Your Technical Fashion Toolkit – ABC Seams

The key to communicating your product effectively to your pattern maker, sample maker and especially to your factory, is having a detailed and easy to understand Tech Pack. Communicating your message visually is effective both to bridge potential language barriers, as well as to save someone time in reading and referencing your tech pack, ensuring that the information is actually seen, understood, and utilized during production and product development.

Once you have your design sketch prepared, you'll want to make call-out's for what seam finishing and construction methods are needed for your product. Many designers out there may or may not know the name of the stitch, or what machine does it. Even if you do, communicating your needs visually will ensure that you achieve the results you are looking for. I am happy to share a great resource that can help you do this - ABC Seams!

ABC Seams is a company based in Australia who I found and be-friended via Instagram. I was delighted to see them launch their e-book earlier this year, 101 Sewing Seams. The book is broken down into 3 simple categories: Construction, Hems and Finishes, and Details. From there the seams are grouped into similar structure or style and contain multiple options. What's great is that each seam is illustrated both technically and paired with an image to show the seam on fabric. It's easy to take a look at your own clothing or reference samples and compare physical seams to ones listed in the book, to find what will work best for a style you are developing.

Some of the advantages of using this code system:

Using a proper vocabulary and pairing that with the visual images will help you to get better results when working through product development, pre-production and production.

- get better results in a shorter period of time

- reduce development costs

- improve working relationships

I started with the e-book, which I utilize as a reference, but also to take screen shots of the seams to include in my tech packs (which I build in Excel). However, I also purchased the print version when it became available, and enjoy using it as a resource during client meetings to help them to identify stitches and make decisions. Depending how you like to work, you might enjoy having both versions, or just the digital copy.

ABC Seams also offers a membership to their site - and there's a FREE version! Membership includes free access to the Seams Gallery to refer at any time, which can be used to explain your designs clearly, and be more creative when designing. You will also receive a monthly email with the latest updates to the Seams Gallery (new seams), and interesting resource files to download. Joining also gives you a discount on the e-book, so I suggest doing that to take full advantage.

I'm excited to be able to offer a discounted rate on the e-book for my readers here, thanks to Belu at ABC Seams!

101 Sewing Seams E-Book €8

Buy Now €8

JOIN ABC SEAMS FREE MEMBERSHIP, then:
Buy the eBook with 30% discount here. (€5)

The print copy is available on Amazon:

