What is the pattern difference between a $5 and a $500 pair of Denim Jeans?
The purpose of this article is to give a better understanding of why there is such a difference in cost from the pattern perspective. Why designer jeans would be more expensive than cheap jeans due to the fit of the garment alone.
Designer Jeans Versus Cheap Jeans
On the surface the difference would clearly be in the shape of the pattern which translates into the fit of a garment. The quality of pattern engineering can give you the desired fit which can only add to the other components of the garment, which are the denim fabric choice and the finished wash therefore increasing the overall value.
The shape of the pattern pieces collectively will determine the fit. Individually the pattern pieces play a key role for the area they are covering. The goal of the fit is to cover a specific shape with ease for movement. Although designer jeans will never replace a custom suit the concept is the same, getting the jeans to fit like a glove so we spend more time in them.
1. Designer Jeans
Designer jeans have the vision from a specific designers perspective, what their opinion of the right fit is. But even these are not the most expensive jeans.
The designer first has an eye for style and can also make an educated guess from experience or statistics that leads them to select a fit or look that is highly desired.
The designer will direct the process and approve the final creation. The designer version does not want to risk it’s reputation so more than likely the designer will be present throughout the development process.
The designer may stick to a classic style for longevity or they may be known for high fashion, so there is value either way. The designers time is valuable so expense here is due to the amount of time spent on this development.
2. Cheap Jeans
Cheap jeans may not have all the special handling in the development process. The pattern may be a copy of an existing style or one that was developed without much time involved.
The working conditions under which the pattern was made may also be less than desirable, they may be made in a situation of under age or under paid or inexperienced workers.
3. Pattern Pieces Required For a Pair of Denim Jeans
For a traditional pair of denim jeans there are a minimum of 12 pattern pieces, or a total of 21-25 or more individual parts. The pre-planning involved in coordinating these parts in addition to them needing to fit together in a marker can consume many hours of developmental time. A marker is a layout which may include various sizes pieced together to create the best utilization of fabric for a particular order placed by a customer to the manufacturer.
A pattern made to accommodate fabric utilization versus one to accommodate a good fit would be one way to compare costs. Rotating pieces off grain to fit into the marker for fabric layout is a bad trick that is sometimes used to get better fabric utilization. That is what causes the legs to twist after washing. However there are some cases there the twisting is intentional. But under normal circumstances twisted legs are not a good thing.
4. Pattern Parts
The main pattern parts are called the front and back panel, front facing and back yoke. Minor parts are those remaining pieces, coin or watch pocket, back pockets, right and left fly pieces and then the pocket bag which is cut from a seperate fabric type called simply, pocketing.
Some styles will use a 1 piece pocket bag, used more on mens jean styles. and some womens jean styles will use a 2 piece pocket bag which can serve as a tummy control if it has the right shape and is attached to the center front of the garment.
Of course the more pieces there are to a style, means more labor that goes into making the complete garment, this is another indicator for higher cost.
5. Pattern Development
Initially the pattern needs to go through an entire process in itself to get started, a grainline is established and proportions front to back deciphered. Then specific design details are taken into consideration, such as leg shape (boot cut, slim fit or classic fit etc.) where the waistline of the garment will fall and the back pocket shape.
There are a series of specific measurement points taken from the body that the pattern maker needs to know and include while developing the pattern. The pattern is created by meeting these specific measurements at those established measurement points then completed by essentially connecting the dots.
Once the base measurements are applied to the pattern, seam allowances will also need to be applied to the pattern pieces. It is important to note that different machinery may require a specific amount of seam allowance according to stitch type to make a secure seam and to avoid too much bulk while sewing the garment together. The less bulk the easier the garment goes together and the more flexible the garment is to work with, so proper seam allowance is vital to the success of the finished garment.
6. Allowing for Shrinkage in the Pattern
Another consideration that needs to be addressed with the pattern is the shrinkage. Once the pattern is created there may be several samples developed in order to achieve the desired fit. In addition to the desired fit, shrinkage is added so the approved denim jeans can reach the desired afterwash measurements.
Denim has the tendency to fray easily and can begin to affect measurements if too much fraying occurs before piecing the parts together therefore it is important to keep the integrity of the cut bundles as long as possible before sewing begins. In addition to the seam allowance, a certain amount of shrinkage needs to be applied to the pattern to accommodate for the fabric shrinkage. Needless to say shrinkage testing needs to be performed on the target fabric before the sample garment is cut.
7. Eliminating Bulk in Pattern Pieces
There is also quite a bit of engineering and working with the sewers needed to eliminate bulk created by the seams. Since there are a number of issues that can arise from creating a pair of jeans, it becomes easier to understand why they can get pricy. So after the initial pattern is created a marker is made to cover the fabric and then cut for sewing to get our first sample garment.
If the garment does not fit well or is not cut or sewn correctly or was not finished properly in the wash the entire process will need to be repeated until the desired garment is created. So you can also see how dependent upon the other each step in the process is needing the cooperation of the other and to make no mistakes. It can become very costly to repeat the process if it was fruitless.
8. Advance planning
Since the loops and most waistbands are rectangular in shape it is more efficient to cut them in a shared lot or by strips. A lot would be garments made from the same dyed roll or rolls of fabric. So to avoid what is call shading it would be wise to cut parts from the same lot of dyed fabric. The parts are usually cut in pairs face to face so there is less chance of shading.
Advance planning, especially when developing a denim blue jean garment is vital to the success of the outcome if you want to save on time, and materials which are the two most costly components in developing garments.