3 Decisions for Determining Your Sizing Chart

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This should be something at the back of your mind when you start developing your collection. How do you decide on your sizing chart? Who do you want to fit? What range best describes your target customer?

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It can be a pretty easy call- small, medium, large, but it shouldn’t be an afterthought. Nor should it put you in a place where you are over your head with size options and your grading bill goes through the roof.

When you are starting out to create your sizing chart you should do what feels right to you. Just because inclusive sizing has become a buzzword does not mean that you have to do it from the beginning. (You can read about my thoughts on this here).

 

Here are the 3 biggest considerations for determining your size chart:

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Decision 1- Alpha or Numeric Sizing?

Alpha will cover two size ranges. Numeric will offer more specificity, but more cost.

Example: For some brands size 8 & 10 are encompassed under the umbrella of size “medium”, and 12 & 14 are a size large. The difference in body widths is around 2”. Alpha sizing leaves the fit intent a little more general. A lot of brands will offer alpha as knits and numeric sizing as wovens for a more specific fit. A numeric fit will offer around a 1” difference in body widths between sizes. This allows a customer to feel that she can find a fit more closely tailored to her measurements. With numeric, there are more size options, but also more sizes to grade, place on marker and production bundles to manage.


Decision 2- What is going to be your smallest size and what is going to be your biggest size?

Many small brands try to keep their size options to a minimal until they can fine tune who their customer is. Personally, I always love this idea. As a grader, it’s not so good for the bottom line, but it suggest a thoughtful customer and I can always go back and add sizes as the brand grows. For those who want to offer more options, please keep in mind that for sizes over 16 I strongly recommend creating a brand new pattern for this size range as shapes do grade well proportionally.


Decision 3- How do you decide the numbers on a sizing chart?

This can be confusing and technical if you are new at this. I like to advise that you look at a sizing chart of a retailer that your target market shops. You know your customer loves their styles, so why not start there. Don’t worry, it’s not copying. There is nothing proprietary about any size chart I have seen thus far. Trust me, you will find that it will change as you grow anyway and then it’s your own!

 

Here’s why I like to look to large retailer’s sizing- the bigger the brand the more precise it’s going to be. These companies have the money to invest in multimillion-dollar sizing studies. They have done the legwork, so it’s worth a second glance. Sure they have lots of probably proprietary standards in their own internal grade rules, but I think basic sizing (chest, waist and hip) are fair game.

What about ASTM Standards?

ASTM standards are only a guide to be breezed over loosely (just my opinion). This is an average of people within a specific age range. However, it may be too broad to nail down what your target customer would want. There are a lot of extraneous measurement points that can be confusing and you risk choosing too many or not the right points. Honestly, all you need is chest, waist and hip circumference. Leave the others to your pattern maker who (hopefully!) should know what to do with all the other points of measure to fill in the blanks. Too often someone will give me an ASTM size chart for their sizing and “grading”. A small part of me dies. You can’t use ASTM for a grade rule, but more on that to come…


My biggest piece of advice

Don’t go overboard and decide that you are going to be the one that revolutionizes sizing for the world. Unless you have made the focus of your collection as an in depth sizing analysis before you even design, chances are you aren’t going to be bringing any new ideas to the table that has not been tried before. Don’t get me wrong, I like revolutionary ideas. When these kinds of head scratching projects come along, I’m game. Just don’t think you have to be the one that reinvents the wheel.


In today’s ever changing industry and frantic pace it’s easy to think you have to be everything to everyone. But you are not fast fashion and don’t need to pivot so fast. If you are starting out, slow and steady with careful analysis is still the safest bet. Listen, you are always going to have a few dissenters complaining that you don’t offer their size. Yes, you would like to make the sale, but is it the best move for your brand? Are you there yet? Please be thoughtful about your sizing.

 

Free Sloper Pattern!

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Patternmaking isn’t for everyone. You have a vision and want to be a successful designer with a line of clothing, not a pattern maker toiling away on the backend. Sure you know what’s up and are happy to apply your hand at drawing out the initial shapes to get the design going. Heck, you’ve been making your stuff all along, but it doesn’t come easy or it just doesn’t work out the way you planned.

