From Glossary

What is a marker?

Here's another subject that deserves a reminder: what are markers?

Markers are a guide used in the cutting process. It is long sheet of bond paper with all of the pattern pieces used to make a style laid out in a configuration intended to reduce fabric waste as much as is possible, including all of the sizes you'd need of a given style. Markers are often made by computer and printed out with a plotter. The marker is laid on top of the fabric layers which cutters then use to cut out all of the pieces at once.

Below is an image of what a computer generated marker (not particularly well made) looks like in a CAD program. This marker is for a simple bodice with facings and a short sleeve in five sizes, XS-XL (larger image):

Markers don't need to be made with a computer program but it is best that they are¹. A CAD program is useful because it automatically calculates the yardage needed and indicates how many layers of fabric need to be spread in order to complete the desired number of products. Each fabric layer is called a "ply".

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The difference between band and binding

Karen writes:

Can you settle an argument? I looked at your posts on designing a t-shirt sewing cell (pt.2) but it wasn't obvious. I have always understood that the neckline of a tee shirt is a band. The seam I'm referring to is serged with the allowances and thread showing on the wrong side . The person I disagree with says this is a binding. To my way of thinking, a binding is finished with all edges turned under and no raw edges showing. How would you describe this seam?

binding_sample_seamI would also describe a rib knit finish to a tee shirt neckline as a (neck) band. Binding typically describes encasing raw edges. However, no matter how it is sewn, it is usually called a band even if the seam is bound. The problem lies in if you call it binding and intend to leave allowances showing on the underside because binding implies the seam is bound.

To be sure though, I looked it up in ASTM D5646 (lists home sewing seams) and ASTM D-6193 (industry standard). Both show binding (bound seams) enclosing raw edges leaving a clean finish. The D6193 is more descriptive than the D5646 in that bound seams are a separate seam class with a BS prefix (BSa-BSs). [A non-gated resource is this pdf from American & Effird]. It is somewhat ironic that you ask because the D6193 was derived from the Fed Std 751a (DOD) which was established to eliminate disagreements like this. Establishing uniform terminology helps ensure that items produced under military contract can be constructed to precise specifications across myriad contractors.

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Why isn’t women’s clothing sized like men’s? pt.2

This is the follow up to part one, Why isn’t women’s clothing sized like men’s?. I'll open by saying I was hoping visitors would more fully develop the idea of why men's clothing is sold by number (mentioned indirectly by Chris, Nowaks, Alison, Matthew and Helena) so we could see why it is more challenging to do the same for women.

Many believe men have it easier because numbers are used to indicate their sizing. This is true and false but because is the operative word here. Men's pants can be sold by numbers (waist and inseam) because the hip dimensions of men's bodies (relative to waist size), is more easily predicted. It is because of their anatomy that numbers indicating hip measure is not needed to sell their pants.

This is not true for women. Women's waist to hip difference can range from 12" difference to the waist being several inches larger than the hips. So, the plea for women's sizes to be sold like men's is only similar if men's pants were also sold by waist, inseam and hip. Since they are not, you can multiply the proverbial 99 sizes to get on the order of 300 sizes -duly noted are objections by Alison and others that makers aren't required to produce all sizes.

This is likewise true of men's shirts (nod to Alison, Matthew). Men's shirts can be sold by neck size and sleeve length because there is a more predictable relationship between men's neck sizes and their chest girth. Like pants, these characteristics are also not true of women's bodies.

I'll cut to the chase because being argumentative isn't helping matters; we all know that something must be done and we intuit that something can be done. Manufacturers should be more descriptive. To illustrate some possibilities, I'm using Marguerite's line as an example, I have one of her outfits, not the one shown but I love it. I made up these dimensions so I'm responsible for certain errors and omissions!:


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The 13 different kinds of samples

There are three broad classes of samples, one for each phase. These sequential phases are design, sales and production. Design related samples are to model design ideas and (ideally) finalize the pattern for production. Sales related samples are used to predict orders from buyers. The last type of samples are intended to test consistency in production.

Technically (and optimally) speaking, all sampling should take place during the first phase of design (R&D) because you can't get to selling (second phase) if you don't have production (third phase) lined up. I'm aware practices are all over the map these days but I have tried to cover every contingency.

