Designing a Pattern: Handmade and Hand Grade!

Many times a month I am emailed or requested to create a specific design or modify a jacket to make some special edition for a customer. As much as I would like to be able to do this I find myself explaining the impossibility of it and the complexity of the process of developing a new design or pattern.  I thought I would take the time to explain the very unique process of coming up with jacket designs here at Himel Brothers and why our products are unique compared to large corporate fashion.

It is important to understand that we design our jackets and patterns by hand using pencil and paper.  The large corporate fashion companies have softwares that can take ideas from computer to finished product and 3-D animation in less then a day.  Gerber and Optitex allow for seamless production.  I believe however to truly capture the beautiful lines of original garments and the organic nature of the human body, it is required to hand draw, alter and finish patterns.  When I design a new jacket I start with original jackets for body shapes. I create an aged vintage mock up of the design in Photoshop to get an idea of what the finished product would look like. From there we draw up a pattern, often using the original jackets and a tape measure to get shapes just right.  From there measurements are altered to fit a modern body size and a cotton mock up is made.  The mock up is altered, the paper is altered and this goes back and forth until we can get just the perfect fit, shape, curves, strange lines and authenticity.  This can take weeks, and when it is finished a real leather version has to be made and tested on several different people of the sample size.  If the jacket works we send the pattern for grading, if not it starts all over again.  Grading is tricky itself.  To make all the different sizes you have to determine rules to adjust the size consistently, but on occasion change those rules as the sizes get to the far ends of the size range.  Every step of the way can lead to failure, especially when grading as any mistake is repeated on every single pattern size produced.  So you can imagine I can’t just whip up a new jacket on the fly! But I believe our handmade pattern process is superior to computerized system that smooths out lines and removes the organic nature of the design.


Girl Jackets in Buffalo and Goat

I have been developing some really hot women’s jackets of late.  Because I am starting to get busy, and because blogging on all of the sites is time consuming, I have not been able to share the stages that got me to this final product.  That being said, there has been quite a barrage of emails in my in box asking me when I am coming out with a women’s jacket.  Well this is the finished product.  Two versions have been tested so far, one longer model and one shorter one.  This shorty that I made here is done in Canadian Buffalo leather with the camo lining and in goatskin with the black lining.  The buffalo is a grainy soft slightly stretchy hand, and by contrast the goatskin is very very tough to the touch and has much less give.  Each effect acts differently on the pattern but I am very very happy with the result!

New Linings: Part 2

Well unexpectedly today a package came into the store downstairs.  Nice and heavy, I lugged the box up three flights of stairs and opened up my little present.  Needless to say given that I am thinking about liners and design a lot due to my little Easter lamb supply, I was super happy when part 2 arrived.  Part 2 you ask:  yes little Johnny my WW 2 twill reversible camouflage Marine Core cotton party has begun.  This fabric used to mean serious money in the vintage world.  It was a rare rare day when I might find HBT camo pants from the Asian theater.  Maybe they might even have a grenade pouch on the bum. While for most people this brings back old John Wayne movies, or toy soldiers, the recognizable fabric and authentic garments meant serious serious money for the jacket, pants, poncho, tent or coveralls discovered from military collectors.  Well, while still war hating and pacifistic most of the time, I am still a little kid around military gear.  I was at the Outdoors show recently playing with the real soldiers and their toys and of course thinking about Camo.  Now I have my perfect reversible WW 2 camo fabric just sitting here, out of breath, imagining all the things I can make with it.  I’ve seen so many brands using this fabric…I somehow feel entitled after spending years hunting for it in raghouses for vintage collectors.  I hope to make something worthy of its “heritage”!