Knowing what to provide and how to direct your pattern maker is crucial to how well can they execute your vision. Whether you are a veteran or new to the industry the following should make your pattern maker job easier and will make you look like a pro not to mention save you time and money:
1. Communicate your fit – As a clothing brand the fit of your garments will eventually be part of your brand’s DNA. Having a clear idea of who is your primary target customer is essential to determining your fit and the sizes you will offer. For example, a designer line targeting the 25-35 years old, edgy, fashion savvy, city girl who shops at Barney’s will have a different fit than a Missy line targeting the 35-45 years old working mom who shops at Macy’s. Even though both lines might offer the same size range the fit will be different in these sizes.
TIP: If this is the first time you are developing a pattern and you are new to working with your pattern maker, the best and easiest way for them to understand your fit is if you’ll provide them with a reference sample that fits the way you’d like yours to fit.
2. Provide Technical sketches/Tech-pack – Your pattern maker will need to understand the technical details of your garment, therefore fashion illustration will not help and most likely just confuse them. Remember, you want your pattern maker to understand the details, fit and construction of your garment, a fashion illustration might communicate the feel and look of the garment but detailed technical sketches and tech-packs is how you’ll communicate construction and specs.
TIP: Just like with fit the best and easiest way to communicate a detail is showing a reference of something similar that they can follow. For example if you want a specific pocket or a specific way of finishing the inside of your garment show your pattern maker a garment with a similar details.
3. Provide actual fabric swatches – This is crucial to get the right fit. Different fabrics will perform differently, even if some fabrics have the same content and maybe even the same weight (in knits) they might still be constructed differently or go through a different finishing process etc. and all of that can affect how they will perform , shape, drape, stretch etc. Telling your pattern maker that your garment will be made in silk is too general since there are many silk fabric qualities out there, therefore the best way will be to show them a swatch of the actual fabric you are looking to use (if possible at least a half yard), this way they will 1. Be able to advise if what you are looking to achieve is possible with this fabric and 2. Will know the best way to use it.
TIP: let them know the width of the fabric as well, this can be helpful (especially if you have big pattern pieces) so they will make sure the pattern pieces fit into the fabric width, and more so they can maybe even plan the pattern pieces in a way that will result in the lowest consumption. Need help with sourcing the right fabrics for your product? Read here
4. Communicate your price point – Your price point and market positioning should also be communicated to your pattern maker, this way they will understand the level of construction/finishing of your price point. Finishing of a garment can be done in different ways, some ways can be more labor intensive which will than affect the cost of your product. For example, If you are designing moderate dresses that will be retailed for under $300 the finishing and construction that you can afford will be much less than lets say contemporary dresses that will be retailed for $600-700. The contemporary dresses can afford to have more hand work and clean finishing inside where the moderate dresses will need to have top stitches and over-lock instead. This than might also effect what seam allowances and sewing instructions (among other details) to use.
The above 4 tips (along with other valuable information) will make a big difference in the results that you’ll get form your pattern maker. He/she can be great at what they do but unless they get the right info from you they will interpret the above details in their way and that might not be what you had in mind.
Written by Boaz of Human B
HUMAN B is a consulting and production company offering a ONE STOP SOLUTION for emerging designers and established fashion brands.