Contractors for custom work range from one-person tailoring operations to large manufacturing companies.
Along with individual consumers, custom sewing provides specific products to several industries. Medical, military, automotive, hospitality, aviation, construction and transportation are just a few of the many industries that often contract for unique and specialized sewing. Costumes, protective covers, quilts, clothing and tarps are commonly customized products.
While customized sewing is responsible for the design and crafting of many original products, alteration services are also included in the custom category. Tailored design allows the consumer to have a much more hands on approach to their product than in commercial and industrial sewing as decisions are often made by them or with them rather than for them.
Because custom sewing must fit specific needs, contractors must be chosen carefully to agree with those needs. The volume and requirements of a particular design idea should first be considered when selecting sewing services as the capabilities of contractors can vary significantly. The production run should match the capabilities of a firm as run times will differ as well. Some suppliers are limited in terms of the type of fabric used, as their machines may not be able to handle heavy fabrics such as canvas and corduroy.
Custom sewing equipment varies depending on the contractor and the requirements of the order. Sewing machines can range from hand held to commercial grade and from manual to computer-programmable. Often if only a few of a given product are needed, hand cutting and patterning may be used, while larger orders may entail fabric cutting tables and pattern software. Unlike commercial and industrial sewing, the relationship between custom sewers and consumers is often very close as the manufacturer must meet specific needs of the individual.
To ensure that consumer needs will be met, custom sewing contractors often meet personally with clients to determine the specifics of design and production. While a meeting is not always necessary, potential clients should provide some design dimensions such as a sample, a photograph, a sketch or engineering drawings of the intended product.
Many companies also require quantity and yearly usage estimates to ensure the proper shape, size and materials are selected. Often a sample or prototype is provided before final production at little or no cost to the consumer.