Wednesday, August 13, 2014

41: SEMINAR - From Conception to Production

Thinking about starting a clothing line? If so you might want to consider signing up for From Conception to Production, a two-day master class here in Philadelphia. During the two days of classes you will learn how to get your line up and running from your home. You'll also learn how to determine what to charge, and how to determine costs. As you are shown how to use industrial procedures that reduce time and expense you'll be surprised to learn how little equipment you will  need to produce truly salable, professional garments. The links for this master class are below.

A little feather-weight sewing machine can be used to make
high-end clothing.  In the industry manufacturing cheap clothing
usually requires complex machinery. Most high-end clothing
can be made on a basic, straight-stitch sewing machine. 
You may already know that industry sews using different sewing methods than those used in home sewing procedures. This seminar addresses those differences, differences you need to know if you are to successfully make and market your line of clothing.

Most sewing books on the market present home sewing methods that are slow, time consuming, and not very dependable. To produce salable clothing that can be manufactured in the industry, you need to know the methods used by the professionals.

Although it's quite common for people who sew at home to think industrial drafting and sewing methods have nothing to do with them, nothing could be further from the truth. With almost no exceptions designing departments procedures can be used in the home. Using equipment quite similar to that available to any home sewer, high-end designing departments produce exquisitely beautiful clothing for their preferred customers. So what's the secret? The professionals know drafting and sewing procedures not currently known by most of the population. YOU can learn these skills AND you can use them in your home to produce exquisitely beautiful garments, like those produced in the industry, for yourself, your family, and your customers.

The most expensive item you need to start your fashion business just may be just a little feather-weight like the one I use to demonstrate sewing skills in my classes. They sell on e-bay for as low as $300!

From Conception to Production is offered Wednesday and Thursday, October 15-16 at this year’s annual Association of Sewing and Design Professionals Education Conference at the Wyndham Philadelphia Historic District Hotel in Old City in Philadelphia. The conference runs from October 15-18 and is open to everyone. It presents a wonderful learning experience and is a lot of fun. Here are the links for the Conference's brochure and registration form.

In From Conception to Production's four sessions you will be given an overview of what is involved in 1. designing a line, 2. preparing the patterns for production, 3. producing a graded line of sizes, 4. preparing your line for mass-production, and 5. how to do this in your home with minimal expense. Questions are welcomed. The class has no prerequisites; you don’t even need to know how to thread a sewing machine. All of the information is from the industry. All of the procedures presented in this seminar are used in industry. This is how the industry designs, drafts, cuts, and sews.

Fashion designers use concept 
boards to present their ideas for new
lines of clothing. This board shows 
clothing I made for my clients' and 
for my children. I will bring this and
other boards I have made to the
Here is a sampling of what you will learn:

Wednesday October 15, 2014
9:00 am to 12:00 pm – First session

This concept board is
called a book.
Fashion designers use concept boards to present their ideas for new lines. In this first session you will assemble magazine clippings brought from home as you learn how this is done. Once understood the class is then told how to speed this process on the computer. You will also be shown an easy, quick  method used by the pros to draw fashion illustrations. You will be able to do this even if you have never taken art classes.

Wednesday October 15, 2014
1:30 pm to 4:30 pm – Second session
Using a transparent ruler to
reduce the pattern's seam 
allowances is an important
step in producing truly
The industry drafts varying seam allowances on their patterns.
Reducing seam allowances saves both fabric and time.
Neat, clean seam allowances enable the production of professional garments.
In this diagram of a jacket collar in progress, one can see why this is so.

In this session you will learn how to convert patterns you already have into patterns that can be used to produce your sample garments.

In the industry patterns are developed from patterns previously used to cut clothing that sold well in the market place. Learning how to convert patterns already owned and proven into patterns that can be used to cut and sew samples for your line of clothing will save you considerable time, effort, and expense.

 Thursday October 16, 2014
9:00 am to 12:00 pm – Third session

Fit lines shown on the figure on 
the left correspond to the grading
lines shown on the patterns to the
right of the figure. Understanding 
where these fit lines are, and how to
use these lines to achieve good fit is
essential if one is to produce
professional garments that fit well.

Did you know there is an
easy way to quickly grade
pattern sizes not included
in a multi-sized pattern?
Knowledge of drafting and sewing skills is essential if one is to produce beautiful clothing that will sell. This session begins with a basic understanding of grading which is essential to successful pattern drafting and fit.  Other drafting procedures are also addressed, such as where to put notches in armholes and sleeve caps so they will sew well.

I'm planning to bring in my hand grading machine and a set of graded patterns so you can see exactly how grading is done in the industry. Then I'll show you how you can grade at home using just a transparent ruler and some tracing paper.

But here are
the same 
patterns, laid
so they match.
Notice how 
much fabric
is saved.

The patterns are 
laid to cut to match
 in this layout. The
layout looks as 
though it wouldn't
be possible to lay 
the patterns any

Thursday October 16, 2014
1:30 pm to 4:30 pm – Fourth session

How does one determine how much to charge for a garment?

