Product Review Style# 12658

This is a jacket I made for a friend. I love this wool and have made other coats out of it. It washes and wears well. About the sketch sheet; what you see on this one is the most minimal of information that you need to provide to any technical person working with the style. None of this is proprietary information. I intentionally did not use a form but drew it up by hand so you can do this too. The sketch sheet describes this style as a men’s bomber jacket of boiled wool with grey and black stripes on a red background. The jacket has contrasting black lamb sleeves, collar, and trim (welt pockets, facing and waistband). It has a sport collar that zips closed with heavy knit ribbed waistband and cuffs. There’s an inner breast pocket and it is fully lined in a heavy black satin quilted onto 8 oz. wool. It is a size medium.

Now, if you looked at the sketch sheet, you should notice a problem with the above description; specifically, the sheet says black pig suede and above I indicated lamb. This matters. You should not go into a product review without making the correction to the sketch sheet as there is a significant price difference between lamb and pig.

Design:The coat is designed to suit the purpose. It provides adequate body coverage, the wool is dense and warm. The inside pocket was designed to hold -and retain- a palm pilot *without* zippers, snaps or buttons. The wearer can stand on his head and the pilot won’t fall out. Similarly, the coat was specifically designed to be washed. All of the inputs (wool, leather,
lining) were pre-washed. Actually, some of the inputs -most notably the leather- were washed more times than was intended due to “shop conditions”. While you may not have a cat with a lamb fetish, you’ll need to account for your particular shop conditions too. Due to shrinkage of the hides, I ended up with a 4oz leather when I intended 2-3oz. This ended up not being a problem but begs a correction (later). You’ll need to examine the style on the fit model with your reviewers in attendance.

Sizing: overall the jacket looks good but it is a bit too large even for a standard size medium. The largeness of this medium is due to the pattern maker’s preference (me). I’m accustomed to making western wear which tends to run larger than mainstream because cowboy types often do strenuous work so I cut to reflect that. My fit model is a standard medium (5’10” about 180lbs) so I should really cut it smaller to fit my intended target consumer. It still irks me. I may yet cut it apart again.

Fitting (is not the same thing as sizing): It looks pretty good although I think the armhole can be raised at least an inch. Raising the armhole does several things. 1. The wearer will have greater range of motion. 2. Lower costs; with a higher armhole, the sleeve is correspondingly smaller hence leather cost savings.

Features: When the model places his hands in his pockets, there are comensurate stresslines radiating into the shoulder which means the pockets are too high and they may need to be re-angled (now at 45degrees). They definitely need to come down an inch in placement. Similarly, the inside pocket is too high and needs to be lowered about 2″.

Construction: When discussing construction, viewpoints from differing perspectives must be addressed. The sample maker should report any problems they had with construction regardless of what caused it (pattern, fabric, machine etc). The production manager or contractor should be looking at the fabrication to determine what if any problems it represents. In this case, the sample maker (me) would say (my comments), “the pattern worked well, all the notches matched, it was clearly marked, the only problem I had was with the wool. Somehow, it’s growing”. At that point you should ask if the sample maker has any ideas to control it to which I’d respond “The front of the jacket needs to be fused. If we can’t do that, we need a strip of fusing in the armhole, shoulder line and center front along the zipper inset”.

The contractor/production person will be factoring in the costs and extra care needed to lay the fabrics out correctly so the stripes will match. Since the stripes match on the sample , the contractor will assume the match-stripe convention on the pattern is correct as well. The contractor will also be evaluating the style for the types of machines that may be needed to sew it. Regarding this particular style, the whole thing was made by single-needle on a home sewing machine so this shouldn’t be a problem other than the pockets. If the contractor’s shop doesn’t have experience making welt pockets via single needle and doesn’t have a welting machine, they may not do the job. This shouldn’t be a problem tho. Lastly, the contractor will be factoring time (under 30 minutes for total sewing time) and evaluating the item in terms of the skill level of sewing operators. If they’ve made jackets like this before, this will be no problem.

