Make the Cut: Transforming Your Retro Honor Roll Sketches Into a Reality

After the recent launch of our Make the Cut: Retro Honor Roll designs, we met the winning designers and got a look at the inspiration behind their newly launched designs. Today we’re catching up with our Head of Private Label, Jena, to ask her about the process of transforming your winning illustrations from sketches to reality.

How do you go about selecting fabrics to match the illustrations? 
We start with the design itself, and discuss the construction and aesthetic to determine the fabric. For instance, if something fits tightly, we would look for something with some sort of spandex in the material to make sure it delivers the closest fit. After the initial design meetings, we start reaching out to our fabric vendors and search fabric markets to find the best fabric.

What limitations and considerations do you take into account when sourcing fabrics?
We always consider quality and content of a fabric before moving in to production. On average, we may purchase three to five different fabrics for sampling and development. Prints always take longer to find because we want to find the closest match to the designer’s original sketch. In many cases, the exact fabric design cannot be sourced, however, we always try our best to maintain the look and feel of the design!

Tell us about the process that goes into creating a pattern from a sketch.
We work with extremely talented pattern-makers to translate the design into an actual garment. Taking into consideration the fabric, production capabilities, and, of course, what is most wearable for our customers, we work with the pattern-maker to construct the best pattern.

Usually, the pattern-maker starts with muslin to drape the design on a bust form, and from there they convert the muslin piece into a paper pattern with notes and details for the cutters and sewers to follow in production.

We noticed that you made three different samples of the Teacher Comforts Dress (pictured above) before the final version was achieved. Can you talk about what types of changes have to be made before you put the item into production?
The most common change is usually fit-related. After the first sample is created, we start by assessing whether or not the construction correctly emulates the original design. Once we agree to the construction, we look to perfecting the fit. We have a fit model that tries on every piece that we develop and gives us feedback on how well a sample feels and fits.

On average, it takes three to four samples before achieving the best fit and we move into production. There have been instances where we’ve gone through as many as eight samples!

On average, how long does the process take from beginning to end?
It can take up to five months for the whole process from sourcing to development to production!

Eager to learn more about the design process? Check out our coverage of the process behind our inaugural Make the Cut collection!

About Erin Ellis

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  1. Hannah (ModCloth) 08/20/2012 at 5:32 pm #

    Such a cool sneak peek! Definitely an A+ job on this collection. 🙂

  2. Christina 08/21/2012 at 10:51 am #

    Love the plaid! So cute for fall. 🙂

    Come check out the easy dessert of Amaretto Berries I put together.


  3. Sarah 08/22/2012 at 12:36 pm #

    I love the sneak peek! Thanks modcloth!

    xoxo Sarah

  4. Emily 08/23/2012 at 6:21 am #

    So many cute tartan fabrics in that first picture! Hope ModCloth will have even more nice plaid looks for fall 🙂

  5. Mary Gregg 08/24/2012 at 6:37 am #

    This process is of great interest to me because I have sewn many of my own clothes for years.

  6. Mary Gregg 08/24/2012 at 6:48 am #

    Joyce is sorry she didn’t enter the contest, but will take a closer look at your invitations next time they are offered.

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