Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

Tips and Tricks

FireFlyLine: Ideas for a Faster Garment Fit Process

I recently met Lacey Bell from Fire Fly Line through an event with Fashion Group International of Chicago. Her company offers 3D prototyping for apparel and sewn products, and I was interested to find out more, so we met for lunch so she could give me some information and a software demo.

This tool is such a compliment to the traditional pattern and sample development process. While it doesn’t eliminate the need for fabric samples completely, it’s a great way to try new things with existing patterns and get more bang for your buck. I know many of my clients could benefit from this, especially when testing design iterations such as changing fabrics (or colors), hem length, sleeve or neckline variations, etc. In essence, you can see and test samples before making cutting into different fabrics, and save some time and cost.

Read some tips for creating a faster garment fit process and how 3D prototyping can benefit you. I shared one of my tips in here too!

Maker’s Row: Avoid Headaches in Business

Since I work in the “background” with my clients’ brands, it’s always nice to get a shout out. Product development is very much a collaborative process, and my client Brennan Waldorf of Canvy’s Bag Company nailed that in this blog for Maker’s Row!

I worked with Brennan on his production patterns, tech packs and pre-production samples, as well as some sourcing for the appropriate thread, interlining and interfacing for his structured travel bags.

Read more:

Check out Canvy’s website here:

Stay tuned for their upcoming Kickstarter campaign!

Fit Samples – Muslin or Sample Fabric?

You have your first pattern ready and the next step is to test the pattern and fit on your fit model. Often referred to as a muslin sample, your fit sample should actually be made up in a sample fabric that is the same weight, weave and fiber content as your actual garment, rather than cotton muslin.

Why use “real” fabric?
Cotton muslin bears resemblance to very few real garments. For items that are made up in a lightweight woven (cotton or otherwise), using muslin is just fine. It’s cheap, easy to make up and easy to mark on during a fitting. Muslin is also a great tool to use during the pattern making process, for styles that need to be draped, or even just to do a quick test for your pattern.

To get a good idea on how a garment will hang and drape on the body, however, using your actual fabric or similar sample fabric will be much more accurate. A chiffon drapes differently than a crepe-back satin or charmeuse. A 10oz. denim fits differently from a 8oz. A cotton twill will differ from a wool suiting. And on, and on.

In the case of using a stretch fabric, something with 2% spandex will fit much differently than something with 4% spandex. You cannot use the same pattern for a garment of the same style with these different fabrics. For the same reason, muslin fabric has no stretch, and so a pattern made for stretch would end up being too small if made up in a non-stretch material.

A knit garment, such as a jersey dress, could never be made out of muslin either, it would not fit or drape anywhere near what the jersey would actually do. Jersey is knit and muslin is woven fabric.

Another simple reason to use real fabric: It just looks better. You are more likely to be critical of a real fabric sample than a muslin because it’s harder for most people to visualize the end product, and the excuse “this will look and/or fit better in the real fabric” will be tossed out often. Without testing it first, you might miss that the back thigh of a pant leg is laying on the body funny or that the sweep of a dress is too big or small.

It saves you time, money, and a headache to get your fit sample right before making up your production sample. Keep in mind that is is not uncommon to do multiple fit samples before the production sample is made. This can depend on how fitted the style is or how complicated the design, and also how much information was supplied to your pattern maker beforehand. When producing similar styles, do a fit sample in one style first, before the patterns for all of the styles are made, so that those changes can be applied to the other patterns.

Contact Xochil for questions about your patterns, fit samples, or production samples.

Technical Illustration vs. Fashion Croquis

Many fashion designers have beautiful fashion croquis to show their designs, aesthetic, and render fabrications. While they look nice, and require a great amount of both time and artistic talent, a technical illustration is needed to communicate your design to your pattern maker and sewing contractor.

A technical drawing differs from a fashion croqui in that it shows a flat rendering of your design, and shows your pattern maker the relationships and proportions between style lines, placement of buttons and zippers, and even stitch types such as top stitching or flat felled seams. Often special seams will be annotated on the drawing.

Most technical drawings are created on the computer, using a program such as Adobe Illustrator. If you feel comfortable, you (the designer) can do this yourself, or you can hire an illustrator. Most companies will charge per illustration, rather than by the hour.

A good technical illustration, also called a “flat”, will be a scale drawing of your design, both front and back view, and sometimes include detailed drawings of a particular piece, such as a unique pocket design or embroidery. Solid lines show seams, dotted or dashed lines show stitching. Flats are not usually colored in, especially when being used to show the design to your pattern maker, however some designers use flats in their line sheets to show buyers, and in this case it would be appropriate to show colors and prints if applicable. Flats are also utilized, and expanded upon in more detail in your specification package.

If your garment contains any unusual design features or requires specific sewing techniques, it is wise to also have illustrations made up to show these in detail. Along with a sewn sample, it will ensure that your sewing contractor understands what you expect your garment to look like. A side note, some sewing contractors will sew your first samples, others prefer that you or a sample maker do.

Once you have your illustration, front and back, you will use this on your patten card, construction notes, measurement chart (for grading), and often on your company’s line sheets.

For questions or more information on technical illustrations for your company, please email Xochil.