When it comes to patterns and samples for new designers or fashion businesses, there is a lot of choice out there, especially in and around London.
A number of one-stop shops like The London Pattern Cutter have emerged, which makes the sampling process so much easier. But it is vitally important to choose the best service for your business.
As I have mentioned several times on this website before – In the absence of a good fashion business adviser, it is the pattern cutter who holds the key to success.
An experienced freelance pattern cutter should have a comprehensive understanding of the production process. And they should have numerous high quality contacts, including sample machinists and factories.
I may be biased, but finding a good pattern cutter is even more important than finding a good sample machinist, but it doesnt really make much sense in using separate services for these two tasks. Whether it is patterns and samples, or samples and patterns, they are part of the same process really.
Patterns and samples should ideally be done under the same roof, but not by the same person. There are some good pattern cutters who are also good sample machinists, although the opposite is not so true. But it is very rare to find an exceptionally good pattern cutter who is also an exceptionally good sample machinist – And vice versa.
Not all designers are wanting the pattern cutter to also provide the sample. Some have a favoured sample machinist that they would prefer to make their samples. Others prefer to save a little money by just getting the factory to make a sample, as they will have to make one at some point anyway.
A professional pattern cutter or sample machinist should be able to turn their hand to just about anything, and if they cant, they should let you know as they wouldnt want to produce something that was below standard.
But there are others who will attempt the work without sufficient experience, especially if they are struggling to find work. There are some types of garment that require specialist knowledge and machinery in order to produce a perfect sample .
If the sample machinist does not have the specialist machinery they may have to mock up a sample so that it looks right and serves its purpose, without necessarily being 100% correct.This can be perfectly acceptable, as long as you are aware of the differences.
Throughout the UK and particularly in London, there are many services offering pattern cutting and there are many that offer sampling. There are others that offer both. And there yet others, (like The London Pattern Cutter ) who offer a one-stop shop from design right through to production and beyond.
Most one-stop shops will employ pattern cutters and sample machinists , but not many will employ expert professionals.
We at The London Pattern Cutter only use very experienced expert professionals. I myself have forty years experience as a pattern cutter and fashion business adviser. Our other fashion professionals have over twenty years experience in the clothing industry.
It is advisable to keep pattern cutting and sampling together as you dont want to have to go from pattern cutter to sample machinist and back again.
It is vitally important to have a good pattern cutter who is specialised in the genre that you are designing for. A good self-employed pattern cutter should have good connections, and specifically, good sample machinist connections.
If your pattern is poor, then you may find that you are having to make and remake your sample multiple times. If you are unlucky, the poor pattern will go through the sampling process without being spotted. Then you could find that the whole of your production is ruined.
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