Yesterday while I was dropping off some wash care labels to the factory I saw the cutter Moon Chuen laying out paper markers ever so meticulously. He has this way of using long rulers to flatten everything that makes the process look like a dance. Not one motion wasted. He was jumping from table to table bending down straightening things out, so fluidly. Clearly a man who is at one with his craft. I love that my work day involves taking in these scenes.
I have always been drawn to factories, and luckily our home town San Francisco has a vibrant sewing industry. Currently we work with 4 factories across San Francisco. During production time we visit 2-3 times a week. Most of these factories have a specialty – some do athletic wear, others do it all simultaneously cranking out the S & M gear right next to frilly aprons. You can’t help but smile. Moon Chuen works at our main knit factory located in the Bayshore district. It’s a large family run factory which can fulfill bigger orders, up to 10,000 pieces per style. When a marker comes in he lays out the fabric, let’s it settle and lays the paper marker on top of the fabric. He then uses an electric cutting tool to cut the fabric into pieces to be sewn. His meticulous nature comes in handy here in all aspects of the cutting and sorting as well.
Visiting the factories is an education in and of itself, you might overhear a conversation about shrinkage and learn a new trick that saves you time and money. SCORE! You may see a new fabric supplier name on a fabric roll and find something that has eluded you for years. DOUBLE SCORE! Or the cutter is gracious enough to jump down and help you lift a roll of fabric and let you take his picture.
Thank you Moon Chuen for taking such great care with our projects.
We’re deep into designing Spring 2013 and shipping/producing our Fall/Winter line. It’s a very busy time for our small team. I’ve begun to realize this is how we function best, running around like crazy people. Foot long to do list in tow. The reality is we have to be slightly coo coo to be American made, mostly organic and on our own terms right?
For Spring 2013 we’re developing several new styles, but it’s key to anchor the line with some things you’re known for. Our laser cut Kimmie tee was a house favorite, and we figured we’d adapt it to an easy breezy type of jersey dress. Below are awesome intern Patrica sketched out the idea. Would this number jazz up your wardrobe?
Some factories pad the bottom line by fixing errors stateside that were made overseas. I saw this first hand the other day as I was doing my factory check ups. Below are thousand of baby jeans that arrived wet from China with construction errors. As if being damp weren’t enough, they had to be jacked up too. Hurts my head to just think about it.
Our new spring line features soft sunburst pleating applied to skirts and a simple dress (debuting soon). I’ve become fascinated with the process, it’s quite magical. These are shots taken from a pleater’s studio in France, but believe me the process is alive and well in West Oakland. I will attempt to take some shots of Leung’s studio next time we roll through there.
All of these photos came from Le Modalogue. The possibilities make my head spin (in that very good way!)
We’re always in some state of production. If we’re not making things, well we’re in trouble. I have lots of horror/lucky stories about our journeys in production, but not all are worthy for public consumption. But after reading this post on east twin, west twin and spotting a can of Spot Lifter on the lovely Ursula of Modaspia’s shelf, I think I’m up for sharing this one.
Many moons ago, circa 2006 when we were very fresh at production we orchestrated our biggest run of jackets ever. I think there were 400 of them and we were taking a big risk. When we went to unpack them to ship them out, to our horror many of the jackets had grease stains on them. We were crestfallen, one of us definitely cried. There is an unspoken rule that both of us can’t lose our marbles at the same time. I’m pretty sure I was the one crying.
But what can you do with a grease stain? I went into a deep pit of despair, the loss of all these jackets would surely mean our company. Even if they refunded us our sewing costs they couldn’t do anything about the fabric and the $5 long zippers and all the development. The promises we made to stores to get them on their shelves etc (They rarely ever refund sewing costs by the way, unless it’s very clear it’s their mistake and even then they will suggest you sell them as seconds) Shakey handed I called our manufacturer to plead/yell/speak with her about the problem and instantly she started laughing, bring the jackets back we can fix that.
You can fix that? Really? Apparently the sewing machines sometimes get oil from their motors (rarely, it’s never happened again) on the fabric and they have this handy dandy Spot lifter that lifts the stain out of the fabric. We had to see it, and then we had to buy some.
So my disclaimer is this is not eco in any way, but a quick squirt, wait a few minutes and rub with a towel and the grease stain is lifted. So there from one garment manufacturer to you dear consumer, I now unveil one of the factory floor secrets….The Spot lifter!
Also working in the Spot lifters favor? It’s cool guy looks, doesn’t it look like something lifted straight out of the Mad Men set?