Photo by patricia serna on Unsplash

“Measure twice, cut once” is a well known expression that goes back in time to the construction industry and the cutting of wood. It’s better to take your time to carefully measure and re-measure up front. Once that piece of wood is cut, you may not be able to go back and fix it. And even if you can, it’s time wasted. This motto can be applied to most activities that require careful planning particularly clothing design.

When I first started out in this business, I was very naive. That was probably a good thing otherwise I may not have ventured in over my head. These were my thoughts: I’ll make a sketch of my design. I’ll take it to a pattern maker and they’ll make up a pattern. Then a sample maker, who will probably be the same person, will sew up a sample. I’ll try it on and then we’re good to go. Okay, maybe we’ll have to tweak the sample and sew a second one but then, we’ll be good to go. I’ll take the pattern to a manufacturer. I’ll buy some fabric. And voila, they’ll sew up the clothes and customers will buy them. The end.

Ahh, it sounds so straight forward and simple. And it is, but there are a few more steps involved and it takes way longer than I could’ve ever imagined. I remember someone in the retail business telling me that it typically takes a company with a whole design team in place about 18 months to bring a new design to market. How can it take that long, I thought! I had no idea how many iterations it would take to get a sample to fit properly. How long it would take to make a garment look the way I had pictured it in my head, or drawn it on paper. And then how it could change again from sample to production. And even after it gets produced and customers have bought it, how I still have to go back and adjust based on customer feedback.

I’ve always believed in listening to you, the customer, and I’m so grateful when you’re not afraid to provide honest feedback. I really try to not take it personally (sometimes I still do) but I know the more information i get about what you don’t like, the more I can improve a design. I want to get the best fit possible.

I’ve been working on the Maxine reversible tank for a couple of years now. I guess that timeline is about right given that my design team consists of me and the pattern/sample maker I work with in Oshawa. Heidi my size L fit model came with me on a recent road trip to Oshawa. We worked with Duey, the pattern maker, to adjust the pattern yet again to get a better fit. Heidi has a lovely, well proportioned figure. What I love about Heidi is she’s very open about what she likes and doesn’t like. So this time, when she tried on the new sample and was happy with the fit so was I.

The only caveat is that the new sample was sewn in bamboo french terry which is heavier than the bamboo jersey we normally use. So now I’m having the manufacturer in Toronto sew up two more pre-production samples, one in Size S and one in Size L in the bamboo jersey we will use in production. Then we will check the fit again. Two years ago, or even a year ago, I wouldn’t have done so many samples because every sample costs money. But now I have learned, it’s better to spend more money and time up front on samples because once the fabric is cut and sewn, it’s difficult if not impossible to go back and fix it. Alas, the measure twice…or in my case many, many times…and cut once.

You’ll see the new Maxine reversible tanks in Fiery Fuchsia, Silky Blue, and Midnight Black at our Fall Fashion Show on September 15th. Save the date!

Until next week,

~ Colleen

Colleen Kanna