Pattern making is a world where you are always in a state of learning. That said, over the
last three years I was lucky enough to work with a pattern-making genius who taught me the
ropes. Under her guidance, I learned the basics, and over time, along with a lot of trial
and error, I learned some tricks along the way
Early on, I had the idea that we could construct three fits to work for the breadth of
male body types, but I needed to prove it. In order to sharpen my pattern making skills
and to get more data, I started making custom t-shirts for men. Over time, I developed an
understanding of the specific fit attributes, and corresponding pattern making techniques
that flattered them the most. With more custom work, we saw consistencies in certain body
types and were able to improve upon the original idea. After years of testing and
refining, our signature three fits have stolen the show.
I have worked with a number of different fabric mills in the Los Angeles area over the
years, played with tons of variations of fabrics, explored different fibers, blends, and
ultimately arrived my decision that 100% premium long staple cottons is how Proportion's
line should be anchored. We partnered with a premium mill in our backyard, and work
closely in the development and production of each of our fabrics.
Our lightweight cotton fabric in production.
Let's just start of with this part of the production process is all about removing shrink
& delivering consistency.
The industry typically has two ways they deal with shrink. First is piece dye-taking each
roll of fabric (typically anywhere between 50 - 100 yards of continuous fabric) through a
wash cycle. Second, is garment dye-estimating the amount the fabric is going to shrink in
the wash, adjusting each pattern by that amount, cutting and sewing the "blank" tshirts,
and then running them through the wash assuming they will shrink back to the desired size
If you want a cotton t-shirt that is accurately sized and doesn't shrink, neither work.
Piece dye doesn't actually shrink the fabric because the fabric remains under tension
during the process. Garment dye relies on an estimate of shrink over hundreds if not
thousands of yards of fabric, and relies on that estimate to be consistent with all the
moving variables of wash temperature, timing, dye formula, shrink from roll to roll, etc.
Enter Cotton Inc. - a non profit group aimed at innovation within the textile industry
focused on the use of cottons. They have done extensive testing on shrink in cotton fabric
and published a number of reports on it. Without boring with the technicals, they found
that taking fabric through a wash and dye process without tension allows for maximum
shrinkage because during the process tensionless fabric can assume its lowest energy
This is why we block dye. Once the fabric is made at our mill, we unroll, spread and cut
all the fabric into blocks. This reduces the amount of tension present in the fabric and
better allows the fabric to acheive maximum shrink during the wash and dye cycle. These
blocks are sent to our wash and dye house. Once dyed, washed, and shrunk, these blocks of
fabric are ready for Cut and Sew.
After block dye, because we have allowed the fabric to relax and shrink to its maximum
potential, and most of the time this is not the same length wise as width wise, the grain
line becomes skewed on the block of fabric. In order to properly cut our tshirts, every
pattern piece needs to be trued to the grainline. This requires extra care and attention
during the cutting process.
This is one of the many reasons why no one in the industry likes to block dye. It is more
time consuming, and requires more attention during the cutting process, even though it
delivers a better product.
Left and right: Cut bundles ready for sew.
Most sewing practice with knits calls for a 3/8" seam allowance where the sewer is
required to cut 1/8" off the pattern perfectly all the way through. In some cases 1/8" at
the sew line is half or even closer to the difference in an entire size.
We do things differently. We use 1/4" seam allowances and don't cut any additional fabric
during sewing-removing the room for error relying on each sewer to perfectly cut 1/8".
Additionally, we use the highest quality thread. We can't even buy commercial spools of
this stuff. It's very expensive, but is worth the added cost.
Our sewing machine line up.
Finishing, Quality Control and Packaging
One we have a finished good, it gets measured to ensure it measures exactly to the desired
specs. Once it passes quality control, we mark each product's bag with the information
along with who the shirt was made for.
Our packaging was made with environment in mind. We use rPET plastic, and recycled paper,
and added an extra lining of adhesive in our shipping bags so you can reuse it easily if
you need to return or exchange a tshirt.
Every shirt is inspected and measured before being packed and shipped to you.
The final touches. Adding product information to the polybag.