Friday, October 30, 2009

Fibers - Love water or not

Plants, vegetables, animal, and proteins are hydrophilic and LOVE WATER

1. Cotton, Wool, and Silk being the most common types –

2. Rayon or Modal (wood pulp), bamboo, corn, soy, flax, sea weed, and others are less common types of fibers but still hydrophilic.

3. Usually the regenerated cellulose fibers like Modal and Bamboo "claim" to have the best absorption.

Man Made Polymers are hydrophobic and DO NOT LIKE WATER

  1. Polyester, Nylon, Acrylic, Kevler, spandex, etc.
  2. It’s common for nylons and polyester fibers to be extruded with various cross sections – one being wicking. The fiber is still hydrophobic and doesn’t absorb liquid but it will move the moisture from one side to the other.
  3. Polymers are produced in filament form and can be knit or woven with the filament yarns. Or, the filament can be chopped up into stable fiber so it looks like cotton. Then it is spun into yarn using the same spinning process that cotton uses – so it’s not the slick hand, it’s more like cotton. Here’s a good link
Again, This is correct but I'm sure there are exceptions.

The Underwear Maven

Tuesday, September 29, 2009



Let’s add some color to our undies!

Here’s are some options.

1. Dope Dying- This is for synthetics and is added to the melted polymer. Think of a clear syrup like Karo brand syrup and adding food drops to give it a color.
2. Fiber Dyeing- This is dyeing the loose fiber stock. Used to dye cotton for the color flecks in 100% cotton heather or mélange yarns.
3. Yarn Dyeing: This can be in the form of Hank Dyeing, Package Dyeing or Warp Dyeing.
a. Package Dyeing is the most common for underwear fabrics. The Yarn is wound on special spools with perforations that allows the dye liquor to go through the cones. Popular with cotton and synthetic yarns.
4. Fabric or Piece Dyeing: This can be Jig Dyeing, Winch Dyeing, Jet Dyeing or Pad Dyeing. Jet Dyeing is the most popular for our knit fabrics and Pad Dyeing is the most popular for our woven underwear fabrics.
a. Jet dyeing- Fabric is dyed in rope form and carried through a narrow throat nozzle by a dye bath that circulates at a high rate. The vessel can go under pressure and reach the higher temperatures required to dye polyester
b. Pad dyeing- Fabric is in open width form and passed through a dye solution and then squeezed by rollers to push the dye through it. It’s usually performed on a “continuous range” with a series of pad and extractions followed by drying, rinsing and drying again.
5. Garment Dyeing – Sort of like a big washing machine. Can get tricky for complicated apparel with seams but it can also be a fashion trend. Pantyhose, gloves, sweaters are loosely placed into a net type of bag and tossed in the machine with the dye liquor.

Knit underwear is usually dyed on a Jet and solid woven fabric is pad dyed. Stripes or plaids use dyed yarns that are normally dyed in the package form.

The Pocket Textile Expert is a great resource that I used it as a resource for several of my blogs. Even though my degree is in Textile Chemistry, I need refreshers and updated info and Irfan Ahmed Shaikh’s a great resource! Check out his books at

All for now
The Underwear Maven

Friday, August 21, 2009

Elastic Part 2 - Specification

Elastic part 2 Specification part 1
Let’s look at a specification for Men’s Woven Jacquard elastic used in a high end specialty brand.

1. Description: 1 ¼ Famous Designer Brand Name
2. Color: White Elastic with Purple letters & line
3. Width: 1/1/4” +/- 1/16”
4. Warp Ends: 300 Denier White Polyester 2/70 Denier Purple Nylon
5. Filling Ends: 300 denier polyester
6. Elastomeric Ends: 1120 Denier Spandex covered polyester
7. Picks per Inch: 84 +/-10%
8. Yield in yds/lb: 25 +/-10%
9. Elongation @ 10 lbs: 130% +/- 15%
10. Modulus (10 lbs & 50% elongation) 2.65 lbs +/_ 15%
11. After Wash Shrinkage: -4.00% +/- 8% max
12: Colorfastness: 4
13: Fiber Content: polyester- 77%, nylon -10%, spandex 13%

Please go to earlier posts if you need a refresher for
14. Weaving: go to May 24th posting
15. Cotton Count Nomenclature: May 12th posting
16. QC Testing: March 4th posting

I’ll cover some of the specific testing for Stretch and Recovery in the next posting.

