A good fit is obviously a result of a good pattern, but you will be surprised to learn how much impact your fitting sessions can have on how quick you will get there and how good and consistent your fit will be.
Not to mention how much money it will save you!
I have been part of hundreds of fitting sessions during my career and I'm always surprised to see how quick a fitting session can go wrong.
You see, the trick (like with anything else in business) is to have a clear process, a plan and a clarity on who does what.
To come up with that you'll need experience. Either yours or someone else who can guide you through this.
Lucky for you, you are reading this, so here are my 8 tips on how to get the best out of a fitting session.
1. Fit Model - In my book it is a must to not fit on yourself, more so I highly recommend to use a professional fit model. Yes, I know they can get expensive, but let me ask you this: would you have your best friend advise you on a business contract just because are smart? Even though they are not professionals or experienced in the field? The same here, your friend might be the right size but he/she will not know what and how to address fit issues and their feedback (if they'll have any because they might not want to hurt your feelings) will not be as professional or detailed as it should be. Trust me, this is not where you should save money. If you do end up using a friend than at least use the same one for all your fittings and pay attentions that their weight is not changing between fittings.
**Tip - Choose a fit model prior to working on your patterns, this way you can measure him/her and base the pattern on their specs. All model agencies will let you audition few models in a go-see, its free of charge, you can try than a couple of items on the models to see who best fits your needs.
2. Measure your garments - Prior to the session, either you or your pattern maker/technical design should measure the garments. Its not uncommon that the fit sample will have some points that are out of tolerance. You should be aware of it otherwise you might think the fit issue is in the pattern where it's really in the sewing. Also have on hand any reference/previous samples, sketches, spec sheets, tech packs, patterns, previous fitting notes/photos etc. that you can refer to if needed.
3. Plan the time - As you already know hiring a fit model can be expensive. Make sure your fitting session is productive and that you are not running out of time before fitting all the items that you need to. Know how many styles are you looking to fit and plan enough time to fit all of them. Than block a certain amount of time for each item, and more importantly, keep an eye on the clock and stick to the schedule. It is very easy to get distracted and lose track of time. Generally speaking schedule about 15 minutes for each style (unless these are evening gowns). If this is the first fitting I would even schedule 20 minutes per style.
4. Plan the styles - Plan the styles in order, have a priority. Start with the styles that you must fit that day, or the styles that you estimate to have the most work on. This way you can assure to fit the priority first in case you run out of time.
5. Be prepared - make sure to have all the tools you will need ready re; safety pins, a measuring tape, scissors etc. as well as any other specific accessories needed re: undergarments, bra cups, shoes etc. The last thing you want is to stress over looking for one of these things as the clock is ticking. As I said, fittings can be expensive, don't add unnecessary cost.
**Tip - If you are using any specific accessories under the garment, remember to use the same ones in the next fitting so the comments will be consistent. Having a different size/shape bra cup each time is not how you keep consistency.
6. Stay focused - Another common mistake during fittings is jumping between issues. Ex:from an issue on the sleeve of the blouse to the one on the back of the pants. It wastes time and creates confusion. Start from the top of the garment and scan your way down. If you are fitting 2 items together re; a top and a pant, than start with fitting the top first, and only when you finish to fit the top, address the pant.
**Tip - Design points that can be addressed without seeing the garment on a model should wait for after the fitting. It will distract you from focusing on the fit issues. Not to mention it will waste valuable time. Did I mentioned that fittings can be expensive?
7. It's not a party - This for me is one of the most distracting/annoying things in a fitting, having an entourage of people present in the fittings. I have been in fittings with 10+ people present, the owner, the designer, the pattern maker, an assistant, a sales person, and other people who I had no idea what their role was. The issue with that is that everyone off course has an opinion! can you imagine getting anything done on time, never the less getting everyone to agree about the corrections??? A nightmare! I understand how exciting a fitting could be especially the first time, but this is not a party. There should be 3-4 people max in a fitting. A technical person, the designer and another assistant who will take notes, take photos and keep an eye on the clock. If for whatever reason you have more people present let them know to keep their feedback to themselves.
8. Take good Notes - Obviously the success of getting a pattern fixed correctly relies on getting good fitting notes. It's best to you have an assistant who will take notes of the comments, keep track on the clock and take pictures. If not than you or your technical person will need to do that. If that is the case than make sure to write everything down and very clear. A common mistake is to forget a comment that seemed so obvious at the time of the fitting but forgotten about the next day. To avoid that, once you are done fitting a garment read all the comments out load to confirm that you didn't forget (or made a mistake on) anything. I like to keep a separate fit comments sheet for each style so all the comments from all the previous fittings on this style are on that same page. You don't want to forget about a change that was done in a previous fitting and have the same comment again. To avoid that, before you fit a style review all the changes that were made in the previous fittings. And Off course, take pictures.
Fittings can be frustrating at times (especially when fitting a garment for the 3rd or 4th time and its still not right), always review the fit notes with your pattern maker/technical designer after the fittings, many times it's easier to make decisions when you're not under the gun and have the time to digest and review more carefully.
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