Trip to LA 2

I guess I should start numbering the entries covering my jaunts to Los Angeles. If you noticed, last week I was in Los Angeles again, the primary reason being for more training on Style File; the new software apparel management program being soft launched by Patternworks. I’m working on some documentation for the program but it is ready to go. Before I get into today’s entry, I wanted to mention that tomorrow I’ll be posting a tutorial on a zip welt pocket. Strangely, I thought I had. Or rather, it turns out I’d posted my definition of how a zipped welt pocket should be made. One visitor brought to my attention that they meant a pocket like the sample below, with teeth showing.

I don’t like these personally but yes, I have to concede these are a nice touch in sportswear. Since my background is in higher end leather goods, these sorts of zippers are frowned upon as being too casual. Oh well, live and learn. I hate to discover my own prejudices but am happy to make amends once unearthed.


I won’t bore you with the two days of training (not saying I was bored!) but thought I’d mention a trip I made on Friday evening to my friends Tom and Helen’s contracting facility.  I wrote about them before. Here’s a picture of them below.

I took some picture of this and that, machines and tables but that probably bores you so I’ll pass on those. While I was walking around, I was looking at their workmanship. I saw a pile of some nicely made shirts. Tom said that his operation is a little different from most. While they’re not entirely lean in that they have cells set up, their operators make one garment start to finish (aka “hand made”) rather than in stages by piecework. He mentioned that his shirt stitcher (a man) loves to make shirts. That’s all he wants to do. Remember that the next time you pause to pity-from-afar, the line stitcher. Like I keep telling you, it may bore you to work in a sewing line but for some people, it’s the only job they want. I want you to see the pocket on this shirt (below):

No great shakes, eh? I mean it’s perfect, all lined up, stitches are exactly uniform along the seam edge, no big deal right? Looking at it, I asked Tom what method they used to do these. Usually, pockets like this are automated. The pocket is first creased or pressed and automatically set by a pre-programmed stitch pattern; the operator just lines it up with laser sights. But these machines are more typical in an operation larger than Tom’s so I figured they pressed them with a template manually and then set them by hand. Evidently not. Tom -as I correctly surmised- doesn’t have an automated pocket setter. As it happens, Tom’s shirt maker doesn’t pre-press at all. No no. He turns those edges by hand as he’s stitching the pocket into place. Wow. He’s really good!

Then I got to thinking a bit. Don’t we tend to love to do what we do well? Considering the operator’s mastery, it only makes sense that he likes to make shirts. Here’s a photo of the inside seams at the armhole and side seam juncture. Again, these seams are also hand turned.

These shirts are being made for a company that used to outsource. Like many others, they’re trying to bring it all back. Because this label is such a stickler for quality, they’d had their stuff made in Japan. I know the name of the label but being a common word, I couldn’t find their site. Below is a photo of another detail they require. I tell you, whoever runs this company knows their stuff. These facings are hand tacked with a bit of wiggle room so they won’t pull.

The photos below fall in the category of “duh”. My duh, I didn’t know about it. Tom says people have been doing this for awhile. This company took a shirt and applied masking tape in given configurations to illustrate their design changes. I mean, I’ve seen the stray bit of masking tape to mark stitch lines or something but nothing to this extent.

I think this is a great way to illustrate your design changes. Maybe this idea will come in handy for you, assuming you’re as out of the loop as I am and haven’t figured it out already.

Okay, I’m done talking about Tom and Helen now. On Saturday, me, Trish and Sally (who came along on this trip) met up with Birgitte and Grace for brunch. From left to right is Trish, Sally, Birgitte and Grace. Of course before we went to eat, we had to go to that Japanese bookstore over by Toyota headquarters. I didn’t see anything this time that I had to have but the girls picked up some goodies. I do wish they’d get more issues of Misses Stylebook. Supposedly they only order two of each issue.

Later, we went to go have ice cream -well yogurt, real yogurt- at this place. I don’t remember the name of it but I guess the chain is a big deal there. Anyway, they had a very interesting design effect along one wall. You can’t tell but it’s maybe about 12″ out from the real wall.

After snapping these photos, I was very curtly told that people aren’t allowed to take photos in there. How annoying. If I’d done it with my cell phone, they never would have known. I probably wouldn’t have bothered to post the photos but like I said, it was annoying. I really wanted to take a photo of the lampshades they have in there. Birgitte said these shades were cheap (they did look it) and were available everywhere. They had an interesting pleating pattern. She said she’d send me info on how to get one. One of the things I’ve been meaning to post about are these patterns from a book I have, all made of paper. I always thought those would be cool to cut and fold. Lampshade origami as it were.

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12 comments

  1. diane carter says:

    i would be very interested in a post about
    origami. by coincidence, i just got a book
    (fantastic fabric folding-rebecca wat)
    at my local library about fabric folding and
    eager to try some of the 3-d fabric square
    patterns. thanks for the wall photos. quite
    fun.

  2. dosfashionistas says:

    I have never seen masking tape used this way either. What a great idea! I have seen patches of muslin sewed on a sample with notes, but this is cleaner and more precise in every way. Another something new to learn.

    Thanks again Kathleen!

  3. PamelaG says:

    Oh my! It is lovely to see the work of a master craftsman. I work very hard to make my pockets look that good! Your point about honoring people in the work they proudly do is well taken.

  4. Birgitte Mutrux says:

    The yogurt place is called Pinkberry, and yes, so silly that ‘no picture’ thing!! Thanks for reminding me about the lamps lol. Just realized I must have bought a copy; after searching the internet it turns out the original is a Le Klint, from Denmark. And a lot more expensive of course. Bet it’s a lot better quality as well. Mine is cracked and nearly falling off the stand. But I’ll check at the local store if they have more of the copycat or know where to get them. If not I’ll send you mine, cracks and all. Had a great time, miss you.

  5. Birgitte Mutrux says:

    The yogurt place is called Pinkberry, and yes, so silly that ‘no picture’ thing!! Thanks for reminding me about the lamps lol. Just realized I must have bought a copy; after searching the internet it turns out the original is a Le Klint, from Denmark. And a lot more expensive of course. Bet it’s a lot better quality as well. Mine is cracked and nearly falling off the stand. But I’ll check at the local store if they have more of the copycat or know where to get them. If not I’ll send you mine, cracks and all. Had a great time, miss you.

  6. Jan says:

    Thanks! I, for one, will use that hand tack technique on facings from now on. Talk about Duh!
    Why didn’t I come up with that myself since I am so smart. Also found myself fascinated with the origami lampshades, but I have the kind of psyche that needs to stay away from that stuff if I am to get anything else done. But, still, lots of fun.

  7. LisaB says:

    Thank you for the shirt pictures. I can’t imagine ever being good enough to turn those edges by hand and have such a wonderful finish. I really enjoyed looking at such fine work.

  8. J C Sprowls says:

    @LisaB

    Somewhere around the 400th shirt you start getting really good. Turning the pockets is easier than felling the sleeve cap seam. Like all things, though, it just takes practice. Speed develops over time.

    For trainees, I used to cut about 20 12″ X 12″ samples and let them go to town. I used to tell them once they had 10 good samples in a row, they were ready to do them in production. It wasn’t uncommon to find stitchers learning new operations after regular hours. Management tends to still be in the shop about 1 – 1 1/2 hrs past going home time.

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