February 17, 2020

Who manufactures a size 9 months for baby clothes?

Infant clothing on a clothesline

I have been intensely working on a project that requires me to study measurement charts and grading charts for children's clothing. It is not the most exciting thing to analyze, I must admit. There has been one size that has been the most difficult to understand and that is the size 9 months for babies.

Traditionally, there never was a size 9 months. The infant size range was arranged:

3M - 6M - 12M - 18M - 24M - 36M

Over time that arrangement dropped the 36M, making the 12M the middle size for sampling and grading. At some point a NB (newborn) and 9M was added. I have not found the reasoning for the additional sizes or exactly when they were added. At least with the NB, it makes some common sense as it is clothing for newly born children. Babies very quickly move through these early infant sizes, so many times the clothes are simple t-shirts and bodysuits. Size 9M, from a measurement standpoint, appears to be a half-size. Something between the 6M and 12M. You could say the 9M should fit a 9 month old baby and perhaps that is the intent.

The problem comes with how to incorporate the size 9M into a normal infant size range offering. It throws off the middle size 12M in sampling and grading. With the addition of the 9M, the 9M becomes the middle size.

NB - 3M - 6M - 9M - 12M - 18M - 24M

No one samples in a size 9M. No one. In fact, it would make grading difficult to do so - just look at the traditional grading charts by Jack Handford.

And that left me wondering. How many brands actually produce a size 9M? While my quick survey is not scientific, it revealed some interesting points.

Manufacturers of sleepwear, t-shirts, bodysuits, or lounge wear, tend to produce only certain sizes and they tend to arrange them:

0-3M, 3-6M, 6-9M

Of course there are variations. Manufacturers of special occasion dresses tend to produce only a few sizes too.

12M - 18M - 24M

There are variations there too. When I worked for a brand that produced christening apparel, we produced all the sizes from NB - 24M. Size 9M was not one of our top selling sizes.

BabyGap does not produce size 9M for any of their styles. They stick to the traditional size range:

3M - 6M - 12M - 18M - 24M

But they arrange their sizes so it looks like they have their bases covered.

Up to 7lb (NB),  0-3M, 3-6M, 6M-12M, 12M-18M, 18M-24M

So what is the point of all this? When you are developing your children's clothing line, you do not need to produce every size. There is a great temptation to offer every style in every size. The reality is that if the big brands aren't doing it, neither do you. A lot depends on the style and your customer. Who do you hang with? Who is your competition? What sizes do they produce? Once you know the answers to those questions, you can focus your efforts.

What about the size 9M? Unless your customer requires that size, it is probably best to skip it or at least make it appear that it is included within a size label like 6M-12M. Some private label programs may require a size 9M. If that is the case, it is a simple matter to split the grade rule between a 6M and a 12M to add the size.

January 22, 2020

Do professional Fashion Designers use Adobe Illustrator?

Drawing tablet for graphic design

In order to be considered a professional in some occupations, you must demonstrate mastery of certain tools. A good example would be a doctor's stethoscope which demonstrates experience and knowledge in their profession. In the fashion business you will see many job postings requiring experience with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop among other requirements. Does knowing these two software programs really demonstrate the knowledge and experience of a fashion designer (or any type of designer really), and thus their professionalism?

Design School

Design school usually includes training for Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. This is because many designers of all types use these two software programs. It is expected that a fashion designer will need to know how to use graphic design tools in our current tech savvy world. Designing is a visual medium and being able to communicate through media is an important skill. This is especially true when working with overseas factories. Being able to demonstrate an idea with a drawing or photograph is sometimes the best and only way to communicate. A design student should definitely take advantage of this training. Designers who did not go to design school can find opportunities for learning from several platforms including Skillshare or Udemy.

Software Cost

Not long ago Adobe switched from outright license purchase to a subscription based model. There are different price tiers depending on which software and features needed. The monthly subscription fees are not entirely unreasonable, but it creates an ongoing financial commitment to using the software. This can present a financial barrier to a needed tool for some. There are advantages and disadvantages to this system, but keep in mind there are options out there. Illustrator and Photoshop also need computers with a certain level of memory and processing power to work well. That may be an additional cost.

Is it necessary?

Yes and no. Your job and responsibilities may not actually require use of Illustrator or Photoshop. Fashion designers are idea creators and often entrepreneurs. They may have some experience in a lot of areas but at the end of the day, some tasks are assigned to employees or outsourced to people with more focused skills. I have worked with a variety of designers over the years. You may be surprised to know that few fashion designers can draw or use Illustrator and Photoshop. I have seen some pretty poorly drawn ideas that later were translated into some very nice final products. Technical designers, artists, graphic designers or illustrators can create any artwork that might be needed. So while it may be nice to have access to Illustrator and Photoshop, it isn't absolutely necessary for fashion designers who are starting their own lines.


While Illustrator and Photoshop are the two software applications mentioned most often, there are other options. The truth is there are other drawing and photo editing applications that can accomplish the same task at varying costs. The tool that you need is the tool that will do the job.

Procreate - an Adobe drawing program available for tablets

Among so many others.

Inkscape and Gimp

I have been in the fashion industry for a long time now and I only used Illustrator for a short time. I didn't like it at the time because the software was bloated with a lot of features I never used. It took a long time for the software to load and the extra tools and palettes got in the way. The current versions are much more streamlined and efficient. I also used CorelDraw, which worked well enough. In any event, as soon as I found Inkscape, I switched and haven't looked back. The same with Gimp over Photoshop. I have used Inkscape as a professional designer for at least 10 years and no one has been the wiser.