All for now,
The Underwear Maven

Monday, August 17, 2009

Elastic Part 1

Elastic Part 1

Elastic can be a big part of the cost for underwear bottoms. Here are some options to consider:

ITEMS 1-7 first option ususally lower cost
1. Knit OR Woven
2. Printed logo/ design OR Jaquard Logo or design
3. Rubber OR Spandex
4. Exposed rubber or spandex OR Covered Rubber or Spandex
5. Plush Back OR Regular Back
6. Seamed to close diameter OR Seamless
7. Narrow Width OR Wider Width

8. Cotton or Synthetic is a toss up for lower/higher cost
9. Thick or Thin is also a toss up for lower/higher cost

10. And the fibers or yarns can have properties like Wicking, Antimicrobial, etc. which will drive up the cost.

So for most Mass and department store brands, Men’s elastic will cost more than Women’s because Men’s tends to be Wider, Woven Jaguard Logo elastic while women’s is thin knit printed elastic.

All for today,

The Underwear Maven

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Afghanistan and Pakistan Reconstruction Opportunity Zones Act of 2009

Afghanistan and Pakistan Reconstruction Opportunity Zones Act of 2009

I’m sorry to write that the US is on course to do it again and this time to Pakistan and Afghanistan with the Afghanistan and Pakistan Reconstruction Opportunity Zones Act of 2009 .
1. The US can truly influence and change the lives and conditions of the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan by simply removing all the restrictive and impossible barriers in the Afghanistan and Pakistan Reconstruction Opportunity Zones Act of 2009.
2. Most of the cotton apparel products that Pakistan can produce have been ELIMINATED from the bill and ONLY War Zone Areas qualify and on and on. Impossible controls and conditions.
3. Providing Pakistan similar terms to the ones given to Israel or even “Jordan and the QIZ” would make a dramatic positive difference. “Big Box” stores would move significant volume and hire or train professional in country managers and the cycle of employment and prosperity for the people would build and grow.
4. I don’t understand the reason for removing most cotton apparel.
a. It’s not US jobs because these have already gone. You don't have to believe me just read what's published by the Office of Textiles and Apparel . Cotton Knit Tees and Polos categories 338-339 only 3.8% of the market is MADE IN USA, Cotton Underwear category 352 only 1.5% of the market is MADE IN USA, and on and on.
b. It’s not US Customs duties because many of the US Jobs that are now gone went to countries that have Duty Free Programs with NONE of the cotton apparel RESTRAINTS laid down for Pakistan and Afghanistan.
5. I propose to get the US-Israel Free Trade Agreement and substitute Pakistan and Afghanistan for Israel. (I think Word software makes this an easy task.) And the Circle of Life will continue.
6. Even the AAFA and other retailers have written the Senate to ask for change

7. It reads like Cotton Sheets and Towels did make the duty free cut. I wonder why? I don't have the time to dig in and research if it's true.

The Underwear Maven

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

By Request, Direct to US consumer Guerrilla Marketing

The Underwear Maven is expanding scope. I’ve had one US email and several email inquiries from international patrons interested in various marketing costs and approaches to the US market. While I’m not the expert, I have both "played and paid" for various marketing services for Direct To Consumer so I’m going to do a short series on my Blog.

My first expanded blog will be on “ How to get professional photos of my product on professional models and how much will it cost.” Check it out later this week!


The Underwear Maven

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Virtual Plant Tours

Low Budget Virtual Plant Tours save on Google’s Picassa Server

Consider a virtual tour of your manufacturing partner’s factory. Not the slick stock photos used in advertising material but a snap shot collection to capture the moment and the expressions of the workers. This link goes to promotional virtual tours but some of the examples might spark an interest for you.

