Making a sample is an essential first step for each season, and is generally doable even with limited resources. However, taking that sample up to and through production requires some prep work both pre and post sampling.
Before your sample, there are some key steps you can take early on to set yourself up for success- which will in turn lead to better deliveries and happier retailers.
• It all starts with proper patterning. Take the time to true your seams and run those quick pattern shape tests to get a good idea if your sample will work before cutting and sewing.
• Only use fabrics or trims that are from a reliable wholesale source.
• Know your calendar and meet those deadlines. Make sure your calendar clearly marks when you need to order your fabric with plenty of time for the worst-case scenarios, give your maker all the time than they ask for to complete the project, and remember to pad each deadline for shipping and mistakes.
• Figure out your costing for the garment early. Start with what your selling price is, then work backwards. This should tell you how much your fabric can cost, and also how complicated you can get in your construction.
Once your sample is complete, there is no time to waste in getting it ready for production! Passing your project off to a factory can be intimidating and it is best to make as many decisions early and prepare your style for production before your sales are in.
Pre-production work can be done in six basic steps:
- Fit your garment. This is a critical first step. Find a fit model that is you’re target customer’s average body shape within your sample size. Fit the garment on that model, then fit the same garment of other people who consider themselves that same size. Generally you should find the same comments ring true in each fitting- and if not, take another look at that fit change.
- Correct your pattern and test it for perfection. This might happen more than one time. Once your pattern is corrected, make another sample and refit. Repeat as many times as needed in order to get a correctly fitting garment.
- Keep your tech pack and cutter’s must up to date and review the seams, stitching and extra notes you may add to have the confidence that the producer will understand each detail. Also, make your tech pack easy to read, factories may not take the time to figure out a puzzle of a tech pack, which leaves you vulnerable to mistakes.
- Grade your pattern. On your tech pack, you should include a grading chart. This is the page you should pass to your grader and is a chart of how much your key measurements will go up or down in grading for each size. Your sample size should be marked as Zero, then as your size goes up and down, indicate the size change with a plus/minus number in inches. It is a good idea to sample each size to ensure you’re happy with your grading.
- Create a marker– a good marker can make or break your success financially; many yards of fabric can be lost with a bad layout. Having a marker made is generally simple and fairly inexpensive. It is very important to be clear about what pattern pieces are in which fabrics and interfacings AND your fabric’s cuttable widths.
- Make sure you have a sew-by sample to give to the factory to follow that is 100% correct. Giving a factory a sample that is not correct will very often result in your whole production looking exactly like that sample- even if your tech pack indicates differently.
Being thorough in your prep work will pave the way to a smooth production and a happy relationship with your factory. Taking the time to set up your processes in each stage of your product’s creation will lead to the success in the next!