Design review tutorial 1

I guess today’s the day for projects because I have another one. With your help -and I do need your help- we’re going to do a design review to select which design I will be prototyping. If we do this right, this exercise should help you guide your own thinking when reviewing your own sketches.

The designer in question is the boy, of whom I’m officially not allowed to talk. My idea is to take this project from sketch to construction. The whole shooting match.

This project could also be considered part three of the saran wrap pattern making tutorial because I’ll be making a jacket of the boy’s design from the wrap I did in part two. Once I get to the pattern portion of this project I’ll start labeling posts with saran wrap in the title or something. Then again, once we have a style number, maybe I’ll rename the thread with the style number. If you’re suggesting ideas, you’ll have to number your submissions too. I’ll probably start a thread over in the forum under “discuss blog topics” if there’s a lot of interest.

Anyway, this first part is a design review. We have 5 styles to pick from. Actually, only 3. I mislabeled two of the pictures he drew not realizing those were back views. Your mission -should you choose to accept it- is to help me troubleshoot these concepts. Likewise, you are amply encouraged to submit design refinements of your own. The boy’s sketches are shown below:

Here are some issues to guide the discussion:

Fabrication: We haven’t selected a fabrication yet. I’m weighing in towards leather because I have a lot I need to get rid of. The designer says “fabric” but otherwise is non-specific.

Sourcing: The zipper he’s illustrated is an item he says he’s seen around lately. Supposedly it’s a wider/fatter zipper that’s newly fashionable. I haven’t seen the likes of it and need to get one.

Colors: I’m not wild on the idea of white shell with those contrasting colors. Actually, knowing my kid -hell, for that matter, me- white is a poor choice. Especially in “fabric”. I’ve tried to explain the issue of color bleeding but have gotten nowhere. Perhaps the designer will get it if you explain.

Refinement: I like the overall concept -although he’s drawn other designs before that I like better than these- but I think the lines of these could be cleaned up a bit.

Design details: The collar is going to be a problem. Then again, maybe I’ll end up “inventing” a new kind of collar. I already told him that #11004 (a back view) is going to be a problem. I think it’s one of those things that might look cool in a sketch but won’t work in real life. Also, I’m not sure how the sleeves and hems are finished either.

Functional elements: No pockets are illustrated so we’ll have to add those. A coat is worthless otherwise. The contrasting pieces may need to be altered just a tad because I’m thinking I can stick in some pockets invisibly in those seams.

Budget: The designer has offered to pay me $50 :)! While that’s obviously untenable in real life, I’d like to discuss the costs of prototype design as we go along. In this case, since the costs of design development are so high, I’d prefer to stick to a bomber type styled jacket. I have all the ribbing and what not but then, we’d really be pushing the limits of “design creep”.

Time line: He says he wants this for his birthday in May but I think May is just a little too toasty to wear it. While it’s nice he’s not pushing for a turn around next week, I would like to finish this in January.

Illustration: I think it’d be fun if we had an illustrator in our midst who’d volunteer to clean up the style once we selected one. Anybody out there who can draw?

Construction: As a pattern maker and regarding the sewing of those design contrast pieces, I can go one of two ways. One would be sewing dot-to-dot which requires deadly accuracy in pattern making (my favorite, I love to show off). The other way -which is easier sewing-wise but more work pattern-wise- is proprietary and I’m not willing to publish that portion of the construction except by subscription (or those who’ve donated to support the site).

So have at it. Hopefully the designer will be posting his own comments too.

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  1. Jess says:

    Me! I would be willing to do technical drawings when all the details are worked out. I’m wondering about the tiger stripe type designs would those be blocked in or applique? This might be interesting as a down jacket and have the tiger stripes be blocked and quilted in. How difficult will it be to match the stripes on the body to the sleeves? I think the interesting collar design might work on something else but it seems to get lost here. I would go with a hoodie in the back like on style# 11002.

