In January, Rob and I (along with our special lady friends) checked out the ISS show in Long Beach. On our way to the show, we stopped off in downtown LA and paid a visit to two of our vendors: Groceries Apparel, a small start up apparel manufacturer, and American Apparel, the largest American mill. We have both worked in the apparel industry for a few years, but neither of us really knew what goes into making a t-shirt. It was really cool for us to see two different approaches to making garments. What was most interesting is that the process is somewhat the same, but different manufacturers have slightly different methods to their madness.
The super quick basics are that a pattern for a garment is created, fabric is laid out, and cut either by hand or by a machine. The garment is then tagged and sewn together. Then the collar and sleeves are sewn in. Finally the garments are counted, quality checked, packaged, and shipped. Some mills dye the fabric before construction, and some mills dye the fabric after the garment is sewn.
After a quick trip to the In and Out Burger….we started at Groceries Apparel-
Groceries is a small boutique style garment maker. Everything is done basically by hand. The garment workers transfer the fabric from large bolts onto huge tables.
After the the fabric is laid out a pattern is placed on the stack of fabric and cut by hand into individual pieces.
The individual pieces are then sewn together to make a t-shirt. From here, the shirts will head off to the dye house to be dyed. For smaller mills, such as Groceries, it makes sense to dye the product after construction.
The mill and showroom were once an engine shop for Howard Hughes. It is a really cool place to visit and with a phone call ahead they will be glad to give you a tour.
We are glad to be working with small American companies like Groceries. We like their clothing and we hope that they continue to grow. Thank you Oscar and Aaryn for showing us around!