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
Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Quora
1. Sew for hire. I’ve been doing this since 2008 by placing an ad on Craigslist under Creative Services. People who need things made but don’t know how to sew, will hire you. Use photos from completed projects for your next ad and make social media profiles and posts to further market your work.
2. Apply for sewing jobs. I work at Universal Theme Parks as a Costume Fabrication Specialist, making costumes, doing repairs and alterations.
3. Provide Mobile Wardrobe Services, this can include sewing and other related services like laundry, steaming, ironing, dressing assistance and more. I’ve been doing this since 2011 for an event production company that staffs the local crew at arena shows. I’ve worked for over 50 touring celebrities and dozens of Broadway shows.
4. Design and Sew your own ideas and use sites like Etsy or Shopify to sell them online. I have a friend (above Alienphant) who makes a living renting booth space at Cosplay Conventions selling her fun fashions. You can also partner with local boutique to consign your work or do trunk shows.
5. Create a collection for a runway show. Once you have about 10 looks, you can use your prototypes for a photo shoot, runway show and even continue on into production. Above is CJ Golden of Starboy Swimwear. You can sell your designs right off the runway or take custom orders.
6. Teach Sewing. I teach sewing to all ages with in home private lessons and hold group sewing classes at local community centers.
7. Do Commissioned Replica Work, I’ve made several reproductions of film, characters, rock start tribute band costumes and Fashion.
What creative ways have you used your sewing skills to make money?
Gina Vincenza Van Epps
AKA Psycho Seamstress
Founder of Orlando Fashion District
Mobile Wardrobe Services
Costume Rigging Illustrated
House Of Vincenza
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:
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:
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
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.