Jump to content


Photo

Knitwear


  • Please log in to reply
15 replies to this topic

#1 Todd Hudson

Todd Hudson

    Apprentice

  • Professional
  • PipPip
  • 146 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Oakland, CA

Posted 26 August 2009 - 06:45 AM

I'd like to start offering custom or MTM polos, t-shirts and sweaters to my clients. Several clients have ordered knitwear from me. The bodybuilder with the big chest can't even find a nice black t-shirt to wear on the weekend. The vintage fanatic can't find the perfect shawl collar cardigan. The tall kid at the private school needs some long polos. So why shouldn't I offer these just as I offer custom shirts, suits and jeans? I guess I'm a sportswear tailor. It's easier for me to sell custom casual items than dress shirts and wool suits. Those are the clients I know.

I've heard there's a tradition of custom knitwear in Italy. I'd like to hear about that if any of you know. (JC?)

When clients came to me with these projects, I realized that knit fabric, even if it costs $1 a yard can be more expensive than fine shirtings because of the time required to source it. I couldn't just call up my shirtings rep and order a bunch of knit swatches to make polos. I had to waste time at the local retailers and calling wholesalers who have low minimums. The other thing is that keystoning fabric that only costs $1 doesn't seem to get you very far profit-wise.

One client who is a stage performer with a budget pays me hourly to go sourcing fabric at any cost plus a fixed mark-up. The other clients can't afford that. I just want to show them shades that I can mail-order (or commission) rather than running around town.

One thing I love about the knitwear idea is being able to make the fabric itself! This applies more to a garment such a custom merino long-sleeve polo or cashmere cardigan. I can have more control over the look and feel of the fabric I am starting with.

The other seductive thing about offering custom knitwear is the gear angle - yes I'm interested in jumping on one of those Craigslist deals that pops up for a knitting machine under $100. I just missed a brother machine with ribber for $75. BTW, I have no idea how to knit so I may just hire the fabric production out. I should probably spend my time doing the patterns, fittings and sales. However, I'm getting an industrial coverstitch machine to handle some of the hems and binding.

So am I crazy to go down this road? My San Francisco clients are willing to spend $130 for custom fit short-sleeve polos plus the cost of the discount store cotton pique.

#2 jcsprowls

jcsprowls

    Pro

  • Super Pro
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1,134 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Roanoke, Virginia

Posted 26 August 2009 - 08:20 AM

When I worked in Italy, we draft a pattern for the customer and then knit directly on top of the paper pattern with schematics for the stitch pattern. Some hand needles were a little finer than a tapestry needle; but, over 24" long. I have no idea if that house is still doing that kind of work, or not. I need to dig deep to find contact info, etc. The stitches were of a fine gauge; but, not remotely similar to the density of an interlock type of fabric.

RE: custom knit piece goods. This is a real stinker. It may be possible to have a "knit down" done by a very generous knit design sample room. What I mean by that, is they might use a hand-knitting machine or a Shima Seiki type machine in order to generate 5 or 10 yds of knit-down fabric for you. But, you have to source the yarns, and develop the stitch pattern, etc. I would expect the knit-down fees to be pretty hefty for the yardage. IOW: I don't think the selling price is expensive enough.

For the record, I don't have a lot of domestic resources for full-fashion knits. I know of a couple knitting rooms, yarn suppliers and knit technicians; but, it's unexplored territory as far as putting a domestic job into production. Any full-fashion knit project I've helped with (because I did so very little) has gone offshore.

You should be aware that we're not talking fine, fine, fine knits, here. The gauge of a hand knitting machine only gets so fine. And, nothing remotely close to the enormous round heads that generate interlock or pique fabric. My experience has been that hand-knitting machines are suitable for developing the prototype garment or to even make sweaters in production. The reason I say this is related to the scale of the needle and the yarn.


_____ edit 082509 ____

aha! I knew if I searched I'd find something helpful.

http://www.cottoninc...asp?productID=8

What we did in Italy is referred to as 'panel knitting'. Cotton, Inc. has a number of these "The Art Of.." series that provide a strong overview of the topic of manufacturing or processing in various areas. This might help you understand more the items I was talking about.
___________

Dir, Product Development

web: http://www.studio9apparel.com
portfolio: http://www.behance.net/studio9apparel

#3 Che Pasticcio

Che Pasticcio

    Apprentice

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 231 posts

Posted 22 November 2010 - 02:52 PM

I think you'd definitely have to source the production. You could learn to knit, but you would spend a lot of time making even one sweater. How much would your clients be willing to pay? Many yarn shops that sell nice merino wools are not on the cheap side. You might need about 15 skeins for a 40" chest at $10 a skein, so $150, not mentioning the 20-30 hours or more you're going to spend making it.

#4 tailleuse

tailleuse

    Master

  • Senior Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,059 posts
  • Gender:Not Telling
  • Interests:Tailoring and couture.

