All ages. All skill levels. Everything I know, is possible to learn!
Gina Vincenza Van Epps
All ages. All skill levels. Everything I know, is possible to learn!
Gina Vincenza Van Epps
Do you have Fashion Designs you’d like to have made into patterns and prototypes to test your designs?
As the Founder of Orlando Fashion District its my mission to help you!
This is Step 1 on the pre production path to getting Your Fashion Designs into production and becoming a bonafide Fashion Designer!
Most of my clients ARE NOT educated or experienced in Fashion. Most have day jobs they want to eventually quit and are transitioning into fashion as their exit strategy.
You do not need a degree or experience in Fashion to become a successful designer. When you surround yourself with people who can guide you through the process by connecting you with the experts, you can get there from here.
I can work with you one of two ways. I can teach you as much as you’d like to learn or know to manage the daily details yourself OR you can hire me to manage it for you while you design and make all the big decisions.
Take this survey about how far along you are with your designs and get a free consultation from me on what next steps you can take to move forward.
As the Founder of Orlando Fashion District, my mission is to help Fashion Designers succeed in business.
Here’s some of my best advice on how to leverage the money you spend on patterns and prototypes to fund the production of your designs vs spending thousands of dollars on a production run that hasn’t been tested on the market yet and hoping it will sell.
For more help, resources and information on how to launch your own fashion brand, many of my clients have hired me as a consultant.
I can help you get through your patterns and prototypes, get graded and digitized, source fabrics, get your social media and branding image together, launch an influencer campaign, find a production house, show your collection on a fashion week or celebrity attempted runway show anywhere in the world and more.
Gina Vincenza Van Epps
aka Psycho Seamstress
Orlando Fashion District
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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.
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.
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.
A few times a week I get calls and emails from people who want me to help them create a fashion garment or clothing line. Many of them admittedly know nothing about what it actually takes to make that happen…
If you think you can call up a pattern maker or seamstress and have them create a garment you can turn around and sell for $25 with a profit in it for you, let me nicely advise “you’re trippin!”
Sorry to burst your bubble, but allow me to enlighten you…
Soooooo, unless you’ve got that kind of cash laying around, don’t quit your day job AND let’s hope “they” cut, sew and assemble everything correctly or it could be a total loss (I’ve seen it happen with a friends’ fashion line!!)
In order for me to help you understand what it takes to realistically bring your concepts to creation, Here is a step by step outline of the process for taking a garment into factory production and the reasonable expenses involved.
First of all you’ve got to have a general idea of what you want to create, one garment at a time. Even if you start with one design, define the details with photos or rough sketches. I meet with a lot of clients who start with a collage of photos we combine their favorite elements of each into the one garment they want to create. ie this neckline, that sleeve, this front, that back, etc. (For the record, you can not simply knock off someone else’s garment with the exact same fabrics, notions and details or you could get sued. You have to change the original garment by design, fabric, notions and/or stitching details by at least 25%!!!)
Now make a list of all the features you want your garment to have such as seam finishes, pockets, top stitching details, hem finishes, fabrics, zippers, buttons, notions, etc. Take photos of details you want from your own clothing or a stores clothing line for reference.
Second thing you need to do is create a fashion illustration or “flat” taking all of the inspiration photos and combine them into a functional image of what you want your end product to look like. This step isn’t absolutely necessary, but it will help the pattern maker get all of the details right the first time. A good fashion illustrator will charge about $50-100 per hour to draw everything in detail.
Next, you will need to have a pattern made. This averages about $150 and up, per garment. Pattern making is an art that requires precise knowledge of fit, body curves and other techniques. Sometimes you can use a store bought home sewing pattern as a base and alter it to your specification. This can still take a few hours to do.
“Grading” the pattern into different sizes, comes later and will be an additional expense. Grading by hand usually starts at $50 per each additional size depending upon the number of pattern pieces, but it can go much higher. I recommend, if you’re serious about launching a fashion line, you find a pattern maker who knows how to use Gerber, which is an autocad program for fashion. There are expenses involved in translating your paper patterns into the autocad system, (from $25 per design and up) but it will greatly reduce the turn around time and expense to grade ($15 per size vs $50+ by hand), alter and transmit your designs to the factory in the long run. Add these figures in your budget if your item is not one size fits all.
Choosing fabrics for your prototype can be done a number of ways. Many times we create the prototype out of muslin, canvas, duck, spandex or other cheap fabric that behaves similar to the final fabric, mainly so the fit can be defined without cutting into more expensive final fabric. Prototypes usually start at $150 each or up to $50 an hour or more, to cut and sew. If someone charges less make sure they have the skills to do all of these things.