Yardage, sample making, and pricing are some of the subjects we will discuss as we conclude this seminar. In the industry yardage is so important to a company’s bottom line, the yardage needed to cut a garment is determined long before the garment is approved for sale. Good layouts save waste and, as a result, hundreds of dollars in the industry.

Both diagrams on the right show the same blouse pattern laid out to match. The patterns in the first layout on the right appear to be laid as tightly as is possible. But the second layout shows that more careful positioning of the same patterns can save considerable yardage.

You may note that some of the smaller pieces have been laid
off-grain in order to create a better match. Once cut those pieces will be fused to prevent them from distorting in the finished garment.

If you are interested in taking From Conception to Production, and/or other courses at the Conference, here is the registration form.  Click here to read the Conference's brochure. Here is information about the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals 

A short bio: I  first worked in a couture shop on the Main Line in Philadelphia, then worked in designing departments, including industrial and couture bridal, then worked as a production pattern maker in factories in Philadelphia, drafting and grading patterns . For the last 25 years I taught these skills at Philadelphia University and Drexel University, where I developed my continuing professional education fashion technology program and its supporting books, scaling down and personalizing industrial fashion technology so it can be used effectively in home businesses. I now have my own school here in Oreland just northwest of Philadelphia. Classes are limited to 6 students each. For information about the courses offered this fall at my school, please visit the previous post on this blog. Here is the schedule for the courses offered in Oreland this fall.

For more information about master class From Conception to Production or the fall classes call me at 215 884 7065 or e-mail me.



 Phone: 215 884 7065

© Laurel Hoffmann, 2014, all rights reserved.
All material on this blog is copyrighted by and is the exclusive right of Laurel Hoffmann.


No matter what your
measurements, all sewing
patterns can be graded
to fit you.
This fall Contemporary Fashion Education is offering two courses: Fitting Home Sewing Patterns/Grading to Fit on Saturday mornings, Design Room Techniques on Saturday afternoons. Prices, the fall schedule, and a link to the Course Order Form are found at the bottom of this post.

The Contemporary Fashion Education school is located in Oreland, PA, 19075, one mile from the PA turnpike Fort Washington exit. Oreland is 10 minutes northwest of Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia. Parking is free. Enrollment is limited to 6 students per class.

 From Conception to Production, a two-day master class is also offered. The class will be held October 15-16, at this year’s annual Association of Sewing and Design Professionals Education Conference in Philadelphia. The Conference will be held at the Wyndham Philadelphia Historic District Hotel in Old City. Information about From Conception to Production is found on this blog on Post 41:  SEMINAR - From Conception to Production.

This diagram shows how to draft an asymmetrical waistline.
Asymmetrical fit is addressed in the Fitting Home Sewing Patterns/
Grading to Fit course, its book Grading to Fit,
and the entire Contemporary Fashion Education program.
Well fitted asymmetrical clothing gives the wearer the
appearance of having a symmetrical. figure.
Fitting Home Sewing Patterns/Grading to Fit, offered Saturday mornings this fall, is the first of a 3-course series in which you will learn how to grade home sewing patterns to your custom fit. No matter what your measurements, readily available home sewing patterns can be graded to fit you. Understanding how to grade to fit eliminates the misery of fitting pattern after pattern. Here is the link to more information about this and the other courses.

Shown here is Laurel's master sample book for the course.
The sample book contains 60 pages with over 100 
samples. Mastering the material in this course will take the
misery out of your sewing. For example: you will learn how
to sew zippers with ease, matching seam line to seam line. 

In Design Room Techniques, offered Saturday afternoons this fall,you will make a sample book as you learn the basic sewing skills used in industry to produce high-end couture garments worth thousands of dollars. Here is the link to more information about this and the other courses.
Diagrammed books that show the procedures, step-by-step, 
enable students to speed through the course work. 

In all of the Contemporary Fashion Education classes you will learn how patterns are drafted, and how exquisitely made clothing is sewn in the industry’s high-end designing departments. You will use fully diagrammed books, written to support these courses. The books present, step-by-step, the procedures used by the best pattern makers and sample makers in the industry.

You will use these procedures, hands on, to draft patterns and produce samples, exactly as done by the professionals.

Laurel Hoffmann, instructor and author, is one of the top 1% most endorsed on @Linkedin in the United States for sewing. She worked as a production patternmaker/technical designer in the industry where she learned and did high-end couture sewing that sold at Saks and Bergdorf Goodman's in NYC and other stores. Her goal is to make high-end industrial patternmaking and sewing techniques available to everyone.

