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Pattern-makers: How to Choose and Work With the Best

You've spent the last year studying fashion trends, sketching designs for a dozen pieces for your fashion line, and meticulously selecting the fabric, trims, and guts for your garments. It's time to get production of your line underway.

The production process begins with working with a pattern-maker to create technical drawings -- similar to a blueprint -- of the components of your garment. During this process, a 2-D paper copy of each piece of cloth needed to form the garment is created, and each copy will include basic information on sizing, grain lines, notches, seam allowances and the like. Once pattern-making is complete, fabric is cut based off of these copies and the first sample of your garment is created for the designer's approval.

Selecting a Patternmaker

Pattern making is crucial when it comes to creating a garment with structural integrity. However, there are no real licenses or competency-based credentials that pattern-makers can achieve to certify their skill set within the industry. So, how do you go about selecting a pattern maker?

No matter the job, a candidate is evaluated on how much experience they have and what their experience entails. When selecting a patternmaker, look for experience in design development; from understanding your target audience, to being able to interpret your designs, to thinking through the proportions, construction, and overall silhouette of your garment, potential candidates should demonstrate a solid grasp of design development. Another important piece of the puzzle is the ability to sew. Take their sewing experience into consideration, as their ability to conceptualize how shapes fit together and be detail-oriented while making a pattern will greatly impact your garment.

You may also ask your pattern-maker for a sample of their previous pattern work, including a pattern card. Make sure that the card includes clear lists of the garment trims, fusing, measurements, and pattern pieces. This way, you may utilize it as a reference during the production process so that nothing is lost along the way. When looking at the pattern, make sure the pieces are accurately labeled, the are notches are in the correct areas, and seam allowance is given. Depending on the garment fabric, shrinkage may or may not be added to the pattern card as well.

Working with a Pattern-maker

So you've chosen a pattern-maker. How do you work with him or her to create an adequate pattern without expending more time and capital than needed? Those of us at LAFS can't emphasize enough what a difference preparation can make. Thoroughly think through your fashion line before meeting with the pattern-maker. Have your sketch, fabric and measurements ready. The pattern-maker may pose questions about the fit, fullness, and trims such as zippers, buttons, and embellishments.

Be communicative with your pattern-maker. Make sure you're both on the same page in regards to the budget you are working with, and the production deadlines you need to meet. As your pattern maker works, questions may arise. The sooner you are able to answer those questions, the sooner your pattern-maker can complete your desired patterns.

LAFS' services include creating flat sketches and tech packs, fabric and trim sourcing, pattern-making and sample-making, and label creation services. Reach out to LAFS for a consultation with an expert pattern-maker.

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