To give you an example of a real life situation and it’s numbers, I had a client with 14 items in her collection. Between pattern making and 3 phases of prototypes it costed about $7000.00 in labor. This did not include materials, which ranged from $25-180 PER YARD. Her fabrics were very delicate, high end and her garments had couture details.
Sourcing of final fabrics and notions is an important part of creating a fashion line. There are many factors to consider. There are a series of fabric show around the country by DG Expo which are free to attend and invaluable to finding everything you need to create a successful clothing line.
What kind of trims will it need? Lace, Bias Tape, Piping, etc, those will need to be sourced and purchased in volume.
What kind of zippers, buttons, snaps, hooks do you want to use for closures? Will they need to be custom made with your logo on them? All this will need to be budgeted, sourced and purchased for production.
What kind of labels are required by law?
You could have your entire run rejected if it is not labeled properly. Many garments are required to be labeled with the fiber contents of the fabrics, where the item was made and any safety related information.
You should have one label with care instructions and one that has your logo, brand, size of the garment and can also contain its inventory item number, web address, etc. These can be one in the same, screen printed onto the fabric or made to order tags that have been printed, woven, embroidered and could be made of fabric or other synthetic materials.
Choosing a production facility.
Here are some samples of what those documents look like. You will need to hire a professional to put these together in most cases.
It can take several weeks to turn around a factory sample and can cost a anywhere from $100-1000 to get everything together for the factory.
Another thing to consider is any language barrier. If you can’t communicate easily and frequently with this factory by email or they take days to respond to a simple request that should be taken into consideration as a red flag.
If you choose this factory you should also be prepared to fly to this county to visit the factory, meet with its staff and inspect it for yourself. If your planing on investing several thousand dollars, the expense is worth it.
Another thing to consider is to hire a liaison from that area to go to the factory unannounced to check on the quality and progress of your run. I had a friend who did all of the above and still lost several thousand dollars due to quality issues and unapproved fabric swapping that cost her about $10k in losses. She ordered a three piece outfit, which became unusable because they messed up one piece in production on the entire run.
Sound overwhelming? There is a lot involved in taking a fashion line into production. If you don’t want all these headaches it is best to hire someone to manage your project who has a background in overseas fashion production.
What’s the alternative? Get real! Unless you are Walmart, you need to return to earth and start on a smaller scale. Here are a few ideas that have worked for some of my clients. In order to make money, you need to have a realistic price point that includes a reasonable cost for materials and labor.
Here’s how to figure that out:
Once you have some orders flowing in, have created a following and your local seamstress or short run production house becomes too busy to handle your orders, here is a great way to get factory quality and quantity at a fair and ethical price…
Fashion Hope is an international organization, founded by a friend of mine, Marc Palmer.
To learn more about Fashion Hope and become a part of the growing movement to produce Fashion ethically, you can find Marc Palmer’s Fashion Hope page at Fashion Hope on Facebook or email Marc@FashionHope.org
I am on a mission to create an Orlando Fashion District, if you would like to become part of this movement, please like my Facebook Page for all of the latest info and share your local favorites!!
Thanks for tuning in!
Follow me on Facebook at Psycho Seamstress for all the latest!
Check out some of my fashion client and film work at House of Vincenza
Gina Vincenza Van Epps is aka Psycho Seamstress
A List Wardrobe Seamstress, Designer and Costume Fabrication Specialist, Key Wardrobe
In January of 2013, I met with the friend of a friend, named Blu Fogarty.
Blu is a very talented performer at Universal Studios, who wanted to show me a Rock Operetta he had written entitled “Bacchanal Carnival”. The show is a very diverse Morality Play about a character called “Everyman”, he actually performed it for me, from beginning to end, playing and singing the parts for each of the characters he had written. It was quite impressive. I felt compelled to become involved.
Blu’s goal is to tour his charity benefit rock operetta and use it to raise money for local charities by partnering with them in communities where it will be shown. (See the C.O.R.E. Incorporated Facebook Page or Website for more information.)
Over the last 2 years Blu formed a 501c3 non profit organization called C.O.R.E. Incorporated, whose primary mission is to put this show on tour.
My Fashion Designer friend David Barnes of Piida Diida agreed to fill in some of the costume blanks with concept drawings.
I introduced Blu to a few more friends, who I thought might be able to help him along his journey including Winfield Murdock, a very talented Costume Designer, Fabrication Specialist and Owner of Winfield Murdock Creative Works in Orlando.