1. You’ll need a digital camera but it doesn’t need massive pixel capability. But probably better than the typical cell phone camera.
2. Ask for around 50 or more showing equipment being used, lab, people, walls, and maybe even the inside of the “first aid kit”.
3. Now for the fun part, have the “camera dude” prepare a Google Picassa slide show with text narrative.
4. Then have the Slide Show uploaded to Picassa’s Server (FREE) and send you the link.
5. Something similar could be created for YouTube but I haven’t researched it.
6. I stumbled on this when I tried to find a way to share my parents wedding slides. The digital photos were huge and I didn’t want to bother with reducing each one. Enter the Free Server option.

All for now, Sincerely, Lea

PS. While that we're on new and free digital technology, did you read Thomas Friedman’s recent editorial on the Virtual Mosque? It’s an interesting perspective that I hadn’t considered. He contends that Social networks like FaceBook, Flickr, Twitter, blogging and text-messaging have given Moderates a place and way to come together. Here’s the article. It’s driven primarily by the recent elections in Iran. I hope no one reading my blog will be offended. If so, I apologize.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Color Standard Options: Pantone and Scotdic

Color Standard Options: Pantone and Scotdic

Preface: If you’re a small company and sticking with basic colors just ask your manufacturer to show you several samples of the color you need and then just pick one. Ask for a yard and convert this to your color standard.

Here’s how it usually happens. The bright creative right brained designer discovers that one of the shiny pennies in his pocket makes the PERFECT color for his latest design. Mind you, not just any penny and certainly not a new penny but only this particular one. Since you can’t divide the penny and send it to your factory, QC department, Merchandiser, etc you need an alternative.

1. Pantone and
2. Scotdic These are two color systems that sell chips or swatches of color standards.
3. If you clicked on the links for Pantone and Scotdic you should have picked up that these color systems can be overwhelming.
4. I found Pantone more widely available and used internationally
5. Personally, I preferred Scotdic for fabric color standards. Wal-Mart used to specify Scotdic standards but I don’t know if they still do.

6. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE Send a physical color chip or item (the actual penny sample is OK) to your factory. Never rely on Pantone numbers alone. It’s too confusing. Paper folks use one series of Pantone numbers, plastic folks use another series and cotton fabric folks use yet another one and on and on.

It’s been my experience that only lazy and weak managers refuse to provide physical standards because this gives them an out if they don’t like the color dips the factory sends them.

All for now and please let me know if you have any specific requests.

The Underwear Maven

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Color Science

Color defined by CIE

The International Commission on Illumination or (CIE) uses numeric values to define a color. I wasn’t crazy about the CIE web site and instead suggest good old Wikipedia for a more in depth education.

a. Lightness (L*) A value for how light or dark the color. Lower values indicate darker color and white has a Lightness of 100.
b. Chroma (C*) A value for brightness or saturation. Low Chroma values would be white, gray or black shades.
c. Hue (H*) A value for the Shade or Cast of the color. Cast of a color like red, green, blue, yellow, violet, etc

1. A Spectrophotometer is the equipment that will “read” a color and provide the numeric values for Lightness, Chroma and Hue.
2. Establish the numeric values for your color standard.
3. Now, Read the values for the lastest sample and compare it to the values for the standard.
4. The submit is accepted or rejected based on the variance allowed from your customer. In 2005, the Walmart tolerance was less that DE 1.1 (CMC 2:1).

There’s much more information about color. Actually you can get a 4 year degree in Color Science and probably a Masters and Doctorate.

All for now,

The Underwear Maven

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Weaving Loom

Weaving Loom

Come into the loud weaving room. Sorry about the cotton fly and no you can’t use the pressured air to “blow” the fiber off your clothes.

1. Here’s our large creel of yarn.
2. Picture a hair comb and this will be the “Reed”and the individual teeth on the comb will be the looms “heddles”.
3. Each “Heddle” has an opening or eye and each thread of yarn on the warp creel will be threaded into a “Heedle”.
4. Now, assign each thread as an even or odd number.
5. Even yarns move forward and odd yarns move back called “Shedding”.
6. A separate yarn is shot through the opening made by the movement of the even and odd warp threads which is called “Picking”.
7. Next, the odd yarns will move forward and the even yarns will move back called “Beating Up”.
8. And on and on and this is weaving.

