Sunday, October 30, 2011

Weekend Project: Number Crunching

In God we trust. All others must bring data.
~ W. Edwards Deming

No sewing for me this weekend - I spent the majority of my time in front of my computer, typing in numbers from the backs of sewing patterns for children.

The process to create a set of The Original "How Much Fabric?" Reference Cards goes like this:

  • Christine and I scour the internet for sewing patterns and print out the images of the envelopes' fronts and backs.
  • We divvy up the printouts and type the tables into spreadsheets, which have lots of formulas going on in the background.
  • Once we get enough patterns to establish a stable average number for every size, we copy the tables into PowerPoint slides and look up representative examples of patterns that require the minimum, average and maximum amounts of fabric for each type of garment.
  • We paste those images into the PowerPoint file as well and then ship the whole thing off to our graphic artist, Beth.
  • She creates the artwork - putting our numbers into nicely formatted tables and creating sketches of the representative patterns that we provided to her.
  • Once we approve the artwork she emails the files off to the card printers and they work up proofs for us.
  • Once we approve the proofs, they print the cards for us and punch holes in the upper left hand corner of each card.
  • When the cards are delivered to my house, we hand check each one to make sure it's a good print, collate them into sets and slide a ring (like a key ring) into each set.

One thing that this process really illustrates for me is the uneven production of patterns across sizes. We easily found over 200 top patterns for children's sizes 7 & 8, 175 patterns for size 10, 160 patterns for size 12 and 138 patterns for size 14.

Guess how many for size 16?


Yup - just 25 of those patterns went up to size 16.

Of course, for children it's probably not so bad, because by that time they may be fitting into adult patterns. But we had the same experience with women's plus sized patterns - we had a very hard time finding enough patterns to establish stable averages. It was really frustrating.

Anyways, I had hoped to get all of the materials to Beth by the end of September, so I'm already a month late. :(

But this weekend I was able to get her the materials for 3 of the cards (dresses, pants & tops) and I should be done with the other 3 cards (jackets, skirts & pajamas) within the week.

So, we should still be able to have our LAST set ready for Christmas! Yay!

And I can turn my attention to my Christmas sewing plans... :)

I hope you had a great sewing weekend! To those suffering from early winter weather - I'm thinking of you and hoping that life gets back to normal soon!