Garment Designers Pre Production Checklist

For the last several years I have been balancing my time between fashion and costuming for companies including Disney and Universal Theme Parks.

Since 2011, I have worked with over 50 celebrity clients like Beyonce and was featured in her Formation World Tour Behind The Scenes Fashion video.
I've worked on costumes for Justin Bieber's Believe Film, Taylor Swift's Red Tour, Rihanna's Diamonds and Anti World Tours and many, many more.
Last year I even restored Janis Joplin's Cape for the Hard Rock International, which is now on display in San Francisco, CA. You can read all about these adventures in my other blog posts.

I now have my own design and production house, where I specialize in pre production work, wholesale fabric sourcing and managing domestic and international production runs on all kinds of garments, shoes, bags and even tactical and combat training gear through House Of Vincenza.

As the Founder and President of Orlando Fashion District we've taken on the mission to make Orlando a Fashion Destination and to support and encourage fashion designers everywhere.

Designers hire to help them take their designs from concept to creation and into production, many of them aren't exactly sure how the process works.

To help you understand how this process works, I created this checklist of things you need to start working on, if you have designs you'd like to reproduce.

  1. Solid Concept – this can come in the form of sketches, photos or even an existing garment you'd like to use as inspiration for your designs. The more detailed the better. Refining these details in the process will cost more money than having them figured out in advance.
  2. Pattern – this has to be created in order to build a prototype of your design. It will be the foundation of everything and may need to be altered several times to get it perfect.
  3. Fabrics – using the fabrics you'd like to go into production with, is the best way to build your prototypes. If you don't have them sorted out, custom printed and sourced in sample quantities prior to moving forward, it could delay the process. Changing fabrics later means making another prototype. Skipping this step can be an expensive mistake if the production fabrics don't behave, look or feel the same way as your prototype fabrics. If you "can't afford" to make a new prototype, then you need to rework your funding.
  4. Notions – zippers, buttons, snaps, elastics, threads and any other materials you'll be using for your design needs to be sourced up front in sample quantities. These items will all need to be tested as part of your prototype. Changing this later means another prototype will need to be made in order to avoid production problems cause by these last minute changes that won't work right in your design.
  5. Labels – start working on your clothing label designs at the same time as your prototypes or it could delay production. These can take a few weeks to get these the way you'd like.
  6. Prototypes – this will be the first reality test of your designs. Don't expect it to be perfect the first time. This process can take several revisions. Be prepared for that. Emotionally and Financially. It might seem like a long and expensive process, but if you fail to test everything here and now and then move forward into production it could cost you a lot more time and money to go back and correct something after you've had hundreds of them made wrong or in a way that doesn't fit or work properly.
  7. Tech Pack – Once you've got a solid design prototype you can move on to the next step, which is creating all of the technical specifications of your garment. This is commonly referred to as a "tech pack" in the industry. Moving forward into production without this, especially with a new provider can leave a lot of things open to their interpretation. Not a good plan. Technical specs will clearly define and communicate to the production house, how your garment should be assembled, what types of seams go where, what kind and colors of thread, how to install your elastic, notions and so on are all explained in this document. Look at it as the assembly instruction that go along with your pattern and parts. What you get without it is an expensive crap shoot.
  8. Digitizing – This is the process of converting your paper patterns into an auto cad program like Gerber. If you've got access to someone who uses this or a similar program in the beginning stages it can save time and money down the road. It can be used to create your grading instead of having it done by hand. You can also use it to creat your "pattern markers" or "cut sheets" which I will talk about more in my next post.
  9. Grading – This is the process of creating all of the sizes for each design. It can be small, medium and large or numbered sizes. There are ASTM.org industry standards that can help determine these guidelines based on algorithms of global sizing standards. (There's also a thing called "vanity" sizing. A lot of brands run big so that you will fit into a smaller size and hopefully buy it because we all wish we were a size smaller. Ugh. It's a thing.) Making a sample of each size before you go into production with it is an important part of proper grading. Having an ASTM dimensioned fit model for each size will help make your sizing fit average size buyers.
  10. Production – Deciding on a production house is the next step. I will talk more about this in my next posts. Domestic production in the USA vs International Production is a complicated decision. Staying in the USA is possible for most items, but expensive compared to international options. Why? Mainly because the minimum wage in the USA is several times higher than other countries. There are also fabric issues to consider. Going international means it will be more cost effective to use fabrics the factory has either readily available or choosing from what they can source for you. Getting fabric samples from your production house in advance can streamline the pre production process.

