What we expect from designers

The entry in which Tracy voices her frustrations resulted in a lot of off blog mail and I’m thinking we should work on ways to clarify expectations to our clients because this is the most dramatic way we can help lower not just their pattern costs, but their costs across the board. Ragga was only one of many who wrote, she said:

I run a sample and patternmaking business in LA with my mother. She does the patterns and I do samples. I’m really happy to get this opportunity to thank you for writing your book. I can’t tell you how much it helped us when we first started. My mother had an extensive experience going back 30 years, in a small factory but it was hard to make the transition especially when dealing with clients and we were completely lost in the woods until we read your book.

I would also love to participate in the ongoing discussion of difficult clients. I swear there are times when I just feel like giving up. Since our client base are people that can’t afford their own sample room or to hire a full time patternmaker, we obviously get a lot of clueless DEs in here. We try to prevent the same situations coming up (late payments, changing all measurements and then getting angry for having to pay for a new pattern all over again, etc etc) but every now and then it happens again and its just so frustrating. So I’ve been wondering if there is anything that can be done about this. For example if there was a standard Disclosure sheet that listed what a patternmaker is responsible for, what calls for a adjustments that should be included in the initial fee for the pattern and when a pattern needs a complete revision which the client should pay for. What kind of information is required to start a pattern such as a detailed drawing or a technical drawing, measurements and/or the designers size guide etc. I could make this for myself but it would be more powerful if it was something that more people went by so I was wondering if some people in the forum already had and used something like this or if someone was interested. Anyway – enough for now. I just want to say thanks again. You make our work and therefore our lives a lot easier.

My knee jerk reaction is to say people should read the chapters in the book (but also available online) How to Hire a Pattern Maker, Do You Need a Pattern Maker?, as well as the entire section on product development (pp 33-82) but most specifically, Design Process Tools (pgs 54-57) which explains everything required in design specification. Still, that’s not the entire answer; there’s an older entry on this blog entitled Sending patterns off for correction that will be even more helpful, but still, even that is not the whole answer. Are you starting to get an idea of how complex product design is? In school, design is easy. Just whip out a pretty sketch and that’s it!

Lorraine wrote:

I got a big kick out of today’s article. Just this morning I was saying I was going to check your archives to see if you had ever written a web article on how designers should submit information to their patternmakers. A lot of the “sketches” we have been getting here have absolutely no information on them. My patternmakers spend more time on going over sketches than they spend on the actual pattern sometimes. It’s very sad…

So, this is where I leave this with you. Other than stuff in the book (there’s also the specifications pg. 139), what can you contribute that would go towards forming a Standard Disclosure such that Rigga describes? Unfortunately, it’s difficult to do this sort of exercise in isolation, solid examples (sketches) are best to work from. With sketches, it’s easier to describe the needed information. Again unfortunately, I don’t have a selection of working sketches I can use for this exercise, all of that stuff is proprietary. Still, with the need of sketches in mind, I’ve contacted a teacher at a local school with the goal of getting students to donate sketches. Quid pro quo of course. Hopefully, the kids will provide some sketches we can use for this exercise. If not, well, maybe some of you can get some sketches we can use. I’d be great if you could leave your ideas as to the information that designers should provide to their pattern makers (and contractors!) in comments. Thanks.

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  1. Karen C. says:

    I would be willing to donate some sketches. The only way I’ve worked with a patternmaker is by bringing my first patterns and my mock-up with me and then going from there. I can use all the help I can get right now, as I really want to establish a mutually harmonious relationship with my technical service providers. It’s time to do away with the “us vs. them” attitude. We’re all together in the production process.

  2. teijo says:

    Since these pages are in Japanese some may find them a bit hard to understand, but they show one way to inform customers what to expect for a given price…


    Here’s a cheat sheet for those who don’t read Japanese:
    A – block draft
    B – with seam allowances
    C – adds lining
    D – the pieces are cut
    E – production set including the line sheet, etc., on 120 micron paper (http://www.arrownet.co.jp/ptn/img/ptn582902.jpg)

    (Since A to C are not cut, the pieces won’t have been walked. The patterns appear to be drawn using CAD, so perhaps the seam lengths are checked within the software…)

  3. kath says:

    use this to translate the pages from Japanese:

    You can translate words, paragraphs or entire web pages.

    Also, love this site. I’m a home sewer (at the moment) and have my Bachelors degree in marketing, so the whole business side is fascinating to me. Your site is really interesting and very informative.

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