Costing and allocation: This information is absent in this review. There are certain things you must have on hand for the review. You need to have allocation figures (provided by the sample cutter or whoever cuts it out) and the quantities of inputs and types needed (zippers etc should be described by size, length and type on the sketch sheet). Normally you would not discuss sewing costs if any floor people are around; that’s usually a management topic only. I think you should share these cost figures with your pattern maker provided he/she is a private contractor separate from the sewing contractor. If the sewing costs are out of line with past experience, your pattern maker can troubleshoot the reasons for that with you and the contractor. It could be a small glitch is costing unnecessarily.

Review Summary: This style would pass review. Notes regarding the changes must be detailed. These are:
1. The style is not a medium, it is a large. It needs to be graded down one size.
2. The sketch sheet is incorrect. The sleeves and trim are lamb, not pig.
3. The armholes, shoulder, neckline and centerfront must be fused.
4. Outside pockets to be lowered at least 1″ and re-angled.
5. The inside breast pocket must be lowered 2″.
6. Raise the armhole at least 1″.
7. Allocation, inputs and costs are missing.
8. Sewing specifications (may or may not be needed).

The designer is responsible for correcting items 2, 7 and 8. This is not to say the designer is responsible for knowing the answers to those questions but they are responsible for collecting and compiling the information from those who do know. The rest of the changes are executed by the pattern maker. All of these changes will require the pattern to be re-cut but it’ll go faster this time. The changes are easily quantified and it’s about a 4-6 hour job. Had more specific sizing information been available and the sizing was cut correctly, it’d be a 2 hr job at most. This is just one reason why you must be a specific as you can when detailing size specifications. Also, you will need to cut a new sample from the corrected pattern because the changes are too significant to use this sample as the final prototype.

I hope my customer will provide his comments regarding this style as well.

Amended 3/5/2010: My customer is better known today as Mr. Fashion-Incubator. I married him in August 2005

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  1. kathleen says:

    This is a compilation and crude importation of all the comments posted at the original site for this document. Feel free to add your comments.

    3/4/2005 04:56:29 PM Eric said:
    Um, well, I am the customer and I don’t think my comments are going to be nearly as detailed. I’m more of the “it’s pretty but large” type of customer, so … here goes:

    Oh, wait, maybe a little background, first. I have a red ski jacket that I have had since about 1984. Really! It’s down and still quite warm with few tears (my fault) and with an occasional washing, it still looks okay. I think clothing should be like that. I really like the inside breast pocket because you can put a wallet in it, zip it, and it won’t fall out even when horsing around outside. There are plenty of external pockets big enough for gloves and hats.

    This new coat is also very warm. I wanted something similar to a letter jacket, and this style is exactly right. The “designer” added the internal pocket, but while it is big and spill-resistant (not proof), I haven’t really tried playing in the snow or standing on my head as suggested. The internal pocket on the new jacket is a little too high – which is to say, a little higher than my old jacket. I had that jacket a long time (20 years), so I don’t know if it is *relatively* or *absolutely* too high. I’d guess absolutely, though.

    BTW, I think this is an important enough feature that I requested it. I don’t shop enough to tell if designers have realized it, but we are becoming weighted down by portable electronic devices. I have a wallet, a PDA, and recently I started carrying a cell phone. In pants that fit snugly, you can’t get it all in the front pockets (and using the hip pockets either invites disaster, dead batteries, or chronic back problems). An older co-worker noted the other day that he wasn’t sure if his belt was capable of carrying the load anymore. So jacket pocket at least lets you spread the load in the winter. I don’t know what to do about the summer, given that cargo pants look too aptly named.

    The jacket is too large. The oversize sleeves are comfortable, but I can definitely tell that you could reduce the size (diameter) of the sleeve and therefore the expense with no adverse effect on the wearer. The jacket is large enough to wear a sweater underneath and then some, so it is larger than I would have bought if I had a choice of sizes. Also, I didn’t realize it until looking in the mirror, but the shoulders make me look like one of those weight lifters who only works on his shoulders and arms. It’s way out of proportion.

