It’s true we live in an instant gratification society, however when it comes to sewing factories, if you want a high-quality, well-priced product, you’re going to have to learn a little patience.
Taking a product from an idea to fruition takes time. Here are a few reasons why:
You don’t know all the details of your product, and those details have to get worked out along the way.
You think you know all the details of your product, but once pattern and sample making begin, it turns out at least some of your details won’t work out the way you hoped they would.
You know all the details of your product, but some of those details will make your product too expensive to produce for the price you want to sell your product, and an alternate construction option has to be determined.
You require fabric and/or notions to be sourced that aren’t the easiest items to find.
Once you see your sample(s), you realize you would like to change some things.
Your fabric is delayed in shipping.
Etc., etc., etc. etc.
Additionally, time has to be factored in for the various services you need. We try to be very upfront with our clients regarding our average timing for services. I say average because this is a sewing factory, and from day to day, you never know what might happen. We’ve experienced everything from power outages to a seemingly never-ending bout of the flu that took down the bulk of our workforce (a much larger deal in a smaller factory setting), and even one time when water rained down from our ceiling, thanks to a renter upstairs who left a faucet running all night.
The following are our timing for services. Please note that other factories might have shorter or longer times for different services. And overseas is a totally different ballgame. I’ve had clients tell me that they’ve had samples turned around in a day. I’ve also heard clients say they waited for shipment of their production for months.
Consultations: We usually can schedule these within a week of payment. (This is not our FREE 30-minute consultation, but rather consulting on line planning, etc.)
Patterns: Typically two weeks for a pattern. If you come to us needing three patterns, that doesn’t mean six weeks. We can usually get them all done in about three weeks. It’s really about what’s already in front of your jobs on the calendar than how long it takes us to complete a job.
Samples: Same guidelines as patterns. Big difference: It often takes more than one sample to get to an approved sample. Sometimes a client needs a tweak, such as shortening the hem of a skirt. No problem. That’s a simple change, and we don’t have to make a new sample to do it. However, sometimes a client decides they want the hem of that skirt to be four inches longer. Now a new sample needs to be made, which means paying for a new sample (we do these at a discounted rate). That pattern now has to be change, and then the sample fabric has to be cut out again and the sample sewn again from the beginning. That also may mean having to secure more fabric. So say another one-to-two weeks depending on the situation and the calendar. Sample making can easily be the longest part of the entire production process, depending on how many samples we are making and how many changes you make until your samples are exactly the way you want them.
Sourcing fabric and notions: Depending what it is, we can do the actual sourcing in a week, but then the swatches have to get mailed to us, we may have to mail them to you, you may, at that point, want to purchase a few yards to have your sample made from that fabric to be sure you like it, or you may decide you want to go in a different direction with fabric, which starts the process over again.
Sourcing can obviously take time, so we like to start immediately, so we have plenty of time to get in swatches during the pattern making process.
Grading: If you are making apparel and want to offer multiple sizes, once your sample is approved, we then grade the pattern to the other sizes. We typically do this in two weeks.
Tech packs: If we are only doing your pre-production (everything before you start making in bulk), then it’s a good idea to have tech packs for each of your products, so no matter what factory makes your item, they all have complete instructions how to make them, and they will always be consistent. These also take about two weeks for one, more for several tech packs.
Cut and sew, also known as production: This depends so much on how many styles, quantiles per style, and what is currently on the production calendar. We tell our clients four-to-six weeks, six being our norm, but eight, 10 or even 12 can be more likely for a really large full-collection order.
We urge our clients not to jump the gun and come to us with a launch date before even starting the process. Or a photo shoot. Or a Kickstarter campaign. Go through the process. Make sure you are making good decisions. Make sure your product looks the way you want it to look. All of the exciting launch stuff will happen, but rushing it will practically ensure issues, and most likely stress out both your factory and you.