Are your ready to take your apparel design to the next step? Vetting pattern makers is the key to turning exactly what you envisioned into reality.
Hiring the perfect pattern maker is similar to finding a partner in life. Both parties have a list of wants and needs in mind – here are a few tips to make sure your pattern maker is equipped to bring your creative vision to life!
Sew, what is pattern-making? (pun intended) In the apparel industry, a pattern is the template from which the parts of a garment are traced onto fabric before being cut out and assembled. Pattern making an art that requires complex engineering. Apparel patterns can be made manually on CADs (Computer-Aided Design Software). For every designer-entrepreneur, pattern making is vital because it is the technical backbone to the manufacturing process, and actually holds the most responsibility in creating a saleable product.
There are 9 points to consider before hiring your pattern maker:
1. Production sewing experience – Have they worked with reputable brands or established companies in the past? Only choose your pattern maker if they have experience drafting patterns for similar markets. For example, if they have only worked on children’s clothing, don’t pick them if you are focused on technical outerwear.
2. Pattern Grading experience – This is the process of turning a sample size into additional sizes, size specification sheet, or grading increments. Can they grade patterns? If they can, it’s a good indicator that they know what they are doing.
3. Holding a garment fit session with a fit model – What is a fit model? A fit model is a person who is the designer’s ideal size and shape for your sample and brand. They are a live version of a mannequin used to check the drape, fit, visual appearance, and functionality of any garment. In the fit session, a pattern maker should be able to see the issues with the fit and help you decide how to fix them.
4. Apparel Industry Terminology – An understanding of the correct industry terminology for construction and seams. Remember, all of the terminologies need to be correct in the tech pack, otherwise, you risk the manufacturer sewing it wrong (major yikes!). Ask them if they will take the time to review your tech pack for accuracy.
5. Sewing for production – A good pattern maker must have a solid background in creating patterns for manufacture. Don’t cheap out here! Trying to save a few hundred dollars on patternmaking could actually cost you hundreds or even thousands more in sewing and manufacturing.
6. A good understanding of math – This is critical! Since patterns are all about the measurements, it is very important they know their math for grading. This type of work is extremely detail-oriented, and even the slightest mistake can alter the outcome. Your pattern maker should be very comfortable with numbers and making sure that every detail is correct.
7. A firm understanding of fabrics – Since the pattern maker is responsible for drafting patterns based on your designer’s sketches, a strong foundation of fabric knowledge is what you should be looking for. Fabric affects fit, and the fit is the key to a saleable garment.
8. Open communication – Discuss timelines. Your pattern maker must be able to provide fit comments and work well with you to make adjustments. Remember, you and your pattern maker will be working together to create something beautiful, so always make sure you are both on the same page.
And most importantly, of course:
9. Ask for references and check them – This is often overlooked! It is important to be able to trust your pattern maker with their experience, and following up on their references is the only way to do so. You can learn a lot about how they work as well. This is the equivalent to cyber-stalking your first date… (Trust us, we’ve all been there).
Follow these simple steps and you’ll be well on your way on hiring the perfect pattern maker. And just like your potential partner, never settle for anything less than perfection! Pattern makers should be extremely detail-oriented, have an extensive background/education, and open communication with you at all times.