Do you know when you’re on the wrong path? pt.2

In the first segment, I asked how it was one could know they were on the wrong path while in the throes of line love using Jana’s example. We got a lot of good responses. My impressions overlap with some of yours but diverge too.

Steps 1-4: I don’t see a problem with what transpired in this stage. To recap, Jana decided to produce a line because a professor said she’d buy some stuff for her store; a deal that ended up falling through. The reason I think it’s okay is because we all need some kind of push to get us going. It’s that bit of incentive to inspire us to move forward. How you handle it is another matter.

Step 5 is where things started to go awry. The first part is good. Jana hired a pattern maker, sample maker, used fit models etc and made some samples. These are all good things. However, she closes with “OK! its time for production” which is when she left the path because as several mentioned, she didn’t have any orders.

But it’s more than not having orders. Before she sought orders, she needed to go to the contractor to have samples made. The samples made in house won’t work. Not unless you’ll be doing production in house.

In the book I explain how sample production is designed to prevent problems. This stage tests your mettle and that of your contractor because this stage is more than just getting samples for selling. The main reason is to test your pattern and to test a sewing contractor for suitability. A lot of patterns aren’t ready; it’s only through sampling that this may be discovered (it should be before then but that’s another story). The contractor has to make up one sample in advance in order to cost the job anyway.

Once off the path in step 6, she went to a contractor that made belts for her. This is a problem in two ways. First, dresses are an entirely different product. The contractor probably shouldn’t have taken this job but Janna went in and helped them sew one up. As several of you mentioned, she should have had them make another one on their own.

Once you go off the path, there’s any number of things that can go wrong; the system is designed for checks and balances so without those, it’s anyone’s guess. This was brought to bear in step 8. I can only imagine two ways that the dresses were too big if she supplied them with a graded pattern set (pattern grading should not take place until after you have orders!). That would be that her patterns weren’t workable so they remade them only they didn’t tell her or the contractor used smaller seam allowances.

Now that last bit doesn’t add up. The seam allowances on the pattern would had to have been inordinately large to make that much of a difference. Meaning, maybe her pattern maker wasn’t so hot even with “30 years of experience”. I know plenty of people who make similar claims but they embellish quite heavily so “experience” is obviously in the eye of the beholder.

The matter of bad stitching is relatively minor from a cost perspective when compared to what the sizing tolerance can imply because the former could have been avoided with proper sampling procedures. Meaning, she would have gone to another contractor who would have been better for the product and only been out the cost of a sample she can’t use. The alternative, that the patterns needed to be re-made was more grave as it puts her back at the beginning of step 5 (having patterns re-cut) and with all its associated and higher costs.

At close Jana mentions “I’m sure this is all in your book” and indeed it is, within the first 80 or so pages. I also told her she should join the forum (she qualifies for a free year’s membership) but she hasn’t done that so this leads me to speculate as to whether this is an endeavor that is suited for her time constraints or perspectives at this time. What is certain is that she will have to regroup. How quickly she recovers could depend on whichever step she elects to redo. Obviously I think she needs to go back to step five, not for production but for sample production testing to determine that the patterns and the contractor are both optimal.

Thanks for all your great responses!

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  1. Rose says:

    To be totally fair, it sounds like Jana is experiencing her first setback in her career as a fashion designer. I’m also doing things for the first time around, and sometimes it feels like the littlest things are able to totally derail me! Sometimes I need to catch my breath and procrastinate a little bit on seeking out the help I need. There’s a time and a place for that kind of thing, and if she can spend a week taking bubble baths and not suffer serious setbacks in her life, more power to her. So maybe the fact she hasn’t joined the forum isn’t indicative of anything…. yet.

    If she still hasn’t signed up in two weeks, either she’s too proud or she’s given up. And I know she’s probably reading this, so I’m going to go ahead and say that the forums are fantastic for getting the feel of how things are supposed to proceed, and also good for bouncing ideas around. It’s not the fastest moving place in the world, but the archives are great.

    Speaking of which, when are you implementing a good archive search ;)

  2. Myrrhia says:

    I would love an archive search of the forum. I feel embarrassed coming to it with questions or starting a new thread, only to find out that it had been fully addressed back in 2005.

  3. Marie-Christine says:

    Heartbreaking to see someone do so much right, and then one misstep and blecch…
    Hopefully Jana will find it encouraging to have been so close?

  4. Kathleen says:

    Rose: it is doubtful I will ever implement a good archive search. I just don’t have the technical acumen to build it. The finest Word Press minds haven’t optimized search so I’m unlikely to do it either as much as I wish I could. Search is the downside of Word Press. Realizing that is why I started publishing links to older entries every week.

    Myrrhia: Searching in the forum is actually easier than the blog. The key is knowing how to do it. Hopefully these guidelines will help return better results.

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