Do either of these sound familiar?:
You pull out a tedious drafting book (with a side of aspirin) and start from scratch.

-Or-

You have some slopers, but are feeling “meh” about them and just can’t bring yourself face the fit issues that always seem to pop up. All those good intentions leave your design riddled with fit problems destined for the loser pile.

Let’s not do this anymore. M’kay? How about starting with a real sloper made by a professional patternmaker (moi). I’ve spent a good deal of time in my career figuring out what works and what does not (spoiler, most drafting book methods are shit for mass production fit) Seriously guys, this is my secret sauce. Hundreds of thousands of garments are cut from my patterns each year that follow the same structure as this free sloper pattern.


But this sloper may be a little different than you have come to expect as standard. This has ease built in to achieve a slim fit to the body for woven fabrics. In general sloper patterns have zero ease. Yes, I get that the ease in a garment is a design feature but you may not know how much you need to add and the fit goes totally screwy because it’s too tight or too big because of miscalculations. I know that this free sloper pattern will fit over the body and allow for movement as long as you choose the correct body measurements. So that’s half the battle right there!

How do I get it?
Just signup to my newsletter list and it will arrive in your inbox. Nervous about dropping your email? Don’t be. I never share my list and I’ll only send things that could be useful to you.
When you get the free sloper pattern email, click in the link and your download will begin. Open the folder and you will find two option:


-Print at home PDF: this file is able to print out on 8 1/2 x 11” letter and A4 from your desktop printer. Just trim the edges and align the corresponding letters and number triangles on each edge and tape together.


-Copy shop- take this file to your local printer and they will get you the whole thing without all the taping or glueing.

Professional grade
Also very important- The free sloper pattern only includes sizes 6,8 & 10. These are all good starting points for your base size because grading up or down will be a breeze. If you want to be professional, use professional tools and adopt industry standards. This is not intended for the hobbyist who wants to make a custom dress for herself in size 2.

What is not included
The Free Sloper Pattern is only a dress/bodice sloper with a sleeve. I have no plans for making pants at this time. I feel that pant fit is very personal to your brand so if this is what you need then let’s work together to make a custom sloper for you.

The sizing of the free sloper pattern is geared for a misses customer 0-14/16. I know that size inclusiveness is a big deal for many brands these days but I prefer a more specific approach to plus sizes. So if this is what you need contact me and we can build a custom sloper for your target plus size customer.

Backend support
Please use this sloper pattern to develop your styles. However, due to time constraints on my end I am unable to provide additional guidance and/or tech support for your project. I make no guarantees that this will be 100% success for your fit as this perspective varies as do body shapes. It should only be considered “a good start.”

If you are still stuggling or need additional pattern making help, contact me so we can work together!

GET YOUR COPY HERE

 

What Your Pattern Maker Needs For Your Project

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If you are ready to hire a pattern maker, then you are probably looking to take a load off your shoulders. However, it’s not an automatic transition. Your vision looks perfect in your head, but I may interpret it differently because my psychic abilities have not yet been honed. There is much more to it than just passing along a sketch and expecting it to be perfect the first go around. This kind of pass off is a big investment and possibly the beginnings of a beautiful working relationship that can last for years. So let’s do it right!

Tell Me About Your Aesthetic

Why is this important as a pattern maker? Let’s say you ask me to make a T-shirt. Based on your sketch it looks like an oversized boxy fit, very generic. However, in your head, it fits like a slim fit A&F tee.

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With the following information I can get a better idea of what you are going for:

·     Target Customer Age - Please don’t give a span of 30 years. Either you are designing for the Zara customer or Chicos. They don’t exist in the same range and will have different fit requirements. Sometimes they overlap, but rarely. You don’t have to be spot on with your target customer profile, but it is a starting point until you figure out who is buying your product if you have not launched yet.

·    Comparisons - Other brands/designers you relate to; like the look of.