Posted 22 November 2010 - 03:09 PM

Are there places that sell cashmere or very nice quality merino wool and ribbing in fairly small quantities? I had four or five cashmere sweaters from Banana Republic that have all worn out. I assume they'd cost about $200 a piece now,and since they were such simple sweaters, I was wondering if I could make some new ones.

Dignity. Always, dignity. (Singin' in the Rain)


#5 tailleuse

tailleuse

    Master

  • Senior Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,059 posts
  • Gender:Not Telling
  • Interests:Tailoring and couture.

Posted 22 November 2010 - 03:16 PM

When I worked in Italy, we draft a pattern for the customer and then knit directly on top of the paper pattern with schematics for the stitch pattern.




I've been learning how to knit. I'm only in the beginning stages, but I was thinking, What if instead of trying to modify a knitting pattern, I make a pattern, lay it over raw knitting, cut out the pieces and sew it together?

Dignity. Always, dignity. (Singin' in the Rain)


#6 Che Pasticcio

Che Pasticcio

    Apprentice

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 231 posts

Posted 22 November 2010 - 03:21 PM

I've been learning how to knit. I'm only in the beginning stages, but I was thinking, What if instead of trying to modify a knitting pattern, I make a pattern, lay it over raw knitting, cut out the pieces and sew it together?


Check this out: http://www.knitty.co...tbynumbers.html

It talks about the percentage system, a good way of avoiding the instructions most knitting patterns spew at you.
  • tailleuse likes this

#7 tailleuse

tailleuse

    Master

  • Senior Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,059 posts
  • Gender:Not Telling
  • Interests:Tailoring and couture.

Posted 25 November 2010 - 01:08 PM

Check this out: http://www.knitty.co...tbynumbers.html

It talks about the percentage system, a good way of avoiding the instructions most knitting patterns spew at you.


Thank you. I've bookmarked it. I skimmed it and it reminded me a bit of a book called Knitting Without Tears There were tears.

Just kidding. But I made a huge sweater on circular needles and never finished it.

I will look into this.

Thanks again.

Here's a site I've been going to. You really can learn how to knit from it. I started with the Continental/German method. I haven't built up to anything yet.

http://www.knittinghelp.com/

BTW, I like your user name, which I had to run through Google Translate.

Edited by tailleuse, 25 November 2010 - 01:12 PM.

Dignity. Always, dignity. (Singin' in the Rain)


#8 Che Pasticcio

Che Pasticcio

    Apprentice

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 231 posts

Posted 25 November 2010 - 01:26 PM

I'm familiar with that book as well as the site. I started knitting a few weeks ago and I'm hoping to understand this whole increase/decrease business. My goal is to be able to make a nice shawl collar cardigan. I was thinking of picking up an oxford gray in about a 28-30 stitch gauge and knit up a double breasted one in a stockinette stitched pattern with the placket and collar in horizontal ribbing. There are a few good local shops and I'm hoping to buy some Addis needles to start this, as I hear they're "turbo" fast.

The user name: I love the Italian language so this came to mind. My friends always listen to me go on about how beautiful it is, able to turn some silly names like Bartolomeu into Bartolomeo! It's the exact opposite when you go to France and find out your name Michael is Michele, or Guy sounding like "gui" from guillotine. Oh boy. I've been relieved of such butchery.

#9 ct3d

ct3d

    Umsie

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 50 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Germany

Posted 25 November 2010 - 06:27 PM

I've been learning how to knit. I'm only in the beginning stages, but I was thinking, What if instead of trying to modify a knitting pattern, I make a pattern, lay it over raw knitting, cut out the pieces and sew it together?

Since this has digressed to hand-knitting now :-), may I recommend the book Knitting it the old way? I have been hand-knitting for 35 years, and the basic method described here (which really ditches any and all 'instruction' that a knitting pattern might hand out) is the one I had been taught. There are only a few circumference measures needed, and with some knowledge about the proportions of a pattern (which I assume you have from patternmaking for sewn stuff), you won't ever need any instructions/'pattern' telling to increase so and so much here and decrease so and so much there. You may need some other books telling you about the shaping methods (start with techknitting), but the 'math' is easy.

Essentially with this method, all you ever need is the pattern stitch and an idea how to get from a bigger to a smaller measurement and vice versa. Provided you want/need shaped garments :-).

Using the method you described, how will you deal with the unraveling edges of your cut out piece? Most knitters have a very healthy respect for cutting into knit fabric (think Norwegian/Fair Isle sweaters), and the whole point of steeking is to prevent unraveling. Which requires certain types of yarn, and very smooth yarn (think cotton or silk) is unsuitable for steeking for most knitters. Your method would also create quite bulky seams, unless you use very fine needles and even finer yarn, in which case you don't really want to knit unnecessary stitches, because you'll be doing lots of them.
  • tailleuse likes this

#10 tailleuse

tailleuse

    Master

  • Senior Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,059 posts
  • Gender:Not Telling
  • Interests:Tailoring and couture.

