I’m doing a product review of a style from Dada Dress. Graciously, the designer has allowed me to share some of those details with you. Before I proceed any further into the minutia of pattern checking, I wish to make it perfectly clear that the samples I am reviewing are exemplary. This is an outstanding sample of work; the best I’ve seen from a DE in my fifteen years of working with them. Some of the details I found -specifically the asymmetrical notching system design on the contrast insets, a complex job- were so outstanding I would have hugged the designer had she been standing next to me.
But first, the basics. When checking a pattern the first thing is completeness. I don’t know if the designer read the post Sending patterns off for correction but she probably did judging from the results. Namely, I had a hard copy (oak tag) pattern, a sewn sample and a cutter’s must. The only information I didn’t get was seam allowance but I’ll qualify that by saying I could derive the information from the sample and the pattern design. In other words, if you do generally nice work with demonstrable competency, others can come behind you and make sense of what’s missing derivatively. If your work is all over the map, not following a set pattern of standard practices, people will have to come and bug you to figure it out.
Before one even begins to lay seam lines together to check pattern accuracy, a preliminary review of form and industry standard conventions is in order. The first things to check are:
- Medium: this designer used standard oak tag paper. Tracings on alpha-numeric paper are acceptable but oak tag is always optimal.
- Color coding: all of the pieces were color coded correctly.
- Style numbers: each piece was clearly labeled with a four digit style number. And the numbers were good, nothing goofy about them. :) (see parts one, two and three)
- Information Block. The pattern must have a block of information with specific information. All handwritten information must be legible, neat block lettering is preferred with as few words and letters as is possible. Specifically, the information block includes:
- Piece ID: Each piece was given a unique piece name.
- Fabrication: This designer indicated all shell, lining and canvas pieces correctly.
- Cut: The number of units to cut from each piece was included.
- Size: The size is needed. Our friend did forget to mark the size. She had told me the size by phone but do remember to always write that down.
- Directional: If it is important that the piece be cut in only one way, this must be marked as R.S.U. or Face Up. If this is due to nap, you must write “Nap” and a short arrow indicating the grain of the pile. This was omitted in this sample pattern.
- Pattern or Direction Card: A pattern card or a direction card is a part of the pattern (read from the links above to see what one looks like). The designer included the cutter’s must but didn’t have one of these. This card can serve the function of a tracking device; relating the history of the style. You keep notes on the back. Anytime you fit it, you transcribe your notes there. Anytime you change the pattern, you write down what you did to it and when. It’s a style diary. You can buy these cards from Adam’s Press or Ahearn’s. You’ll have to order by phone with Adam’s Press (213-627-2151). Other suppliers sell these cards too.
- Grain line: Not all pieces but most of them, need a grain line. All of these pieces had grain lines.
The above concludes the basics of conventions pertaining to pattern configuration. Now I have a small lesson for you. This is one of those things that could end up taking you years to figure out because nobody will tell you about it because it’s not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things and one can feel guilty complaining about it when there’s so many other things to fret over. Specifically, the issue is the best way to draw grain lines. It’s not a big deal but down the road it can be a bit irritating to a pattern grader.
Below is a picture of two pattern pieces. I copied the piece on the right to make the duplicate you see on the left.
Regarding the original piece on the right, other than the omission of R.S.U, there is nothing wrong with the marking of the pattern piece (the designer didn’t have a notcher at the time). Technically, it’s correct but bears improvement. Specifically, your grain line should run the full length of the piece, run it off of either edge. Doing this will make it easier to cut your pieces out. If a hand marker is being made, it’s much easier to line the full length of the piece correctly. If your grainline is short and stubby, we don’t have much to work with. The longer a line, the greater the accuracy. Similarly, were you to extend the grainlines of all your pieces, you may find the lines were off and would want to correct them.
I know some people don’t mark the full length of their grainlines because they don’t have rulers that long. I recommend you get these from standard apparel suppliers; they’re two inches wide and of a nice weight. It’s such a pleasure to use nice tools. Buy one longer than your longest piece. My longest one is 96″. Spend a little less on stationary and marketing and buy some nice tools. :)
Checking a pattern pt.2