The method used to send the filling yarn across is how Looms are usually classified. One of the oldest way is with a “Shuttle” and there are still a lot of these in use today. However, most factories use Air or Water as the means for “Weft Insertion.”

That’s all for the basics of weaving which will reference again during our Elastic manufacturing process.


The Underwear Maven

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Warp Beams and Slashing

Warp Beams and Slashing

Now, I think it’s time to dive into woven manufacturing. I’m going to stay with boxer type fabrics made with cotton or cotton polyester blends.

If you’ve made those pot holders with the loops of scrap fabric placed on a red frame, you’ve got weaving 101 down.

1. We’ve got to get those warp yarns organized and this is done by creeling them.
2. Let’s do a little math. Let’s weave a = 133x72 / 40x40 - 57" - there are
133 warp yarns in one inch and the total fabric width is 59 inches so we’ll need 3481 strands of 40/1’s cotton for the width of our fabric.
3. 3481 individual cones of yarn are released and rolled onto one huge spool called a Creel.
4. A wet starchy size (think potato like the kind used to make Krispy Kreme donuts - it's true and I live in Winston Salem NC - home of Krispy Kreme) is applied to the yarn as it unrolls and passes through the bath. This is called Slashing and it makes the yarn stronger so it won’t break when the filling yarn is passed between threads.

5. A little note: ask the person giving you the tour of the yarn spinning factory if the yarn is for knits or wovens and then ask to see where the wax would be applied. If yarn is made for knitting, a wax is normally applied and you can see the Wax “candle” as the yarn glides over it. If the yarn is destined for wovens, no wax is applied since the starchy size needed to make the yarn super strong.

6. We’ve got our Warp Beam so Let’s move on to the Weaving room. Put your ear plugs in cause it is LOUD in here.

The Underwear Maven

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Woven Boxer Consumption leading up to Cost Calculator

Woven Boxer Consumption leading up to Cost Calculator

The Underwear Maven’s earlier post on Jan. 15 2009 with a link to a spread sheet called Knit Tee Shirt Cost Calculator ( ) is not great for woven boxers. Knit fabric consumption is based on Weight called Block Weight and the cost for Wovens is based on yards.

So let’s try these rules for mens Woven Boxers:
1. Assume a size assortment of 1221 which means 1 size small, 2 size medium, 2 size large and 1 size XL.
2. Woven fabric Width of 57 inches cuttable
3. Will consume on average .70-.75 yards of fabric for each boxer.
4. Will consume on average 1 yard of elastic for each boxer.
5. Will take 3 minutes to sew one boxer.

Yes, this is a very broad stroke but you got to start somewhere. I know fabric consumption will change based on waist band treatment like exposed waistband, covered waistband, inside exposed waistband, or matching prints based on repeats, or 4 panel pattern verses 5 panel "bubble back" pattern and on and on. It’s a start!

Sincerely, The Underwear Maven

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Wovens and prices for Boxer Fabrics

Wovens and prices for Boxer Fabrics

Let’s jump into the world of wovens. Most of my experience is with knits but woven boxers play a big portion of the underwear line for both men and women. Yes, the thong wearing woman that’s in the know would never sleep in a thong so she wears her partners woven boxers or ladies boy shorts.

I thought about how to introduce this topic and I think walking through fabric prices is as good as any. Here’s some fabric prices from my 2005 days. I haven’t checked recently but volume is king when it comes to wovens and China’s the place to be if the Chinese want to participate.

