The design of the mass-produced pattern includes many steps. Furthermore, the creation of an easy to use, fashionable, of good fit pattern is the result of collaboration of many departments and many talents.
At the outset of the design process of any garment, the pattern company’s product development department must evaluate three key elements: the typical customer profile (lifestyle, skills, taste, etc), the current fashion trends, and last season’s sales figures. These all factor in to making a profitable pattern—the goal of the company.
Companies vary in the number of new pattern collections launched each year; many launch four new collections a year. The in-house designers are inspired by observing people and their physical movements, learning about their needs, and understanding trends in their customers’ lifestyle. Designers attend fashion shows, read magazines, newspapers, and trade journals to keep abreast of fads and fashions.
Many designs are created for a proposed collection. Preliminary sketches are discussed by marketers, dress designers, dressmakers, etc. Sales histories on previous styles and patterns are examined and compared. Some patterns may remain in a line for more than a season based on sales alone. If a design goes through the review and appears to be a viable candidate for a pattern, it is assigned to a line, which earmarks it for a particular customer profile. The final selections are assigned a style number and returned to the design department.
Next, the illustrators create the first sketches of the creation. These sketches are known as croquis, which is the French word for beginning. The croquis contains all critical information for each pattern and will form the basis of the worksheet to construct the item.
Decisions are made on the number of pattern pieces, the style number based on degree of difficulty, suitable fabrics, sizes the patterns will be graded to, and how it will be constructed.
A folder is begun for each design so that crucial information is contained within and passed to appropriate departments. The folder with the notes from the construction meeting is given to the patternmaking department.