This is something that’s bugged me for a long time and I don’t have a ready solution for it but I thought I’d bring it up in the event it will help you avoid problems with a cutting service. This is yet another of my pet peeves and it has to do with cutting services who make a big fuss over mixed markers. Mixed markers are how I describe a marker that has more than one style in it, maybe you call it something else. Maybe you’ve had this experience or you might in the future but this is the heads up on old-think cutting services stuck in tired old ways of doing business -in my opinion of course. If you think I’m wrong, fine. Tell me all about it but one way or another, I think it needs to change.
Typically when you have something cut, you trot over to the cutting service or contractor who’s doing it, with your markers and fabrics or you have them shipped or whatever and you provide the cutting service with the marker, cutter’s must (to double check the marker) and a cut order plan. The cut order plan details the number of plies (layers) of each fabric per colorway (usually cut in one batch), the location of any splice marks (see fig 4.12, pg 119 of the guide) and whether it’s a stepped spread or not and if it is, the design of it as well as the affected colorways. [A stepped spread means that a length of goods doesn’t run the entire length of the marker so it falls short of the full length, a common situation. You may need a stepped spread based on the number of sizes ordered]. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about with reference to markers and planning a marker based on orders received, review the entire chapter on making markers and cut order planning in the book, pgs 114-120 because it’s so involved I couldn’t even begin to explain that here.
Anyway, the way things used to be done almost exclusively, was that there was only one style per marker. In other words, you’d need one marker for each style. Now, in the heady days of vast domestic manufacturing in huge lots, this worked just fine. Today, it’s another story. These days you have smaller companies running smaller lots and they want to combine more than one style into one marker (a mixed marker). Personally, I don’t see a problem with this. In my opinion, this is more efficient. If you’re using the same fabrics across styles and particularly if the pieces are small, I don’t see why these can’t all be thrown into one marker assuming you can get the order quantities to balance out. However, some old-think cutting services will throw a blooming fit if you do this and this bugs me to no end!
For example, let’s assume you make infant wear or swim suits. Those pieces are really small. A spread of one style can end up being just a yard or so long and that’s for three or four sizes. Now, since you have to have an allowance of 2″ for each end of each lay -and splice mark-, that can end up being a lot of waste. In my opinion, it makes more sense to throw in more than one style (again, assuming you can get the order quantities to balance with little difference either way) into this spread to reduce your wasted lay ends (minimally). A lot of companies will do this in house if they’re doing their own cutting and sewing but if you’re using a cutting service, you’re going to have to ask in advance. You don’t want to have your goods spread and then have the cutter throw a fit. Like the cutter I saw throwing a hissy fit last week. He was practically apoplectic and way out of bounds in relation to the issues at hand.
This is the cutter’s deal as far as I can tell and it all boils down to sorting, a very very simple operation. This is not brain surgery but simple sorting folks. When somebody cuts for you, they cut all the stuff , they sort it and they bundle it. This means they put all of the stacks of smalls together, the stacks of mediums etc based on size and tie them into a package, wrap it, laminate it or whatever to keep the pieces together. Now, if it’s only one style, they don’t have to think. They can numbly match all the “S”s, “M”s and not have to think about it. However, if you’re cutting more than one style in the marker, the sorting job can’t be done as mindlessly as before. A multi style marker (mixed marker) requires that they first separate all of the pieces belonging to each style first, before they start matching up sizes per style to bundle them. In my opinion, this is not a big deal. So you have to use some processing power, big deal. It doesn’t take much longer. If anything, I don’t see why the cutter doesn’t just add a surcharge for the extra sorting and bundling operation but no, they don’t price things that way. Previously, they’d priced sorting and bundling in with cutting as one operation. Sorting and bundling stacks cost-wise is basically a throw away because it’s so minimal and hard to charge for because the processing is so simple and it takes very little time in relation to the size of the cut. This literally means sliding stacks of pieces per size, stacking them and tieing them together. No big deal. With a mixed marker though -to reiterate- they have to sort per style first before they match up sizes. In my opinion, this is not a big deal but you may find that your cutter will throw the biggest fit. I swear that the man I saw last week looked one jot away from throwing himself to the floor to pummel it with his fists and all the vigor and fury a spoiled preschooler could muster and he looked just as mature. He turned bright red, like he was holding his breath and preparing to squall -like an infant. Really! Okay, so maybe I exaggerate a little. Still, it was quite a sight. And this wasn’t the first time either although this time I had witnesses to commiserate with and to compare notes. My companion thought it was just as silly and a huge waste of time.
In other words, I think mixed markers are a great solution for small spreads and small quantities but don’t assume your cutter agrees. Be sure that putting more than one style into a marker is okay with them before you have the marker made. I think it’s only fair to pay a surcharge to cover extra sorting time and you might offer to pay one -quick like- if somebody starts turning red and stops breathing in readiness to howl with outrage but the surcharge should be very minimal. It might take ten minutes longer than before so whatever that is worth. I am just amazed at the degree of over reaction to this idea; it’s way out of proportion. Some people just can’t tolerate changing their work practices at all. But then again, maybe I’m missing something. Still, there’s no reason to throw a fit over it when simple discussion will suffice.