From Process Reviews

SOP: CAD pattern making processes pt.2

This is a brief follow up to the earlier post as folks left useful suggestions that deserve more exposure.

In reference to my quest for solutions in better tracking of prototypes, muslins and samples, Lorraine suggested:

Regarding marking mock-ups–we sew in either a blank care label or will make a label cut from interfacing. Every prototype and fit sample is marked with the pattern number, date and name of the sample maker.

There were others of course but this most closely resembled what I was looking for. I also liked Dana's suggestion of tagging which would work for me since I'm often working off of samples coming in. She said:

I designed a paper tag (string/pin) that I had printed and I attach to all samples. Gives me more room to record date, version, approval status, and any other notes about the piece.

I told her that I had been doing something very similar because most samples I receive from customers aren't tagged with style numbers. None of my customers are attaching a paper tag but it would be so nice if they did. What is most needed is a simple tag, about the size of a shipping tag with the style number written on it. On the back, the designer's name and any other pertinent information would be helpful (because I'm not the only one processing incoming items).

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SOP: CAD pattern making processes

As I mentioned in the previous entry, I needed to create a list of reminders for myself to navigate the differences between making CAD and manual patterns. Some of you may find this list to be a bit funny since you've never made patterns any other way than with CAD but I sincerely hope you will add suggestions and refinements. I'd appreciate it very much.

SOP (standard operating procedure) pre-flight checklist for CAD patterns:

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Deconstructing a sewing class

I mentioned on Saturday that I was taking a class for home sewers for research purposes. My idea being, one can forget what people don't know. Gaining insight to what people don't know can only help me explain better to anyone regardless of skill.

Continuing with where I left off (see the comments to the previous entry), our instructor (Leslie) started with a list of what she called the seven deadly sins of a home-made garment. I'm not going to list those specifically because that's how she derives income but suffice to say I agree for the most part. Leslie's list of sins spanned three categories.

1. Design
2. Pattern
3. Execution
Note: she didn't sort them like this, this is how I analyzed the various types of sewing sins she identified.

The list in this context -spanning design through execution- was a bit unexpected in the context of my role as a product development person. On our end, the three areas are mostly separate with accountability for each clearly defined -not one person in charge of it. Leslie's format differed because home stitchers are whole garment makers from project inception and planning, through execution (and of course, they're also fitting to the individual rather than a fit profile) so it stands to reason the sins wouldn't be separated by function or the separate individuals who do those jobs.

Here's one example I would categorize as design: what Leslie described as badly designed bust darts (falling within a prescribed circumference range). In many cases, this can be a design element; there are reasons a designer may want X effect and it is mostly not appropriate for a pattern maker to question design elements with a designer (can get you in hot water) unless it's a new designer (DE) who actively solicits one's help.

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How to apply interfacing

My head has been fuzzy for the past two days. Yesterday it was Wednesday and today, it's been the 5th of May for two days running. Do you ever have weeks like that?

A woman came to take a class with me 12 years ago. The week prior to her arrival, she'd spent four and a half days with a "couture" sewing celeb who taught her to apply interfacing by holding the iron in place for a count of ten. This I discovered when I put "M" to applying interfacing to leather and contrary to my instruction (she was eager to apply the proceeds of that $3,000 fee) she insisted on the ten second count and of course, the piece was shriveled and burnt beyond recognition. It looked like a pig's ear that had gotten too much sun. I saved that piece for a long time, I don't know where it went now. Lately I've been reading that people still do this. The horror of it all. I thought it was an isolated incident but it would seem it is not. The very idea makes me shudder all over.

If you consult industry interfacing experts -the people who make fusing machines-, they'll tell you that applying fusibles relies on three things, time, pressure and heat. I'd add a fourth and fifth element, that of having the right fusible for the right fabric in the first place and the right tools. Of the three five, time is but one facet and not really the major one. Not when a fusing machine can fuse fabrics at 26 feet a minute. Even then, time is better calculated as during and after. It can take but a second to apply interfacing but it can take a few seconds for it to cool enough to move it.

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What to do if a competitor orders your product

This is part two of What to do if a competitor in Asia orders your product whereby I pontificate on tear downs (competitive assessments), a much cherished activity by adults and children alike. How can you build a better mousetrap if you haven't taken existing mousetraps apart? Here's a case in point: the iphone. While the iphone is universally acknowledged to be the third most significant masterpiece of human technology (behind mastering fire and inventing the wheel), it is not perfect. Before stoning me for blasphemy, ask yourself this question: can it scramble eggs? I think not. Okay, so I'm being silly but you won't know the root problem until you do a competitive assessment and tear something down -preferably your own products first. I've written much about this in the reverse engineering series (tutorials page) and this one on copying processes.

The fact is your competitor can buy your products anyway so you're better off facilitating the transaction than creating impediments. Doing so is working from a position of strength and confidence. Refusing to do so is acknowledging the other party is a threat. If they can get it anyway, it's better to have a record of the transaction in the event something untoward arises because it is illegal to copy another party's trade secrets. If you didn't know that you should read up on the Economic Espionage Act of 1996. Using a trade secret belonging to a competitor is a felony, not a civil matter like copyright and subject to jail time and a fine of up to 10 million dollars. A trade secret is defined as "protected information" and means anything a competitor doesn't want you to know.

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I.D. and O.D.

This is a continuation of To pin or not to pin so you should read that first if you haven’t already. I.D. and O.D. refers to Inner Diameter and Outer Diameter. This is a common concept in every field of engineering of which sewing is one. However, it’s only in sewing that people assume that two lengths that will be joined must be identical in length. In any other field, one would be laughed out of the room for believing this. I.D is necessarily smaller than O.D., one tucks inside the other. That’s just one reason that sleeves -for example- should not be larger than the armhole to which they are sewn. Sleeves are I.D. tubes sewn into a still larger armhole tube (O.D.).

Using exactly the same pieces from the previous entry, I sewed two tubes as one would in the course of attaching cuffs or inserting sleeves. Below you can see the result of using the improperly cut lengths inserted inside each other.

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To pin or not to pin

Can you count the number of times you’ve sewn -for example- a collar to a neckline and had the experience that the one side will set just fine but the other side is either too large or too small? Or what of joining one front side seam to a back side seam and ending up with disparity? While it can be due to inaccurate patterns, it’s just as likely due to the practice of pinning. I’ve created a test project that I’ll show you, illustrating why pinning can create problems where there were none.

Pinning -as a matter of course- is something that enthusiasts and less experienced designers will debate endlessly. I decided to put it to the test after reading yet again, someone ridiculing those who didn’t pin. It’s one thing to criticize someone’s practices when the method one proposes as a replacement is superior. It’s quite another thing if the method is inferior. As Twain said, “It’s not what you don’t know that’s the problem, it’s what you do know that just ain’t so”. As it happens, quality and attention to detail in garments, whether custom or manufactured, is impinged by the practice of pinning rather than enhancing it.
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