  2. Jan says:

    For the colors, how about making the white gray and the gray black and keep the red. I am confused about how the sleeves are attached. The drawing looks like a sort of kimono sleeve. A set in sleeve might be less bulky, but then the surface design might be more difficult. How about if you cut the hood in one piece with the fronts, like an extended shawl collar? Also, I can see why the Boy might like the chunky zipper, but I wonder if it might not be unconfortably bulky when the wearer sits down or bends over. Just some thoughts.

  3. Mike G says:

    I think this jacket would be good as sportswear, meaning it would have to be made of polyester.
    I want to go with the style #11003 for the front and the style #11004 for the back. We could use Velcro to hold the pattern in place so it doesn’t loosely hang out of the desired drawn shape.

  4. jinjer says:

    How about nylon ripstop? I kinda like the bulky gangsta look it creates, and I’ve never had Nylon bleed on me, so maybe the red-on-white wouldn’t be so bad. I think it stains, though… Plus, he’d be able to wear it on his birthday.

    I think I’ve seen the zippers at Naraen’s, a place to buy fabric and notions for camping gear & other outdoor items. Might be able to track a wholesale source through them, and at least use their (overpriced) zippers for the sample.

    I really like the collars on 11005 and 11004. I think they’d look good on a bomber-style, too. You might be able to get the cut-out look by sort of reverse appliqueing white or even clear vinyl panels under the shapes, with just 1/4″ of the shape hanging over the edge to emphasize the floating effect. Plus, that would make it a hoodie with interesting seams available for shaping…

    I like the red stripe where it is–it comes across the chest nicely. Maybe you could split the stripes in half so that a pocket could be invisibly inserted in the seam connecting the two red stripe halves. The lower, black stripe could be moved for better pocket placing, or maybe just be shorter so that the pocket drooped from it’s tip. I’d applique the stripes on (double stitched edges, I’m thinking) to match the cut-out effect collar.

    What is “design creep”?

    I would like to finish this in January.
    hell, why not! (this would be sarcasm if you asked ME to finish this in January, but for you, it’s flat fact.)

    Illustration: I think it’d be fun if we had an illustrator in our midst who’d volunteer to clean up the style once we selected one. Anybody out there who can draw?

    Hey, we could have an illustration contest juried by the boy! Winner gets to know that proprietary stuff!

    explain why sewing dot to dot requires pattern accuracy rather than sewing accuracy?

    except by subscription (or those who’ve donated to support the site).

    oooh, how much is a subscription ;)

  5. Dave says:

    This type of excercise that we have been asked to
    participate in, is typical of what contract manufacturers are asked to do and create on a daily basis. Many times we are not given any guidelines to follow, as Kathleen has provided, and handed a sketch and asked to cost it out. Please, anyone who has read this topic, consider all the variables when thinking bulk production.
    It is very important, and quite often overlooked.
    Jess has mentioned the possibilty of doing a down
    version. Perhaps even quilting it. I think downfill would be awesome, but a quilted finish will wipe out the striping motif, and make it difficult to mass produce. Jinjer, I think an applique overlay on any part of the garment would be overkill.(much cleaner as an insert). I just finished a down jacket for a ski resort in France that had a big “Tristar” insert covering the whole back, and we were satisfied with the cut and sewn inserts. The “boys” need for a high gauge zipper will really make this garment standout. These zippers are traditionally used for heavier canvas bags/accessories, but are starting to be used in clothing. They are not hard to find. Pockets should not be a problem on any of the styles either. Overall, I think the design has good possibilties. And yes , what is “design creep” ?

  6. Jess says:

    How does the quilting wipe out the striping motif? What if the quilting was just basic horizontal lines over the blocked tiger designs?

  7. Carol Kimball says:

    [This comment has been edited at Carol’s request]

    Jinjer: “…why sewing dot to dot requires pattern accuracy rather than sewing accuracy?”

    Pattern accuracy has to come before sewing accuracy.
    Why not quilt along the patterns?

    This zipper source is buried in the Discussion Forum:

    “M” at bottom right is as big as most (metal) camping-style zips I’ve seen and comes in several colors.

