Cutting Fabric for Production: Our Tips to Save You Money & Materials
Fashions designers need to know how to cut fabric for production in the most efficient way – one that saves you both money and materials! This is a skill even the most seasoned professionals use every day as a way to make savings.
While it might not seem like a big deal during sampling, scaling to production is a whole other ball game in regards to how much fabrics and trimmings you use. Since the fabric you use can make up to 80% of the total garment cost, it’s one of the most important elements of your costings sheet.
Sticking to your budget can often make or break your business, which means it’s crucial to ensure as many savings as possible. Even established designers can benefit from being conservative, as they can direct excess money to other places of the project – like branding.
Don’t spend a single cent on materials – or better yet, a clothing manufacturer – before reading these tips to help you lower your production costs and save money.
Plan Your Marker Efficiently
While a pattern is a blueprint to your garment, a marker is a set of patterns or pieces. According to MakersRow, “At first, patterns and markers will look like obscure puzzles, but they make more sense the more you study and work them.”
Simply, markers are guides for the cutting process. It’s a long sheet of self-adhesive bond paper with all the patterns laid out (including all of the sizes you need for your design) in a specific arrangement intended to save as much fabric as possible.
Marker-making uses a computer program and a plotter to lay out your fashionable designs. Then, you lay the marker on top of the fabric layers and cut out all the pieces at once. The amount of fabric layers depends on the fabric yield and quantity of garments being made.
Keep in mind – you don’t have to use computers to create your markers, but the results are typically best if you do. As one of the easier fabric calculation methods, you might consider using a CAD program, since it automatically measures the yardage needed and how many layers of fabric you need to spread to finish your desired number of products.
A marker is a single-use item; you can’t re-use the same marker twice. When cutting through the fabric, you follow the lines of the marker, cutting through the paper as well, which means you need to buy a new marker for each order.
Another reason you can’t re-use markers is that they’re made to order. Normally, you’ll require different size quantities for orders, since you’ll probably sell multiple ratios of sizing at various times. If you think you’ll always buy sizes in the same ratio, you can re-order another print of the marker, however, identical orders are a very rare occurrence.
Hyper-efficient marker plans can increase fabric usage and minimize waste. However, a poorly planned marker will result in money loss; since you’re losing more fabric that could be used. Overall, the higher the number of patterns that fit into the marker the better – an eight-way marker is much more efficient than a four-way marker!
Determine the Fabric Width
Preparing fabric for cutting is intricately connected to making patterns and markers. The best way to learn about it? Watch the cutting process for each garment during sampling. It will help you make more informed decisions about your design and how to save fabric.
For instance, you should consider the fabric width. When you work with larger fabric widths, the marker has more surface area to cut from. This means it will take less fabric than normal to make the garment, resulting in a more efficient cut. Every inch of fabric counts, since more fabric hikes up the cost of the garment!
So, before you get your patterns made, while you’re sourcing your materials, determine the fabric width. Then your pattern maker can help you create patterns that maximize fabric and save you money in the long run.
All of our expert pattern makers here at TEG work with you on how to properly cut fabric to help you create the best patterns for garments and cut costs where necessary. We know how important it is to stick to a budget and reduce monetary stress, especially leading up to a fashion launch. We’re here to help through our extensive knowledge of fabric.
Choose Fabric with Low Shrinkage
At the end of the day, different fabrics have different stretch and shrink properties. Usually, fabrics that start in their natural prepare for dyeing (PFD) state shrink after being washed, dyed or laundered. However, different processes will have various effects, depending on the fabric. For instance, an enzyme wash affects fabrics differently, compared to a normal dying procedure.
Early on in the pattern making process, make sure to play around with the fabric consumption calculation and how they shrink and stretch, particularly if you’re combining two separate materials with different properties. Give yourself lots of time to figure it out, too. You’ll most likely have to do quite a bit of testing to figure out how shrinkage, stretching, and washing affects your pattern pieces, sizing, and fit of the garment.
When it comes to saving money and materials, it’s best to choose materials with a low shrinkage rate. Shrinkage is correlated to how much fabric reduces in size, the more it shrinks, the more fabric will be used. On the other hand, less fabric shrinkage means less consumption.
To figure out how to calculate shrinkage in fabric, Eysan Fabrics says, “There are a few standard, internationally recognized, shrinkage test methods; AATCC 135, AATCC 158 and ISO 3759. These tests can be conducted at an authorized laboratory in a factory.”
Another option is performing a simple test at home, which involves measuring before and after washing. Use Wazoodle Fabrics’ shrinkage calculator for more precise details on how to calculate the fabric consumption of a garment.
Mind the Grain Line Orientation
The grain also plays a part in how much fabric you use, but what is a grain line? According to Colete, “The line of fabric that moves at a right angle to the crosswise grain is the lengthwise grainline. This thread runs the entire length of the fabric and is parallel to the selvage. When you place a pattern on the fabric, you align the pattern’s grainline with the fabric’s lengthwise grain.”
You might need to cut fabric on the bias for particular styles or parts of the garment – think waistbands. However, these styles rack up fabric costs since they use more material in general. On the other hand, when you cut solely straight on the grain, you utilize less fabric. Markers make better use of fabric when the pattern pieces are all on the bias or all cut on straight grain.
Typically, both bias and cross grains need more fabric. It’s important to weigh these details against your budget for the design project.
Choose the Right Clothing Manufacturer
Now that you know how to cut fabric in the most cost-efficient ways, the next step is picking a clothing manufacturer to do the work for you. One of the worst ways to lose out on money is by choosing a poor clothing manufacturer.
You need total transparency from the start, with accurate pricing estimates and professional pattern makers, who can guide you through every step of the way. Experts who can help you decide on fabrics with minimal shrinkage, efficient markers, and the right amount of fabric width to cut costs where you can.
At TEG, we don’t believe in pricing surprises. We offer budget-friendly solutions, saving you thousands of dollars, whether you’re a budding or established designer.
Our experienced pattern makers live and breathe seeing your designs come to life in a way that feels good for you. Move forward with confidence, knowing your fashion line is coming to fruition in a perfect balance of high-quality and cost-effective materials by choosing us as your clothing manufacturer.