I have been reading your book and am enjoying it and learning a lot. As I mentioned, I am using knits. Well, my pattern maker said it would be best to have material pre-washed before cut and sew and made the patterns according to that. The option would be to readjust the pattern according to shrinkage due to washing after cut and sew, but he said it wasn’t a good idea- possibly not having a good fit. Well I did what he said. I cut 10 yard pieces and washed them in my washing machine. Then, the first roll, I cut at a friend’s warehouse who makes umbrellas. Three of us spread the cut pieces, 12ply and cut with electric cutters. It seemed to work alright, I haven’t sewn them yet.
But I’m sure this is not the way it’s done. I am meeting with a professional cutter today and he won’t cut it that way and said to get it washed and put back on the roll, but my amount is so small that it will be hard to find someone to do this not to mention the extra cost( I have no idea what). What would you have done as far as patterns? Am I doing this the hard way? Are most patterns made to readjust after shrink factor? This seems so inefficient, not to mention there is about 6 inches of space between each size on the marker.
I spoke with Laura by phone and I’m left perplexed. Things are definitely not done the way that this pattern maker did it. Unfortunately, she hadn’t gotten to that part in the book yet, before this particular job had been started. In the book I show how to test and measure shrinkage as well as how to cut a pattern for shrinkage (starting on pg. 159) assuming you’re making your own patterns or need to check the work of others. If you’re going to a professional service, it is standard that they’ll cut the pattern to allow for shrinkage. In fact, this is one of the reasons CAD systems are so useful because they make these corrections so easily. Of course you’ll have to calculate the percentage of shrinkage and provide that information to them but Laura assures me she did this. I quizzed her on her pattern maker’s set up -he has a CAD system- and has been doing this for years so I cannot imagine why he did her job this way.
Laura said that the marker he made ran 10 yards which is why she cut the length of goods to that measure. However, when she took the marker to her cutter, the cutter cut the marker apart (recalling the 6″ of space between each size) and shortened the marker to only seven yards. That leaves 3 yards of excess in each lay. Since the cutter was apparently professional, I’m assuming he could have done a stepped spread to recover some of the losses. Still, there had to be inefficiencies that wouldn’t have been there had the thing been made correctly from the get go.
Oh, and that reminds me of something I’ve been meaning to tell you for a long time. Cutters are particular. It is best -best mind you- to get a referral for the making of your marker from your cutter. If you can. A cutter is the best judge of a marker maker’s skill. Unfortunately, because cutting comes after marker making, people often make this mistake -and who would know to do it any other way? It really is counterintuitive but so is most of my advice. I found out the hard way myself. I took a marker into a cutter once and he took one look at it and threw up his hands. He said to never use that marker maker (who had 20 years in the business by the way) because you could drive a truck through his markers. People often assume that pattern pieces are butted up against each other because we’re cheap and want to save money on fabric, but that’s a very small part of it! Cutting accuracy is greatly enhanced if pieces share cut lines (see the top of pg 115). Cutting is faster and more accurate with well-made tight markers. Otherwise, loose edges can splay and spread on subsequent passes depending on the fabric and the number of plies.
In short, you have to backtrack in the process to get the right referrals. A contractor will know which pattern makers make good quality production patterns. Fit and design translation is another thing entirely; you’ll have to find one that does both well. Fortunately, good production pattern makers are also good at that sort of thing. If a pattern maker can only do the ideation part well, they’re not very good. Then, you also have to get a referral from the contractor for the cutter (assuming they’re not doing their own cutting). From the cutter, you need to get a referral for the marker maker. However, if you use an established service -admittedly as Laura did- you’ll have few problems.
Judging from how Laura described this pattern maker’s operation and length of time working in the business, he has to be legitimate (his patterns are good quality, they fit and sew together well). Still, I’m at a loss to understand how a professional could have done something like this. It’s bizarre. There were a couple of other things he did which are too complex to describe here so it leaves me wondering if the guy has early onset dementia (he’s in his late 50’s). Another tip off is that he’s charging her ridiculously low prices, equivalent to what you’d expect to pay twenty or thirty years ago (which is a good thing since her patterns will all have to be remade). With so many of the good pattern makers being older -some are quite elderly- dementia wouldn’t be so far fetched. I’m just floored at her story. Have any of you ever heard of such a thing? I’ve heard plenty of these kinds of stories about home sewing pattern makers who think they know enough to pick up small industry jobs (for DEs who know even less than they do) but nothing like this from an industry person. Have you ever heard such a thing? This is just too bizarre.