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The sampling process

Sampling is a hugely important part of the clothing production process. It  can be  a very costly business if not managed correctly. While it is very important for any business to manage their sampling costs, it is of vital importance to a smaller label with limited finances. For these companies, sampling is a far higher percentage of the  cost per garment sold.  The factory will always have to make a sample before production, unless the designer is willing to take a big risk. The quality of production depends heavily on this factory sample.

The importance of the pattern cutter

Dont underestimate the extreme importance of the pattern cutter in the sampling process. Your pattern cutter should also be your mentor and adviser. They should be able to guide you safely through the production process and save you a lot of money and anxiety at the same time. An experienced pattern cutter is the key to success in the fashion business.

While an established brand can afford to pay for multiple samples, a  smaller company needs to get it right  first time  where possible. Some garments will need a certain amount of development, but even here it is necessary to have the first sample as correct as possible.

When I create a pattern I try to make sure that I start with as much important information as possible.  Normally a toile ( mock-up ) should be made before the sample, but  it is often possible to bypass this stage given  the right information and procedures.

Types of samples

There are  a number of different types of samples used in the fashion industry during various stages of getting a design to market .There is the design stage; the sales stage and the manufacture stage . Some of these sample types will overlap in function. While bigger businesses may want all of these samples, for a smaller business my aim  would be to use just one :-

  • Toile
  • First sample
  • Fit sample
  • Production sample
  • Sales sample
  • Sizing sample
  • Photo sample
  • Final sample
  • Revised sample

PHONE – 07905-965-305


Independent sample

Often the factory will ask you to provide a sample before they will make their own factory sample. In order to obtain the best results  it is advisable to provide the factory with your own independently made sample. They will still have to make a factory version, but they will have something accurate to follow and will have a guide as to the quality that you want. If you supply them with a poor sample, they will feel that they can produce an equally poor one. Then they will feel that they can get away with poor production too.

“When you make something no one hates, no one loves it”   TIBOR KALMAN

I often come across clients who have had a poor sample made by a factory. The factory may say that it was because of the pattern or the cloth, or some other factor. This is difficult to challenge, even for an experienced technician, without a reliable sample to compare it to. Sometimes they end up paying for several samples, and unnecessarily altering patterns before discovering the true cause of the problem. Because the factories do not use proper pattern cutters, they can get in a muddle when trying to correct patterns.

Although your supplied sample is an important guide for the factory, it is the factory sample that provides the benchmark for the quality of the production. The factory sample may not necessarily measure the same as yours because it has been made slightly differently with different machines, or it has been treated differently in the making process.

We can supply expertly made samples made from expertly made patterns. If necessary we can do small production runs too. We can also create spec sheets and tech packs, and we can liaise with the factory to ensure that you have the highest chances of success.

PHONE – 07905-965-305


Helping fashion startups since 1984