    The side pockets are a little high, but not high enough to be uncomfortable. However, it was obvious that resting my hands in there as I might normally do will stress the corners.

    And that’s all I got to say about tha-at.
    — Forest Gump

    3/4/2005 09:25:28 PM Kathleen said:
    I thought your comments were great, exactly what a fit model or customer should express. I also appreciated that you put designer in quotation marks since I don’t like to insult neither myself nor designers with the comparison (hopefully everyone understands the latter in the spirit it was intended). Lastly, I liked your explanation regarding the necessity of utility and pockets and I think the issue of features as a component of quality design should not continue to be minimized. Probably one of the things I dislike most about women’s rtw is the absence of pockets.

    3/5/2005 12:18:23 AM Josh said:
    Am I allowed to rip this coat a new one? lol I wasn’t sure if I could get in on this exercise too. For me the width of the welt pockets seem too narrow as well. It “feels” wimpy. I would like to see hefty wide welts. Especially since this is a man’s coat. I think it would bring more leather to the front of the coat as well helping to bring in the leather of the arms and making it more harmonious. Also I would like to see if using a solid red would help his frame look less wide like he spoke of.

    3/5/2005 12:24:23 AM Josh said:
    To make myself clearer cause I may not have, by width I do NOT mean the width of the pockets themselves but the welts which look to be .25 of leather on the outside. I would have went with half an inch I guess or a little more maybe.

    3/6/2005 12:37:43 PM Eric said:
    Maybe I missed something here, but I think that Josh’s comments are not per se “product review,” but rather “design review.”

    My idea of a design review for the jacket is somewhat similar to a recent engineering review we did at work. An engineer was given a task to install a subnetwork. After he completed his design and estimate, we convened a review session. We didn’t spend much time reviewing the basic design because we already know he’s a competent engineer. If we spent time reviewing the design, we could never finish because you can’t satisfy everyone. Instead, we focused on whether

    * he has sufficient network security and whether the written procedure or other documentation needs modification
    * he has permission to modify the building
    * the conditions clause of the contract should be modified to protect him from unreasonable interpretation by the customer
    * the price for hangers was correct
    * the labor should include more allowance for documentation and hangers.

    I applied the same theory to this product review: I assumed the “designer” was competent and that the design elements were given, but I did want to point out where the execution had room for improvement. It seems to me that opening the design up for review is design by committee, and the result of that is … well, I give you the Pontiac Aztek. Google “ugliest vehicle” and it comes up first.

    3/6/2005 05:06:23 PM Josh said:
    lol Honey I’m in “Project Runway” land or something, just ignore me.

    3/8/2005 02:30:42 PM Kathleen said:
    I’ve been unable to come up with an appropriate -tactful- response until today when I found this quote: “Never offend people with style when you can offend them with substance” (Sam Brown). A product review is an examination of substance, not style. To review the styling of the item, it’d be called a design review. In other words, in the product review of 12658, we’re looking at substance -not style- performance, structural integrity, costing, production issues, allocation etc. These are things that can be controlled. A product review satisfies substance.

    Traditionally, technical people are not involved in style (design) review because we’re comparatively clueless. That’s why we’re not designers. If we intended to knock you off, we wouldn’t know which designs were worth copying. Only other designers would know the value of any design over another which is why it’s other designers that knock you off and not us. This is yet another reason to trust your tech support (sewing contractors, pattern makers, cutters etc) team.