3 Responses

  1. I’ve had this open on my iPad for a couple of weeks with the idea that I’d be able to figure out why this author went to so much work to create a new system and nomenclature for seaming but must confess that I can’t make sense of it. What am I missing? Why is a proprietary system better? Why/how was it decided that a new proprietary system is better than the ASTM D-6193 (based on the 751-a, originally created by the US government to facilitate uniform specifications among its sewing contractors) and the ISO 4916 standard (created by the International Standards Organization), the latter being internationally ubiquitous? My concern is that a new system will create confusion and problems. For example, most contractors are familiar with the ASTM and ISO standards. For the most common seam, SSa-1 (ASTM) aka I.0.1 (ISO), this author has created a new designation “C000” (or “C000-1”, I’m confused about which) which few if any contractors will know. Theoretically this will require a contractor to purchase and learn yet another seam classification system that no other customer uses. As a practical matter, a factory is more likely to take a pass on a customer using proprietary systems because who knows what other odd ball things are baked into their processes and procedures. Of course there are exceptions but even world class brands use SOP (using SOP is just one reason they’re world class brands). In my factory, we have enough to do without having to learn and use an entirely new and proprietary system from a potential customer. Me and every other factory is only interested in working with prospects who are using SOP best practices. The other thing is, seam classes are tightly aligned to all forms of machining technology. Sewing machine documentation from various sewing machine manufacturers use SOP seam classes to designate seam specificity but with a new proprietary system, none of that is baked in. A production manager will be forced to dig through pictographs to make the conversion to the system they use internally. And that’s another thing. The ISO numbered system is better for international trade because not everyone uses the letter characters we do and if they do, the letters mean something else (“C” for construction is only meaningful if you speak English and Romance languages.) Every society uses numbers; a factory floor supervisor has a very different skill set (in Asia, usually not English speaking) as compared to an office worker processing one’s TP who has access to translation. Meaning, one’s specifications are going to be massaged internally (a recipe for error) if using a proprietary system. In sum, I remain confused and welcome explanation.
    • Hi Kathleen, first thank you for reading and commenting. :) I reached out also to Belu from ABC Seams to get some more information/perspective on why they created the new coding system too. In my experience, ISO / ASTM codes aren't used in all factories - so the important thing for me to reference and show in my tech packs is really the illustrations of the seams, and being able to easily convey the seam type and finishing details to the factory. I always tell my clients their tech pack is like a "visual contract", so everyone involved is on the same page. I use the images of the seams (I like ABC Seams and have also used some ASTM images that I pull from a guide put together by A&E Thread). I sometimes include the code along with the image, but always include a note on which machine is to be used. It really depends where it's going -- If I know the factory will be utilizing the coding system I definitely include it. Most of the time they don't. The download or physical book from ABC Seams is an easy and low-cost purchase for a designer, especially if they are just getting started and need a way to better communicate. They don't yet have a strong vocabulary for seams and this helps a lot in identifying what they actually want. I know that the ASTM and ISO standards books can be purchased as well (but are more expensive), or can be referenced/copied from the library (assuming the library has available). I'm not saying "no factories" use ISO/ASTM, obviously. Maybe it depends on the factory size, whether they work with brands of a certain size, military contracts, etc. I'm not sure. Maybe how long they've been around and whether most of the brands they work with also use the standards? I'm curious about this too, and would welcome more insight on the topic.
    • Hello Kathleen, This is Belu, technical designer at ABC Seams and co-founder. First of all, I want to say that I’m very surprised about this comment here: I’ve seen you’re a member at ABC Seams, and you receive our newsletter. I always mention that if you have any comment or feedback, you can comment or contact me at [email protected] Also, our email is in the book/ebook, and we mention it a couple of times as well. You asked Xochil why we are doing so much work, and it’s me who can tell you why: I have 20 years of experience in the textile industry. I studied Industrial Design at University (specialized in clothing), worked for over 5 years as a technical patternmaker for Burberry. I also worked as a technical patternmaker for a company that provides clothing to brands such as Pepe Jeans, Karl Lagerfeld, Zara, and Adolfo Dominguez, just to name some few. I worked as a freelance technical patternmaker for small and medium-sized brands in more than 5 countries (Spain, England, France, USA, Australia, Malaysia, and Argentina). I’ve been working with more than 50 factories all around the world (China, Indonesia, Thailand, Turkey, Morocco, Portugal, Peru, Spain, Argentina, Korea, Australia, Pakistan, India, Tunisia) and visited many of them. I’ve met colleagues from different countries and companies, including Levis, Valentino, Mango, Inditex, and Puma. I also taught sewing and patternmaking in Australia for about 3 years, and mentoring a three small Australian brands. I also collaborate at the University radio station in my town (Mar del Plata - Buenos Aires, Argentina – FM 95.7 Radio Universidad) interviewing people who work in the fashion industry. As you can imagine, I’ve met lot of people in the industry and I’ve seen hundreds of tech packs during these twenty years. And I’ve never met any company/brand that uses those coding systems that you mention. I guess some people/brands/factories must use them, but I haven’t met them yet. I did study those coding systems at University. And I confess I used to love them. But the reality is that most people don’t use them. Some technicians (and I include myself here) use the sketches (a simple draw of the transverse cut of the seam, not science), but we don’t use the codes. I tried to use those codes when I started working as a technician many years ago, but they are not practical, and many sketches are too hard to understand for many people (especially for those who don’t sew). And you must know, not everyone in the textile industry know how to sew. Also, “a lot” of seams are totally missed; and some others included there are never used in the practical world... have you seen the seam LSab?, what is that seam for? And what about the seam LSbw?… I’m really curious about it too. And I have more to ask!! I never ever used the 33% of the 220 seams included in that coding system. I’ve seen your background and I’m sure you know a lot about this. Maybe you can explain to us what is the point of including useless seams, and missing many others? Or maybe you use all of them and you don’t need any other seams, just the ones included in those coding systems. I’d love to know. This could be a great discussion. As the content responsible at ABC Seams, I investigated those seams for two years and a half, before launching our first book. I sewed them one by one. We contacted a lot of people, form University teachers to designers, technicians, product managers, and people who work in factories, all from different countries. We also talked with people who sew at home for fun. Some people knew about the coding seams (not everyone), but only teachers told me (or confess) that use those codes!… teachers. On the other hand, we’ve checked the ABC Seams coding seams with them. They gave us great feedback. They understood the ABC Seams sketches, and they were happy to work with them. I’ve seen you’re a member of the ASTM, so I understand your concern. But you don’t need to use ABC Seams if you don’t like it. I do agree with Xochil: the important thing is that people understand the illustrations of the seams. That way we can understand each other properly… that is the most important point, Kathleen. Our main goal at ABC Seams is to help people to make their job easier and better, regardless they can sew or not. We receive great feedback every week from professionals who discover our seams. We understand some people are fixed to the old traditional way, regardless it’s useful or not. But the world changes and things get improved, that’s part of evolution, Kathleen (imagine how life would be without evolution, crazy!). We don’t force anyone to use or seams, neither becoming a member of ABC Seams. ABC Seams gives FREE access to our coding seams (people don’t need to buy anything, Kathleen, you are a member of our website, so you know about it!). We are adding new practical seams to our Gallery Seams every other month. Those who feel comfortable working with ABC Seams can use our seams, and those who prefer any other way to do it, can do it too. We are all free to decide. Thank you very much for expressing your thoughts. This is a great opportunity for ABC Seams to explain who we are and why we are doing so much work. If you have any other questions, please let me know. I’ll be more than happy to listen from you and clarify whatever you need to know. Cheers! Belu | [email protected] PD: As you should see in our book/ebook 101 Sewing Seams + our website, ABC Seams is not an author, it’s a registered corporation. PD2: With regards to the certifications, our solicitors are working to get the ISO certification. It’s just a matter of time.
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