How to Select the Right Sample Maker for Your Fashion Brand

How to Select the Right Sample Maker for Your Fashion Brand

Any fashion designer who dreams of producing their own clothing line needs to have a sample maker. Why? Because clothes don’t go from fashion design sketch to wearable garment in one fell swoop.What’s more, designs must go through multiple rounds of samples in order to produce the perfect garment for your fashion line. 

Fashion designers new to the industry may be unfamiliar with what a sample maker is. If this is the case for you, we’ve got you covered. In this guide, we’ll explain precisely what the job of a sample maker is, how the sample process is carried out, and how to hire the best sample makers for your fashion brand. 

What Does a Sample Maker Do?

Sample maker jobs involve assembling a garment that will be used as a production model for how a specific design will look. Sample makers must have a general understanding of the pattern making and sewing process since a large part of their job is suggesting how to adjust fit and modify designs. 

As a designer, you want your sample maker to create a sample that’s as close to your original design as possible while still maintaining a comfortable fit and keeping production costs down.

Sample makers cut out the fabric, sew the design, and add the finishing touches to the clothing sample. However, the strength of an individual sample maker is really determined by all the feedback they provide in between these steps. 

A preferred sample maker will politely but honestly assess the sample as it makes its way through the product development cycle. They’ll carefully observe the pattern once it’s been passed on by the pattern maker, taking note of any sizing or fit issues that occur. When cutting out and sewing the garment, they’ll pay attention to how easily the fabric assimilates to the design and how long it takes to sew the garment. Should issues arise during any of these steps, they’ll immediately alert the fashion designer so the sample can be revised as soon as possible. 

The job of a pattern maker is very similar to that of a technical designer or pattern maker. In fact, to help make the fashion design process run smoothly, it’s ideal for the pattern maker and sample maker to work in the same setting. This assures that lead time is minimized, communication between both parties are clear, and decisions about sample modifications are mutually agreed upon.

The Sample Making Process

sample maker: packed clothesA design must go through various samples before it’s approved for production. This assures that the fabric, fit, and quality of the garment align with the designer’s vision. Here’s a quick breakdown of the sample making process.

  • Prototype Sample: This is the first sample that your production team makes of your design. The prototype sample is usually made of an inferior but similarly textured fabric for the sake of saving money and resources. The purpose of this sample is to get an idea of the design quality and your production company’s level of expertise. 
  • Fit Sample: This sample is meant to test the fit, feel, and fall of the garment. In order to produce a fit sample, the sample maker must create a sample for each size offering according to exact measurements. This sample needs to be made with the same type of fabric that you’re going to use for the actual garment, though not necessarily the same color. This round of sampling will require many adjustments, ensuring the fit is consistent through all size ranges.
  • Production Sample: This is the final sample of the garment, made the exact way the garment will be produced for sale. The production sample can be used for photo shoots, merchandising, or promotional purposes. By this round of samples, no alterations or modifications can be made as it should already be in the process of being produced.

The sample maker will be heavily involved in approving each round of samples. If they’re unable to catch any production mistakes or pivotal modifications that must be made, the quality of the design could be compromised.

Qualifications of a Sample Maker

sample maker: man and woman checking the dressWith all the knowledge sample makers must have about sewing, pattern making, and general quality control, you’d think they need years of experience to fulfill the requirements of the job. This was the case for Lisa Obuchowska, an independent sample maker who produces samples for the pattern and fabric company Sew Over It. 

Though Lisa studied costume design in college, her most valuable training came from an additional two years of studying pattern cutting. This helped her become a better seamstress and gain an expert knowledge of how to put garments together. By costuming various theatrical productions, working with excellent professors in pattern making and sewing, and honing in on construction techniques, she was able to make it on her own as a professional sample maker

However, Lisa’s journey isn’t the typical path of a sample maker. Unfortunately, sample making is often an entry-level job type that doesn’t offer much in the way of creativity or job mobility. Because the fashion industry is a competitive field where talent is plentiful and jobs are scarce, many multi-talented sample makers are underemployed by production companies that underpay them and house them in cramped, unsafe warehouses. 

But not at TEG. Our Los Angeles headquarters enlists a team of full-time employed, highly-skilled sample makers. All the factories we partner with have extensive safety vetting and are in compliance with all California labor laws. When you produce your clothing collection with TEG, you’ll know that you’re working with a team of talented, knowledgeable, and ethically treated sample makers

Finding the Best Sample Maker for Your Clothing Line

man and woman checking the coatAs a fashion designer, you shouldn’t hire a sample maker to simply cut and sew your designs. You should hire a sample maker who is knowledgeable about fabric, sewing, and pattern making. They should be willing to share their expertise in garment construction and forthright when a design needs to be modified. They must be able to diligently inspect each round of samples, pointing out any mistakes they see and constantly checking to make sure you approve the design quality. 

When looking to hire a sample maker, be sure to ask about their experience, including how many years they’ve been doing it, who they’ve worked with in the past, and where you can see some of their work.

Here at TEG, we have a team of experienced sample makers and pattern and sample making packages that provide emerging designers with everything necessary to start a clothing line. Whether you’re designing a few first samples or an entire collection, we have a package that fits your needs. 

We offer a variety of pricing and production volume packages, each providing the following services:

  • Intake meeting with Project Manager
  • Optional design and sourcing meetings
  • Specification sheets completed with flat drawings
  • Technical design, review meeting, and fitting with pattern maker
  • Start to finish project management
  • First patterns and samples
  • 1 round of pattern fit adjustments
  • Production-ready patterns and 
  • 2 sample duplicates per style

Each pattern and sample making package that TEG provides allocates for necessary things like adjustments and duplicates to ensure that there are no surprises or unforeseen extra costs. We also provide additional high-quality creative services like fabric and trim sourcing that you won’t find elsewhere. Our top-of-the-line sourcing managers will skillfully guide you through sampling fabric swatches, negotiating minimums and prices, tracking orders, and more.

Whether you’re an emerging or established designer, we’ve helped over 2,000 designers during the last 15+ years bring their visions to life. We’d love to help you, too!

For all inquiries and questions, please call or fill out the below form, and we will respond within 1-2 business days. Thank you!

Los Angeles: 800-916-0910 | San Francisco: 415-324-8779

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