This winter Blu had an event coming up and has been wanting his “MC” costume fabricated, so he could wear it to meetings with potential investors to help convey his concept, perform parts of the play and for general marketing purposes.
Miguel Moreta, a London Educated Fashion Graduate, Costume Designer & Fabricator I’ve been working with over the last few months, sat down with Blu a few weeks ago and sketched out all of the details needed to move the project into fabrication.
I worked mostly on the leather pants from beginning to end.
The end result was a Custom Military Style Tails Coat, Hand Made Leather Top Hat and Patchwork Leather Pants.
This costume is one of many amazing costumes pending fabrication for this show.
If you’d like to donate time, talent, money, goods or services to help Blu bring his concept further into creation, please contact Blu@coreincorporated.org and tell him I sent you.
Blu needs help with production, audio, video, lighting, casting, performers, soundtrack, props, costumes, funding, grants and more!
Core Incorporated Website and Facebook Page:
Winfield Murdock Creative Works Website & Facebook Page
David Barnes of Piida Diida https://www.facebook.com/pages/Piida-Diida-Clothing/120707634627104
Gina Vincenza Van Epps aka Psycho Seamstress
A List Wardrobe Seamstress, Designer & Costume Fabrication Specialist
Psycho Seamstress https://www.facebook.com/psychoseamstress
Psycho Stagewear https://www.facebook.com/psycho13stagewear
House of Vincenza https://www.facebook.com/houseofvincenza
Orlando Fashion District https://www.facebook.com/OrlandoFashionDistrict
Central Florida Sewing Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/fashionincubatordh/
A year ago I had one of the most epic days of my life. They say everybody gets 15 minutes of fame, but mine has just kept on going. It was completely unexpected and so far exceeded my expectations, it has yet to be topped.
I was anxiously awaiting the release of an interview I had done over the phone with my home town newspaper last May after they found out about my small town girl success and the A List Seamstress I’d become.
I sent a few photos as requested and talked about what I’ve been doing with my life since I left “the burg”.
I was prepared for a center fold in the “entertainment” section as we had discussed. It was supposed to be released over Memorial Day Weekend. I messaged a few friends back home to check the paper for me and after they flipped through it cover to cover, informed me it wasn’t there. I have to admit I was a little disappointed as Memorial weekend came and went.
On Sunday morning, June 2nd, I got the shock of a lifetime when my friend Jeff Gordon (he and I were voted the “most artistic” of Frewsburg NY’s class of 85) messaged me on Facebook with a photo of the front page of Jamestown, NY’s “Post Journal” News Paper. There, I was taking up 1/2 of the front page smoking a Cuban cigar! I didn’t see it in actual print until my Uncle Peter Nalbone gave me the copy somebody had mailed him in Charlotte, NC a few weeks later! I was absolutely shocked! My first thought was “holy crap, I made the front page and didn’t even rob a bank!”
I got literally hundreds of comments, emails, texts, messages and phone calls from all over the place.
To this day, my mom said that when ever she goes back home to visit, people still talk to her about my cigar smoking front page news article!
Working for Sir Paul McCartney was the catalyst that propelled me to the front page, but Sir Paul was followed by an epic year of achievements for me that included: – my first movie costumes for “Hallowed Ground”
– getting into Marilyn Manson’s pants (!)
– custom Stagewear for Dweezil Zappa
– opening a Design House
– sending in an audition tape for Project Runway
– fixing Michael Bublè’s Fly!
– 2 dates with Bruno Mars
– Stagewear for Mick James (of Criss Angel Mind Freak fame) worn in the film “Lost in Darkness”
– my first music video for the film “Rescue Me”
– seamstress for Justin Timberlake
– one of my costume designs landed on the cover model of Encore
– helped my friend Jen get her 5 years dream of a “DoggieSack” prototype factory made
– rocked out as production crew on the “70,000 Tons of Metal” Cruise
– twerking 2 dates with Miley Cyrus
– sewing for Volbeat
– chilling at Rockville where I chatted with Billy Duffy of the Cult about his Stagewear
– teaching sewing to students of all ages
– working with designers on launching their fashion lines
– making Rock Stagewear for a clientele that has now become worldwide
and most recently working for Cher!
This year I have already achieved more of my ginormous goals including landing a part time job at Universal Orlando as a Costume Fabrication Specialist, scoring my first Gig as Costume Designer for the film “The Glades” and continuing to do what I love for a living.