    Design reviews should be done well before a pattern is ever made. I really need to be clear about the differences in reviews, when they’re used and why. Unfortunately, I didn’t do that before I started posting product reviews so I apologize. Confusing the two types of reviews is common so comments regarding appearance or style were expected. Since design (style) reviews are done well before having a pattern and prototype made, you can see how throwing style issues into a technical review process can confuse things. It’s important to keep them separate because -trust me- you don’t want techies determining your style, just as techies don’t want designers determining substance. I’ll draft a better introduction, perhaps a review of reviews……

    ps. The customer and I designed 12658. We like it. And about the pockets… Welt pocket lips are fairly standard; I’ve never seen double welts with lips that were wide as you described. Only single welts. I don’t even know if you can set up the reece (pocket) machine to sew a double welt with a set of 1/2″ wide lips. That’s an interesting question if you liked that look. I know you can do that by hand but I don’t know about machine. hmmm

    3/8/2005 07:49:24 PM Josh said:
    I wish I had never of opened my big mouth. Excuse me while I go sew it shut lol I know that comment sounded nasty or incredibly free-tongued but it was a mixture of misunderstanding the exercise and also thinking it was construction related. I didn’t mean to insult anyone but reading back I can see why it’s being misunderstood. I apologize profusely. I mean I love the coat and I didn’t at all mean to insult it. When I said “wimpy” I was referring to the welts and not Eric or the entire coat. I would never try and poke you Kathleen or you Eric with a hot poker. I’m here to learn and I don’t want to mess that up by making you guys mad at me.

    I meant a 1/2 inch single welt, yes.

    3/9/2005 04:47:29 PM Kathleen said:
    Josh, I don’t always have the right words to say things the way that I feel them so I come out kind of harsh sometimes. I would be extremely distressed if you ceased making comments -we all make mistakes- this is a new dance, we’ll all learn it fumbling amid missteps. I would like to stress to you that you’ve provided a great service in your comments because it exposed a lack on my part; I needed to cover more ground. I want to educate DEs well. I cannot -continue to- assume that they know these things. If you hadn’t have commented, my mistake would have continued until someone else made a similar comment (just wait, you may have been the first but you will not be the last). You provided an educational opportunity that everyone needs and while I regret that you feel it may have come at your expense, I don’t regret your input in the slightest.

    I look forward to your continued comments and questions and I thank you for a lesson learned.

    3/9/2005 06:36:23 PM Eric said:
    I just want to know what/where “Project Runway” land is. Is that the place populated by seemingly heroin-addicted girls who all happen to be built like young boys?

    And just exactly what were you doing there? ;~)

    3/9/2005 08:20:31 PM Josh said:
    Are you kidding? I’m here to stay! I’m so happy this site exist. I feel like I’m home. I have faith in the internet again. I’m pretty use to saying the wrong things.

    “Project Runway” was this incredible reality show on the BRAVO network. They took 12 up and coming designers and each week they had a challenge. As an example, make a dress out of what you can buy in the grocery store. And each week one person was eliminated. There will be a seaon 2 this year. This is the website. Michael Kors was a judge on the show and he would say the funniest things. Like once he called someone’s outfit “Farty”. You can catch reruns of it all the time. It’s on tonight

  2. todd hudson says:

    I saw that you specified under 30 minutes for the contractor to sew this. I wondering how long it took you to cut, fuse and sew (single needle) this jacket? I trying to figure out time goals to work toward for my own cutting and sewing. I’m working on a similar jacket for myself.
    Thank you

  3. Kathleen says:

    Funny you ask, more people should. It actually takes longer to cut, fuse and mark it than it does to sew it. That’s why those jobs are batch processed. I basically consider a jacket “done” once it’s been cut, marked and bundled. If I just got to it without putzing around, it takes about 3 hours to prep the thing. To sew it up (again, not batch processed, single needle) with everything good to go, it takes a little under two hours. If you’re working on this as a goal, you just have to sew a lot of them; it’s practice. Your biggest time waster is hesitation. I’m not sewing at that level these days so it’d probably take me three hours.

  4. Todd Hudson says:

    Thanks for the feedback. Besides practicing, the details in Section 4 of your book have really helped me cut down production time even though I’m making one piece at a time. It means $$$ in my pocket. Or more time to read your old blog entries.

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