·     Price Point - What stores do you envision your products in and what is the approximate price range of products? Is your product designed for Target or Saks Fifth Ave?

·     Show me stuff you like. This can be a mood board, Pinterest boards or magazine tears. It does not necessarily need to be the exact product you are working on but it gives me an idea of shapes you like and the look you are going for with your products.

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Provide sketches, magazine tears, or original garments

Sketches:

Beautiful hand-drawn fashion sketches are nice, but not the most useful. (Money saving moment: don’t hire a fashion illustrator to show your pattern maker what you need.) What is important is that I know the details. Here is what I am looking for, as a pattern maker:

1.   A sense of the garment proportions.

2.   Placement of seams.

3.   How are the edges finished? Facings will give a garment one look, whereas a bias taping finish lends a whole different appearance.

4.   Functionality - how will she get it off and on?

Here’s a good example of a sketch that can be passed to a pattern maker:

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But what if you can’t sketch?

Send a Photo - of a similar garment you like and detail the changes you would like to make:

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Provide an Original Garment - This could be something from your closet that you love the fit of, a vintage piece, or something you bought for the project. Copying you say? Don’t worry about it. This is how the whole industry works and operates. Rarely does any designer start from 100% scratch. The fit and design details will become your own by the end anyway, and will not be recognized from your starting garment. Please don’t take this as an indication of my morals, it’s just the way it is, and perhaps merits a post for another day.

Don’t Be Afraid of Adjectives - Let’s say that you have a magazine tear that is sort of what you are looking for, but not quite. Then describe how yours will be different.

Your Own Development Patterns - I get clients who start a style but it’s not quite right so they ask me to step in. It’s a great help to have your pattern to get a sense of what you are looking for. I understand that maybe you would be embarrassed or worried that it’s not 100% correct, but from my point of view, it doesn’t matter. From this, I can understand approximate body widths you are a going for and styling details, etc. I may even take your pattern and just improve upon it.

Give Styling Measurements - Don’t worry, you need not be a technical designer for this part, just have access to a tape measure. There are certain measurements that are definitely subjective based on styling so you don’t have to worry about standard measurements. If you are unsure then it’s OK to give approximates, as this is just a rough draft. The key measurements I would be looking for would be:

Dresses and Tops:

1.   Body length

2.   Sleeve length

3.   Neck width

4.   Neck drop

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Pants & Shorts:

1.   Inseam length

2.   Leg opening circumference

3.   Approximate front rise height, or where you would like it to hit- at, below or above the belly button

4.   Waistband height

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Skirts:

1.   Center front length

2.   Approximate bottom opening (this will affect your overall garment cost, because it determines how much fabric is needed)

3. Waistband height

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What fabric are you using?

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Patterns are developed for a specific fabric, so it’s good to know from the start what it will be.

Is it a non-stretch woven?

Is it a woven that has some stretch (mechanical stretch)?

If it’s knit, how much stretch does it have? Is is a dry t-shirt jersey or a slinky rayon spandex?

Just So We Are All Clear, this part is really important!

I’m sure you will hear some pattern makers promise you miracles and guarantee your vision will be easily achieved, blah, blah, blah. I’ve been doing this a long time and I’m definitely not going to make those same claims because I know it just doesn’t work that way. Working with a pattern maker is not always success at first fit so it’s essential to provide as much supporting information as you can when you are first getting started.

It takes a little while to attune to different aesthetics and workflows when I am working with new clientele. Just because you see it as easy, does not mean it translates that way and I may have to take a couple of stabs to get you what you need. Does that make me less skilled? Nope, just a realist.

Here’s how I like to think of it : imagine we are doing double-dutch jump rope (yes, an odd analogy, I know). You and your team are swinging the ropes. You have a good rhythm going on and it’s working. Then I need to jump in, but I’m not used to your pace yet so it takes me a few tries to get your flow. But once I get it, we are awesome! The pace becomes regular and the workflow much smoother. A big piece of the workload is off your plate and I can help you to improve your work flow.