It has been an amazing journey. Everyday I learn and grow. Every opportunity brings new challenges and skills. I strive to make this world a better place by blessing the lives of those who wear the clothes I’ve had the honor and privilege to sew. Each day I remember, thank and honor the grandmother who passed this gift along to me. I am grateful to be this blessed. I am happy to inspire others to greatness. I am happy to be, who I was meant to be. I believe the best is yet to come. Of all the things I have learned in life, it all boils down to this… Believing is seeing. Every thought is a prayer. Good, Bad or Ugly. Make it count. What Would It Take to have everything in your life exceed your expectations and be more than you think you deserve? Why don’t you ask and find out?
It’s never too late to be who you meant to be!
Introducing the 2014 Encore DCS Southeast Regional Cover Model Winner ~ Avery Richey, Congratulations!!! https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152019376717779&set=a.10150260288687779.323909.168153707778&type=1&theater
Wow, I wasn’t expecting this!
We knew when we were hired to make costumes, we knew they would be worn by 2014 Encore DCS Cover Model, Avery Richey, but we weren’t expecting my first official design for the competition dance teams “Box of Chocolates” routine to be the first public release from the photo shoot!! This was as always another one of those things that has already exceeded my exceptions!!
When I first proposed the concept to Gaymarie, she had never even heard of Steampunk, but when she asked for some “outside the box” designs, this was the first thing that came to mind for me. Steampunk is a hot trend right now and after I searched through all of the top competition dance costumes catalogs and didn’t find a single hint of Steampunk anywhere, I knew it would be a show stopper! We have yet to see how this number will do on the Competition Dance Circuit Judges, but I have a feeling it will be winning some awards this year!
So much work went into this little Steam Punk number, but I could not have pulled it off without my fearless and talented business partner Gina Renee Benevides!! I am sooooo glad she quit her day job to come work with me on the birth of our Design House’s first official project.
This is quite an honor and great kick off to what I know will be an amazing year for Fashion Incubator Design House!
I, like many people in the music business, have a lot of friends on Facebook, despite never having met them. In 2010, I became Facebook friends with Dweezil Zappa.
In April, I set up a page for my Fashion Incubator Design House (www.facebook.com/fashionincubatordh)
One day I got a massage on my page from Dweezil Zappa and about fell off my chair!
I’ve been working wardrobe for A List performers for a couple of years now. As glamorous as it sounds, most of the time I only catch a glimpse of the Artist themselves, the rest of the time I am laundering, ironing, steaming, repairing and altering costumes and stagewear in their backstage dressing room. Although I’ve made costumes for Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber’s dancers, that was basically a contracted sewing job. I didn’t design them, I just sewed them together, per someone else’s direction and then had to find photos of my work later online.
This time, I was finally given a chance to design and sew something from scratch for the Artist them self! It was an amazing opportunity. Dweezil, who lives in California wanted some custom made bellbottoms for his upcoming tour “Zappa plays Zappa”, covering his famous father, Frank Zappa’s album Roxy & Elsewhere.
We emailed back and fourth, I sent him some concept drawings from my Design House Partner’s Gina Renee. We decided we would meet at my Design House during his upcoming visit to Orlando.
When Dweezil and his family arrived in town on vacation, I didn’t want to cut into their family time, so I offered to come to him instead.
My pattern maker Gina Renee and I headed over to the resort where he was staying. We were introduced to his wife Megan, their kids and proceeded to measure him, some of his good fitting jeans and discussed the design further to make sure we were all on the same page.
Gina and I then headed to the fabric store, gathered supplies and then went to work on pulling it all together.
A few days later I coordinated a fitting, again at his hotel. My friend Laura tagged along, as my car was in the shop and I needed a ride. He tried on the pants, we worked out a few adjustments to the design and agreed on details for 2 pairs for the tour.
After altering the pattern, I made the two more pairs of five pocket denim jeans with a flare bottom. When I stitched them together the seam allowance was different. I knew one pair might fit better than the other, but I had a friend in LA who I knew could fix them if needed.
I sent the pants and indeed one pair was off. I was working wardrobe for Bruno Mars at the time, but it was fortunately a slow day so I had some time to make some phone calls.
Thanks to Al Bane 4 Leather of North Hollywood, his shop was only a few minutes away from Dweezil’s. house.
Al agreed to go to Dweezil house, see what the fit problem was, take the pants back to his shop, alter them for me and return them back to Dweezil the next day.
After Al and I talked on the phone about the project he invited me out to his shop in LA to intern for him and work together on some of the projects I could use his help with.
Another amazing opportunity for me.
After all was said and done Dweezil posted a big thank you on my wall. That was pretty awesome.