One 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.
List of forms:
Fabric or Trim Swatch Headers and Forms
Finished Pattern Measurements
New Product Tracking
Order Processing Tracking
Pattern Number Tracking
Pattern Piece Catalog
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.