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Trot, Canter & Gallop: Building MerriMane Entry #2

February 05, 2018

Welcome back! I am thrilled to be able to share my experience with you. MerriMane is just getting off the ground but getting it to this point is certainly something I am celebrating! My hope is that something I have done will help you kick off your next endeavor. Good luck and enjoy!

We left off at Step 3 - I have my idea outlined and my must haves confirmed. I have a vision of what I want my jackets to look like but I have yet to put anything on paper.

STEP 4: START TO SKETCH

In this age of social media where creatives are popping up everywhere and putting out incredible content I was empowered by the idea that I may be able to do this without a degree in fashion. Going back to school for fashion design was unfortunately not an option at this point. The tuition and childcare costs alone were more than I had budgeted to start my entire company, so I had to find another way.

Growing up I was always curious and unafraid to ask questions. I have never been scared to speak up even if I was unsure of my answer. I had to leave every ounce of fear behind if I wanted to proceed on this journey so that is what I did. I reminded myself that I wasn't a trained artist or designer and my sketches wouldn't be professional quality. Enter YouTube.

I spent hours watching instructional videos by FSketcher. I found the videos to be the right speed for my novice hand. I didn't find videos on children's clothing but was easily able to translate my learnings to what I wanted to draw.

Materials You Need

  • Pencil: I used Marco Graphite Pencils but any pencil will do.
  • Paper: I liked using Clearprint Design Vellum so I could trace the body outline (“croquis”) on it.
  • Croquis: a simple body outline that gave me confidence that my proportions were correct and brought consistency to my sketches.

Do NOT put any pressure on yourself at this stage. So much doubt comes in – I was incredibly self-conscious and now I smile when I see this – my very first sketch of our Cruise jacket. It was so simple and yet it was everything - just look at how close the final product looks to my initial rough sketch. This sketch is all I needed to take my next step.

 

STEP 5: MAKE A PROTOTYPE

At this point I am armed with sketches and list of must haves and I have no idea what to do next. I knew I would need to make a prototype but wasn’t sure how to accomplish that.

I called all the tailors in my area and was disappointed that they wouldn't custom make me a jacket. I had just assumed they would work with me and I was oversimplifying just how complex a process this is. So I started researching stages of the design process. I learned at this stage about technical flats and the development process by reading Maker’s Row blogs among other items.

I started calling every Cut and Sew Factory I could find in Manhattan. I came across 15 – most of them did not do children’s. The ones that did do children’s would make a pattern and prototype for me but I would need a Tech Pack first. Ok making progress, atleast now I know what I need.

With my sketches in hand and all my ideas in my head I needed to convert my sketch to a Technical Flat which would ultimately become a tach pack. The Tech Pack  would then be used by a pattern maker to sew your garment. It doesn’t have to be overly complex just very clear -  the less you leave open for interpretation the better you are.

In my conversations with the cut and sew factories I learned so much. I have never been afraid of what I didn’t know and certainly not embarrassed to ask questions. Coming into an industry with fresh eyes enables you to ask "why" without fear of offending people. I would fire away a million questions to anyone I could reach who was willing to spend a couple minutes with me. Being honest about my lack of experience helped these complete strangers give me great insight in to the process and they often gave me contacts of other industry people I should speak with.

I spoke with the following consultants/cut and sew factories:

  1. Lilly Fashion NYC (www.lillyfashionnyc.com)
  2. One Stop NY (www.onestopny.com)
  3. Sewn Product Services Seattle, WA (www.sewnproductservices.com)
  4. Left in Stitches (www.leftinstitches.com)
  5. Stateless Inc (www.stateless.nyc)

I decided to work with a consultant or small factory who would guide me through the development stages (tech pack, prototype, sampling etc.). I had very specific ideas that I feared would get lost if I didn't have an expert working with me.

I chose Stateless based on their experience in children’s specifically and have never looked back. Working with Stefanie Tacata, Souad Acha and the entire team has been wonderful. They have taught me so much and worked with me to deliver the exact product I wanted.

If you aren’t quite ready to hire a consultant then you will need to work through creating a technical flat in order to have a prototype made that will match your vision.  This part of the process is exactly how it sounds Technical. Both Maker’s Row and Guru.com have resources available to assist you – the professional you need is called a “Technical Designer”.

Take a look inside your own closet and/or go to a fabric store to start looking at fabric. Your technical design will add call-outs for fabric, linings, seam type, pocket style, measurements, type and size of a button etc. Bring items you like to your local tailor and ask questions about the construction - What type of seam is this? What is this ruffle called? 

A wonderful atelier has moved into our town now and I recently visited with them. They would have made me a prototype without a tech pack and I am working with them now to make a custom adult size MerriMane jacket for me. I will provide more notes on that process in a subsequent journal entry.

The true test of your tech pack, will be your first prototype. Did it make sense? Could the sample maker create the garment as you envisioned? I had issues in the prototype stage as the velveteen fleece that I loved was too light. The jacket didn’t have the tailored look that I wanted and the fabric was the issue. In my next installment I will discuss fabric choices and the sampling stages. I hope my experience has been helpful to you!





Sizing Guide

The MerriMane Fit runs on the larger size so I highly recommend ordering your current size.  Our wider armholes and shoulders, jacket hem and sleeve length all provide plenty of room to cover growth spurts while ensuring the look is tailored. 

To confirm your current size please refer to the measurements below.  

SIZE
CHEST (IN)
WAIST (IN)
HEIGHT (IN)
WEIGHT (LBS)
SLEEVE LENGTH* (IN)
3-6M
17-18
17.5-18.5
24-27
12-17
12-13
6-12M
18-19
18.5-19.5
27-30
17-25
13-14.5
12-18M
19-19.75
19.5-20.25
30-33
25-27
14.5-15.75
18-24M
19.75-20.5
20.25-21
33-35
27-30
15.75-17.5
2
20.5
21
34-37
29-31
17.5
3
21
21.5
37-39
31-35
18.75
4
22
22
39-43
36-40
19.75
5
23
22.5
43-45
40-44
21
6
24.5
23
45-49
44-48
22
7
26
23.5
48-52
48-53
23
* sleeve length is measured from center back neck to the wrist

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