    Clarification of the dangly-cross hood detail on 11004?

    Is piecing really more cost-effective with these long, narrow, bias pieces than applique’?

  8. Eric H says:


    I don’t think we’re really looking to reinforce the gangsta look, if you know what I mean. The baggy thing needs to be over. What started out as middle class kids copying the accidental “style” of urban youths wearing oversized hand-me-downs and exploded into an MTV- and brand-consciousness fueled cultural juggernaut, needs to die the same death as the hula hoop, platform shoes, afros on white people, and leg warmers. Especially afros on white people. And the Gremlin. The days when you have to reach down near your knees to access your hip pocket, when a pair of pants for an average-sized person requires the same amount of fabric as an 8-man bivouac tent (and the corequisite cleaning chemicals and drying energy!), when we have to look at BVDs and hairy butt cracks, … they need to follow the days of 8-tracks and 45 adapters into history.

    Plus, people who think they can be gangsta by dressing gangsta (well, if ganstas shop at the nearest FUBU outlet), are likely to get their asses kicked by actual gangstas who know gangsta things like, well, like how to kick the asses of wannabe gangstas. I don’t think your hostess wants to encourage the behavior precisely because of her fear of this outcome.

    Design creep: when the final design looks nothing like the original, as in, “it started out to be a simple jacket and the next thing I know I’ve signed up to complete a Christo treatment of Phobos (a Martian moon).” It’s a problem in which the work presently required is so different from that which was contracted that a change order should have been negotiated, but the change is so subtle that it flies under the radar and puts the contractor into the red. Unethical people will start out with a simple requirement and then subtly but intentionally change the requirement so the contractor doesn’t ask for a renegotiation. Distilled down, it’s when the designer says, “I want it exactly the same [as our last collaboration], but completely different. Y’know, a short-sleeve cotton T-shirt for $8 retail, but with long sleeves, maybe an outer shell, a zipper, pockets, insulation, and made out of Gore-Tex.”

  9. Dave says:

    This striping is bold and any quilting whether it is straight or boxed or diamond etc.. will take away from the overall effect. In downfill, the down has to be chanelled or quilted to prevent migration, but can be done on the inside. You can then create the design on the outer with any woven fabric without disturbing the continuity of the design. Downfill can have up to 5 layers. Yes, you could quilt it on the ouside, but it won’t look as dramatic. But if you tried, who knows what the outcome will look like.

  10. Eric,
    ha ha ha ha (repeat indefinitely)!

    Okay, yeah, I don’t really LIKE the gangsta thing; you’ve caught me in a “trying to tailor the look to a popular fashion trends thats sucks” act. Branded!

  11. Alison Cummins says:


    I personally hate waist-level pockets. They’re too easy to stuff things into and they get really bulky in a place I don’t like to see bulk. I prefer breast pockets: I’m right-handed, so a left-side breast pocket with a vertical zip is just right for my wallet. I think this could be integrated into the tiger stripes without compromising the design.

    Design creep:

    Since the designer has gone to the trouble of drawing a clearly-defined waist, I suspect breast pockets would suit. A bomber jacket doesn’t have a waist and might not. (If I were the designer it definitely wouldn’t.)


    If this sleek design were to be made up in leather, it would look like an artsy motorcycle jacket from the eighties. Very cool: I would wear it. But not everyone would.

    If it were made up in something unusual (for this type of design) like melton, it would be even cooler.

    I suspect the designer is imagining something soft and supple that would make a comfortable hood; my concern is that such a material would not show off the tiger stripes to their best advantage.


    Breast pockets, leather fabrication, keep the waist.

  12. christy fisher says:

    My first question was – what type of sleeve is this? Raglan? Set in? All in one cut (sleeve/body)?
    It seems the sleeve style will make a huge difference in the cutting/placement of the graphic, as it looks like the graphic runs across various sleeve lines.
    I like the back interest on 11004.
    It seems an applique would be more feasible that a pieced graphic.

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