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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Another few seconds of BTS fame, Explained… Thanks Beyonce!!

As my project management career in sewing related ventures continues to escalate, my recent Behind The Scene’s work on Beyoncé’s Formation World Tour Costumes in April 2016 at Raymond James Stadium, became public when Beyoncé, posted on Facebook, a BTS video, which included footage of Jessica and I seam ripping holes into the Balmain Bodysuits, Love working on a Gucci bejeweled bodysuit and flashes of some of the other projects we got to work on.

Here’s the link to the video Beyonce posted on her wall: Beyonce BTS The Formation World Tour Fashion

Here’s some commentary on some of the images you see in the video and what we were doing!

Seam Ripping the Balmain Bodysuit Armpits

Seam Ripping the Balmain Bodysuit Armpits

Opening The Seams

Opening The Seams

Allowing for arm movement

Allowing for arm movement

Me explaining what we were doing to the Balmain Bodysuits

Me explaining what we were doing to the Balmain Bodysuits

Explaining Gussets

Explaining Gussets

Adding Gussets

Adding Gussets

Jessica Demonstrates

Jessica Demonstrates

Love working on the Gucci adorn Black Bodysuits that haven't debuted as of yet

Love working on the Gucci adorn Black Bodysuits that haven’t debuted as of yet

Sue with one of the custom made face jewelry masks

Beyonce’s Wardrobe Crew with one of the custom made face jewelry masks

Beyonce's Wardrobe Crew Lead rinsing out the stockings

Beyonce’s Wardrobe Crew Lead rinsing out the stockings

The Initial Wardrobe Crew I put together to work on costumes for Beyonce during the 3+ weeks she was in Tampa rehearsing.

The initial Wardrobe Crew I put together to work on costumes for Beyonce during the 3+ weeks she was in Tampa rehearsing including myself, Love, Jessica and Renee, my go to girls!

If you are looking for a mobile wardrobe crew for an event, concert tour, onsite fabrication, film, theater tour, fashion show, wardrobe or sewing related specialty runner, wardrobe stylist or other mobile person with wardrobe, sewing, pattern making and on location fabrication skills, check out my facebook page: Mobile Wardrobe Services to put in a crew request or email me at info@mobilewardrobeservices.com

If you ARE a MOBILE seamstress, seamster, couturier, stitcher, tailor, wardrobe person, pattern maker, fabricator of costume or fashion, have a passport, mobile sewing kit and / or are willing to travel, join my facebook group to get called in on gigs like this! Mobile Sewing & Wardrobe Locals and Crew

Special Thanks again to Beyonce for including me and some of my local crew in your behind the scenes video! These were some of the most amazing high end fashions turned costume, I’ve worked on to date. I love getting paid to share my gifts, talents and helping others do the same.

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

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.

cropped-toplogohomepage.png

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

How To Start A Fashion Line… Realistically and ETHICALLY!

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…

dress

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!”

25 dress

Sorry to burst your bubble, but allow me to enlighten you…

  1. for retail prices like that, it would require a factory production order of about 1,000 + pieces
  2. a retail line of stores willing to place large orders of your designs or other successful mass market distribution plan already in place
  3. an INITIAL investment of about $25,000 to cover patterns, prototypes, factory samples, 100 yard rolls of fabric, notions, thread, labor, labels, cargo shipping to the USA, customs fees, import taxes, shipping get it from the port to a distribution center, then shipping to get it to the retailer
  4. AND your items will probably be made in unethical, human trafficking and/or child labor conditions for a $5 profit per garment. Let’s just hope you don’t have to put it on sale!!

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!!)

money-blackhole

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%!!!)

collage

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.

zip

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.

Fashion_Illustration

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.

pattern making

“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.

Graded pattern

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.

hire a pro

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.

couture-pattern-muslin

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.

  1. How many of each item do you intend on making at a time? 25/50/100 (this is called a run)
  2. How many yards will you need for each item? Sometimes as a designer it can be difficult to get a response from a wholesale factory or mill on fabrics and pricing, because they would rather deal directly with a design or production house because they see them as a more profitable client. I’ve had that happen to several clients.
  3. What kind of fabric do you want to use? Woven, Knit, Natural Fiber, Synthetic, Denim, Stretch, Etc…
  4. Will your garment simply be wash and wear or will it require hand washing or dry cleaning? This will be important to your decision. (Wash, wear and tear testing will need be done once you’ve gotten past the prototype phase and have a sample in the desired fabrics for production.)
  5. How will it play with the other fabrics involved? ie, will one shrink more than another, will it bleed, fade, need interfacing, lining, etc… (this again needs to be part of the research and development of your garments)
  6. Find out if you can get a few yards of sample Fabric to use for a sample garments.
  7. Fabric for production is usually ordered by the bolt or roll to ensure consistency in production and to get the best price. Find out what their minimums are. Some companies have a minimum roll price of so many yards. This can range from 25+ yards and up for example. Otherwise you will pay twice as much (usually retail) for anything less that their minimum quantity.