Some of the other things you can do with all of these prototypes is enter runway shows, do photo shoots, trunk shows and start working on pre marketing your designs.

My next post will be about going into the production process. I'll write about it from a USA domestic perspective and from an international perspective.

Good Talk!

Got any questions?
Did I leave anything out? Gina@HouseOfVincenza.com

Stay Tuned.

Now Offering Consulting Services, Wardrobe Styling, Speaking and Teaching for Fashion, Wardrobe and Costume Related Projects, Worldwide.

ginaRecently, I was head hunted on LinkedIn and asked to apply for a costume related department head job at a large theme park opening in another country.  The duties were similar to what I do now, between my work on concert tours and at Universal Theme Parks. I was later told, I was “overqualified” AND that they didn’t think they could “afford” me. I was initially shocked by these two labels and their perception of me, based on the work I’ve done so far.

There are times when other people’s opinions matter and times when they don’t. (For me that’s MOST of the time!!)  In this particular case, it inspired me to realize, it was time to reach higher and raise my price tag.

I thought long and hard about where I was in my career. I set many goals for myself, which this “rejection” made me realize, I’d already achieved. Been There, Done That! Sewing for living, was the vehicle that got me where I am today, but it’s not something I want to physically do on a daily basis anymore. I want to do more designing, styling, project management and consulting work.

img_2621Over the last few years, I created a ton of social media that consistently leads people to call or email me on a daily basis for mobile services in Orlando, FL and beyond. It’s a niche I created. If you google “Orlando Seamstress” or a few other related key words, my Psycho Seamstress Social Media dominates the search results. I did that using SEO, key words and tagging techniques I learned in my website marketing days.
Due to my work for multiple A List celebrities on a regular basis, sewing costumes for Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Rihanna and most recently Beyonce, I have become a very well known and highly demanded expert at helping out-of-towners connect to everything they need, on short notice, to successfully execute multi million dollar shows, on the fly. Because of all of the high end work I do, everyone I know in this business, wants to work with me, which has helped me create a very large network of talent, vendors and suppliers, who I keep on speed dial and will take my calls after hours.
Bey Crew

Here’s the wardrobe crew I put together to work on costumes for Beyonce during the 3+ weeks she was in Tampa rehearsing.

There are some interesting dynamics going on in the entertainment industry right now. High fashion is becoming the trend on a lot of concert tours with Beyonce leading the charge on that, in a way I’ve never seen before.  Meanwhile, costumes are having a huge influence on fashion, as evidenced by the now mega industry of cosplay with “cons” popping up everywhere. It has become hard for me to keep myself grounded on one side of the fence or the other. I’ve had to learn how to balance two very different animals to earn a living. Quite frankly, I don’t know of anyone besides myself, who has both the experience (in fashion, concert tour, theme park, theater and costumes) and flexibility I have. All of my mentors and top go to people are tied down to running a traditional brick and mortar type business, where as, I am not. Becoming Mobile and ready, willing and able to travel, caters to a very underserved clientele. I can literally fit everything I need to work with, into my 2 seat, hatch back sports car (including a full size garment rack, dress form, sewing machine, serger and suitcase full of supplies with room to spare) and be on the scene in a matter of hours. (Putting all of that stuff on a plane for a short gig is a literal and logistical pain in the arse, half of it would get confiscated by security and the rest would be at risk for being damaged or lost. Some of my clients really don’t even know what they need to get the job done, but Psycho Seamstress just sounds like the perfect solution!!) After assessing the situation, I can make a few phone calls and have an entire crew, locked, loaded and ready to rock and roll.