1. 100% cotton Poplin- solid and print 133x72/ 40x40 (56-57")
China $1.05-1.15/yd India $1.18-1.23/yd
2. 100% cotton poplin- solid and print 144x80/50x50 (56-57")
China $1.28-1.40/yd India $1.23-1.28/yd
3. 100% cotton poplin- solid and print 92-78/ 40x40 (56-57")
China $1.06-1.13/yd India $.96-1.01/yd
4. 100% cotton poplin- yarn dye 144x80/50x50 (56-57")
China $1.43/yd India $1.46/yd
5. 100% cotton poplin- yarn dye suggest 110x70/40x40 (56-57")
China $1.03/yd India $1.34/yd

Wovens are referenced by Thread Count and Yarn Count and normally not fabric weight. Take the first fabric listed, it’s a 133x72 / 40x40 (56-57”) This means that in one inch of fabric there are 133 strings of yarn in the vertical direction or Warp and 72 strands of yarn in the horizontal direction or the Fill. The thickness of the yarn in the Warp is 40/1’s and the thickness or count of the cotton yarn in the Fill is also 40/1’s. The fabric width is 56-57 inches and this is considered the “cutable” width so the actual fabric will be a little wider.

OK, we’re ready to roll on!

The Underwear Maven

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Global Trends from Textiles Intelligence

Global Trends from Textiles Intelligence

Textiles Intelligence is a great resource for global trends and education on textiles and apparel. The printed paper copy of Textiles Outlook International was my “bible” during my days as Global Sourcing Services Director in the early and mid nineties. I talked to the editor, Robin Anson, a couple of times and he was wealth of knowledge and wisdom. I noticed they’ve gone digital. There’s some good free information on the site but the subscription is still high for my business. But check it out!


The Underwear Maven

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cotton Count Nomenclature

Cotton Count Nomenclature

1. Spun yarns or Stable yarns are normally referenced using the Cotton Count System. This is an indirect system so the lower the number, the fatter the yarn.
2. It’s assumed that the yarn is just one thread unless there’s a / followed by another number like 2. So, 30’s yarn or 30/1’s would both note one strand of yarn that has a cotton count of 30. 30/2’s would note 2 strands of 30/1’s are twisted together.
3. And then there are combed or carded yarns. These are processed in the spinning production. All stable yarns go through the carding process but not all go through the combing process. The combing process is like taking a comb through the yarn “sliver” and removing the short fibers.
4. It used to be assumed that rotor yarns or Open End spun yarns would not use combed cotton because you would not gain any of the long fiber benefits because the OE process does away with them. Combed Open End Yarns would be an Oxymoron. Don’t know if that changed but I do recall some marketers sending a portion of the yarn through the combing process so they could make this claim. At that time, the consumer was smart enough to feel the fabric and note no benefit so it did not stay around very long.
5. Yarn is sold by the kilo but both produced and consumed by the meter. So finer yarn counts cost more which is a problem for my “toss the garment on the scale” cost calculator. Over time, you figure out how to adjust for this.

6. The “Mother” of the best cotton compiled information is Cotton OutLook. But it’s too expensive for my business so I hunt around on line for free stuff. But, if you need the data for everything cotton in the world, here’s the link.

I'm wide open to special requests for topics. Just let me know!

The Underwear Maven

Friday, May 8, 2009

Corporate Tax Programs or Games

Corporate Tax Programs or Games

With Obama’s recent announcement to stop tax breaks for companies that move their production and services off shore, I thought it would be appropriate to mention a few of the programs he may be referring to.

In my corporate days, we went through many different tax programs or games. It was accepted and considered “not smart” to ignore them. The mantra that started the annual tax meetings was “A dollar is a dollar is a dollar”.
1. PR Tax Add back: This was the best one because you get to keep the low/no taxed profit in the USA as long as you met the rules for production in Puerto Rico.
2. FSI. Foreign Source Income: With this little beauty, you “sell” your cut parts or components at a marked up profit to your sewing contractor or yourself under another legal entity. You get credit for exporting and selling USA products.
3. And then there were CFC’s or Controlled Foreign Corporation. Basically you aren’t required to pay tax on some of the profit if you leave it outside of the US. On the surface that seems to be a reasonable and straight forward procedure. In reality, it can be anything but simple. You weave a web of foreign corporations and profit splits and Comparable Uncontrolled Prices or CUP to figure out how to make that portion of the untaxed profits grand and move it around in your other countries.
4. And you can work a lot of these programs at the same time with the same physical goods and services.