Looking to find out more info? Check out this post:

What Exactly Does a Pattern maker Do?


 




Are You Ready to Work With a Pattern Maker?

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I previously discussed what a pattern maker does, breaking it down to the nuts and bolts of responsibilities to make sure are all on the same page. But now I want to get into the expectations. If you have no idea where to begin when hiring a pattern maker, or if you are looking to pass off some of your workload but are not quite sure how, you should definitely start here. This post is dedicated to where your thought process needs to be and to help put you in the right frame of mind to set up a fruitful relationship that will hopefully last many collections.

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Don’t Expect to Check Out

Hiring a pattern maker does not mean the job is completely out of your hands. There are always questions that arise. It is your responsibility to help guide the pattern maker to ensure you receive the product you envision. Working with a pattern maker is a collaborative process. You must come prepared.

In the beginning, there will be many detailed emails going back and forth that require attention. My clients pay for professional expertise. I will let you know if anything is missing or if more information is needed. Easy pass off of work only comes with time, once everyone knows what the expectations are. I can tell you from experience; everyone has their own workflow that has to be adapted to. Whatever you think is “standard” is really not.

Be Prepared

Please, do not send over a couple of scribbles on paper and expect magic from me. Have all of your supporting information ready, including spec sheets, tech sketches, and fabrics. (Don’t worry, I go into more details of what this entails in a later post.

I love to hear that you are sourcing fabrics, manufacturers, and suppliers before we start and have a marketing plan in the works. This shows that you are serious. Remember, just because you are missing the sample component doesn’t mean that all else is on hold until the pattern is complete. Serious designers understand that the whole process is in constant flux.

Know How to Verbalize Your Intentions

Feel confident with your point of view and be able to explain what you do and do not like. When revisions are needed, organize your thoughts and clearly convey the information pertinent for me to complete your project. While a pattern maker is technical, that does not give me key insight into how much to shorten a skirt when you say it’s “too long”. Be specific: “reduce length 2”. Saying that it’s “not what you were thinking” gives me no insight into how to improve the pattern.

Be Transparent on Your Process and Needs

Everyone has different work processes and your pattern maker needs to know all about yours. Do you sew the samples or does someone else? Are you going to do the basic shell of a jacket first and once styling is right I will send the complete jacket with lining? This makes a big difference in cost. What is your fit model like? Are you going to need to make different size photo samples before the fit is approved? If I have an idea of your process I will try to find the most cost efficient and time-saving methods for you.

Know the Roles

It’s not one-stop shopping. A pattern maker is a garment engineer. I can take your idea and make it into a template that you can mass produce from. A frequent misconception is that a pattern maker can refer you to sample makers, fabric resources and manufacturers. While in some cases this may be possible, it is not my job nor am I interested in playing matchmaker. I do not advise on fabrics or what to purchase. If something is not compatible I will tell you, but I can’t tell you specifically what to buy as I am not a textile expert.

Though I have knowledge of many manufacturers I am in no way obligated to give you their information. Referrals come with time. If you are a good client and serious about your work I could make a recommendation if I feel it’s appropriate. Please understand, these references are my colleagues and friends. I do not want to refer someone I cannot vouch for or who could be problematic which would reflect badly on me. We are all professionals and busy with our work, leaving little time to stop and teach along the way.

Understand How the Turnaround Timing Works

If you are enlisting the service of a pattern maker, this means that he/she is a service provider who takes on many clients to be able to pay the bills. Your project is just one of many, so it’s not reasonable to expect an instantaneous turnaround. Ask what the timing looks like and build a few weeks turnaround for each fit revision into your time frame. If the timing is less than that, then it’s a win-win. However, from my experience, most service providers will quote you what you want to hear just to get the job and it will often take longer. I pad my timing quotations and if I’m running behind I’ll give a heads up in advance.