If you think you’ve got an impossible project, with an ambitious deadline, here are some recent examples of my “air traffic control” type skills…

January 2016: Matrix Destination, Grand Finale Fashion Show, Orlando, FL 

matrix-renatoI was hired by the event company to assist, up and coming NYC Art Couture Fashion Designer Renato Dicent. (An amazing and impressive young man, with some cutting edge designs and skills that got the attention of Heidi Klum, Madonna and More!)
The Assignment:
  • to create several last minute dresses to coordinate with some over the top hairstyles needed for the avant garde fashion show in less than 3 days. Challenge Accepted
  • In order to execute this seemingly impossible task, I stayed on location for the next 3 days to work with Renato and his NYC team and coordinated everything he needed, from shopping for specialty fabrics with my local discounts, providing sewing related equipment, materials and supplies, coordinating off site specialty services and finding a 24 hour pattern maker, runner and sewing team, who had their own mobile equipment and could come and work with us onsite. renato-dress-gina
  • I accomplished all of the above, while sewing one of the dresses myself and helping on multiple others.
“The fabulous opportunity to work with Gina for NYC designer, Renato Dicent to create avant-garde wardrobes for the Matrix Destinations’ Grand Finale Fashion Show in Florida was one of the most incredible opportunities in my life! Gina is an amazing, skillfully, creatively talented and enthusiastic person. We were a great buddy in the creative team to make many avant-garde dresses with a super tight deadline. Gina fast became a key person in creation, the sublime show would not happen without her. I was honored to work with Gina and hope from the bottom of my heart to work together again. I can’t say how much I am looking forward to seeing her phenomenal future in the creative world!”
– Sho Konishi, Fashion Designer, www.sho-konishi.com

April 2016: Beyonce Formation World Tour, Onsite Costume Fabrication, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL 

  • Due to my extensive database of local sewing beyonce-formation-world-tourtalent, I was asked to assemble a team of several local pattern makers and stitchers, who had mobile equipment and could work on location for 3 weeks consecutively.
  • We provided onsite alterations, costume rigging, fashion to costume conversions, pattern making and fabrication on hundreds of costumes for this tour.
Adding Gussets

Adding Gussets

  • I was featured in Beyoncé’s Behind The Scenes “BTS Formation World Tour (Fashion)” Video, which she posted on YouTube and Facebook, where I was interviewed about what we were doing to convert her high end fashions to costumes at about the 1:20 mark.

Here’s the link for that… Beyonce BTS Formation World Tour Fashion Video

“Gina continues to be our go-to supplier and resource for all things costume related.  Her experience in A-List wardrobe maintenance and design is extensive. Gina has sewing / textile / accessory resources across the country making her a “one stop shop” for assistance no matter where our clients are located within the USA.  If you want to make one call and solve all your costuming / wardrobe / apparel needs then Gina is the call to make.”
– Megan Duckett, Founder and President, Sew What? | Rent What?, Rancho Dominguez, CA

 June 2016: Microsoft Corporate Event, Amway Center, Orlando, FL

microsoftI was hired by the event company to provide a variety of services which included:
  • Shop for and tailor to fit, a man’s suit for their EVP onsite, so he would not have to leave his hotel suite.
  • Put together a mobile design and sewing team to fabricate costumes onsite, to be worn by their keynote speakers during an event at Amway Center.
  • I stayed onsite for 5 days to design, shop, fabricate, coordinate outside services and overall manage this project, which culminated in making final adjustments to costumes, moments before they hit the stage, all executed under their initial budget allocations.

