Manufacturing Resources

7 Tips For Working With a Sewing Contractor

sewing contractor

Working with a sewing contractor can be a challenge. But it doesn’t have to be. Knowing the process and identifying expectations early on can make all the difference in a working relationship.

Here are 7 Tips for Working with a Sewing Contractor:

1. Give your contractor a cutting ticket for each order.  A cutting ticket should include the style number and name, pattern number, an image of the piece, colors/sizes, quantity, swatches of colors and/or combinations, and sewing details/instructions.  Don’t assume that if you tell the contractor verbally what you want that they’ll actually remember it – you need to put it in writing.

2. Samples may cost more than you think.  Getting samples made can cost double or triple the price you will pay for production.  This is important to know when you are deciding how many styles will be in your line.  Also, some contractors really want to be the ones to sew your samples and some don’t do sample sewing at all so check this ahead of time.

3. Be clear about payments.  With production manufacturing, you pay by the piece.  For sample sewing, you might pay by the piece or by the hour.  Be sure to clarify this up front.  You also want to remember to discuss when and how you’re required to pay so there are no surprises later.

4. Price breaks for higher quantities may not be your best option.  Many manufacturers have a tiered system of pricing, depending on quantity. For example, your contractor may tell you that if you order 100 pieces of a style, it will cost $8.00 less per item to produce.  Ask yourself: Do you really need 100 pieces of that style?  Do the math.  Even though you save some money per piece, you may be sitting on 50 extra pieces at the end of the season.  Carrying extra inventory will kill your cash flow and your business.

5. Leave some wiggle room for your production time.  Murphy’s Law is never truer than when you are in the middle of producing your clothing line.  Give yourself a little padding and you will reduce your stress tremendously.  Add two weeks of ease to production time and a week for fabric delivery whenever possible.

6. Treat your sewers with respect. I’ve seen my share of “diva designers” and I pray I never acted like that when I had my line!  I cringe to hear about designers who boss contractors around like they own the place. Just because you are paying your contractor to work for you does not give you the green light be difficult.  Situations with manufacturing can get very tense and stressful and you have to remember that you and the contractor are a team. When you start treating contractors as partners and respecting their talents, everything will run more smoothly.

7. Pay on time.  Keep your word.  Word travels fast in this industry and it’s a business built on relationships.

Get Your Own Cost Sheet
It's important to figure out exactly how much your product costs to produce, from buttons to labor, if you're going to successfully build a fashion business. This is your template for creating cost sheets in your business. Pricing your products may seem intimidating but this template will make it a breeze.

Jane Hamill is the founder of Fashion Brain Academy and the creator of several online trainings for apparel and accessories designers, including “20 Up” Marketing Course for Designers and “How to Start a Fashion Business: New Designer Program”.