Also, don’t make up false information to try to rush the job. Statements such as, “The factory is going to be cutting tomorrow!," are nonsense because the factory will usually not schedule production until every component is in their hands…and the pattern is a key element in their ability to do so. This is just one of many excuses I’ve heard. Save these dramatic statements for when you sincerely need to rush a project and I’ll always try to do my best. Repeat offenders tend to get pushed to the back of the workload pile and then no one believes them when it’s really important. It’s your job to be a good client, and give us time to complete quality work. If it’s getting a little late it’s alright to check in, just not every hour/day.

Your Pattern Maker will be One of Your Closest Allies

I like to remind my clients that if they are not successful then I will not be successful. It’s the circle of life and a repeat customer is the best kind. Honestly, I’m just as emotionally invested as you are. Your project also becomes my baby as we build it together and figure out how to make it real.

If my established clients are having trouble along the way I am one of the first stops for questions, whatever they may be. Perhaps they need my opinion, construction advice, or need a referral. I know what suggestions to offer and have an idea of what the designer is going for. If something can save cost along the way then I’ll mention it. However, this comes with time and familiarity. I’ve had clients that I’ve worked with for many years that I automatically know what they are looking to achieve so their projects are a breeze for all of us.

You Have Got to be 100% Invested

One thing you need to understand about being a fashion designer is that design is, maybe, 10% of the process, if that. The rest of the time you will be coordinating product development through its different production phases and making key decisions along the way on a daily basis. It’s not a glamorous life and it’s not for everyone, but this is the life of a designer/business owner.

If you are a complete beginner with no interest in this, or what happens during the production process in general, I’m probably going to pass on your project. Your product's success depends on your full investment. No one will care as much as you do. It’s imperative to be proactive and involved in all production stages.

As a starting point, I like to refer designers to the book 'Entrepreneurs' Guide to Sewn Product Manufacturing.' This is an awesome resource as an introduction into the garment industry. The book gives a basic understanding of what it takes to get started and you can become familiar with terms and concepts that are regularly used.

Clothing design is a process that involves building a working relationship with a pattern maker who understands your style and intention. Bringing your designs to life requires detailed technical specifications, responsiveness to inquiries, and total commitment from both the designer and pattern maker. I ask that you come prepared with the same attitude.

If you missed the previous post, or are unsure of what a pattern maker does- read this!

What Exactly Does a Pattern Maker Do?

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What Does a Pattern Maker Do?

Maybe you already know what a pattern maker does, and this sounds like a dumb question. But do you really know?....

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From my point of view, I get a lot of strange inquiries. (No I will not distress jeans for you. No I will work on you fairytale wedding gown that you have no clue how to get made after I pass the pattern to you). So I’m thinking it’s worthwhile to paint a clear picture.

I’m a pattern maker, which is basically a garment engineer. You convey the idea and I create the template for you to make your product from. You put the pattern (template) I make onto fabric, cut it out and sew it up for a completed item. With my pattern, you can repeat the cutting and sewing steps to make multiples. “Multiples” is the key word. You can easily make one item and make it nice the first go round, but my focus is on making the product fool-proof for mass production. Some patternmakers may do a one-off, but that’s not my focus.

The Process

Step 1: You pass on your concept and I make a first fit pattern. This is your prototype template. You should not expect a perfect product at this point. A prototype is the start of the discussion - what do you like? What don’t you like? How would you like to change it?

Step 2: I revise the initial pattern to create a second fit and we analyze again and repeat the revision process if necessary. You should always expect two fit rounds. For complex garments, it could take up to four fit rounds. This is because sometimes you can’t judge until you see the product a certain way or you want to be sure that it’s perfect.

Step 3: Once the fit is approved, the pattern is graded to make the different sizes. Not all pattern makers are graders and not all graders know pattern making. In my case, I do both. (More on grading at a later time.) If there are any discrepancies that the grader finds, it will require discussion with the pattern maker.

 

This is the general idea of what happens, but there can be a few steps in between or sometimes different work flows are put together.

Skills

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Pattern makers know a lot of things because some jobs require overlap of skills. Here are some that you should count on:
-Advise suggestions on garment construction.
-Ability to improve upon existing fit.
-Optimize your pattern for mass production.
-Give fabric yields.