Other Projects I consult on:

I consult with film makers, photographers, theme parks and show creators on getting pre production wardrobe related concepts and realistic budget numbers together including:
  • Concept Design & Illustration by Award Winning CDG Talent
  • Fabrication Estimates & Options from FL to NY to LA
  • Sourcing or Creating Custom Fabrics & Materials to fit any theme
  • Off The Rack Wardrobe Options
  • Wardrobe Styling and Personal Shopping for Top Executives & Celebrities Worldwide
  • Rental Costume Options
  • Wardrobe Crew Coordinator for Touring, On Location or Head Of Wardrobe jobs worldwide
“I am Alex Lorre…(film) producer belonging to (Hollywood) Union. I recently had the pleasure of working with Gina for nearly a year on a very high budget Space Horror Film script. She vetted award winning costume designers, the worlds largest fabricator of space suits, researched production houses, rental costume options and helped us create an archive of futuristic costume design concepts, high tech and cutting edge fabric samples and more. She is relentlessly ambitious and it would be my pleasure to have her on my team in the future. She is a pleasure to work with. I would rank her as one of the best Costume designers we had in our previous projects. Gina is the type of person you want leading from the front. Furthermore, she is what I consider to be a “hard charger”. She outshines her peers in whatever she chooses to accomplish. Gina has always impressed me as a bright, articulate, enthusiastic, reliable person. Should you have any questions regarding working with Gina please feel free to contact me at alorre2002@gmail.com”  
“Let me say that working with Gina on past projects has been a pleasure. Gina has proven to be very reliable, talented and extremely knowledgeable in her craft.  She would be a valuable asset to any project. I not only recommend her, but I would hire her again with out reservation.”
– George Catalano – Florida Stunt Man, Actor, Film Maker, TopCat Film Productions
“Working with Gina is an experience.  She definitely raises the bar on any project she is involved with.  You can plan on being blown away by her work. It will exceed your expectations, many times over. I hope she is available for all my projects.”
– Ken Barr –  Author, We Are The Road Crew, Florida Film Maker , Ken Barr Films, Main Stage Manager, 70,000 Tons Of Metal Cruise
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My Mobile Wardrobe Services database, site, Facebook PageFacebook Group and extensive LinkedIn Network allows me to help others staff sewing, touring and head of wardrobe positions world wide.  Looking for crew or staff?
I can give you the names of multiple qualified people willing to travel, tour or relocate for wardrobe positions worldwide.

High End Repair and Restoration Coordinator

If you are:costumes
  • on tour with valuable fashions or costumes you need repaired while on the road
  • a museum, cafe, attraction or otherwise display historical and memorabilia costumes or fashion
  • have a valuable private collection in need of repair or restoration
With a:
  • High risk of causing further damage by moving said items
  • High Cost of Security or Insurance Expense to move
I can:
  • travel world wide to where these items are located
  • professionally photograph and document the issues in question
  • provide a written report and recommendation for possible solutions
  • provide a list of qualified repair experts, who can travel to or be retained
  • or possibly repair the items onsite, myself

Wardrobe Stylist / Fashion and BTS Blogger

kent-stetson-handbag-herb-clutch-3

Kent Stetson “Herb Clutch” to be featured in a teen horror film I am working on.

Once I started working for celebrities, behind the scenes, having influence on and making decisions about things that would be seen on film, stage, runway or at events, designers started sending me fashion and accessories to use, wear and or asking me to give them away to people of influence in their target market.

If you’d like me to consider your brand for placement email me at Gina@PsychoSeamstress.com
Some of the brands I’m working with right now include:

CRI Book CoverSpeaking and Teaching Engagements

This year I finally decided to write a book I’ve been threatening to do for several years on a behind the scenes art known as “costume rigging”. Click here to support my Indiegogo “Costume Rigging Illustrated” book campaign. 
  • You can support me here by ordering a copy for as little as $10
  • You can book me through this indiegogo funding campaign for a limited time for speaking or teaching engagements, or just have dinner with me to pick my brain.
I am willing to travel anywhere worldwide to speak or teach about what I’ve done in entertainment, fashion, costuming or any other related subject of my expertise.

