Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Finished Sample, Reverse Engineering, New Oaktag!

It's been a busy couple of weeks here at the Rockin' B Ranch. New supplies of all kinds were ordered from SouthStar Supply in Nashville a few weeks ago, including a fresh roll of oaktag (a very large, very heavy new roll!)

I also got a new pattern notcher (yay!!), a new pair of embroidery scissors, new thread snips, and a new needlepoint tracer. I also ordered some heavy-duty pant/skirt hooks from Atlanta Thread Supply, and they are very nice. I highly recommend SouthStar for any production supply needs, they have wonderful customer service. Atlanta also has good customer service, my order was incorrect when I initially received it and they corrected the problem immediately - but I've heard from other people that they have a habit of messing up orders, so buyer beware if you need something immediately.

Moving on to other fun stuff - I finished up another sample of my style# 11001, which is a yoked pencil skirt with a large front placket and welt faux-pockets. I snapped a few preview pics of this sample for my last entry, showing off the colors and some of the detailing. Friends, can I just tell you it turned out BEAUTIFULLY. The fit is perfection... I usually get so hung up with the fit of my garments, and to be honest the first fit sample for this pattern didn't turn out so great. It is, however, very reassuring that my pattern adjustments after that first sample did the trick - meaning I haven't lost my touch (as I thought I had following some frustrating samples in the near past).

Unfortunately, no photos of this newest sample yet - I finished it pretty late last night and didn't have the motivation to dig out my camera. I think it's pretty funny how Ryan is so blown away by each garment I create, he was the cutest last night after I tried it on to show him the final product - he was literally speechless and grinning from ear to ear. Guess it's good to know he thinks I'm talented, haha.

On to the even better stuff: Reverse engineering. I've always been fascinated (and dare I say "obsessed") with executing operations using the correct industrial procedure. Maybe it's just my personality or my raising, but I'm a stickler for having things done "the right way". I've been learning over the past year or so that in industry there aren't as many standard procedures as I had thought. A lot of processes and operations depend on the individual factory, based on their management, their equipment and their workers' skill sets. Automated equipment will produce a certain seam class in a different way than a worker using a single-needle approach. Outside of obtaining a job in a garment factory (which is impossible for me at the moment), the best way to develop my own factory procedures is to employ reverse engineering using well-made garments from companies that produce garments similar to mine, in my target price point.

The best way to obtain these types of garments is to haunt thrift stores and charity shops - I found one of my best reference skirts at a church-run charity shop in my husband's tiny hometown, for a whopping $4. The skirt is a 6-gore yoked wool skirt, by Liz Claiborne. I would say it dates to the late 80s, but the look is much more vintage, I'd say 1940s. The wool is very lightweight, and the skirt is fully lined, and has flat-felled seams on the yoke and each gore. There is a hidden zip in back with a tab closure (3 buttons). The quality is very good, and I would say the skirt probably cost around $100 new. I have learned SO MUCH from this skirt - the biggest lesson being the waistband assembly and the process of finishing off the tab closure properly. I really struggled with patterning my waistbands until I took a closer look at the Claiborne skirt, and it really cleared up the operation for me - what a godsend! Even a quick trip to your local Goodwill will likely result in 1 or 2 garments that can be very useful.

In the case of my Claiborne skirt, I didn't rip it apart as it fits me so well and I love wearing it; but buying well-made garments to purposely rip apart and examine how they're assembled is something I do recommend. Thrift shops always seem to have a large quantity of well-made coats and blazers, not to mention men's dress pants and women's skirts. Careful disassembly and attention to detail will reveal a whole new world of operations, seam classes and processes - just look carefully and examine thoroughly.

OK, I think that's about enough geek talk for the day. In final news, I'm going to be attending SPESA in Atlanta next month, please do let me know if you're planning on going as well! There are quite a few people from Fashion-Incubator attending, and it will be a wonderful chance to learn about machines and operations, as well as attachments and automated processes (that's what I'm looking forward to!)  I'm going to be sharing a hotel room with Valerie of Yellowcake, she's an AMAZING designer based in Ohio and I'm just thrilled to be meeting her. Check out her shop on Etsy, prepare to be amazed.

I will be posting pics of my newest skirt sample, hopefully this evening - if I can persuade Ryan to help me out with taking those for me. Here's a quick picture of our newest family member, Fritz. He's a standard poodle, full of sweetness and smart as a whip. He really likes squirrels.

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