Fitting Home Sewing Patterns/Grading to Fit
12 three-hour classes on Saturday's
9pm to noon
Sep.13, 20, 27, Oct. 11, 25, Nov. 1, 8, 15, 22, Dec. 6,
Dec. 13 - 2 sessions: 9 am - noon, 1 pm to 4 pm
No classes Oct.4, 18, or Nov. 29
Course price: $425.00

Students also need to buy the textbook
Grading to Fit
$90.00 wholesale, plus $5.40 tax

Design Room Techniques
10 three-hour classes on Saturdays
1 pm to 4 pm
Sep. 13, 20, 27, Oct. 11, 25, Nov 1, 8, 15, 22, Dec 6
No classes Oct. 4, 18, or Nov. 29
Course price: $350.00

Students also need to buy the textbook 
Design Room Techniques
$100 wholesale + $6.00 tax

Ensure your place in the class by either calling Laurel at 215 884 7065 or by e-mailing her.
Questions? Call 215 884 7065 to speak with Laurel.
To register complete the Course Order Form and send it with the payment in by mail. Course fees must be paid in full before the first class day. No refunds after the first day of class. Payment can be made by check or money order to Contemporary Fashion Education, Box 74, Oreland, PA 19075. Only students who have paid for the course can buy its textbook(s) at wholesale price. Books can be shipped - or picked up the first day of class.



 Phone: 215 884 7065

© Laurel Hoffmann, 2014. All rights reserved.
All material on this blog is copyrighted by and is the exclusive right of Laurel Hoffmann.

Sunday, August 3, 2014


Why the size of your clothing says little about your size was the topic on Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane, July 30, 2014. The show began with this information:

The news that apparel company J Crew is now making a size 000 (that’s two sizes smaller than a 0!) created a stir among some feminists who say the new size idealizes the desire to be too thin. While the company says it is trying to appeal to a petite Asian market, critics say that the move is just another example of the “vanity sizing” trend in fashion – downsizing label sizing so customers, both women and men, feel better about the clothes they try on and buy.

Today on Radio Times we’ll talk about how size influences shoppers, how manufacturers make sizing decisions and why the size you wear doesn’t say much about the size you are.

I am addressing some of these women's fit issues in this post


But first - Some comments about scanning to fit

During the show one of the guests speculated that in time we may be able to scan our bodies at home, and then from the scanning know what brand and size we should buy, a complicated, currently expensive procedure that seems a long walk around the barn.

There is an easier device that can quickly determine one’s correct size. It’s called a tape measure. It is inexpensive, easy to use, and so small it is easily carried in one’s pocket. It is already in most homes. It has been used for centuries to determine sizing. It gives measurements in both metric and inches.  Comparing its results with a company’s measuring chart makes determining one’s size quite easy.

The tape measure has been used for centuries
to determine body measurements and
to produce clothing that fits. It works.

Why so much controversy about women’s sizing? One never hears about problems with men’s sizing

Men's clothing is labeled with real measurements, as shown in this shirt tag, sewn on the inside of the collar stand. The shelves in the stores are also labeled with the measurements, enabling men to find clothing with minimal effort that fits them.
Shopping for men is simple. If one knows the pant length and waist width, then one finds pants with those measurements – which are not only on the clothing labels, but also on the shelves where the pants are kept in the stores. The same is true for shirts, although unfortunately many companies are now going to small, medium, large, and extra large, even for men.

How to use the tape measure to determine a woman's best size

Even though women’s clothing is not marked in inches, you can still use the tape measure to determine a woman's best size in a particular brand:

First a little information about how sizing is developed: 

Companies first make a garment style in the sample size. Then, when the garment has sold and has been approved for mass-production, its pattern is graded in smaller and larger sizes that are proportionate to the sample size. The name of a size, such as S6 is jargon for the set of measurements the company uses to grade that size. A grade rule that is a comprehensives set of measurements for all the sizes in that size range. Grade rules are so essential to a company's ability to fit its customers, they are copy-righted.

How to determine what size fits

First go on the company’s website and search for its size chart.  If the company hasn’t posted its sizing chart online call the company and ask why. 

I chose to go on Landsend’s website. First I put in sizing chart
Then I hit women to access the company’s sizing chart for women.
And there were the measurements. The measurements that are listed in a sizing chart are just some of the many measurements that comprise company's grade rule for that size range. But they are the essential measurements needed to determine the size that will fit the best.

Now all I needed to do was measure the person for whom I was buying the clothing, then compare her measurements with Landsend's sizing chart to know what size she should buy.

About custom/mass-production

For a long time I have heard about the possibility of mass-production someday being able to produce custom fit clothing.  While mass-production has made it possible to almost everyone to buy ready-made clothing that more or less fits, custom/mass-production is to my mind an oxymoron.

Mass-production is only profitable if a company can manufacture 1000 garments a cut.  A cut usually includes five or six sizes, tagged so as to make sure those garments cut from the top of the spread fabric are sewn together and those cut from the bottom of the spread are sewn together so as not to have differences in the color shading. The cut pieces must also be bundled and overseen so as not to mix any of the sizes as the garments are being sewn. Imagine keeping track of 1000 separate garments, each garment, each cut to a slightly different body fit. It would require cutting each ply separately before we talk about any of the other problems. In my mind this scenario presents far too many problems for it to be in any way profitable. 

Industrial couture

High-end, expensive clothing is made for preferred customers in some manufacturers' high-end designing departments. Various department stores who cater to preferred customers buy the exclusive rights to individual, semi-custom high-end garment styles. Samples of the garment styles are put on the floor, the customer decides which she wishes to buy, her measurements are sent to the manufacturer, and the garments are cut and sewn in the manufacturer's designing department by the best hands in the manufacturer's designing department.



 Phone: 215 884 7065