ROLLS OF FABRIC LINE THE WALL_0

What kind of trims will it need? Lace, Bias Tape, Piping, etc, those will need to be sourced and purchased in volume.

SOURCING

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.

Labels

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.

  1. First thing you will want to do is research what type of garments each factory is set up to run.
    For example, some factories specialize in certain types of garments or fabrics. Find a few that might work.
  2. Have each factory make you a sample of how they would produce your item. This is called a factory sample. In order to do this, they will need a combination of the following items.
    1. A prototype or sample of the item you wish to reproduce
    2. Patterns for the size you want them to make
    3. A “tech pack” or spread sheet of information and illustrations regarding every precise measurements and construction details of your garment.
    4. Samples of all of the materials required to produce your garment or specifications on what materials you’d like them to use for their sample.

Here are some samples of what those documents look like. You will need to hire a professional to put these together in most cases.

tech tech2 tech3

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:

  1. How much can you reasonably get all the materials you will need to make your item? This will be your Materials Cost
  2. Getting your pattern and prototype made will run about $150 for the pattern and $150 for the prototype AND UP if your garment is complicated. This is part of your Research & Development Cost and a critical part of the process, if this is not done correctly it will be down hill from here.
  3. Once the first pattern and prototype (usually in a muslin or other cheap fabric that behaves similar to the fabrics you’d like to use in your final garment) have been made you should have an estimate on how long it will take to cut and sew your garment and an initial sample of what you’d like to make.
  4. Now is the time to review your design, fit it to your “fit model” and proceed in refining your design as many times as necessary, to meet with your final approval.
  5. Once you’ve got everything perfectly the way you want it, the next step is to create a designer sample in your final, more expensive fabrics. Whoever is sewing your samples, should be able to provide a retail quality skill level (no sewing mistakes) AND have the right equipment (which can be very expensive). This is important because your samples could eventually end up being photographed, used for marketing, fashion shows and even sold to clients directly.
  6. Take your sample garment, hire a model and a photographer (or just do it yourself!) and create some professional looking images of your garment. You can post these images to Facebook, Twitter, Etsy, Instagram, Pintrest and other social media sites and ask people if they would buy this item. You can even start taking orders with a realistic turn around time (4-6 weeks on Etsy). You can also set up trunk shows at local boutiques and shop it around to some retailer to see if they’d be interested in placing an order.
  7. After you have test marketed you item you can start to prepare to produce them as needed using a local seamstress or short run production house at a fair wage, which in the US, is going to run about $10+ for a skilled seamstress with good equipment.
  8. You can launch an entire collection this way by starting small.

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

Fashion Hope is an international organization, founded by a friend of mine, Marc Palmer.
Marc can:

  1. Introduce you to funding sources and their audience, which could help you FUND your fashion line ethically with certified fair wage production, worldwide
  2. Assist you in creating a documentary of your fashion story and mission for reasonable fees contact info@fashionhope.org regarding the cost.
  3. Assist Designers with a strong media following and other outside funding to coordinate a trip to a country where they have rescued women from unethical, human trafficking situations and converted them into a fair wage working environments
  4. Through Fashion Hope, you will get to work hands on with their fashion production experts to ensure your project is in good hands and experience the people and community where your garments will be produced
  5. You can join the growing list of ethical designers and promote your line as being both fair wage and ethical in its production practices, which are huge selling points
  6. Be Introduced to the coordinators of annual fashion week events any where in the world, get discounts or FREE benefits once you have an established Brand
  7. Become part of the “IN CROWD” who can give a confidant answer about where and how your garments are being made

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

For more on the issues of human trafficking and to find out how many slaves you own, check out…http://mtvexit.org/ and http://slaveryfootprint.org/survey/

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

Gina@PsychoSeamstress.com

My Summer of 84 in NYC

My talented friend and Artist, Nancy Scheer​​ reminded me on Facebook that this is the 30 year anniversary of our summer at Parsons School of Design in NYC!
It was quite a hell hole back then, with a very high crime rate, but it was the unmatched epitome of fashion and music in the 1980’s.
At 17, I was let loose in NYC, with an electric guitar, some leather pants and some art supplies!
We attended art classes Monday To Thursday.
I took a Communication Design class in the days before computer graphics even existed. Commercial Art back then, consisted of using vinyl graphic Letraset type fonts and photo editing was literally cutting off someones head in one photo and paste it to another body! We had art by day and party by night.
I flew to NYC with a fellow artfag from High School, Chrisula Constantine.

