Review & Giveaway: The Organized Fashion Designer

esther_book_coverOne of our long time forum members and occasional guest author here is Esther Melander. A long time pattern maker and grader, she also has her own blog. She has recently published a simple (but not simplistic) book of forms called The Organized Fashion Designer. A brief synopsis is:

The forms included in this manual can be used to create a simplified tech pack. I f you create a complicated product, you may need a more detailed tech pack that is professionally prepared by a technical designer. A simple tech pack can also help those just starting out in the sewn product industry or even advanced home hobbyists. Detailed explanations follow so that you will know how to fill out each form. Some forms are meant for your own use and some are intended for use by contractors.

There are 3 types of forms (with plenty of crossover). The first are in house forms used to collect and organize information. This would include forms for measurements, grade rules, style number management and quality specifications.

A second type of form is used to organize other aspects of your business such as tracking fabrics, tracking orders, cost analysis and inventory management.

A third use of the forms is tied to organizing information for specific styles. A list of suggested form use appears on page 3 of the book (and at close of this post).

Together, one can use the forms in combination (omitting others of course) to create simplified tech packs to hand off styles to pattern makers and sewing factories.

Things I liked:
The swatch header forms: I don’t have to buy many fabrics so my in-house form is simpler but I do wish my customers were more organized with the swatches they send me.

The grade rules form is also great to have; again, my job would be easier if customers sorted this information more neatly. I also liked the way she explained how to derive the grade rules for people who aren’t exactly sure what they’re supposed to write in there. All forms are illustrated with sample data.

I would say that the strength of this book is in its simplicity and brevity. It has unusual forms, forms that are routinely overlooked in most books (mine included) but so necessary. Specific examples of forms in this category are the product inventory form, pattern number tracking (I wrote about before), raw materials inventory and a new product tracking. The latter is similar to a T & A (time and action) or production calender but more detailed per style. I think this sort of form is better suited to smaller lines.

If you’re doing most of your pattern work in-house and are cross purposing pattern pieces from one style to another (recommended), you’ll appreciate the pattern piece catalog form. It would also be helpful to review the PN numbers post on this site.

The only downside to the forms is that you will have to continually reprint given pages from the book to fill out manually. If you plan to do this, the ebook version (in pdf) may be your best option. If you have Illustrator, you can then edit the form to add your logo, company name and contact information. I was able to extract a test page with Adobe Acrobat Pro and add content to the header which may be all that you need too. If you want to fill out the forms on the computer then you will have to create Excel files using the supplied forms as a guide.

Anyway, I think this book is a great tool to have. The author supplied me with a free ebook version but I also bought the hardcopy to show to my customers. Esther has extended a very generous discount to forum members; better hurry, the offer expires August 31, 2013.

Oh my, I almost forgot. I get to give one lucky winner a copy of this book! What to do, what to do… coming up with challenges isn’t easy. No matter, I’ll make an executive decision and say I’ll draw from the comments left. One comment equals one entry. I’ll sweeten the pot; share this post on your Facebook page and you have two entries to your credit. If you’ll be doing the latter, it might be best to share first and then post your comment mentioning it.

Purchasing details:
Ebook: $12.95
Spiral bound: $18.95
Saddle-stitched (stapled): $18.95

List of forms:
Body Measurements
Cost Analysis
Fabric or Trim Swatch Headers and Forms
Finished Pattern Measurements
Grade Rules
New Product Tracking
Order Processing Tracking
Pattern Number Tracking
Pattern Piece Catalog
Sewing Instructions
Style Number Tracking
Style Sheet and Cutting Spec

Good luck everybody! Actually, anybody can get lucky by buying it. Forum members, don’t forget that you can get a generous 50% off the ebook.

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  1. Adrienne says:

    Wonderful write up. I am always looking for better ways to be organized. I posted this on my FB a couple of days ago with the hopes to inspire some aspiring designers to start out on the right foot.

    I can’t wait to read the grade rules sheet and the pattern piece catalog details :)

  2. Deana says:

    Thanks for the review and giveaway. I’m enjoying sneaking around on Ms Melander’s website, so thanks for the link too. :)

  3. Vesta says:

    I already bought the book (didn’t know a discount would be offered!), but I would love another copy for my partner. I shared on FB as well. Thanks!

  4. Leslie W. says:

    Looks like a good book to have. I posted this on Facebook. If, by chance, I am not drawn I will definitely have to purchase this one. Thanks Kathleen for the review.

  5. Marsha S says:

    Please do give me the free copy. I really need to organise my stuff so my list of things to do becomes more manageable, and I’m somewhat broke. Thank you Kathleen for providing us the deal. As an aside I hope it could help me deal with the employee problems I am having right now! :)

  6. Taja says:

    Thanks for the review and giveaway, Kathleen!

    I’m in!

    Organization. Love it! Need it.

    Am pretty good at it, but a professional’s viewpoint would be very welcome and greatly improve my existing systems. :)

  7. Judy Hanson says:

    Shared on Facebook. I would love to have this book, I would love to have the right professional forms to keep my work organized.

  8. Catina says:

    Shared on Facebook. I’m pretty excited about this book and plan to purchase if I don’t win it! My hopes is that the book will help me help my clients help me! You know, like that scene in Jerry Maguire where Jerry is pleading dramatically with his pro athlete client in the locker room “Help me. Help me, help you!!” lol

  9. Vesta says:

    I just received mine, and am buying another for my business partner in another city. It’s a little jewel of a book. More than worth the money, and I’m paying full price for both (spiral-bound).

  10. Philippa says:

    This is the sort of concept that I keep thinking I must put together – would save me countless hours! Count me in!

  11. Theresa Hall says:

    I just love having access to a quality review from a professional like Kathleen. Saves me hours of work and money to boot! If I don’t win it I’ll buy it as the time it saves will pay for the book many times over.

  12. Theresa Riess says:

    Just got mine in the mail today and skimmed through it. It looks like a set of wonderful tools for the DE. Since i am a home sewer and bought it to support Esther, it’s going in to class with me on Thurs. I intend to give it to the instructor for their library.

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