Don’t assume you can’t afford me or that I am overqualified for your project.

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I don’t always take every job myself and I may be able to help you find the right person.
Take this survey, to see if there’s something I can help you with!!
I’ll give you a free consultation to evaluate your project via email, phone, Skype or in person and a written proposal on options to meet your needs.
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Behind the Beyhive…

Behind The Scenes With Beyonce’s Bodysuits, Poofy Sleeves and more…

Profile of the DSquared Victorian Capelet

As an A List Seamstress, I was asked to help organize a local sewing crew to bring in on Beyonce Formation World Tour Rehearsal month at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL to alter costumes for the tour. 

Gucci Ghost Print on a Neoprene like fabric with a matching print on sheer detail fabric

It took a massive crew about a week and 30 some trucks to get the epic 2 million dollar stage up and running. The stage itself is THE most complex I’ve ever seen. It had two giant monoliths in the center that rotated, opened and closed and a lower B stage that filled with water that they all danced in. 

Every night the dancers would run through various parts of the show in costume with a stand in for Beyonce, while she watched from a tent to critique the performance. 

There were literally millions of dollars in costumes and shoes which were guarded 24/7. We were told by her longtime crew that this show had some unique ways of doing things in regard to costuming. 

Typically they would get an epic piece custom made for Beyonce from a design house like Balmain, Gucci Ghost or DSquared2 for example and then a few dozen yards of matching fabric, which they would use to have matching costumes designed and fabricated for her 21 dancers. 


There were at least 12 sets of costumes for the tour that we were dealing with, of those 8 would need to be chosen for her first Miami tour date, but what they wore on a daily show basis could vary from one date to the next. 

Balmain bodysuits of lace and silk

We were told there will only two sets of costumes that would remain constant through out the tour, which included my favorite, the DSquared2 Black Victorian Capes with the large brimmed hats for the opening number paired with a shear lacy printed nude mesh bodysuit. 

DSquared Capelets with the lace printed mesh body suits

The other constant look hasn’t been revealed yet, so I’m going to keep that one under my hat! There were only 5 looks revealed in Miami on 4/27, so I would expect a few more to surface in Tampa on 4/29. 

Hundreds of boxes of shoes lined one part of the hallway just outside the dancers dressing room. Most were high to very high heels and boots including the tippy toe ballet style heels. Insane to walk in, let alone dance!! 

There were tables set up in the hallway, where her design team would gather. Every day, they’d discuss the designs pinned up on several large boards covered in dozens of designer drawings of costumes that were being delivered daily by the truck load. 


The design team, led by the feisty NYC celebrity stylist Marni Senofonte and included long time Beyonce Crew faithfuls. 

It was their task to organize and present each look to Beyonce and sort out which of the dozens of costume looks they would focus on. 

Dailey the dancers would come in and try things on, they’d take group photos of each look, which usually had some variations in design within each style and add all the photos to the mix. 

After the fittings, the costumes would get handed over to the seamstress team for alterations, which included everything from being taken in, having parts removed, adding gussets to convert fashion to dance wear, replacing one part with another, making them quick changeable and sew on and sew on. 

We knew we were working on labeled Bodysuits by Balmain, Capes by DSquared2 and custom fabrics from Gucci. It was hard not to cringe when you were being asked to tear apart a silk and lace bodysuit that was probably so insanely damn expensive, I didn’t even want to know the price! 

We got to meet Dean and Dan Caten, the twin designers from DSquared2, who stopped by to check on their designs. They were super nice and dressed alike. 

Every now and again Beyonce’s daughter Blue Ivy would wander into the sewing room to see what we were doing. Someone was always hot on her heals. You could hear her giggle as she rode her bike up and down the hallways. From time to time, you’d see her whiz by the doorway and wave from an office chair being towed by a sweet older lady who was often with her. She was adorable and you could tell how much she enjoyed wearing her collection of Disney princess dresses. 

