Why You Need A Sample

You have a great idea, you sketched it out, and possibly went onto Adobe Illustrator to finalize it. Now what should you do? Depending on the design, some products go straight into sample making, while others go into patternmaking. Either way, to ensure the best possible product, you will need a sample.

We asked 5 manufacturers why sample making is important to the production process and here are four main takeaways:

1. Reality Check:

One of the reasons sample making is so critical is because it serves as a reality check for you as a designer. It’s the first time your ideas take a 3 dimensional form. Sample making can have surprising outcomes, both good and bad, so it is important to allow yourself the time to go through the process, and make sure the final design is in alignment with what you were seeking creatively.

2. Saving Money in the Long Run:

In the long (and short) run, a good sample can save you lots of money. Matthew and I made iPhone sleeves back in the day, and because it was a simple construction, we went straight from patternmaking to tooling. It was a huge mistake. What we found out was that even though the seam allowance was off by less than a millimeter, it created serious issues.

Sara from Spooltown details two ways a sample can save you money:

  • First, there are many details in a physical sample that aren’t apparent in a technical drawing that you’ll want to make sure you like. The last thing you want is to receive a 500 piece production order that you don’t like the look of. Once your product is made, it’s generally too late to change anything, so you really want to work out the details before heading into production.

  • Second, you get the chance to road-test the construction on a sample, which can prevent costly customer returns, and bad first impressions of your business.

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3. Necessary to do Production:

The general consensus from all of the manufacturers we spoke with was that most production houses will not move into production without a final, approved sample. Leah from OliveLoom also emphasizes how “samples allow for better communication between the designer, the production team and the sample maker.” That peace of mind is well worth the time and expense.

4. Quality Control:

Along with setting your own expectations, having a sample in hand can help increase the quality of your production run, and hold your manufacturer accountable to a certain degree of detail.

“With a sample in-hand, the designer can see the flaws and strong points of the article, and work off of that,” says Laura from Sample Sewing. Jennifer, a factory owner agrees, “sample making is what sets the foundation for production, and is your best bet to ensure a smooth process.  By working out the design, fabric, fit, and construction in development, then having sound production patterns to reflect them, you are well-equipped for a successful production run, without the countless headaches that can arise from not taking the time to do so.”

It’s the #1 reason for Marianne from  Quick Turn Clothing: “During the sample making process, the method of construction is worked out with the creative and technical teams, to ensure the design will work with the technical aspects of the sewing process at the factory level. Taking a shortcut to any of this process will definitely jeopardize the quality of production.”

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments

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Image courtesy of: Hang Ten Gold