It all started last summer in the Hampton’s when a friend was wearing a loose mesh top over her swimsuit. It was made from cotton and had large mesh holes but gave her enough coverage to come straight from the beach to the cafe and was still cool to wear in the summer heat. I started to play with this idea, sketching different ideas. A hood, to give it a more sporty luxe feel , so it could be worn from the gym to a cafe.Long sleeves , so it can worn all year around over a range of outfits. I am a little old school and use a sketch book and a pencil for this part and once happy create a very clear drawing with more details.
So what type of fabric do I look for ? Decided the mesh needed to be light in weight, to make it perfect for travelling and have small interlocking for more coverage. If possible, I source my fabrics from fabrics mills that create the fabric in Australia however that is not always possible so the next best thing is to buy from Australian wholesalers. Always ,without fail, there are 2 areas that are non negotiable DRAPE AND FEEL of the fabric. It needs to feel soft against the skin, come in a range of colours and be easy to care. This can be an exciting process but also at times disappointing as there have been times when I have found the perfect fabric only to find out its been dis-continued! Luckily this was not the case.
With the fabric chosen and my sketch ready it is now off to the pattern maker.
So what is a pattern? Its a 2d template made from paper of each piece that will make an item. Look at the item you are wearing at the moment, perhaps its a shirt, imagine if all the seams where cut open and the sleeve was then placed face down ,open on the table, that piece would make a pattern.
Due to the fabric and style of the hoody I decided to go for just a free size , so we talk about how much stretch the fabric has, finishes, length of sleeve and body measurements . This is a very important aspect of the journey as if the pattern isn't right the next stages it can be a lengthy process.
With the pattern completed, 5 pieces all up, it is then off to the cutter . The sample fabric is layed out on the table with the pattern placed on top and then each piece is cut. It is important that each piece is placed out in a way to maximise the yield of the fabric so there is little wastage and also the correct stretch of the fabric.
Once the fabric has been cut comes the exciting part- Manufacturing !
This is when the pattern is sewn per the production sheet- what type of seam, where do the tags get sewn onto. I am fortunate to have a very hands on approach with entire process ( could be the control freak in me ! ) and am able to spend time as much time as needed with my manufacturer , in person. We discuss new ranges , items and ways to improve. This would only possible by having the collection made in Australia as they are just a drive away.
Picking up a sample is one of my favourite moments and I am normally jumping with joy. To see an item that has gone from an idea in my head to an actual item is always indescribable. In all honesty there have been moments when the item has not gone to plan- I remember once picking up a skirt that had been sewn with the fabric the wrong way but it was quickly redone. From here I test the fit and cut of the hoody. In this case the sample was perfect and we were able to go straight into production of them.
This can be the scary part as its the time to decide how many of each colour will be made and how many will be sold. I sometimes feel like I have to be a psychic and see into the future. No matter how much testing or researching on an item there is still no guarantee it will sell.
So looking over seasonal colours, client requests and our own colour palette I decided to go for Marine blue, Jade, Black and White. With the fabric chosen and ordered the process then begins again with the patterns cut and the hoody sewn into existence.
One of the aspects I love about having the collection made in Australia is that this process can be completed in just under 3 weeks rather then months. It allows for fresh designs, ability to meet customer needs , reproduce items that are high sellers and meet seasonal weather demands.
In the end we then pick up the hoody, check every item for quality control, add the swing tag and they are ready to be sold to their new owner.