All in all, this was definitely not the standard operating procedure I was used to when working on concert tours like this. They definitely had a different and unique way of doing things. 

Beyonce has become known for setting trend and blazing a trail that her many loyal fans will follow. In my humble opinion, I salute the stand she repeated takes for all of womankind. She’s outspoken and controversial, a girl after my own heart and like we all should be. If she were a man, no one would either notice or care. The world is watching. Those are tough shoes to fill. Kill it girl.

How to get your own fabric designs professionally printed by the yard!

How to get your own fabric designs professionally printed by the yard!

A few years ago I was wondering how to get custom fabrics made for clients who were asking for a one of a kind design.

Well I’ve since found and used 2 different ways to do this, even if you only need 1 yard of fabric!

The first way is a little more hands on and the quality is good, but you’ll need to have some basic design skills. You should be able to figure out this DIY method online through a website called Spoonflower.

There are some other websites out there, but this one, I have actually used myself to print a fabric out of my Psycho Seamstress logo, which I cut out and use as labels to sew onto clothing I’ve made. You can design fabrics for yourself or to sell to others for a commission using this site.

Here’s the link to my Psycho Seamstress logo design:
http://www.spoonflower.com/designs/2316838-psycho-seamstress-skull-scissors-half-brick-by-psychoseamstress
Feel free to buy some!! LOL

Not only can Spoonflower print your designs on several types of fabric, but you can also use the images to create wallpaper, wrapping paper or stickers! It was super easy and super cool!

The second way is easier if you know what you want, but don’t exactly have the graphic design skills to make it happen. It’s a little more expensive than the DIY method, but the results are stunning and very high end.

I use a company called Solid Stone Fabrics. This company has several dozen gorgeous fabrics to choose from including spandex, swimwear fabrics, silk chiffons, organza, duck, jersey, neoprene, fabrics with sequins, foiled color, metallics, even carpet!! If you contact them, they can ship you out a swatch ring of some amazing high end fabrics you’ll have to choose from. Ask for Luke Harris, he’s one of the owners and the main sales guy. Tell him I sent you!

Here’s a link to their website:
http://www.solidstonefabrics.com

Solid Stone will assign a graphic designer to your project and THEY will create a graphic design file to your specifications, for a reasonable set up fee.
Once your design is initially approved by you in an email, they will send you a sample of the design printed on the fabric of your choice. Once you approve the sample, you can order it as needed with a one yard minimum.

Using custom designed fabrics is a great way to raise your price tag. You can create a much more unique and cohesive fashion collection by using the same pattern or design on multiple items in different fabrics. Finding coordinating designs and fabrics on the open market can be a challenge. When you design your own fabrics, you can create matching stretch jeans, silky tops, make sheer cover ups paired with swimwear and more, just like all of the high end brands do and order your fabrics as needed.

If you’d like more insider tips on how to excel as a fashion designer, join my group on Facebook called “Clothing Designer Resources” and feel free to share your best connections, collections and advice!!

You can contact me at Gina@PsychoSeamstress.com

Are You Male and Over 250 Lbs? I Need Your Help!!

big and tal

Please help me collect some real world measurements for men who are 250 Lbs or more. We are designing trendy clothing for Men who are 2X – 7X, with special attention to short, average and tall height categories. Please go get a long sewing tape measure and maybe even a friend who can help you take some measurements and click the link to this anonymous measurement survey. Men’s Measurements over 250 Lbs

The fashion industry’s standard ASTM Men’s Measurement Chart does not extent past size 4X. Therefore, we are creating our own and need real life measurments to create the correct algorithms to extend this “industry standard” sizing chart to include real world people who are currently being ignored by the Fashion Industry.

I have personally worked as a Men’s Stylist and Ferragamo Specialist at Bloomingdale’s, where there were many potential clients I had to turn away, because Top Designer’s worldwide, ignore their size. Many of my loyal clients have been women who are plus size and simply can not find clothing to fit them properly, but men have even less to choose from than women.

