Why production doesn’t look like the sample

There is a dance twixt sample making and pattern making -as evidenced by samples being immaculate but the production results don’t match the sample even though both were made using the same patterns. This is why it is best to have continuity of service but since that isn’t always possible, there should be good communication between the two parties.

Example: I have a lovely coat sample with bias cut matching trim along the coat edges, pieced in such fashion to show it off -quite lovely really. Likewise, the plaid matches through the body of the coat. [The plaid going across the sleeve doesn’t match the body -that’s impossible to ask of a sample maker if the sleeve pattern has ease– which is why I have the project*.] Now, a high dollar sample house will sew up a lovely sample for you, cutting match points divined on the fly -but that’s not the result you’ll get in production.

A less than optimal result is not because production is comprised of sloppy and uncaring cutters and stitchers but because the pattern itself must be marked by the pattern maker in such fashion as to facilitate this stripe/plaid matching (see page 180 of my book). It is one thing to cut one sample, matching the stripe or plaid on the fly; it is virtually impossible to cut a production lot like this unless the pattern maker has marked match stripes (or fabric match lines, however you call it) on each piece, which governs how the marker is made.

So, in this case I got a pattern that needed a bit of work but it didn’t look (in my opinion) wholly like the sample. I thought the sample looked better. So returning to the dance I mentioned earlier, I repaired the pattern so it would look like the sample. In this way, sampling and pattern making can work in tandem, hand in glove, each improving upon the ideas and execution of the other.

Switching gears since I have your attention: If you’re sending off a pattern for correction and you include a sewn sample with it, it is critical that the provided sample was sewn with the pattern you’re sending. I can’t stress this enough. If your sample wasn’t made from the pattern, you may end up with unintended consequences, none of them good. I understand that you often have no choice so in such cases, don’t minimize what may have changed unless you emphatically know for a fact -meaning, you’re the one who did it. Don’t take someone’s word for it that hardly anything changed.  The reason is that a pattern maker will take your pattern and make corrections to it based on the sample they have in front of them. If the pattern isn’t the same one used to make the sample and the pattern had already been corrected, you’ll end up in a costly and endless cycle of pattern correction and sample iterations. You’ll also begin to wonder whether everyone is incompetent.

If you’re stuck in the above rock-hard place, see if you can arrange for a mock up to be made from the pattern you do have before sending it off. Alternatively, tell your pattern maker that the sample is merely representative of the expression of your idea but is not a two dimensional blueprint for it.

*Is it my imagination or does there seem to be a greater preponderance of suit jackets on TV and in movies with stripes matching across the sleeves? You do know the studio costumers are fanatical about this site? I’d say my work here is done…

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  1. Quincunx says:

    I haven’t noticed the suit jacket stripes, but I have noticed the clean finish of jacket facing and lining becoming more common, and this is down in the pile-’em-high-sell-’em-cheap end of the market. Those free-hanging linings aren’t reappearing until I tried moving up to mall anchor brands you could mention in the company of non-teenagers. Something odd is going on there, beyond the plain fact of other people running the numbers and deciding that the cleaner finish is also economical enough for pile-’em-high-sell-’em-cheap.

  2. M Pius says:

    I hadn’t noticed the stripes matching across sleeves. I did notice (I think on Boardwalk Empire) a huge number of jackets and vests where the stripes or plaid on the lapel (facing) match to the body. I don’t know if it’s a real period-appropriate thing or the designer/construction crew were just showing off, but it really caught my eye.

  3. Chigozilu Enigwe says:

    So if a buyer reviews your samples and places an order, do they expect their order to have minor but negligable differences? If so, is that for all markets, or just the lower end/ ‘pile-em high-sell-em-cheap’ markets?

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