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.

Rihanna’s Anti Tour… Was 50 Shades of Beige :(

Tour Date #2 of Rihanna’s Anti World Tour happened at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida on March 32, 2016, where there was definitely a lot going on.


I was working my usual seamstress gig, while designers from LA had flown in with a ton of bags to unpack and were still sorting through all of the different looks for the show. 

They had me cutting and sewing these one piece jump suits for the male dancers, with hoods for most of the day.

My assignment, for most of the day , was to cut and sew a second ser of these hooded jumpsuits for her 2 male dancers.


Towards the end of the day it got a little crazy and I had to put my sewing aside and help get the wardrobe crew get everything prepped for the show.

I loved this look, even though it was only a slight departure from all the beigeness…

As far as the over all costuming goes for this tour, I’m sorry to report, I was underwhelmed.

Can we talk?

I feel bad about saying this out loud, but I’ve worked for Rihanna before, as a local seamstress on her Diamonds tour and I thought those costumes were fabulous.

It just seemed like… a lot of beige…???  

Did anyone else notice that or was it just me?

Maybe they will be adding some more color since the second night of the tour? I’m not sure what was going on there but it was literally “50. Shades. Of Beige.”
😦

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

15 Things You Can Put In A Mobile Sewing Kit And 2 Ways To Create a Part Time Sewing Job…

mansons pants

Repairs to Marilyn Manson’s Pants at the Hard Rock Live in Orlando, Fl

A lot of people use Craigslist to offer their sewing services, but what I’ve done has separated me from the crowd by offering mobile services. I get calls, all the time for last minute, emergency and urgent mobile sewing gigs. If you know how to sew, do laundry, iron, steam clothing and help people get dressed or quick change and you’re interested in making some extra cash, pack yourself a sewing “gig bag” and put an ad on Craigslist to offer mobile sewing services to take your show on the road!

Here’s How I did it:

By using a free Craigslist ad, I began posting in 2008, it helped me to consistently build my sewing business, to the point where I could quit my “day job”, sew for a living, set my own schedule and pick and choose my work.  My Craigslist ad lead me to many amazing opportunities. I used the “creative services” category for all my posts and included photos of my best work, which I updated frequently and reposted as needed, when the old ads expired.

My Craigslist ad got me the “in” I needed, by being mobile and led me directly to my sewing work on A List Concert Tours, Broadway Theater Productions, working with Celebrities, Fashion Shows and even Weddings. I have acquired many private clients, built an impressive resume and created a photo portfolio of my sewing work, which I use all over social media.

Here’s what I carried in my mobile sewing kit; There are all kinds of divided containers, fishing tackle and craft boxes and rolling suitcases you can use to keep everything mobile and organized.

A list of items for a basic kit:

1. Reliable Portable Sewing Machine and Serger if needed. I use and old school Kenmore from the 70’s and a mid priced Singer Serger, which I usually leave in my car unless they request it. Computerized sewing machines tend to get fussy if you move them around too much, so I recommend a simple basic sewing machine with a straight and zig zag stitch. (I used to use a $200 Brother Project Runway Special Edition Sewing Machine for 3 years that I paid $50 for, on sale at Walmart!!)
2. Scissors for paper and fabric
3. Seam Rippers
4. An Assortment of Thread (I like the Geuterman box of 26 from Joann Fabrics http://www.joann.com/gutermann-26-spool-thread/9284811.html#close)
5. Elastic in black and white in various widths.
6. Notions including snaps in all sizes especially “whopper poppers” (the quarter size), hooks and eyes/bars in small to large sizes, buttons, etc
6. Velcro in at least black and white
7. Sewing Pins, Pin Cushion
8. Large Safety Pins
9. Tailor’s Chalk wheel or other marking devices for alterations
10. Hand Sewing Needle Assortment
11. Lint Roller
12. 120″ tape measure
13. Hem Gauge
14. Flashlight (in case you end up working backstage or quick change)
15. Sewing Apron, cargo shorts/pants or fanny pack bag for having supplies on you

Other items I’ve been known to carry:

1. Pattern Making Materials and Supplies
2. Small sizes of Laundry Supplies including an assortment of stain removing agents, baking soda, salt (for use with fabric dye) vinegar, Ivory Bar Soap, Hair Spray (removes ink), denture cleaner (removes dingy from whites), magic eraser, 90% alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, etc
3. Steamer, Iron, Spray Starch
4. Rubber gloves in case I have to dye fabric or deal with a smelly mess
5. Muslin, jersey, denim scraps
6. Double Stick Wardrobe Tape
7. Zippers

Here’s a basic price list for mobile sewing services:

$16+ an hour for dressing and quick change assistance and general services like laundry, ironing and steaming clothing or costumes that don’t require you to bring anything with you. Just show up and work.