Depending on capabilities and/or what the pattern maker wants to offer, these are interchangeable skills that you would want to ask about as they are not always a given from the same person.
-Sample sewing
-Grading
-Tech pack development

What pattern makers are not responsible for:
-Sewing samples (unless they offer this service)
-Grading (unless they offer this)
-Tech pack development (unless they offer this service)
-Choosing your fit model
-Referrals to fabric suppliers/manufacturers
-Establishing your size chart
-Altering garments
-Teaching you how the industry works.
-Choosing your fabric or hardware.

This is just the start of my list. It may be updated as odd requests come in that can be categorized. (No, I will not sew up a baby sling that you made a pattern for). However, I think it’s a good place to start. Even if you knew what a pattern maker does, I hope this maybe made a few points clear.

If you already work with a pattern maker, does this process sound familiar to you? How does your workflow go?

 

 

How I Professionally Grade Adobe Illustrator Patterns For Home Sewing

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Quite a lot of independent sewing designers use Adobe Illustrator to draft their patterns. It's relatively quick, you can achieve accurate measurements, and it's much more cost effective than investing in specially designed pattern software, especially if you are a start up or only do light pattern work. 

But when it comes to grading, things can get tricky. Sometimes you need to walk a specific size to see how the shape is changing, or ensure that you are getting all the measurements you want through all sizes. This is when the special software comes into play and makes grading so much easier!

Typically CAD programs don't play well with other software. But fortunately Optitex, the program I use, transtitions well to make the apparel specific process, such as grading, much easier to do. 
Here is how it works:
The Illustrator file needs to be pretty basic. Don't worry about sending me pieces with logos or different line qualities.

These are the important parts to keep in mind when formatting your illustrator file for grading. 


* Every piece must be on one layer


* "Ungroup" everything


* Eliminate any unnecessary text that is not relevant for grading purposes

*If you are not including seam allowance lines, please make sure to let me know what is intended because when I check the grading I check based on the sewing line. 

It may sound a little fussy, but it makes it worth it to have a precise final product. 

I take over from here and convert the file into my software program. I will put the sew lines in and check all your seams to make sure we are good to go. I'll let you know if I find anything major that is off, but if it's a small 1/16" off, I'm just going to fix that because I need everything exact to check for accuracy for all sizes once the grading is complete. 

When I'm done I will export the file back to Adobe Illustrator for you. Now, this is not fancy- it's actually pretty minimal, bare bones lines, but it allows for a lot of creative liberty. What I love is each size becomes it's own layer which allows for really simple line quality editing. 

If you are struggling with the technicalities in grading and/or just don't have the patience to try it in Illustrator, I will help you out and make sure you have a professional product. 

What Grading up to Plus Sizes Looks Like

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In the previous post I had mentioned that you can’t just take a misses size small pattern and grade it into a plus size. It seems like it should though, right? Grading is formulaic and the body gets bigger in a predicable way. That is true. However, there are other considerations to keep in mind. I would like to show you how the grading process does and does not work for creating plus sizes so you are prepared for expanding your size range.

Below I have two patterns.  Pattern A is a misses size small graded up to a size 1X. Pattern B is a plus size that I have drafted specifically for plus sizes.

 

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You probably already see some differences. Let’s go over the major points.

1) The body length is longer for the plus size. This is because a plus size chest is bigger, so you need more length in the pattern to help for additional coverage.

2) The dart is different. Not only is it deeper, but it is longer. The deeper the dart, the more shaping is provided for larger cup sizes.

3) The shoulder is narrower for the plus size. Just because bodies are wider, does not mean the shoulders need get so much bigger. This is one of the biggest complaints with plus sizes.

4) The armhole curves are different.  The graded 1X is more scooped out whereas the drafted 1X allows for more coverage at the armhole.  This is particularly important for sleeveless blouses.

5) A subtle difference is the hips. The drafted 1X hip is bigger. The plus size customer has different curves to take into consideration and quite frequently have larger hips so I factor this into the pattern. 