5. And most of the time, the title or ownership of the physical product would transfer to the mother US Corporation at the continental shelf. I always liked that because it seemed so creative.

all for now!


The Underwear Maven

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Product Liability Insurance

Product Liability Insurance

Even Cotton underwear needs product liability insurance. Most of the big guys require this before placing a PO. I ended up getting mine from Scottsdale Insurance Company through my Nationwide agent.


2. The cost is based upon estimated volume.
3. At the end of the year, they did request and require that I send all sales information
4. In my corporate days, there were some complaints and maybe suits against the product. Most was from elastic rubber irritation that was coded “Itch, Rash and Burn” complaints.

All for today,
The Underwear Maven

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Development Responsibility Matrix


This post makes me chuckle and think back to my corporate days. There were so many departments and everyone wanted to be in charge but no one wanted to do the work. So, we hashed out and assigned names to the person “Responsible” or the doer and the person "Accountable" or the doer's boss and probably the decision maker, the person "Consulted" would be the department head of the Doer and Accountable folks and the person "Informed" would be other departments that need to know but won't have a say in the Go/No Go decision.

Development Responsibility Matrix

1. Receive concept ideas from front-end
2. Research Concepts and send info back to front end
3. Receive product information on (Request for Product) RFP and samples (if available) and send to Suppliers with out target costs
4. Samples and RFP received by Suppliers
5. Quotes and prototypes received from suppliers- negotiate w/targets
6. Preliminary costing calculated and distributed
7. Production and shipping lead times confirmed
8. Supplier selected (back up suppliers if new) see Supplier Selection
9. Color targets sent to suppliers
10. Lab-dips from suppliers approved
11. Attend line close
12. Fabric elastic and labels (physical) approved
13. Garment patterns developed w/supplier and/or sent to supplier
14. Fit approval
15. Fabric submitted to CTL or other customer as appropriate
16. Pre-production samples approved (optional)
17. Top of production sent to Quality
18. Packaging information and artwork given to supplier
19. Packaging approved for production
20. Casing and shipping requirements sent to supplier
21. Adoption notice started/amended/finalized
22. Complete product specification prepared and filed
23. Patterns received and filed from supplier
24. Final Prices confirmed
25. Any Routing or Authorization to cut PO
26. Cut PO- Production begins
27. Production tracking (knit, dye/print, cut, sew, ship)
28. QC compliance (exception) inform program
29. Schedule adherence



Sourcing Department Head

Sourcing Director or Manager

Technical Support

Program Manager

Quality Manager

Administrator or Data Steward

Merchandising-Marketing Manager

The Underwear Maven



It’s actually easy to get UPCs and the software they send you is also easy to use.
1. Here’s the link for the official site.
2. Europe uses EAN and it’s the same link as above.
3. You pay every year based on your sales volume
4. Got to love Wikipedia here’s the UPC scoop
5. Wikipedia EAN facts
6. Some retailers require that you have a UPC.
7. Amazon “likes” for apparel to have UPC but they have work arounds too.

The Underwear Maven

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Sourcing Time Lines

Sourcing Time Lines

1. How long will it take for the factory to make your order? The standard answer is “Exit factory 90 days after issue PO and All Approved.”
2. Here’s the real deal. You almost never can wait until everything is approved before you cut the PO. Yes, I lived with “line freeze” and all the other “death if you change something” commands but if the customer changes their mind, you jump through hoops to deliver or go home defeated.
3. The time line is determined based on what supplies are standard and available and the Quantity of garments needed in the PO.
4. What the factories REALLY LOVE is to base load a sewing line. For example have a team of 9 sewing operators sewing the same style 24/7 for years. It’s possible with larger volume brands but for most of us, we’re in the “spot” order business.
5. With Base Loaded volumes, every week you would order and the supplier would ship the same volume of a given style. Think of a line graph and the base load is a straight line of safe volume below the actual volatile retail sales orders line.
6. You can cut your “Make to Order” cycle time by committing to a safety stock of supplies like Yarn, Greige Fabric, and Dyed Fabric.
7. For example, always keep x pounds of panty fabric in White, Nude, Black and Pink. In week One, PO is placed to cut 2,000 pounds of White fabric and to Sew and Inspect it in Week Two and Ship in Week Three. Now instead of 90 days, it’s only 3 weeks but you’re committed to the fabric and other supplies like packaging.

