Two sisters, two coasts, one blog


Close up of the ‘marker’: a sheet of paper that has all the pattern pieces laid out in the most efficient arrangement. I was proud that the waste from cutting the Spring styles filled just one medium garbage bag.


Since October I’ve been working on several wholesale orders for my Spring 2012 collection. This is the first production cycle that I’ve done since leaving modaspia in 2007, and it can be, well, a production.

Production requires attention to detail, excellent organizational skills and awesome time management. To wit, the simplest of my styles for spring has 5 pattern pieces and 3 trim elements, and is available in 3 different fabric options. Multiply that by 7 styles and you have the potential for countless sleepless nights.

But, as much as I dread it at times, it has made me a more tidy and organized person, and may even count as anti-Alzheimer’s exercise for my brain.

Today I thought I’d share some behind the scenes pics, and Oami’s Five Tips To Bring Order To Chaos Or At Least Not Lose Your Marbles.

1. Planning, planning, planning:

With the amount of work that needs to be accomplished in a very short period of time it can be tempting to jump right in. Don’t. The more time you spend thinking about and planning what needs to happen the better off you will be. Break the project down into individual tasks, make a list, and then sort by priority. When you start work each day, look at the list to set your intention for the day.

Left: Big box of tailors chalk on a ‘cut sheet’: a chart showing how many of each size in each color to cut. I make a separate sheet for each style. Right: Drawing out the marker. This is done by computer for larger production runs.

2. Write it down:

It may be crystal clear in your mind, but believe me, in a month when you’ve moved on to something else, it won’t be.

Left: Plackets for Inca dresses Right: Sugar Mountain dresses cut and separated by size into bundles, waiting to ship out to sewers.

Inca plackets, cut.

3. Slow down:

Rushing is not efficient. You are more likely to make a mistake, which will slow you down in the long run.

Completed garments back from the sewers. I love how they tie each style together in bundles with whatever fabric scraps they have laying around. The garments still need to be checked for faults, final trims added (buttons, hook & yes etc.), ironed and tagged.

4. Too much is better than too little:

This one did not come naturally to me, but now I send my sewers extra bias tape, labels, zippers etc. It saves money and the headache of ordering just a little bit more when a zipper breaks or a label falls somewhere inaccessible and the sewers are less cranky. Worse case scenario you have leftovers. (This shift in attitude, by the by, has also made me a better hostess).

5. Something will always go wrong: 

Despite all your best efforts, there will be something that you forget, or that goes awry. Try not to panic. Usually there is a solution, it’s your job to find it.

Left: Piles of garments waiting to be put in the dyebath Right: Piles of garments post dye bath, waiting to be ironed and have labels sewn in. Notice the two different shades of moss green? Something will always go wrong. Luckily I anticipated that the two batches of dresses would not match exactly, and they are going to different customers.

Overall it’s been a pretty smooth process, though maybe it’s just that I’m better at anticipating potential problems, or less thrown off than I used to be by the wrinkles. There’s a huge sense of satisfaction when all the hard work and late mights are done and you get to see a rack full of clothes, just waiting to be shipped out:


xo Oami

15 Responses to “Production”

  1. ruchapowers

    What fun to see it all in action…that’s a whole lotta LISTS girl! The line looks great. I love the print on the sugar mountain dress and overall your whole line is just so you…classic yet feminine with some special details. Woot woot!

    • oami powers

      I have ’em pinned on my wall, and every morning I get to cross something off, which is the best part. Glad you like the collection!

  2. Aunt Diana

    Now had I followed your hot tips all my life, I might have retained some marbles…
    …great ideas, fascinating process info and wonderful fabrics. Thanks Oami.

    • oami powers

      Ha! Yes, my husband is my role model in this, he is the ultimate planner, and almost always has all his marbles. 🙂

  3. skye austin

    wow! you are a machine! one that produces tons of beautiful garments!!!

  4. Alicia

    The photos are mesmerizing, Oami! I feel as if i am there with you. Here’s to spring and the untangling of things. I am inspired. Xo ac

  5. Jacquelyn Marie

    Such a learning experience for you! Special accolades to you and Kirk for being your helpful partner.

  6. ursula

    ha you did it! i knew you would. so many of your tips i do myself. important to sleep too huh? that’s the one that really bites the best laid plans in the ass sometimes..
    collection looks SO pretty btw. fun to see it all hanging up there together in multiples huh? congrats, you did great! xo

    • oami powers

      Oh yeah, that is a vital ingredient I forgot to mention. I can only go without for very short stretches. And thank you, for all your help & encouragement….glad you like the collection too 🙂

  7. Sandra

    You are awesome! I think my favorite is the Inca in indigo…

  8. betty

    so interesting to see how you get it all done oami. it’s such a pretty collection. the colors and patterns go together beautifully. congratulations!

  9. nerponline

    That was fun! And the five tips seem like rules to live by to me. ‘Keep your sissors sharp’ might be a corollary point in there somewhere (it’s crazy, but I definitely heard the crisp crunch, crunch of shears cutting fabric when I saw those cut out plackets).


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