Have you ever tried to put together a cheap puzzle? You know, the ones where the shapes aren’t clear and you’re not quite sure if two pieces really fit together, where you’re missing the box with the picture on it so you feel like you’re assembling it blind, or where there are missing crucial pieces? Frustrating, isn’t it? It is the same way with patterns in production. If you don’t have a good quality pattern, the process will be frustrating and slow.
In general, I think that when people think of quality production, they think of quality sewing. While this is certainly true (and I would never diminish the importance of the work sewers do as they are highly skilled), it is what’s upstream of the sewing – like the pattern – that has the most control over the quality of the finished garment. Here are reasons that quality patterns really matter in production and how they benefit your brand.
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of having quality patterns is that the resulting garments will fit better. Providing a graded spec sheet to your factory will help with the quality control of fit, but the thing that really controls the fit itself is the pattern. Measurements are only part of the equation — the shapes and proportions and how they add up to meet those measurements is where the fit really takes shape. A spec sheet alone cannot provide the complete picture of these shapes, but a pattern does just this. If you want a certain fit for your design, it needs to be achieved at the pattern stage.
Less Confusion and Better Accuracy
A pattern is a production tool that makes producing your design over and over as simple and fool-proof as possible. A quality production pattern includes all the information a cutter will need to cut your order including each piece’s name, size, quantity needed, fabric it needs to be cut from, and seam allowances. A quality pattern also includes notches that show how the pieces match together in sewing. And the notches should only all line up on a quality pattern in the way you want it to be sewn.
Even beyond just the pattern pieces that will be cut from the main fabric, a quality production pattern includes pieces for cut interfacings, cut guides for trims and elastics, and guides for trim or button placement. These aren’t necessarily pieces that are templates for cutting, but they give your factory all the information they need to make your design accurately. You don’t want to leave it up to the factory or each individual sewer to have to guess how your garment is assembled. In order to cut down on confusion and end up with an accurate garment every time no matter who is making it, you need a quality pattern with all this information.
Decreased Sewing Cost
Having a quality pattern will literally save you money in production. Factories are set up to make garments quickly and efficiently in bulk. Garments are priced based on how they move through this production line. Anything that slows down production or creates a bottleneck is going to cost more money to produce. Things like seam lines not matching up, unclear patterns, or sewers having to stop sewing to search for missing pieces will slow things down. A good pattern makes sure that the garment goes together smoothly and efficiently without delays. This means that you won’t be overpaying for production due to poor quality patterns.
Efficient Fabric Usage
A quality production pattern also takes into account the fabric properties and width. It is made to fill the width of the fabric as compactly as possible so there is minimal fabric wasted. Sometimes this means adding an extra seam so more pieces can fit side by side along the width of the fabric. It also means that no pieces are wider than the fabric width even in the largest sizes.
A quality pattern also controls how the pieces are placed on the fabric to be cut. Some fabrics need to be cut one way either because of a print that has a clear up and down or because the fabric has a one way nap like a velvet. The pattern will indicate which direction the pieces can be laid and whether they can be rotated in multiple directions or not. For striped or plaid fabrics where the stripes need to line up across pieces, a quality pattern will include a match-stripe line that shows exactly how the pieces need to be laid on the fabric in order for the stripes to line up in sewing. Having a high quality pattern like this makes all the difference in yielding a garment that looks high quality and high end.
Having quality patterns gives you control over the fit and quality of the final garments, makes it easier for your factory to cut and sew, and can even decrease your production costs. Whether you hire a pattern maker to make your brand’s patterns or make them yourself, the quality of the pattern really matters in production.
Do you make your brand’s patterns yourself?
The Fashion Entrepreneur Patternmaking Workroom is for designers and fashion business owners who make their own patterns for their brand but would like an expert to turn to when questions arise. The Patternmaking Workroom is for getting you answers so you can move ahead on your patterns with confidence and create quality patterns that are ready for production in less time.
The Patternmaking Workroom is an online forum and community where you’re able to post questions, get answers, join live group video calls, and connect with other Workroom members through private messages or forum discussions. It is the place to get the answers you need quickly for topics including:
- Patternmaking best practices
- Optimizing a pattern for production
- Translating a design sketch into a pattern that has the right shapes
- Fitting on a live model or dress form
- How to correct fit issues on a pattern
- Size grading
Applications are now open for the Fashion Entrepreneur Patternmaking Workroom free two month beta membership. There are limited spots available until 6/28/21.