Q&A: Pattern Maker & Sample Maker on Working with New Designers

If you’re just launching your brand, obstacles like production budgeting, minimum order requirements, and unanswered inquiries can frustratingly hinder your efforts. But, don’t let production setbacks stop you in your tracks! We sat down with 2 experts from our Preferred Factory Partners to get their advice on some of the most frequently asked questions including why a closed door is just one out of the thousands of opportunities still ahead of you.

Q1: How do pattern makers and sample makers work together?

Sean Bilovecky of The Pattern Makers:

I started working with Nya Tanaka of Victory Stitch Manufacturing because I discovered that we both have a very similar approach to the apparel industry and how we approached clients; we’re both very responsive in terms of making ourselves available to inquiries/questions.


Soon, I started sending almost all of my clients to Victory Stitch for sample production. It helps that we openly share information that is rare in an industry where people are usually tight-lipped about sharing resources. But with us, there aren’t any hoops that we’re making designers jump through for answers. We both put customer service at the forefront.

Customers on Maker’s Row expect the same level of service that you’d find on platforms like Amazon or Apple. Mainly, we try to make ourselves a powerful resource for design entrepreneurs and apparel startups.

Nya Tanka of Victory Stitch Manufacturing:

The Pattern Makers and I both realized that there were a lot of things about the fashion industry that we didn’t like. We both wanted to help the independent designer succeed which is a big part of what Maker’s Row is about. Since the beginning of the collaboration, working with the Pattern Makers has been seamless.

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Once the Pattern Makers completes the pattern work for a client, he sends them over to us, where we begin talks for sample production. Creating a sample goes beyond just sewing. We have to make sure we understand the pattern and make sure we are on the same page as Sean and his team.

Pro-Tip: It’s crucial for the sample maker and pattern maker to have open communication and with the pattern makers it’s easy.


Q2: What is the apparel production process from pattern to sample?

Sean Bilovecky

For initial samples, which is where many of our clients are it typically takes about 2-3 weeks. However, larger factories sometimes have much longer development lead times. 4 weeks turns into 6 weeks which can turn into 8 weeks.

Here are the Garment Production Basics:

Order of operations:

  1. Design / Sketch
  2. Pattern Design
  3. Sample Making
  4. Production Pattern
  5. Grading
  6. Marker Making
  7. Spreading
  8. Cutting
  9. Sorting/Bundling
  10. Sewing/Assembling
  11. Inspection
  12. Pressing/ Finishing
  13. Final Inspection
  14. Packaging
  15. Send out


Developing a Garment Sewing Fabric:

  1. Direct Sample.
  2. Specification Sheet/ Measurement Chart.
  3. Actual body size measurements.
  4. Ease Allowances.
  5. Sewing Allowance.

Techniques: Garment patterns can be created using two techniques.

  1. The CAD/CAM Method: Provides more fluency and precision when developing a pattern in comparison to the manual method.
  2. The manual method: More time consuming and cumbersome at times because the grader has to alter each point manually

Every day we meet new designers with expectations about the production process but not necessarily the practical knowledge. We make it our mission to empower designers and make it as painless as possible by providing the attention and answers they need. Our aim is to help each designer reach their potential and create the products they’ve envisioned.

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Pro-Tip: The best thing to do when approached by new designers is to educate them about the production process before turning them away.

That’s at the forefront of what we do: make it easier for people to understand.

Nya Tanaka: 

Small designers are typically intimidated by a factory’s large minimum order requirement. Considering the challenges industries face in getting the garment scene running across the country, we (as an industry) need to change our approach so that we can help independent designers grow.


Q3: What are your top production tips for fashion startups?

Nya Tanaka: 

Don’t give up! (seriously). At first it may seem like many vendors and industry specialists won’t want to talk to you or try to work with you. However, there are people out there who are willing and wanting to answer your questions and work with small minimums; you just need to find them. (p.s. that’s where Maker’s Row comes in handy)


  1. Take a realistic approach with your production quantity
  2. Understand the various steps involved in the product development stage
  3. There so many little adjustments that happen along the production process that can end up changing everything about the original product.
  4. Producing your collection is a very long but rewarding process

Sean Bilovecky: 

Resources like Maker’s Row have made the task of launching an apparel brand much less daunting. The first step goes beyond just creating a profile; it’s opening the door and getting your foot in there. However, it still boils down to finding the factory that fits perfectly for your brand. As a new designer, you can’t give up, you have to be persistent. Maker’s Row is making things happen for independent designers.

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A real-life example: I’m working on a project right now with a fairly new designer. I’ve helped them realize that they haven’t sought out or defined the essential component that makes their brand unique.

As a new designer, you have to figure out all of these things ahead of time before approaching vendors. Preferred Vendors like Victory Stitch Manufacturing, The Pattern Makers, and Allen Manufacturing are excited to help new brands. I’ve personally gotten on phone conversations, and even Skype video calls to walk new designers through the process.


A real-life Success Story: One of our first clients, Princess Awesome, just had the highest funded children’s apparel Kickstarter of all time using a pattern made from a connection on Maker’s Row.

#AskTheSource Live Twitter Chat TODAY @ 4pm EST!

You won’t want to miss our live #AskTheSource Twitter Chat today at 4:00pm EST for a Q&A with our Sourcing Expert Liz Long. Follow @Makersrow to join in! Plus, during our Twitter chat we’ll be announcing how you can be part of our Sourcing Academy e-course (it’s free).


P.S. Caring is sharing. Invite a friend to #AsktheSource their most pressing sourcing questions answered in a nanosecond (well almost).

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