My 1980's Birthday, Probably 17th.

My 1980’s Birthday, Probably 17th.

Chrissy and I had fully intended on moving to L.A. after High School to find the rest of our metal band we had already name “Latem Tar” (Metal Rat spelled backwards!) but then boys happened and I ended up moving to Florida, where I have remained since 85.

We shared a lofted Union Square apartment. Our bedroom, was basically two beds, up a 8″ ladder and the room below contained 2 wardrobes for our stuff and a small desk. We had a giant window that over looked the street and the building directly across.

We shared a kitchen and eating area with Vivian and Beth, who had a bedroom like ours. There was a common living and recreation area, shared by other students, down the hall and a pay phone. Most of the time the elevator was broken and we had to walk or stumble up 11 flights of stairs. We walked everywhere and had blisters for weeks!

Within a day or so, we noticed people across the street spying on us with cameras and binoculars, Chris and I went out and bought a giant Judas Priest poster which became our “curtain”, but since the open window was our only air conditioning, it stayed open 24/7. You could hear the riff raff on the streets, and smell the garbage from the 11th floor.

Our bathroom was notable and became a tour stop on our floor. Somehow we managed to get the handicap room with a giant walk in shower and toilet with bars on the side. We all took turns worshipping it.

We had the weekend to do whatever we wanted. I think I learned more on the weekends than I ever learned in school!
It was off the chain, we drank, bought food from vendors on the streets, partied, and carried on like rock stars. We went to a theme party that was a mock funeral, Coffin and all.

With the right amount of cash and looks, you could get into all the hot clubs like the famous Danceteria from the Movie “Desperately Seeking Susan”. It was there, where Madonna was, that I got squished into a tiny elevator with a hot guy, I would later fall in love with and not see or hear from again, until he found me 25 years later.

@ Michel's NYU Dorm Room

@ Michel’s NYU Dorm Room

NYC back then was the home to Studio 54, The Limelight, CBGB’s, The Underground, The Peppermint Lounge and more. The local news paper was “The Village Voice”. The famous shops were “Trash and Vaudeville” and resale stores with clothes to die for! We visited all of those places.

I went to a concert and saw Ratt, Twisted Sister and my hero at the time, Lita Ford on the Pier. I was wearing purple spandex pants and some jerk put his cigarette out on my leg!

Lita Ford's Guitar and Roadcase

The elevator guy looked like a rock star, he was attending NYU and later became a famous Heavy Metal DJ at L’Amour’s, Michel Gutman, he still has the epic CD collection to prove it! (in 2009, he returned to the states after living in Israel, we lived together for about 9 months in Hot Springs AR, then split, but that’s another story!)

Chrisula and I would get dressed up each weekend to attended the midnight screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show’s Live performances with the famous guy on the record, Sal. I bought an Adam Ant record at Bleeker Bobs, some purple leather pants at CC Stars and ate Pizza at Ray’s. One day my art teacher (whose name, I can’t remember) was eating something I had never seen before, it was Sushi, she let me try some and I’ve been hooked ever since. She threw a party at her loft apartment in an old dockside factory, we traveled by the Twin Towers and what I think was the Brooklyn Bridge to get there.

I just realize, wow, I still am wearing, at this very moment the black rubber vacuum cleaner o ring bracelet I bought in a store across the street from the famous Electric Lady recording studio built by Jimi Hendrix, where Chrisula Constantine and I were stalking, to get a glimpse of KISS who was allegedly recording there.

I saw the Gay Parade march down 5th Ave and the Statue of Liberty covered in scaffolding as that was the year they did some restoration work on it.

I remember walking down the street one day and someone stopped me to ask where the Empire State Building was, I turned and looked at the skyline and realized I had been living only blocks away, all this time!

I spent the 4th of July on Tar Beach, the roof of our building watching fireworks and the Macy’s parade.

In 1998 I got a 3am motorcycle tour of NYC and rode by the building I once lived in on Union Square, the former lobby had since become a restaurant and was all fixed up. A lot had changed for the better.