All for now!
The Underwear Maven

Friday, April 3, 2009

Trailer/Container Basics

Trailer - Container Basics

1. Trailers will leak. On a sunny day grab a flash light and go inside a trailer or container. Turn on the flash light and shut the door. Turn off the light and see if there’s any light coming in from outside. Be safe when you do this and don’t get locked in.

2. Check to see that blocks are used to brace the wheels of the trailers when it’s at the dock door and being loaded or unloaded. It’s a simple thing to do and adds a safety feature. Plus it gives you another thing to look for when you’re taking your tour through the facility.

3. Be smart when loading the trailer. Fill the front section closest to the driver stacked as high as possible. Then tier the rest. You can experiment with nets.

4. The distribution warehouse is going to insist on having the cases stacked on pallets. I’ve never seen this work out economically for long ocean hauls. You can make cubes with a bottom of cardboard and stretch wrap around the cases. Use a squeeze attachment on the fork lift.

5. If your moving full containers, have a seal procedure in place and ask to look at the books that note the container number, seal number, date, vessel and voyage when you visit. This way you will know if anyone has opened your container. Customs knows about this process and will alert you if they open and change a seal. It’s best to have the heavy duty seals that must be opened with cutters.

6. In my experience with factories in Jamaica and Colombia (and that’s Colombia with and O and not Columbia as in South Carolina), drug dogs were brought in to inspect every out going shipment. The trailer would be loaded, locked and seal applied. It sounds like a hassle but they had it down to a fast science and filmed every action.

7. And if you’re driving on the road and are around a lot of trucks and trailers, give them a lot of room. If it’s a heavy load and their gaining speed, it’s hard for them to stop. But you’ll be the one most likely hurt if you attempt road rage games. It’s the law of the biggest moving vehicle on the road and this is religiously followed in developing countries today.

Pakistan wins my prize for the best decorated trailers and buses in the world. (I’m serious, there are many beautiful intricate painted designs on the buses and trucks.) But I’m also fond of the red and green painted ox horns in India.

Be safe and have fun!

The Underwear Maven

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

How Many Garments on a Container?

How Many Garment on a Container?

OK, Here’s my cheat sheet for Dozens of packaged garment on a regular 40 foot container. Yes, it can vary greatly, but you got to start somewhere. Remember this is DOZENS of packaged product in cases ready to ship to the retail customer.

Men’s Woven or Knit Boxers 7,920 dozen
Men’s Briefs 10,800 dozen
Golf Shirts 3,100 dozen
Tee Shirts 4,200 dozen
Fleece Top and Pant 1,700 dozen
Jersey Shorts 3,500 dozen
Jersey Pants 5,000 dozen
Ladies panties 14,000 dozen

Yarn 4320 cones around 30,000 pounds

When you’re starting out and it’s LTL (Less than Trailer Load) and SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) mixed product, you’ll not get this much. When you big and consistent, you’ll figure out how to maximize and get much better cube utilization.

I used to ball park Ocean Freight rates at $3,500 for China to West Coast and $5,000 for India to East Coast. I haven’t checked lately.

All for now.

The Underwear Maven

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Ocean Freight - How Long and $$$$

