It's all local
First and most importantly:
Kathleen Berney clothes have been designed in Sydney and made in Sydney for over 25 years.
We have a range of basic styles that have evolved and developed over the years. And of course we always have new styles developing.
I often play around with different fabrics in my studio, cutting and piecing shapes together on the table.
I take photos of different arrangements, and often, of course, come back to the first idea after going through so many different variations.
I then pin or tape or stitch these together and do some sketches and write lots of notes and then we are ready for the next step.
Michelle, our wonderful patternmaker comes in to work and looks on the large cutting table and says “OK, tell me more. What are we doing? What fabrics? What block are we using?” And then we start working together on the new style.
I explain my ideas as I usually realise they are not as clear to someone else as they are to me!
After discussing the style in detail and Michelle taking more notes and measurements, we decide which block to use. Then she gets to work on our Style Cad patternmaking program and makes the initial pattern with the design lines for cutting the different fabrics.
The pattern is printed out and we are ready to cut the first sample.
When it is cut and laid out on the table I can see if we need any obvious design changes.
Then it is over to Linda, our machinist to have a look and discuss the make details.
She then makes up the first sample. It is now getting more exciting to see how the garment is looking.
I try it on and then Michelle tries it on and we all have a look at the design, the fit, the make details. Sometimes it is correct straight away, but usually we have to make another, and sometimes a third, to get it just right.
Perhaps a fabric stretches more than another and the pattern need altering.
And sometimes it just does not work! And I wonder to myself…what was I thinking?
How many should we cut? When should the style go online? So when does production have to commence? Has the fabric been delayed on a ship? So another style needs to be cut first, and on it goes. How much fabric do we need?
Sometimes fabric needs to be ordered as soon as I first see it and before the garment is even designed. I may see a fabric and have an idea and have to ‘punt’ on the fabric, as it may sell out.
Sometimes we sell out and to my frustration, and that of customers, the fabric is not available any more.
Sometimes I have ordered too much and to my frustration, we end up with left over.
Michelle makes the production marker and clips spec sheets onto the ‘make sample’ for our cutter and makers.
Every detail of the make process is on the spec sheet: thread colours, stitch size, elastic length, ironing temp and much more.
The accessories are organised: size and care labels, swing tickets, hangers etc etc etc.
Fabric has to get to the cutter. A lot of the offcuts come back here to be made into scarves by my son Julian. The maker makes one sample garment to be approved, before doing the bulk sewing.
SMALL PRODUCTION RUNS
We do quite a few small production runs here in the Kathleen Berney Studio. We also often cut and make reorders here.
We may have run out of one size in a particular basic style and are not ready to do a whole production run, so we cut and make a small number here.