Men and boys in my opinion are under served by the fashion industry. In the last 2 years after quitting my day job to become a designer and seamstress full time, I have had several Men approach me for sewing lessons and help in making their own patterns and prototypes for fashion. I noticed a trend that lot of men were becoming involved in fashion because there is such a large gap between men and women’s fashions. I found another example of this gap when I would go to the fabric store looking for patterns for men and boys. For the longest time, I would have to buy women’s patterns and alter them to fit a man.

The good news is that male fashion is evolving! Designers are coming to me for help in creating new and trendy fashions for boys and men.

That is exciting!

Please Share this post with all the fashion seeking men you know who’d like to make a difference in men’s fashion!

How To Source Wholesale Fabrics and Notions for Production

Whether you are sewing for profit out of your home or you’re looking for wholesale fabrics and notions for a factory production run, here are some great resources on getting started and some of my favorite vendors:

1. Go to DG Expo and find a fabric show near you! You will walk away with tons of samples and more industry contacts than you ever thought possible!
2. Hire a guy! Contact Jay Arbetman at The Sourcing District. He can help you find everything at the same wholesale price the factory would charge with no mark up. www.thesourcingdistrict.com
3. Fashion Zippers made in the USA are custom, beautiful, smooth operating by UCAN Zippers USA for production runs.
4. Custom Sublimation Printing on the fabric of your choice, contact Luke Harris of Solid Stone Fabrics, www.solidstonefabrics.com, one yard or more.
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5. Design and sell your own fabrics on Spoonflower or buy fabric from other independent designers. www.spoonflower.com
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6. Buttons from around the world
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7. Trims
8. Spandex and high end Italian made Carvico swimwear fabrics
Labels
10. Tags for inside your garments and for retail sale, paper, fabric, printed waistbands and more.
gertie
11. Novelty Prints
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12. Luxury Fabrics
13. Latex, Faux Fur, Theatrical and More
14. Wide Ranges of Quality Fabrics
15. Eco and Sustainable Fabrics including bamboo, hemp, tencil, modal, organic and more. www.KenDorTextiles.com
15. Liner And Tie Fabrics
knit
16. Luxury Sweater Knits, Bouclé
17. Suiting, Men’s Fabrics
Marc Atlas Textiles, www.bestfabriconline.com
10. Designer Resources
Please comment with your favorite wholesale vendors below!!
Happy Sourcing!
Gina aka Psycho Seamstress

10 Questions to Ask When Shopping for a Production Facility for Fashion

For the last few years, I have been consulting with clients who are just beginning in fashion. They usually come to me with a pile of sketches or inspiration photos of garments they want to create and have no idea what journey they are about to embark upon to get from these humble beginnings to a finished product, ready to sell. The process can literally take months. (here is an outline of THAT process… How to Start a Fashion Line Realistically and Ethically)  Although there are many steps that have to be complete before you can go into production, here are the steps to take once the design and prototype process has been completed. Doing this yourself is a big job, but here are some basic questions to ask when shopping for a factory to produce your clothing:

1. Are they a fair wage factory?

Chances are, if it’s in a foreign country they aren’t and won’t answer honestly. Nowadays people are asking more and more questions about where and how it’s made and are judging your line accordingly. People ARE willing to pay more to ensure they aren’t endorsing slavery. (Click this link to find out how many slaves work for you) ETHICAL production is available at an affordable price CAN be found if you contact Organizations like Fashion Hope. They can will assist you worldwide, in finding a production facility that doesn’t involve human trafficking, slavery, forced or child labor. Tell them I sent you or contact me for help with this.

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2. Where are they located?

This factor is important for a number of reasons:
– Get shipping estimates to and from the factory, those expenses should be considered as part of your production cost in both directions.
– You will need to ship them patterns, prototypes and materials and they will be shipping you material samples, garment samples and finished products. – — Import fees should also be considered, estimated and added to your bottom line.

