From Production

Which is better, block or piece fusing?

fusing_blockVesta writes:

Now that I’m making markers for folks, I am cogitating deeply about block fusing. You said:
“Making a separate marker for block fusing and then to have to spread it as a separate operation seems more costly to me.”

But the alternative is to lay and cut a fusible marker, and that seems to balance out the separate lay and cut of a block fused marker. But then if you add in the extra work of matching and fusing each pattern piece, it seems like block fusing wins. Am I missing something?

I’m searching the blog for a whole post devoted to fusing. Not finding it. I’m shocked, Kathleen. Or I’m inept. One or the other. :-)

I've published many posts related to fusing -that link doesn't include the fusing map entries. But more to your point, I started a series on continuous fusing machines nearly 8 years ago but dropped the project as it didn't seem that anyone was interested. Not ready to give up so quickly, I wrote another post reviewing the equipment we saw at the SPESA show in 2007. Three years later, I wrote How to apply interfacing (in a commercial environment) which provided still more detail. But anyway, I'm glad to know there is more interest at this late date.

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Pop Quiz: Ordering sizes for production pt.2 (Surrender)

I avoided the follow up to this and this long enough and will have to call for a surrender -mine, need be- the first answer we got was good enough.

That's what this is all about my friends, good enough -hold that thought. Truly though, I was bogged down in notation and word problems, backtracking to determine the respondent's intent. For example, writing 3XS and 3XXL but also including 3 plies of black and white, in my (our) book, makes for a total piece count of 9 of each size and in each colorway -in other words, 36 pieces when we needed a maximum of 12. I guess this is where meta cognition comes in. When creating a cut order for production, you need to be sure you're sending the right message.



But back to good enough -Several people suggested using one ply of black, one ply white, and drawing in the XS and the XXL 3 times. Doing something like this would make my contractors very unhappy and ultimately, the customer. People aren't stupid to suggest this because they are (wisely) concerned about wasting fabric on ply lay ends, so let's talk about costs.

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Pop Quiz: Ordering sizes for production pt.1

If you're just now joining us and need the back story, see the first post for a description of the problem. That entry lists the quantities the customer ordered and what not.

To illustrate the solutions proposed by those commenting, I've made markers. Each marker shows crude representations of the patterns using rectangles. Each size is represented by a differently sized rectangle and is color coded. If there are duplicates of a size -say, 2 mediums- they are both green but different hues. Or is it tints? Keep in mind that while a solution may be incorrect, there are worthwhile lessons to be learned from them. A given solution may not fit the problem I posed but it may resolve a problem for you. Without further ado, here's Marguerite's marker followed by her comment.


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Pop Quiz! How to order correct quantities of sizes for production

By way of introducing a new head-hurting series (sorry), let's start with a quiz. If you want to cheat or optimize your chances at acing the quiz, sneak a peek at Size is nothing but a number. You can also review pages 114-120 in The Entrepreneur's Guide to Sewn Product Manufacturing. Here's the scenario:

You want to place an order for style 1001. Style 1001 comes in 2 colorways, white and black. I'm going to give you the order quantities per size -an example that a customer sent me in real life- and you're going to tell me how to make the marker.

Your crash course in marker making: Ideally, a marker is designed so that all garments can be cut at one time. If that is not possible (this example is not), you plan as few cutting jobs for the customer's order as is possible because each additional cut is expensive (double, triple, depending on the number of cuts planned). If there is more than one colorway, you can cut them both together provided the cuttable width is the same for each color. In this example, black and white can be cut together. Lastly, you want the longest possible marker because each fabric layer or ply must have a 2" buffer on each end, so longer lays are less wasteful than shorter ones. Without further ado, here is the order that the customer sent me to make the markers:.


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Bewildered by sewing factory services?

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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The quality check nobody knows -markers & cutting

[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.

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How to develop sewing tolerances

spot_image_how_to_establish_sewing_tolerancesBe forewarned that this is closer to an inquiry than a tutorial.

Tolerances are a plus or minus measurement used on a tech pack to determine whether a product meets a specified quality standard. It is usually expressed as plus or minus. For example, one point of measure (POM) for a bust line may say the tolerance is plus or minus 1/2". This means that for each size (34, 36, 38 etc), the garment bust measure could be 33.5"-34.5" for the size 34; 35.5"-36.5" for the size 36, etc.. My inquiry today is how are these tolerances determined? Frankly, it seems like many of them are drawn out of thin air or copied from similar tech packs wherever one can find them.

Tolerances are a new wrinkle and I'm not finding established or good practices to follow. In the olden days, few worried about tolerances because most everyone made their own stuff. Since things have changed, people have been winging it and don't let anyone tell you differently. That doesn't mean some people don't have the right or good answers only that there is no established practice, much less agreement on how to do it.

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Fusing Map: Lined Leather Vest

22200_fusing_map_vestThe images at bottom show suggested placement (or map as I've taken to calling them) of fusible interfacing that is typical of a mid to higher price point lined vest with welt pockets. The sample garment (style #22200) is shown at right.

Keep in mind that there is always variation in practices between manufacturers owing to desired or expected garment performance. In this case, the vest (being a split suede) is a 2 oz garment weight leather -which isn't noted for keeping its shape without a little assistance. Hence the fusible. And yes of course you can press leather, don't fret so much over it. At close are links that provide back story should you need that but suffice to say, I've become partial to knit nylon tricot fusible. It sets quickly (no, we don't hold the iron down for a count of x) and neatly with a bit of steam. I also fuse without a pressing cloth but then my iron has a teflon (or is it silicone?) shoe so nothing sticks to it.

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