This week we shipped two new collections for clients for upcoming tradeshows including sewn samples for next month. Which brings me to an important point, when you are having your patterns made as a designer, you need to have physical sewn samples for your collection made at the same time.
A pattern is a blue print.
A tech pack is the recipe.
A sewn sample is the proof they work.
A designer without proof is just a dreamer. An emperor with no clothes at market or runway. All great patternmakers I know can sew, often very well. They are generally the first person a designer contracts to grow. Sometimes in theater they're also called Cutters or 1st Hand. Most product development shops also have on hand samplemakers who can test your patterns inexpensively which is probably one of a product development shop's greatest gifts to a designer looking to scale. Ours have over 20 years experience.
We charge $25/hr to sew our patterns for this very reason to make sure you succeed at market which translates to most apparel designers being able to have their samples sewn between $100-150 each. Most clothing is around the $100 mark or 4 hours to sew here by the time you count in all the little steps like cutting, ironing, turning, etc. Jackets and coats tend to fall on the more expensive side due to extra operations.
Also, and this is a cavat. You often have to go through 3 rounds of samples to get a finished product you can sell in a store that you don't just like, but love. One of the distinguishing ah moments for new and old designers is you see new designers freak out over a button or trim they decide isn't exactly "perfect" once the first sample is made or ship product without testing it. More season designers just tell you to cut another sampe or change the buttons out. Changing your mind is OK. Better to spend $100-300 in the sample room extra than $40,000 mistake on the factory floor. Factories and brands don't expect to get it perfect the first time, that's why they do multiple samples. There's a lot of random names for it in the business: muslin, mock-up, 1st pattern, PP Sample, Green Light, etc. The major point is to have a little grace with yourself as a designer to figure things out as you go. Have a great week.
Dara and Nash are two happily married craftspeople who love making practical beautiful things.