This list may be overwhelming because I've attempted to be all inclusive but it does not mean you will need to have all of these kinds of samples produced. There is also quite a bit of overlap depending on your operation. By way of example are fit samples. If you're managing your product development and having samples made from your patterns, your fit samples are the same thing as protos and would be fitted during the design phase. However, if you are outsourcing to a full package contractor, fit sampling might happen just before production. If you manage well, the different sample types can serve multiple purposes. For example, ideally your proto (prototype sample) is a fit sample and a sew by (pre-production) sample and maybe even a photo sample.

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Curvy does not mean plus sized

skinny_courtneyIf you need to catch up, the answer to yesterday's quiz (and part two) is woman A is curviest and now I'm going to tell you why. Actually, I'll prove it using the least likely of models -that of Courtney Love who is famously thin.

By the way, this all came about because The Sartorialist found himself in hot water over his use of the term "curvy". It was cause for much ire and outrage on the web. Scott asks:

Is there a minimum degree of curviness to be considered "curvy"?

To which I'd say, yes there is and I'm so glad you asked. The technical definition of curvy refers to a waist-hip differential of .75 . For example, a woman with a 36" hip is curvy if her waist is 27" or less. This is a nine inch difference but does not hold true for all dimensions because curvy is relative. It's math, not opinion. By way of comparison, a hip measure of 46" is only curvy if her waist is 34.5" or less, a difference of 11.5".

Using my photo of Courtney Love, I drew a line to match her waist girth. Then I copied and pasted the exact same line at her bust and hip respectively. You can see there's quite a difference between her total hip and bust girths as compared to her waist. So, bone thin as she may be, she is -from a technical, industry terminology (but not marketing) standpoint- significantly curvier than your average size 18. It's too bad that her hat is in the way but the green bar of her waist length hasn't even reached the midpoint of her opposing breast. I know this is no comparison but I have another one further down using the examples of woman A & B from yesterday.

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Pop Quiz: Who is the curviest of them all? pt.2

curviest_survey_resultsI am very pleased with the results from yesterday's pop quiz. Several of you noticed the distinction between curvy and "curvy". Good show, here's a gold star for you!

Probably the easiest and briefest way to explain it is by paraphrasing one of my earlier comments,

[ ]all humans regardless of age, sex and size have curves; we are not rectangular boxes. Compare the curved lines of a hot air balloon. Its pattern pieces are undoubtedly curved. Much longer and gradual curves -sometimes appearing straight- but curved nonetheless. Now compare those pieces to those of a soccer ball. The pieces of the smaller globe are much curvier than those of the hot air balloon. My point being that from a technical standpoint, smaller figures no matter how slender are much curvier than large figures, the latter being much straighter comparatively.

And of course, I don't expect you to take my word for it. My next entry will explain why and provide ways for you to prove it to yourself. Oh, I almost forgot, this distinction is going to become much more important. There may be a collision between the popular culture definition versus the industry's definition so it is something you may need to start thinking about soon.

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Pop Quiz: Tucks vs Pleats pt.2

tucked_vintage_dressI have the idea people aren't going to like the answer to the quiz very much; like I said, wars have been started under flimsier pretexts.

Let's focus on what we can agree upon. Judging from comments, no one would disagree that

  • a full length stitched fold is a tuck.
  • a full length unsewn fold (released) is a pleat.

The grey area is when it comes to partial stitching and partial releasing.

At this point I had intended to write:
"You can't pick up a pattern book that does not describe partially sewn folds as tucks"

But no! I picked up Armstrong -the most popular book these days (note I said popular, not best)- and a quick look resulted in much sighing on my part because I see she is the likely culprit for today's ambiguity because she only shows fully sewn tucks. Worse, she hedges by describing them as "pleat tucks". The result? I have an idea from whence this rampant confusion has come.

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POM: Point of Measure Codes

POM_vest1smIn the process of writing a review of a book called The Spec Manual (I'll come back later and drop a link), I can't find material that I know I wrote at one point or another so I can link to it. In the interest of expediency, I've created this glossary entry.

POM Codes are used to specify the measuring points of a garment or product. If you measure garments, you will need to have codes to indicate the location you measured at given points of the product.

Generally there are no established standards for code abbreviations (with some caveats below) but some codes are in such broad usage as to be universal. You've seen these abbreviations on this site before, maybe you didn't know what they were. These are used so often that I do recommend you memorize them. These are the most common examples:

CF= center front
CB= center back
SS= side seam
HPS= high point shoulder
TM= total measure

Some customers (department store etc) may specify POM codes. If this is the case for you, these will be listed in the vendor compliance manual they give you.

Codes don't have to be letters, they can also be numbers. At top right is a sample vest from The Spec Manual that I am reviewing (next post).

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