A reader asks (I forgot to ask if she wanted to be anonymous so I’m erring on the side of caution):
In your book when you talk about line size, you mentioned that if you were doing purses you would design 8 and cut down to 4. Are 4 purses from 1 pattern in 4 different colors of fabric categorized as 4 designs? Or does 1 pattern equal 1 design no matter how wide the fabric variety?
I would say that 1 pattern in 4 different colorways is 1 style. However it is common that due to the characteristics of given fabrics, you could need a different pattern for a given fabrication and some designers don’t know to make the distinction. The easiest example is leather for which you’d probably need a separate pattern. Also, if you need to cut a separate pattern for a given fabrication and even though it looks exactly like it’s mates (other than fabrication), it will need its own style number. To further complicate matters -assuming you can use the same pattern for all fabrications- one style may need it’s own style number anyway. You’d issue a new number for a style if the costs to produce it were disproportionate to the costs of the other similar pieces. For a refresher on style numbers and how they function in sorting pattern pieces as “part numbers” see these posts: A Cutter’s Must, A Cutter’s Must pt 2, How Blocks Work and PN numbers.
Another example is more common to apparel and deals with shrinkage. If you’re cutting the same blouse in 3 different colorways, it is possible you’ll need 3 different patterns. This is due to shrinkage. If one fabrication shrinks inordinately in comparison to the other styles, you’ll need to cut the pattern with a shrinkage allowance (you can see how to cut for shrinkage on pg 159 of my book) so that when all is said and done (e.g. garment washed), all the blouses will be the same size. Again, if you’ve had to make a separate pattern, you’ll need a different style number.