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Here is what the two different methods look once they are stacked on top of each other. 

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For a relatively simple style, like the one I used to demonstrate I could potentially create a specific grade rule for making the size small grade up to a 1X successfully. The thing is, it would take quite a bit of engineering on my part and would take some trials to figure out if this is an accurate representation of your plus sizes. When the work is billed hourly, this could add up. 

 

Oftentimes when I am asked to make a plus size based on a misses style I will grade up to the body widths I need. However, then I go back in and modify the shapes and measurements to work for the desired plus size customer. Trust me, this is not a time saver. It’s almost like starting from scratch sometimes, but it gives me an idea of the proportions.

 

One more thing I would like to add. Many brands create two separate patterns for misses and plus sizes because they will not treat the styling exactly the same for each. For instance, a size small has a small cap sleeve that ends at the widest part of the bicep. This is not so flattering for a plus size that has a wider bicep so they may opt to make it an elbow sleeve. It’s still considered the same style, made with the same fabric, but different considerations for different sizes. 

The First Thing You Need to Do

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Putting your goals into action

 

It’s January and those resolutions are in full force. But the New Year is not just about changing habits; it’s also about beginning new projects. Somehow it feels like the slate has been wiped clean of the past hurdles that bogged us down and this is the year it is going to happen! I feel it too. My bookkeeping starts fresh. My project calendar is lined up for the first 6 months. Heck, I even aimed to get the Garmenta website launched by the New Year.

It’s about new starts and it’s this time of year I notice an uptick in inquiries. You are ready to put your ideas into action and really make it happen the way you have always envisioned it.  This is the year! And that’s great. Let’s get going and I will help you out with your products. However…

I’m always about learning new things and really delving deep into my business. In a class I have been taking one of my classmates made the statement: “ It’s never been so easy to be a designer, but also has never been so hard. “ It really rung true.  On one hand, with the Internet at your fingertips, you can find any type of service you need. However, how do you know where to start and how to compare?  Then once you find that service, it’s not a cheap. You are investing in your business, but is it the right investment? Quite frankly, I would feel a bit panicky if I were a designer nowadays- and I think that should be the correct response.  For those that don’t feel the panic and anxiety, I worry about you the most.

 Fashion is a very risky business and not for the unprepared. You need a business plan. Yeah, I know, it’s boring, unglamorous and not how you want to spend your free time. I used to think so also. But it wasn’t until this last year when I really started pushing forward with a new course that it totally made sense to have a business plan.  Let me tell you why you need it:

  • ·      You will realize where your strengths and weaknesses are and can work to improve them.
  • ·      You will understand that you won’t be selling to everyone. You need to find your niche market.
  • ·      You will understand how to develop your budget and know what the numbers mean.
  • ·      Marketing is not just about posting some pretty pics. It’s a long-term investment, which you need to know how to plan for.
  • ·      If you need financing or investors, they are going to want to see your business plan

These are only a few reasons, but they are good motivators. A business plan is not just about doing the work, it is about discovery. You will find out new things about yourself and your plan and can react accordingly.  

I would set aside a couple of weeks to get it together. It’s a big project, so take it in chunks.  There are lots of resources available to help you out:

·      The SBA- The small business association is a great resource if you run a business. They have offices virtually everywhere around the US and are able to assist in any stage of your business. Online, there are articles and templates that you can download to refer back to.

·      Score Counselors- These people are the best (I work with them all the time). SBA’s are retired business professionals that are there to help you by advising or answering your questions.  SBA offices exist practically everywhere, so check their site to find your local chapter.

·      LivePlan (which I have used and liked), it is free if you finish before 30 days –a good goal to have.  It’s a template that asks you the questions that will help you fill in the template.  It made the process really simple for me.

·      Enloop- An online template that helps to forecast your finances as you go along writing your plan.

Let’s face it, I’m probably not the only one who has advised this course of action. So chances are that if you keep hearing about it over and over again, you should probably do it.

For those who have completed a business plan, any words of advice or helpful suggestions?