you that you don’t already know unless you wanted to compare notes about being more efficient which isn’t what this is about. However, if you’re someone who is jobbing out the pattern and prototyping work, you may have some options to reducing the cycle time of getting approved samples.
It is possible to get one day turnaround on patterns but your provider (like me) may not realize they can do it to the extent that it would occur to them to offer the service. So, I’ll explain how it is that I do one day service so you can approach your preferred provider to see if it is an option.
Before we get started, it might be helpful to download the piece list (xls) so you can follow along. Although this jacket is one of my simpler ones, it has 36 different pieces -and that figure does not include pairs. And yes, this is a real industrial pattern in all respects. If you decide to purchase it (TBA), nothing has been dumbed down or modified. It uses industry standard conventions of construction, marking and sewing. One could think of it as a tool to model one’s practices. Speaking of, below is a map showing the seam allowances (click on the image for a larger version). Well, not all of them. The only pieces mapped in this example are pieces that have one or more seams that are 1/4″, all others being 3/8″.
I was going to put this in the tutorial I promised but realized it would be good as a stand alone entry for those of you who are collecting the fusing maps I post occasionally. Clicking on the image will load a larger version of the file.
I promise there will be a sewing tutorial of sorts once I finish rambling about design -that is always first- so this will come in two or more parts. Fortunately for you, most of the sewing will be illustrations rather than photos. A jacket like this is too complex to show with photos and the color has to be just right -this one is too dark. Speaking of, the finished product is shown at right on my dress form. I have a man’s form but it is so terrible ill suited to my purposes (a PGM form if you must know) that I can only aspire to sell it to my worst enemy. It’s a size 42 man’s form if you want it. $200 (neg.) bucks cash and carry. I’ll even buy you lunch! But I digress. A photo of the jacket can also be seen on Mr. Fashion-Incubator but I didn’t want to post it because he is not smiley like usual. He does like it, he picked out the fabrication for this one, just as he did for its predecessor, style #12658.
Onto topics related to design!
First of all, in real life, design is much more than picking out pretty fabric and drawing cute silhouettes on 9 head stick figures. Design means selecting materials that will perform congruent with expected performance as it relates to price points.
Thanks for all of your responses to the poll. I should ask you more often, the results were not as I would have guessed. The way I calculated the results was to assign a 3 to one’s first choice, 2 to one’s second choice and 1 to any subsequent selections. You can do the math if you’re so inclined but here is what I came up with:
4 -71 votes for The fastest way to pattern and prototype.
6 -46 votes for Sewing a lined casual men’s jacket.
1 -34 votes for Knit pattern grading.
5 -29 votes for Pattern engineering to fabric width constraints.
3 -28 votes for Another reason small orders are shunted off to the side.
2 -22 votes for How to order a marker.
If I’d had my way, #2 (how to order a marker) would have been first, #1 (knit grading) would have been second, #3 would have third, #4 would have been fourth, #5 would have been fifth and #6 would have been sixth. As an aside, you guys should care more about ordering markers. I’ve been working on that post for weeks (months?). Maybe I just need to compare notes with other practitioners because customer lack of preparedness with marker ordering is becoming a continual source of frustration for me.
All that said and in spite of your expressed wishes, I will do #6 (lined jacket) first and then #4 (fast prototyping). Reason being, I just finished the coat and learned a few things I want to write before I forget that may help you avoid some problems while still in the design phase if you undertake a similar project. #4 is relegated to follow because I think it is a bit self serving and so, don’t want to lead with it.
Oh, almost forgot. The suggestions we got for other topics were:
How can we make the production process (the making from a to z) more sustainable. What can we as small manufacturers do?
I’m think the terms grading and fitting (and sometimes drafting?) are being used interchangeably. A post clearly explaining the difference would be great.
I’d also like a review/recap/more info into your private training sessions.
So what were you supposed to use to soak up spilled sewing machine oil, again? It was something grainy. I panicked and used table salt.
I thought those were pretty good. The last question was more a question of quick solution; I’d check with an industrial supply for that because it can depend on your flooring. Theresa mentioned a kitty litter type product. I have a bag of it around but haven’t used it in a long while. Mr. Fashion-Incubator may have absconded with it.
[It's not true that nobody knows this quality check but few do and this title sounds more dramatic and thus clickable!] In my book, I mention that you should always get the pattern pieces left over from the marker cutting. This is for two reasons. The most important one is the first step to ensuring quality which I’ll tell you about today using an all-my-fault example. The second reason is if you’re paranoid and worrying about the contractor using your patterns; see the note at close for more on this. By the way, I should remind you that quality means adherence to specification -that’s it.
Preamble dispensed with, in yesterday’s post I mentioned I was making a jacket for Mr.Fashion-Incubator. It is a repeat of the one I made for him in 2004 when he was still my boyfriend. It is a basic lettermen’s jacket with a wool melton body, collar, contrasting sleeves, zip close and ribbed cuffs and waistband. Anyway, I made the marker, Martha cut it out and started fusing it -and that’s where the trouble began. The melton was shrinking very obviously which puts the brakes on the whole affair as far as sewing it together. Our guess is that this wool wasn’t the kind we’ve always used (in fact, it started pilling terribly and I’ve never seen that) so to get an idea of how egregious the shrinkage was, we compared it to the leftovers from the marker. Which we save, always, and you should too. As terrible as the project was going, I thought it would be good to show you.
In the photo below, the left pane shows the front pattern piece left over from the marker. In the right pane is the cut fabric piece laid on top of the pattern (that’s how you check these things). Red boxes highlight the troublesome areas.
I’m stuck on a variety of posts -I’m always working on several at a time, not as though you’d know as of late- and not making headway. The main reason is that I don’t have the final answer or solution. I always think I have to have that before I start and on some of these, I just don’t know.
Here are some examples:
Knit pattern grading: Not as we typically do it via coordinates but as Stuart does it. I’ve successfully experimented with it but I’m not confident and would like to compare notes.
How to order a marker: Just when I think I have this nailed down, a new experience changes it all. I truly do believe though that I will not make another marker unless the customer can guarantee a return call inside of five minutes. Indirectly related to #3.
Another reason small orders are shunted off to the side: Why you’re not the priority (and don’t take it personally). Can’t speak for everyone but first in my queue is whoever stands to lose the most, not who spends the most.
The fastest way to pattern and prototype: One style, soup to nuts -including introduction to a sewing contractor, can be prototyped, fitted and corrected in a day. I do it (caveats apply) but don’t know who else does and I’d like to know (bet you would too).
Pattern engineering to fabric width constraints: Now doesn’t that sound yummy? Fraught with challenges of narrow goods, I made a linen duvet for my featherbed.
Sewing a lined casual men’s jacket: My current personal project; my poor husband needs a coat.
Insert your topic here: ’nuff said.
So please vote for your topic of choice -and if you can provide some heavy lifting on topics 1,2 & 4, that would be awesome!
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