From Sewing

What do samples cost?

sewing_moneyKeeping in mind that there are many types of samples -at least 13- today we'll revisit the cost of samples you contract to have made that represent your vision. Speaking of, there are at least 3 good reasons why you should pay for samples (a good post judging from how many times it's been plagiarized) instead of getting them "free" -because they really aren't. And sure, it's an expense but it would be disastrous to contract for sewing without the contractor making a sample first. Heck, ideally you'd arrange to have samples made by two or more contractors since that is the only way you can compare quality and pricing. The only exception I can think of is private label and then we wouldn't be having this conversation since private labelers will often send free samples because they're not executing your unique designs anyway.

Culling from the 13 kinds of samples post, you could expect to pay for all the sample types if working domestically, except for maybe the muslin. The latter depends. This means that you'll pay for protos, pre-pros and production samples. You shouldn't feel that you're being targeted because you're new or not a famous name because pretty much everybody pays -at least domestically. Besides, garmentos who've been around, know that many celeb types don't pay their bills- which is a good reason to not waste your time trying to impress people because you may be convincing -to your detriment.

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Personal project: The Dot Top

flutter_top_anthropologie_smI don't often have the opportunity to show you works in progress since 95% of what I do, is for other people. Today's post is a departure; a top I made for my sister, Dorothy.

Dot has sizing issues; she's 5'10" and weighs about 110lbs, maybe less. In addition to her slender figure and height, she has an extended belly. Accordingly, I thought the top I used as inspiration would be ideal for her. Speaking of, I found the photo here; she got it from Anthropologie but it seems that the design's provenance is murky. Who knows from whence this came? The Vogue home sewing pattern is out of print. But I digress, as usual. Oh, this link takes you to a larger photo.

The one I made is different of course; it has long sleeves, less cowling and a higher neckline. I'm still not certain about the neck... I've got a bit of elastic in there, raising the neckline for warmth. I also stuck a collar of sorts on it just to make it different. I'll have to work on that. But now for pictures -which are lousy. I haven't been able to use my real camera because I can't find the cord. I finally broke down and ordered a new one. I didn't realize these photos were this bad, should have checked before I mailed the top.

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An easier way to sew elastic casings

sew_elastic_into_a_circleThis is one of those things that I think everybody knows already so why do a tutorial on it, but I've needed to show it to 2 people in the last month. I would consider these people to be experienced, so I'm thinking it should be better known. This tutorial will show you how to insert elastic into a casing without resorting to using a safety pin or bodkin. It won't help for elastic that is stitched down so all I can say is use what you can and leave the rest.

The first step is to sew the elastic into a loop (without twists obviously). This is pictured at right.

Second step (below), have the garment or product ready for the casing. Meaning, finish off the side seams and what have you. For my sample, I've sewn one seam into a rectangle of muslin. As per my usual, I'm using a contrasting color thread so you can see the stitching.

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How much thread does the factory need for samples?

thread_spools_lets_beadI'll bet you all thought I'd run away and joined the circus... it's been crazy busy, same as every December. That reminds me; if you're looking for services, responses will be slow or maybe even non-existent until the end of January or midway into February. Timing is everything. Be persistent.
Some errors that DEs make are so cute that they make me giggle. Not sending enough thread is one of them. Context is that we're discussing thread for samples or prototypes, not production (by production, you won't be making this error). Typically, the designer has taken great pains to put their package together—to include what they would consider "extra" thread—because the designer figures the garment couldn't possibly use more than the total linear feet of one spool. The number of sewn inches is immaterial which is why I think the thread oversight in sampling is cute.

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Tutorial: sewing #12601, a men’s bomber jacket pt.1

Okay! Most of these instructions are illustrations and I'm not 100% done but this will do for now. Posts you may find of interest include The designing of a man’s jacket, style #12601 and of course, the necessary prelude to sewing being the fusing map.

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".

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Leather sewing tutorial: Cell phone accessory

cellphone_hanger_finalToday's my birthday (yay me) but you get the gift.

I can't speak for you but I'm not wild on practice exercises. Since I like immediate gratification (we should be rewarded for trying, no?), I decided this would be an easy thing to make that is difficult to mess up and even if you do, somebody is going to want it so it won't go to waste.

I did not invent this concept, it's been going around the web for awhile now. Most of the ones I've seen are made out of paper and paper is just fine but using leather makes it a little longer lasting (plus we wouldn't have a sample sewing exercise so I wouldn't have anything to write about). There is also a cute one you can make out of discarded lotion bottles.

Since I didn't have any dimensions to go by, all I'd seen was a kit you buy, I cut a rough rectangle out of oaktag, punched a hole in both ends and figured I'd reiterate from there. That worked out pretty well, I measured it after the fact and it was roughly 9" long. To neaten things up, I made the final pattern 2" wide but I'm thinking it could be narrower than that. By all means, lather, rinse and repeat to suit yourself.

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Better sewing quality with work instructions

Keeping in mind that quality means adherence to a standard, you can create work instructions for your people to follow. These are most effective if they are simple and directed to a particular job. Work instructions are also useful as a reminder if you create them for processes you don't do often. As an example, you could sew step by step samples of one of the zipper tutorials you don't know well and store the set for future use. Even I make work instructions to remind myself of the steps involved in techniques I don't do often.

Today I'll show you samples of a work instruction that is similar to one I made while at a customer's plant. The customer was frustrated because their stitchers were not sewing boning strips to specification. In this case, the boning is sewn before the top and bottom of the corset is sewn so the boning needed to be 1/16th from the top and bottom seam line. The specification (ideal) was to center the pre-cut boning strip so it laid 1/16th short of the seam line at both top and bottom which allowed for the piece to be turned smoothly once those seams had been sewn. A work instruction was needed because boning strips were sewn crossing the seam line on one end and falling too short of it on the other and there seemed to be a lot of confusion as to where the boning was supposed to be. Below is a sample showing perfect execution (black bias tape is substituted for boning):


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Are sewing machines designed for the left handed?

right_hand_sewing_machineI had no idea that sewing machines favor left-handed people. Did you? Quite a few people do, I guess I was late to the party. One explanation is that the inventors of the modern sewing machine, namely Elias Howe and Isaac Singer, were both left handed but this is disputed by Rex Pulker*, inventor of a right handed sewing machine. His explanation is a bit difficult for me to follow (a matter of writing style?) but the claims that machines were originally optimized for right handers -there was a crank on the wheel on the right side- but once technology improved and the crank was no longer needed, machine design did not follow suit and reverse the buttons and what not to lie to the left.

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