Illustrator will open and use Inkscape file formats (SVG) and vice versa for Illustrator (AI) files. Photoshop will open common image file formats like PNG and JPG. Gimp will open PSD files. Compatibility between different programs is so much better than it used to be. There are ways to provide Illustrator or Photoshop file formats if using Inkscape or Gimp. There are some workarounds including online file conversion sites that do a pretty good job.


At the end of the day you can choose your tool of choice. If you prefer Illustrator, then that is your choice. Definitely take advantage of any training you can and test out all the different options. If your goal is to be an employee, then training on Illustrator and Photoshop may advantageous. If you are a freelancer or starting your own business, you can choose what works for you.

Professionalism is another matter. In my mind knowing specific software packages shows experience or knowledge, but it doesn't imply professionalism. Professionalism is to complete a task well, on time, and on budget. It includes good communication. The tool of choice is less relevant. What do you think? Please leave comments below.

January 06, 2020

Bullet Journaling in the New Year for Fashion Designers

Journal or planner

Like many, I have had my ups and downs with keeping a journal or planner. The New Year starts off with a lot of motivation which runs out in a few months. I have purchased or been given planners with pretty pre-printed calendars and spreads and I have gone months without using it. Sometimes those journals are hard to use because the pre-printed spreads do not fit my productivity style or they are to rigid in their approach. Other times the planners are too big and bulky to carry with me despite how beautiful they are designed. The Bullet Journal has been the method or style I have stuck with the longest. I have been bullet journaling for four years, which is a record. There are several things I like about this method.


You can do whatever you want with your bullet journal. If you browse Youtube, there are a lot of artists and people in the planner community who like to make pretty planners. They spend a lot of time illustrating and drawing out their planners. They love certain pens, pens with special ink and, of course, stickers. You can do this if you want but it does take a lot of time.

I am a bullet journal purist. I create lists and check things off. There is absolutely no need to decorate or illustrate your pages unless you want to do it. You can use any type of journal -- lined, dot, or grid. Discount stores, including Walmart, carry these types of journals and you can get started at a very low cost.

A catch-all place

I really like the idea of my bullet journal being a catch-all. I really dislike posting sticky notes on my desk and around my computer monitor. It's messy and cluttered. I also get sticky note blindness. I just don't see them because I focus on the task that is top of mind. So notes, reminders, phone numbers to add to my contacts list, all get added to the journal to deal with later.

I use my bullet journal for project planning. I create an outline of the idea with individual tasks for each step. As a task is completed, I flip back to the project page and check off each task. Sometimes the project idea tasks migrate across my daily to-do's, but I always have that original reference. This type of project planning is perfect for designers as they start a new season.

I use my bullet journal for note taking during meetings and conferences. No need to bring a separate notebook, it all goes in one place. Later, as I review my notes I can create new tasks based on areas of inspiration or goal setting. I attended a conference back in October and several work-related tasks evolved from my notes. It also helped reinforce ideas that I thought were important.

Bullet journaling as a Fashion Designer

You can use one bullet journal for both personal and work related tasks. It is easier to keep track of one journal versus two, but it would be easy to overwhelm your personal tasks with design work tasks. Designing a collection comes with making hundreds of decisions with dozens of things to keep track of at the same time.

If you are a freelancer or employee, I do recommend keeping a work journal. It's important to keep track of client work and what is accomplished so you can determine your billable hours. It also adds a layer of protection so you can prove what you did. You can keep this journal in the style of a bullet journal or however you choose.

If you own a fashion business, a bullet journal can absolutely help keep you on track to meet deadlines. A work journal that is separate from a personal journal will help keep the two things separate so that neither space is overwhelmed. I keep my work journal at work so I am unable to look at it home. This sets a healthy boundary so that I truly get a break. I do carry my personal bullet journal with me most places so that anything truly important can be recorded. For truly in the middle of the night work or design ideas, I send a simple email to myself that I will read in the morning.

Either way, you can figure out a method that works best for you. One or two journals, personal and/or work related. The system is flexible enough to experiment until you find the method that is the most useful.

Productivity hacks

A bullet journal is definitely an analog approach to planning and organizing. This method helps me to mentally retain my tasks and ideas for far longer by physically writing them down. It gives me mental space and breathing room by brain dumping tasks and ideas onto paper so that the stress of having to remember it is removed

A bullet journal can be combined with digital calendaring, reminders, and contact lists. The method is flexible enough that you do not have to feel like you are doing double work. If you like to setup a calendar with reminders, then you can certainly do it. Planning out on paper first can help with laying things out digitally. You can use productivity tools like Asana or Monday.com and still use a bullet journal. As project tasks were assigned to me in Asana, they were transferred to my bullet journal. A journal seemed easier to refer back to whereas the digital tools were helpful for future reminders. Either way, you can incorporate both ideas or methods.

The productivity hack that I have recently implemented is to create your to-do lists at the end of the day in preparation for the next day. I always had this vision that I would wake up early and have time to myself to plan my day and do a bit of reading. With my chronic fatigue and busy days, it never happened. I could never remember from one day to the next what tasks needed to be done. So now I spend maybe 15 minutes in the evening reviewing my tasks and creating tomorrow's to-do list. The next morning a simple review of my to-do list gets me started in the right direction.

If you are interested in learning more about bullet journaling, you can read about the Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll. There are also lots of journals available on Amazon including fineliner pens.