$25 an hour for sewing related and runner services, which can include picking up fabric, notions and other materials or supplies needed by the client. I usually include gas, tolls and mileage as long as it’s not excessive. Otherwise you can add those expenses.

$35 an hour to show up and sew, make patterns or do draping on their provided sewing equipment, etc.

$50 an hour to bring your own mobile sewing equipment and supplies to sew on their site or location.

Time and a half for over 8 hours is customary, however overtime pay after a 10 hour work day is the law.
“Florida law states that a legal day’s work for a manual laborer is 10 hours (FL Stat. Sec. 448.01). Unless there is a written contract that specifies otherwise, the employer is not permitted to require manual laborers to work a longer day without extra pay.
• At the end of a workweek, all overtime hours are credited as compensatory leave at the rate of 11/2 hours’ credit for each hour of overtime worked.”

Some clients ask for a day rate, but be careful with that. I’ve worked 40 hours in 3 days before on an emergency project and you don’t want to screw yourself by settling for less before you know what your getting into. A $1200 pay check vs $2500 pay check is a big difference when you just worked 3 days in a row with only 3-4 hours of sleep in between.

If your going to give a day rate I would recommend you start with a quote of $400 for 8.5 hours of work (with a 30 minute lunch and 2 – 15 minute breaks, which is the law) and go up from there. If the client advises the project will be more like 10-12 or more hours give an hourly overtime rate of $75 (time and a half) for every hour after 8.5 hours.

Make sure you get decent breaks!!

Don’t put yourself in the bargain bin!!

You have a specialized skill that is worthy of a decent wage, especially when you’ve got mobile equipment and skills they need when they are in a bind.

You can download a free app called “Invoice ASAP” and make getting paid by cash or check at the end of the day, a condition of your services.

Another way to I used Craigslist ads was to offer Mobile Sewing Lessons.

I would offer the following services, but not post a price. That way people would have to contact me for the price. I would also take into account, where they were located. If they were farther away I’d charge a little extra.

I offered help in the clients home with everything from, how to:

1. Thread and use their machine
2. Go on field trips with them to pick out patterns, fabric and notions
3. Cut out their fabrics
4. Make patterns from their own existing clothes
5. Make patterns from scratch
6. Alter patterns
7. Sew their project
8. Alter clothing
9. Upcycle clothing
10. Repair clothing
11. Project Assistance

My clients included home school kids, teens, college students, fashion students, men and women of all ages.

I charged $100 (cash) for 4 hours minimum, which was usually plenty of time to complete a simple project or work on an ongoing one. Extra hours were $25 an hour

Some clients were one time only, while others became regular clients

I would bring all my own mobile materials and supplies, just in case they didn’t have everything we’d need.

I use a rolling suitcase that fits everything I need and put my sewing machine on top of that, making it easy to transport.

Sometimes clients would come to my house too, it just depended upon their needs.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me!

If you’re located in the Cental Florida area and would like to join my sewing group on Facebook I frequently post sewing jobs there, of all kinds and so can you!! It’s called “Florida Costume and Fashion Designers and Fabricators”

You can follow me on Facebook at Psycho Seamstress https://www.facebook.com/PsychoSeamstress

I am Psycho Seamstress on most social media platforms including Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Instructables, Tumblr, Google Plus, ProductionHub, Studio53, LinkedIn and Slated.

I am Gina Vincenza Van Epps aka Psycho Seamstress! Http://ginav8.wix.com/psychoseamstress/ Gina@PsychoSeamstress.com

 

 

 

 

 

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

big and tal

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

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

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

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

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

That is exciting!

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

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

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

1. Are they a fair wage factory?

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

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2. Where are they located?

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

3. Can you affordably visit their facility?

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Off Grain Banding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. What other services do they offer?

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

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

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

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