The experience of living in New York City for the summer of 1984, was priceless. It was truly one of the best summers of my life. I am sure it was scary for my parents, but I’m glad they let me go. It was an amazing adventure.

Sew I twerked on Miley Cyrus Bangerz Tour

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Sew on Monday 3/24/14, Amway Arena, Orlando, FL was the 2nd Florida tour date I got to work for Miley.

This was a crazy busy day 10 hour day of sewing from beginning to end. Normally on a tour like hers, everybody has two sets of costumes to reduce the wear and tear on them and to have a back up set in case one gets damaged.
Miley’s tour just started on Feb 14, so wardrobe was still getting caught up with her second set of costumes. Lots of what arrives on the show has to altered slightly, but also rigged for quick change, which is what I spent most of the day doing.

These are sewing tricks you can’t learn anywhere, but within the performance industry and precisely why I’m writing a book on costume rigging, because none exist that I can find!  Today I will share some inside secrets to costume rigging with the tricks I did on Miley’s costumes.

I started out the day hand sewing a pair of black spandex gloves into the fancy black lame and rhinestone cuffs trimmed with black and white fluffy tails. This way Miley could slide her hands right in, vs putting on the gloves, then cuffs, saving time and keeping any parts from getting lost. (I got to slide my hand into Miley’s existing gloves, they gave me as a sample… sadly it did not improve my ability to sing 😦 but I did feel the urge to stick my tongue out! =P)
On this particular costume I also had to make a little square black spandex bag for her wireless microphone transmitter with a Velcro tab and sew it to the back of her black stretch lame and rhinestone chaps, also trimmed in black and white fur. Next I altered her black crystal stoned triangle bikini style top, so that the neck halter strap matched her other top in length and so that it was one continuous strap vs tying behind her neck and becoming a nip slip hazard! This way all she had to do was slip it over her head and hook it in the back with some heavy duty flat hooks. My friend Geoff called me from Cali while I was in the middle of this project and when he asked me what I was doing, he was quite surprised with the answer! I later sent him this pic…

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The next project was to cut the rubbery tops off of a pair of thigh highs… you know, the part that makes them stick to your leg without having to wear a guarder belt? Then I hand stitched the rubbery part to the back inside bottom of Miley’s black mesh bodysuit with the red V design down the middle. This was to prevent an on stage wedgie from happening!

The next project was simple, I needed to Zig Zag stitch the ties to two bathrobes in the center back to keep them from getting lost and making them easier to put on and tie around the waist as the ties keeps slipping out of the side loops.

Next I was handed the Furry Pink Gorilla costume. All that needed was a dart at the neck opening to make it fit better.

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Done. Next!

Many times I am asked to fix personal clothing items for performers and crew. This time, I replaced two bottoms on a pair of funky black dancer pants and miraculously repaired some giant gaping rips several inches long, in one of the male dancers black and blue flannel shirts. This was a bit of a joke backstage as everyone in wardrobe was teasing him and telling him to “give it up” and throw the raggedy ass shirt in the trash! He insisted it was his favorite shirt and begged them to try to fix it. I have seen this problem before and was able to Zig Zag stitch the dangling threads together and make a patch out of thread by repeatedly treading over the same torn area until it became resurrected. He was so thrilled with the repairs, he did a happy dance and laughingly cursed the wardrobe crew for saying it couldn’t be done! He then skipped off into the sunset with his favorite shirt in hand.

The next project was a bit interesting… The female dancers wore panty hose under their high cut bikini style bottoms. To prevent the cotton crotch of the panty hose from showing, it had to be folded down the center from front to back and stitched closed. I did about 25 pairs of these with my good friend Candas doing all the pinning. I can’t  imagine these being worn more than one or two shows in a row.

My last project was making another wireless microphone rig which consisted of making the wireless bag out of nude spandex and attaching it to a nude colored elastic with clear bra straps.

At this point, I had run out of time and everyone from wardrobe was out working the show, which I could hear in the background. I packed up my sewing machine and poked my head out into the arena to catch Miley on stage. She was wearing her bedazzled weed body suit and her little gold car had just left the stage and was being driven to its road case in the backstage area.

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My girls had dropped my mom off backstage, where she was waiting to spend a few days with me. I snuck her up the side VOM, so she could get a glimpse of Miley onstage, introduced her to my boss and a few friends, then we left the venue and headed for my house.

Gina Vincenza Van Epps aka Psycho Seamstress
A List Wardrobe Seamstress,
Stage Wear, Costume & Couture Design & Fabrication
Gina@PsychoSeamstress.com
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