Sending patterns for digitizing

[Amended 10/11/11 to include costs and minor edits]

I have copied the format of an entry I wrote way back when called Sending patterns off for correction for today’s purposes. It would be a good idea to read that earlier entry because these tips for a smooth transition to digital patterns are a separate matter. No one I’m working with is to take offense, it’s not directed at anyone. If anything, my last client sent me the best packet ever.

  1. Sending your patterns on hard copy (oak tag) isn’t necessary. It is probably better to send tracings in case the originals are lost in the mail. If you’re sending hard copy patterns on which you used a sharpie to trace their edges, the pattern maker will have to retrace the patterns before they can be digitized. Sharpies should be banned from your pattern area.
  2. If you’re sending tracings, you’ll need some sort of paper that is large enough. Practitioners often use alpha-numeric paper but you don’t have to. Typically tracings are folded but it is ideal if they aren’t (so they don’t have to be ironed flat on the other end). If your pieces are small enough, you can send them flat by cutting the tracings apart from each other because we can’t work with the large paper sheet with multiple pattern pieces on it anyway. It is not a deal breaker or a hassle if you cannot send flat pieces (or rolled in a tube).
  3. If your pieces are folded and must be ironed flat, please, no tape on them! Tape melts and curls the paper.
  4. Use a thin line pen for tracing, thick lines cannot be digitized accurately.
  5. In addition to the paperwork mentioned in the first entry, sending a work order is good. Your service provider may have one they prefer but you can look at the one I use if it will help you organize your thinking and expectations.
  6. In the case of mirrored pieces, it is better to send only half the pattern piece because the computer can flip and mirror the missing side better than any human can.
  7. Seam allowance: in certain circumstances it is easier if your pieces do not have seam allowance already. It is not a deal breaker if they do. I only mention this in the event your pieces do not have seam allowance already. If they don’t, trace them as is and mark each seam line with the appropriate allowance.
  8. Don’t forget to trace and mark any placement of appliques or artwork on the affected pieces so guides can be made.
  9. Be familiar with conventions used in production pattern making (see pgs 176-180 of my book). Example: any drills (“dots”) on dart ends will be sewn 1/2″ beyond the point you mark.
  10. Be familiar with piece naming conventions. The latter entry got no traction, maybe it was too complex an example -which was the best way to describe their necessity.
  11. If your cutting isn’t the best and segments of your pieces have straight lines, you can tell the digitizer to draw a straight line instead of following your traced line by using notation. At the start and stop point of each straight line, write a capital “L” putting arrow heads on each leg.

Costs: Everyone charges differently. Some charge per piece and others hourly. Prices range from $2 to $20 per piece. In my opinion, the $20 per piece is highway robbery. I’m not particularly fast at digitizing but to give you an idea, I recently digitized a very complex 33 piece pattern in about 1.5 hours for a total cost of $90 or $2.70 per piece.

That’s all I can think of for now other than to remind you to review the earlier entry which supplements this one. Keep in mind that preferences and practices between pattern services will vary. Questions? Comments?

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  1. Penny says:

    If you are planning on sending a pattern to an overses vendor to follow, I would suggest to not add in seam allowances. Seam allowances will only confuse them and they can add their own to accommodate their specific equiptment and seaming techniques.

  2. Rocio says:

    The cheapest and fastest way for us to digitise a piece is when BESIDES ALL THE POINTS CITED BY KATHLEEN, each piece has a seam allowance traced

    I’ve lost count of the times a new account sent us patterns to digitise only to find out that the direction card gives no indication of seam allowances and they were not traced on the pattern pieces either.

    We actually charge MORE for pattern pieces without a CLEARLY traced seam allowance because this inevitably causes delays:
    -We have to stop the job and put another one in it’s place
    – We call the company to see if they know what type of seam allowances (most times they don’t know)
    -We wait until they e-mail an itemised list of each pattern, listing what seam allowances have been allocated to each pattern piece
    – We review the list and confirm that all the pattern pieces have been accounted for
    – A NEW due date is confirmed

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