It was in the process of writing today’s intended entry (Your first meeting with a pattern maker) that I realized I needed to write a preamble to explain what pattern makers expect from clients. From the latter hyperlink, one could surmise I’ve done this before but as are many entries on this site, it was woefully inadequate. Hence, part two. Here’s some context from Christine who writes:
I will be in Los Angeles next week meeting with a pattern making company… It’s my first time meeting with any pattern makers and I’m not sure how the first visits usually go… What should I expect when checking out their facilities?
Apparel manufacturing has changed a great deal over the past fifteen years, expectations on both sides are constantly evolving. Previously, a designer was responsible for myriad duties which were to be completed before passing it off to a pattern maker. Most entrepreneurial designers today are closer to product developers and often lack the experience and staff infrastructure to either perform or provide the typical job duties expected of designers (that’s not a criticism). These duties still need to get done so it has increasingly fallen to service providers to provide additional services. Below are some of the expectations from those who will work with you; the only thing undetermined is who will do them. And depending who does these things is what determines what a service provider would need from a designer client.
- Determine the target customer
- Design with continuity
- Sourcing fabrics, trims and guts
- Provide working sketches
- Provide seam detail information
- Know who they want to hang with (determine price points)
- Define the dimensions of sizing for their target customer
- Do the product costing
- Ultimate responsibility for putting together the disparate bits of information that comprise the technical package (if needed)
Other than determining the target customer which only the designer can do, there are firms that will do everything else but you can expect to pay for it. The typical scenario is a designer will do designing (some like feedback, some don’t), do most of the sourcing (but often seek suggestions), know who they want to hang with and to do the costing. For the things left undone, you need a service who can help you. However, there are those of us who are uncomfortable with those duties so be sure to outline your needs and expectations to see if you’re a match.
What you need to bring:
- A sample of the fabric you intend to use.
- A good technical sketch. If you don’t have one (most do not have a good one), some pattern makers can do it but this is not their job. You may have to hire an illustrator.
- If you don’t know seam terminology, bring samples to show what you mean.
- If you like features on existing products and would like to incorporate those into your line, bring samples of what you mean.
If you don’t have these items yet, you’re probably not ready to take this step. Of them all, the fabric and the sketch is most important. A friend who owns a pattern service said “Sometimes my patternmakers spend more time going over sketches than they spend on the actual pattern. It’s very sad”.
What you should not expect from a pattern maker:
- Responsibility for the technical illustration.
- Research: who you hang with and the sizing dimensions of your target customer.
- Putting together a tech pack
It is true that a pattern maker may be able to help you with all of these items (except for #3) but expect to contract separately, this isn’t included in the price of pattern making. If you want help determining the sizing dimensions of your target customer, you will need to bring a range of product samples in consecutive sizes so they can be analyzed. If you don’t, you are expecting a pattern maker to go shopping for you and it’s not going to happen -or shouldn’t. There is no centralized database we can access that lists the dimensions of your competitor’s products.
If you are already midway into the process and have done some patterns and samples on your own or with a previous provider, this is excellent. In addition to the above (including a sketch), you will need to bring:
- Garment or product samples (no matter how atrocious)
- Patterns with a pattern card (ditto)
- Seam specifications (seam allowances used on the pattern)
- A tech pack, however rudimentary (read the comments too).
Tomorrow I’ll continue with what you can expect at your first meeting with a pattern maker.