Wednesday, September 10, 2008

On the subject of cutting......


I saw an interview with an executive of a well-respected suit manufacturer who proudly stated that all of their suits were cut by hand as this is more consistent than cutting by machine. I can't disagree more! Computer-aided design and cutting technology has made huge advances in the last ten years and pattern-making & cutting is now so much faster and more precise than ever. Ask any human to cut a perfectly straight line and you will be hard-pressed to find someone who really can; then try to find someone who can cut a tight curve like the one in the armhole with precision and if you find one, let me know- I have a job for him or her! When I started cutting patterns my boss would run his finger along the side of the hard paper and if he found even the slightest nick or bump, I had to redo the piece. It took me a very long time to be able to cut paper to his liking, so I know something about cutting things by hand; fortunately those days are long over. However, if I were to cut out a pattern today, and ask my assistant to do the same, and lay one over the other I can guarantee you will see a difference between the two; this is due only to the experience and skill of the people doing the cutting. So imagine having a cutting room full of cutters, all with different levels of skill and experience; how can one claim to have any consistency? And perhaps I have had too much coffee one morning, or too much scotch the night before- my cutting today will be worse than it was yesterday. Not very consistent. Properly calibrated, automatic cutting machines can cut as little as one garment and as many as several dozen at a time, and with a great degree of accuracy. They have long been used in the tailored clothing industry with great success, but until now they have only been used for cutting plain goods- stripes and checks were generally blocked and recut afterward; my friend at Coppley Apparel, which was the beta-testing site for one particular maker of cutting machine has confirmed to me that the latest software running their cutters allows them to cut fully matched checks! Many of the people responsible for patterns, grading and cutting wouldn't be able to switch on a computer, much less operate one, so their mistrust of these machines is understandable. But it is simply untenable that a person could grade or cut in a more consistent manner than the automatic cutting machines available today.

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1 comments:

J said...

I agree. I do wish that I could afford an automated CAM cutter because it would be nice to delegate the task while I was busy walking the floor or training operators.

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