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The Making of a Dress, Part 4: Production

by Emily DeLong

28 June 2016

This is the final part of our series on what goes on behind the scenes to turn an idea of a dress into a finished product. Take a look at parts one and two, and three here, here and here.

At last! After dreaming up a beautiful dress design, finding the perfect fabric, drafting a pattern in five different sizes, and testing the pattern to make sure it works, it is finally time to begin production. This part is where the magic happens and when everything finally comes together. And when I spend lots of time hanging out with my iron and sewing machine and end every day covered in little threads.

First I have to prepare all the fabric. This includes washing, drying, dyeing, and ironing.

Next I need to round up all my non-fabric supplies. A lot of little things go into sewing a collection, such as sourcing the right thread:

(100% organic cotton thread from the Netherlands)

…the perfect garment labels:

 

(these are made out of 100% organic cotton)

…the perfect buttons:

(these are plastic vintage buttons from the 1960s)

…and zippers:

I also have to make sure I have enough of everyday notions, such as pins and needles:

If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you can never have too many pins and needles, and that they go from sharp to dull more quickly than you’d think.

In addition to all the notions I need, I also have to round up all my tools.

The next step is where we actually get started — yay! First I lay out all the pattern pieces onto the fabric:

 

This part is like a big puzzle as I try to lay everything out in the most economical way. It’s extra complicated when I’m using a fabric with stripes or plaids or other directional prints that have to line up juuuust right.

Then it’s time to cut into the fabric — so scary! The first time I cut into a new fabric is always nerve-wracking to me.

Once all the cutting is done, I’ll transfer any needed markings onto the fabric (such as where the folds for bust darts or pleats need to be), and then it’s time to get out the sewing machine.

Those are photos of the Aster Dress in progress.

After the sewing magic happens, production is done! All I’ll need to do at this point is clip off any loose threads and do any final pressing that needs to be done.

And once I’ve sewn everything, it’s back to Part 1 for next season’s collection.