Why pattern makers resist learning CAD

I’d intended to post my last Magic post today and then go onto to finishing up our mitten contest (I still have two unposted entries) but I left my stack o’ stuff at home. Lucky you. So instead, I’m posting tomorrow’s entry today. This is in reference to some emails I got when I was on the road. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I got these two messages, coincidentally back to back. Consider the first. Donna admits she’s “a new pre-production manager for a dress firm in L.A.” and asks…

I’m looking for a better spec sheet writing method that we have now…Also, advice on what level of expertise a spec sheet writer must have given that we have excellent, though “old school”, pattern makers. My other major issue is getting our old school flat patternmakers to accept the changeover to CAD. Our top PM recently walked out after just seeing a Gerber rep in the department. We have her back but….you see the problem. Anything you can offer would be much appreciated.

My first suggestion was that she -especially being new- get the book but no dice as of yet. She’s only written back to reiterate her first requests. I’m also sensing a negative attitude with regard to “old school” pattern makers. But maybe that’s just me. Email can fall flat. Still, being an old school pattern maker myself, I can understand why she’s experiencing conflict with the staff. It would be very difficult to work with a supervisor who doesn’t know anything about the business or deprecated my years of experience and it doesn’t make sense that she insist pattern makers learn new things while she resists doing it herself. Still, I know lots of reasons why a pattern maker would resist -what’s the platform? What’s the product? And yes, there are pattern makers who can beat a CAD operator; why not just digitize those patterns in? But I digress. Back to the two messages coming in back to back and whether I should laugh or cry, here’s the other message from an “old school” pattern maker (edited to omit the guilty parties). Also, the added emphasis is mine:

I have been in the industry all my life, I started with production sewing in a company that produced bras and ladies foundations, worked my way up around the floor and cutting room, made markers manually, also spread and cut. I decided to go back to school to learn design and pattern making, I loved the patternmaking better than the design, landed a pattern job right away with a manufacturer of sportswear knits. There I manually drafted (in the 80’s) first patterns, production patterns, graded, did spec sheets and diagrams, also made markers and some sample sewing. This lasted for ten years most of which was pattern drafting. That company downsized, then closed. Next I did patterns for a local children’s PJ manufacturer and womens underwear company where I also learned about silk screening designs in a dept where I needed to mark the placements on my patterns for the cutting room and the pressers. Well that place is now a distribution center, including the bra factory as well. So I went on and landed a position with [World Famous Quality Outerwear Manufacturer] near my hometown. There I did first patterns, production patterns, specs, grading, fit sessions, worked with all the designers, (they are in house, the other places I had to contact them in the NY offices) I worked with the sample sewers, fabric designers and with the offshore accounts. I did women’s and men’s sportswear, dresses, shirts, skirts, pants, and most of all very complex outerwear and of course beautiful wools, which most were plaid with 50 pieces that had to be matched for the markers, through to down filled parkas with about 100 pieces and fur ruffs,etc…… worked with them for about 8 yrs. Then I guess you could say I burned out…..I resigned…..from a great position, but I could not concentrate anymore.

The reason is, when I was at World Famous Outerwear Manufacturer, we used Gerber Accumark, then went to [Shall Remain Nameless] CAD system which I think is a joke. After I left they went back to Gerber (I heard) because they had a hell of a time converting files to send offshore plus out to the cutting room so I guess that never did happen. After [Shall Remain Nameless] CAD system came and gave them a song and a dance about why they were the best, well I’d say they could sell roller skates to a snake with their sales crap and World Famous Manufacturer bit, hook, line, and sinker! Well one reason I left there was my manager said I was refusing to learn [Shall Remain Nameless] CAD system, that was not true, I did learn the CAD but I didn’t like it as much as Gerber, plus up until then I was able to manual draft some designs then digitize pieces into Gerber, after we got [SRN] CAD system my manager would not allow manual drafting at all, (he knows nothing about pattern making). He wanted us to do everything on the [SRN] CAD system because we just bought so much of it, 6 stations. Well I argued of course, that it is faster to draft maybe the first pattern or parts of it then put it in the system. finish it up and grade it from, which I know is faster. He just would not listen. One day he asked me when a certain pattern design I was working on would be done, and I asked him that depends. If I draft it on the table or in the system, on the table would be much sooner. He informed me that I needed to learn the system and create it with that, so I told him how much longer it would take and he didn’t like it. I guess he thought then I was resisting to learn the [SRN] CAD system. So on and on, and finally the stress drove me nuts and you know the rest. So needless to say, they just split my workload between 3 others after I left although the others worked overtime and long hours for a really long time (I heard) and when it gets to be the busy part of the year, they work their butts off again….Sorry about the long letter, I didn’t mean to vent….

Venting about CAD systems and supervisors aside (I know many of you commiserate), it’d be great if we could explain the reasons why otherwise reasonable people will resist the adoption of new technologies. I have my own ideas on how the needs and demands of the two can be melded but what can you offer from your own experience?

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