Why are you here?

Kathleen knows more about the people who read this blog than I do. Suffice to say, I know very little about who you all are. But I want to know why you come back, what draws you in about this website. I was drawn to Kathleen’s book because most of these no-nonsense guides (and books) to starting an apparel manufacturing business are so rudimentary and basic that I couldn’t even bother reading them through. Honestly, if an author spends an entire chapter writing about faxes and office equipment, I don’t have time for that. People can get that anywhere and it shouldn’t be in an industry-specific book (unless, of course, it’s a Dummies book).

I liked Kathleen’s book because it talks about stuff that other people don’t (and that’s why I like her blog). Some stuff is too technical for me (like that whole pattern grading seam spec section– way over my head), but a lot of it really fit with what I wanted to know.

Having said that, I want to know why you read this blog. Are you a home sewer looking for new technique, are you a pattern maker, are you a struggling, financially strapped designer looking for an edge? Comment here or via email; please, let me know. Your input would go a long way towards helping me develop topics on sales and marketing.

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  1. Josh says:

    I come here because of the pattern tutorials mainly. Secondly, I come for the support. This is the only place on the internet that like-minded apparel people can come and talk and learn. I’ve never been a home sewer. Unless you count the time when I was 8 and played “purse factory” tehe.

  2. Carol says:

    I come here because Kathleen and the people who comment help me understand how things work and fit together.

    My business for thirty years has been as a free-lance artist/custom clothier (some couture). My commissions usually involve highly technical, individualized problem-solving and demand quality product.

    Why do I care how to produce leather jackets as if at a small factory level? Industrial techniques and mind-set can provide insight for how to deal with the needs of an individual client. The problem-solving for one non-standard figure generalizes right back up to what lean apparel manufacturing increasingly demands.

    We fetch up in the same place astonishingly often. I find that validating, and can occasionally offer insights that are not from a mainstream stance.

    It’s that cognitive dissonance. When one is uncomfortable at being jiggled out of the rut is the best time to start learning. I get that here a lot.

    The critically important balance is the ethical base.

  3. Jan d'Heurle says:

    I come here because everyone seems so very serious and dedicated; I never find the kind of fluff and silly chat that I do on so many other sewing/apparel websites. It is very rare that I have no interest in a posted topic and even if I know that something doesn’t pertain to me, I usually read it just because I think that I might broaden my horizons a bit. I also feel that I have made contact with like minded people who care deeply about what they do and strive continually to better themselves in their craft and their place in the world. I agree with Carol that the “critically important balance is the ethical base.”

  4. sandra says:

    I come here for the same reasons as above. I’m a former industry professional who now teaches sewing to home sewers. So much of home sewing is inefficient and seems to build in difficulty and poor results. By the same token, a lot of industrial sewing is unsuited to the conditions most home sewers work under. I try to find the midway point for my students. I also need to produce a product at some stage so it can earn money for me, so this site keeps me motivated towards that end until my kids go to school and I have the time.

  5. Ria says:

    I bought KF’s book 6 months ago in an effort to find a “How to” guide to produce a sewn product. I have spent most of my life in the visual arts. But I am fascinated by creativity in any form and after reading her book and trying to learn how to put kid’s clothes together, a whole new world has opened up for me in terms of a fascination with the manufacturing process. Also there is definitely an attraction to the approach that Kathleen and the rest of the gang approach their work. I feel like there is passion here and that’s keeps me coming back, to share in it. And lastly, being a novice DE in this industry, I know nothing. And each time I visit, I learn something new. I am only saddened that I can’t contribute more… maybe one day.

  6. Lisa says:

    I come because of the tutorials and the no-nonsense information. I am a home sewer who really wants to achieve the best possible looks & finish for the clothes I make. I think many would not give up sewing if they could achieve a better finish.

    Could someone out there explain to me in business terms why retail fabric outlets have such poor quality fabric? For example I regularly see 100% cotton sweat/fleece in clothing stores but only horrible cottonpoly mixes in the fabric retailers.

  7. Lisa,

    my guess as to why fabric stores have poor quality fabric is related to the blog entry on fabric sourcing.
    Basically, fabric stores can’t order fabric in large quantities, so they’re limited to places (mills, converters, fabric reps) who will sell small qualtyities. And in that category, the selection isn’t always great.

    this is small stores–big chains probably buy crap to save money. selling fabric is expensive in overhead!