3. Can you affordably visit their facility?

I highly recommend you do so. Having a face to face with your factory and touring the facility is an important part of making a smart investment decision and maintaining a profitable relationship. Go with your gut. If anything seems sketchy it’s better to keep looking and write off the trip expenses than to invest thousands of dollars in a production house that doesn’t have their act together, too much could go wrong.

4. Do they have all the right sewing machines to make your garments?

If they have a website make sure they are currently making similar items. It’s unreasonable to expect one factory to sew your entire collection if you’ve got jeans, dresses, t shirts and swimwear. Each of those items uses different sewing machines and fabrics to construct. It’s better to find a factory that specializes in one type of garment for each item in your collection if they differ greatly in how they need to be constructed.

5. Can they send you samples of their work on similar garments?

Ask them to mail (even if you have to pay for them) you similar items and check the quality of their work inside and out.
– Look for dropped stitches or stitch defects that mean their equipment needs to be better maintained or that quality control might be an issue.

Here’s an example of what a stitch defect looks like… it can eventually unravel and cause problems with the construction of your garment, making it open up at the seam.


– Check to make sure the fabric is cut properly and on the grain and is perfectly straight up and down where it needs to be in the garment. If anything is cut crooked it will not drape properly and when you wash it, it will get “wonky”. Here is an example of a cuff that was either cut off the grainline or sewn in a bit crooked. When you wash this item it will go sideways and then not drape properly.

Off Grain Banding

This is an example of the bottom band of a sweatshirt that was either cut off the grain of the knit or was sewn in crooked. See how the knit of the Grey Knit is not straight up and down to the Yellow Knit.

Wash the item(s) if you can to see how it holds up. If they aren’t cutting the pattern out properly it can ruin an entire production run.
I have a friend who had a 3 piece outfit made in China. They cut one piece wrong and it couldn’t be salvaged. The whole outfit had to be scratched for that season even though the other two pieces were fine.   That was about a $5k loss.

6. Can they provide fabric and notions sourced locally or do they have adequate storage for you to send them the fabrics and notions you’ve sourced for production?

Get samples of what they have access to before you have anything made in their fabrics. Get swatches and samples of their fabrics, notions, buttons, garment tags, even elastics.
Send them reference photos or swatches and samples of what fabrics and notions that you want to use and see what they come up with locally. I know one designer who had everything specified to the China factory on her swimwear collection and even sent them a sample of swimwear elastic. When they constructed her swimwear they substituted her swimwear elastic with what was essentially a “rubber band” type of elastic. It caused a fit issue with her collection and was a cheap and substandard elastic. She didn’t even know it had happened until her pattern maker took apart on of her factory made swimsuits on a redesign.

7. How much do they charge for a factory sample?

This price can vary depending on the complexity of the garment.
If it’s a pretty basic pattern block that is common in fashion then it could be $20 or less.
If it’s an original design they should be able to give you a ballpark estimate from a photo or drawing and description by email.
The average price that I’ve found for a factory sample seems to be right around $80. Standard Proceedure is to send them a pattern and prototype and they will send you a factory made garment.

8. What is their average turn around time on an order?

Planning ahead and allowing for all of the standard turn around time is a huge factor if you have seasonal items.

9. What other services do they offer?

Do you need anything else done to your garment that could be done at the factory? This can include screen printing, custom garment tags (vs the cheap plastic looking ones that scream low budget production!!) distressing, adding riveted buttons, zippers and so on can frequently be outsourced locally by the factory.

10. What is their policy on orders that are made wrong or what happens if you don’t get what you reasonably expected?

If you’re saying to your self, “damn, this seems a lot more complicated, expensive and time consuming, than I thought!” You’re right. It is a long and drawn out process, but it can be done. Contact me and I can help you through the process. Managing this yourself, as I said earlier is a big job and can result in huge losses if you don’t ask all the right questions or skip a step in an attempt to get your items made quickly.

Join my Clothing Designer Resources Group on Facebook for more information on how to go to market with your designs.  Continue reading