Posted 26 November 2010 - 01:02 PM

Using the method you described, how will you deal with the unraveling edges of your cut out piece?.


ct3d,

Thanks a lot for the book recommendations. In regard to the question above I'd thought about stay-stitching the material after pinning the pattern but before cutting. I've never sewn knits before, so it was a stab in the dark.

Dignity. Always, dignity. (Singin' in the Rain)


#11 tailleuse

tailleuse

    Master

  • Senior Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,059 posts
  • Gender:Not Telling
  • Interests:Tailoring and couture.

Posted 26 November 2010 - 01:06 PM

My goal is to be able to make a nice shawl collar cardigan.


That's a basic, classic pattern that I'd like to learn to make.

The user name: I love the Italian language so this came to mind. My friends always listen to me go on about how beautiful it is, able to turn some silly names like Bartolomeu into Bartolomeo! It's the exact opposite when you go to France and find out your name Michael is Michele, or Guy sounding like "gui" from guillotine. Oh boy. I've been relieved of such butchery.


I love French, but Italian is gorgeous AND has a sense of humor that French lacks sometimes.

Dignity. Always, dignity. (Singin' in the Rain)


#12 Che Pasticcio

Che Pasticcio

    Apprentice

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 231 posts

Posted 26 November 2010 - 02:17 PM

Drop me a pm so I can see how it turns out!

#13 tailleuse

tailleuse

    Master

  • Senior Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,059 posts
  • Gender:Not Telling
  • Interests:Tailoring and couture.

Posted 27 November 2010 - 09:57 AM

Drop me a pm so I can see how it turns out!


I'd be happy to. It won't be any time soon. I bounce around a lot on projects. But I have subscribed to Tech Knitting and put the other book in my Amazon wish list.

Dignity. Always, dignity. (Singin' in the Rain)


#14 Lewis Davies

Lewis Davies

    Apprentice

  • Super Pro
  • PipPip
  • 302 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 19 January 2011 - 08:54 AM

Is There anymore on this I'm really interested in this
Contacts / information because this is an area of great interest to me

#15 WolfvsGoat

WolfvsGoat

    Umsie

  • Senior Apprentice
  • Pip
  • 11 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 29 April 2011 - 03:07 PM

Stoll offers "knit college" in NYC. It's pretty amazing and you get to use their resources.

Once you know the gauge of yarn you need you can buy it from a wholesaler like L.P. or Natural Fantasy. They sell yarn by the cone.
An extra long extra fine Merino wool is about 40 to 60 a kilo. The hand is amazing. For Cashmere you can pay up to 280.00 a kilo. The weak dollar doesn't help any.

#16 Nishijin

Nishijin

    Master

  • Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,704 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Paris, France.
  • Interests:Mainly tailoring it seems, but my friends know better...

Posted 17 February 2012 - 06:50 AM

I'd like to revive this thread.

About custome knits, I am working on this now. I found 3 ways to approach it :
- learn to hand knit. I did that. It takes a lot of time to learn, it takes a lot of time to knit, thread is expensive, there is no way to make a living out of it. Not if you want to make interesting designs. Some small companies work with "grandmothers" who home-knit for them. I have no idea how much they pay, not very much I'm afraid. You need a good pool of knitters to start a commercial operation, it's not possible alone.
Machine-knitting is slightly better, but slightly. I got a look at it, it is complex, I don't have time for this.

- use "knitted fabric". That's the way t-shirts are made. You buy rolls of knit, and cut it and sew it like fabric. Patternmaking is slightly different, stitches are different, but is is still similar enough to what we do to be learn quickly enough. That's good to make t-shirts, sweatshirts, polo shirts. Not pullovers or vest with complex and interesting designs. I think asking a patternmaker experienced in knits to offer a quick training would be a good idea. Takes money, but learning oneself is expensive too.

- work with a contractor who specialises in knits, willing to do one-offs. That's what I'm doing for pullovers. I am still at the very beginning of the project, but things look interesting. I am fortunate that we have a rich knit industry in France, and a lot of factories now are moving to make one-offs sold as "bespoke" (it is not, but it opens possibilities, while a few years ago they didn't want to do anything but RTW).
Knits are a real specialty, what the contractor provides is much more than just making the garments. My job is more as a designer, they are the people with the knowledge I need to tell me what is possible and how. Now I found them, I think it is foolish to want to work in knits without someone who has real, long experience in them. It is a whole new world for me, in which I am clueless except my knowledge about textile fibers (and even there, fibers used in knits are different than those used for fabric...).

I'll post information about this project when things are mature enough. Maybe some of you would be willing to work with small French "factories" (a dozen people) working for luxury brands, and I know they could use the business. But I have to work more on this, so I'll say more in a few months.




What I could use now is a source for polo "piqué" knit. I'd like to play with it myself, and a friend of mine is thinking about making bespoke polo shirts. I spent a lot of time looking for this, and found nothing but chinese wholesale suppliers on Alibaba. I'm sure something better can be found... Any idea someone ?
http://www.paulgrassart.com

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.
Mark Twain




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users