    Your best bet is to go to a place that buys designer ends–fabrics that a designer had leftover after their season and sold (usually for less than they bought it) to waste less money. There are several places around here (SF Bay Area) that buy ends, yay! You can even get the stuff for cheap if you live in (or visit) a city with a proper fashion district . ( New York, LA, Chicago, etc.)–a while back, Kathleen mentioned a fabric expo in Chicago open to the general public. Maybe it’s worth a trip–there are often jobbers (people that buy ends and travel around trying to sell them. I think–have I defined this correctly, Kathleen?) at fabric expos, and they usually have the most interesting selections.

  8. Rocio says:

    My reasons for comming are simple:

    Kathleens views straight from the trenches + friendly passionate community – nonsense = a great place

    I first came across fashion – inclubator while doing research on the specific needs of DE’s in the USA from a design studio …

    Over the last 18 years I have noticed that while technical skills have always been crucial to manufacturing, the people coming into this industry seem to know less and less each year…
    Many novices who get into manufacturing apparel link (in their heads anyway) pre-production, and production into one “boring process” that follows the “fun part” (design)

    Having Kathleen (with a rock solid industry background) explain in detail the difference between a pattern maker for clothing & apparel industry pattern makers (telling the cowboys from the pros) is just one of the many things designers need to get to grips with and learn to take responsibility for :-)

  9. n i c k y says:

    I come here for the tutorials and factual information.

    I design and make most of my own clothes.

    I’ve taught myself patternmaking and draping skills with help from many online and printed sources.

    If I could afford to buy Kathleen’s book I would.

    In the meantime I’m happy to access this site and get a glimpse of how the professionals sew.

  10. Donna Carty says:

    This time, I came back to learn about marketing. I moved to the UK about 2 1/2 years ago after working as a textile designer in NYC. The area I moved to has no need for a textile designer (as far as I can determine), but does have an interest in local-made goods, so I’ve gone back to my very varied craft roots determined to start a line of some sort with almost no money and the materials I brought with me. As issues come up (most recently figuring out that my product is fine, my marketing miserable, comparatively) this is one of my resources for either finding the answer or coming away with something else useful for me to know.

  11. LizPf says:

    Bringing up old threads again, as I read my way through the archives.

    I’m a professional polymath and housewife. I began sewing in my teens and dabbled in it on and off through the decades, making the odd pillow or window cover but mostly making clothing for myself. In college I got a Kenmore (Janome) basic machine …. last year I treated myself to a new Viking (a 775, one of the last high quality household machines designed for garment work). My “perky Goth” 13 year old daughter is finally interested in learning to sew, as well.

    We both have hard to fit bodies (I’m a short overweight hourglass, she’s a short hourglass), so I’ve been looking for information on fitting. I found a link to Kathleen’s tutorials on Pattern Review, wandered over here, and was hooked.

    I’m saving off the tutorials because the industrial methods are so much easier than anything in the books for home sewers. And I’m getting tempted to learn pattern drafting as well. I am not and never will be a DE, so I won’t be buying Kathleen’s book, but if she ever writes one on sewing and drafting methods, she’ll get my payment immediately.

  12. Suzanne Elliott says:

    I’m an ex home-sewer who hasn’t made anything except hand smocked dresses for my now grown daughters in 15 years. I began dress-making when I was 10 with varying degrees of success!
    I found Kathleen’s site when reading someone’s home sewing blog – this person said that Kathleen was her most admired role model so I did a search and ended up here.

    I used to make all my older children’s clothes (they’re now in their 20’s) and a lot of my own clothes but stopped when my medical career became too busy. Now my youngest twins are 19 I have a bit of spare time and have started sewing in earnest, making 12 items in the last six weeks.

    I’m a perfectionist which is why I’ve never made pants for myself after some disasters when I was about 15, but I’ve decided that I have to learn and I want to learn it properly……ie the way that industry clothes sewing is done.

    I’ve been lurking for a month but today decided to put my money where my mouth is and purchase Kathleen’s book although I’m not sure that it’s going to be as useful as it is for those in the industry. Whatever, it will have to do until Kathleen produces a book just for us home sewers.

    Thanks Kathleen, I’ve already got my money’s worth just by lurking around the site for a month!

  13. Tsu Dho Nimh says:

    Dragging an old thread out of the dustbin …

    I’m thinking of selling patterns for doll clothing, started looking for how to start a home pattern business and ended up here with you, going on a blog binge.

    I’m ROFLing at how similar pattern making for clothing manufacturing is to making semiconductor chips or houses – layout is KING and a good process is critical. So is prototyping. And materials science. Many people can draw a dress or a house. Making it not fall down is the trick.

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