Ocean Freight – How Long and $$$$

This post has taken more time than I expected. It was easier in my Corporate Days to ask the Transportation Manager plus we had long term established rates. But a main purpose of this blog is to provide links to free information on line as it relates to Supply Chain.
1. Normal container sizes include a 20 ft, a 40 ft and a 40 ft high container. We don’t require any temperature control (Although I had a quality nightmare with melting wax on a yarn shipment.)
2. Check this site out for the dimensions and cube sizes of standard containers.
3. This site is loaded with information about all types of international shipping. I found the calculator to be too complex for my estimate purposes but it was a great refresher on shipping basics.
4. It’s common in the Caribbean to use a Ro-Ro and not a container. That means the trailer is Rolled onto the Vessel and sails to the destination country where it is Rolled Off. Containers don’t have wheels. The containers are put on a chassis.
5. I registered with Maersk to gain access to their Rate Schedules and Routes. They appear to screen potential users and issue a “Certificate” that must be downloaded before access is allowed on many parts of their site. Not sure if you need to be a potential customer or if they’ll allow the general public. Again, there’s a lot of information and I haven’t decoded all the references. I did stumble on the Schedule and corresponding days In-transit.
a. From Qingdao, China to LA, USA it’s only 14 days. Departs Qingdao on Saturday and arrives LA on Friday. (Qingdao the home of a great GREAT beer in China. )
b. From Chennai, India to Newark, NJ it takes 27 days. It shows the Vessel stopping in Oman, Jordan, Egypt and Spain before continuing it’s West Bound route to the east coast of the USA.

More later this week!

And this reminds me, it’s pretty cool to cross the international date line. I’ve actually gotten in discussions with folks that don’t believe it’s a 24 hour time different. Maybe they were consuming to much Tsingtao beer. Or maybe China’s famous Dynasty wine which we nick named Duh Nasty …it’s not really bad we’re just being immature Americans.
Gan BAY ( )

The Underwear Maven

Monday, March 23, 2009



I just returned from a week long vacation with my daughter during her Senior College Break. We had a blast!

I want to skip over to Trademarks for this post. The government free site is fairly easy to search. It’s called TESS which stands for Trademark Electronic Search System. Here’s the link for the home page Navigate to the left hand tab called Trademarks, then go to tab 3 called Search TM data base (TESS).

1. Under Select the Search Form choose New User Form Search (Basic)
2. This brings your curser to the Search Term Box. Leave all the other settings alone and type in your Trademark Search Word.
3. Let’s try my brand and type in Key Largo.
4. Now look at the listing. Go to the third Key Largo item and you’ll see my application and note that it’s abandoned. That was The Underwear Maven filling out the form directly and I wasted my money.
5. Now hit the back button and look at Key Largo number 8. It’s me again and this time the application is still active and I used a lawyer. It’s still far from a done deal for me but I’m still hanging in there.
6. My problem with the first application wasn’t so much about filling out the form. It was later in the process - I couldn’t understand the questions the examiner was asking so I couldn’t answer them. It was a safer and better value to reapply with some adjustments and let my lawyer answer the follow up questions – while I took lots of notes.
7. You don’t have to have a trade mark for your brand. The trade mark is to protect the brand owner from others using your brand.
8. The government doesn’t go around trying to enforce trademark rights. If you own the trademark, you need to let others know if they are illegally using your trade mark. If they don’t stop, then you have legal recourse.

All for now! Sincerely,
The Underwear Maven

Friday, March 13, 2009

Social Compliance WRAP

Social Compliance WRAP

I admit that I’ve changed my mind about Social Compliance by 3rd parties. They do add value and work. I now like and support WRAP or Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (It used to be Worldwide Responsible APPAREL production.) (The site has a list of certified factories in case you need some contacts.) It’s nice to only ask to see the WRAP certificate and not send your internal team to audit and report. Plus, it prevents your customers from auditing your facilities which could open the door for them to go direct to your factories for future orders.
1. Ask to see the WRAP certificate and check that it’s signed and up to date.
2. WRAP requires compliance to the laws in the Country which can get complicated if there are old and never used laws on the books. Be patient and work with WRAP and the various governments and it will work out. Let’s face it, there are still old crazy unenforced laws on the books in USA too.
3. RUN as FAST as you can from the Factory that failed compliance and claims that they failed because they wouldn’t pay the WRAP inspector a bribe. I know the factory owner claims to be your “buddy” and confides this in strictest confidence. Don’t be a chump and fall for this scam. (I am aware of Pass/Fail Quality Assurance Bribes.)
4. If you are fortunate enough to visit the factory, use your senses to verify social compliance. My learning preference is auditory and I can listen to a knitting room or sewing factory and learn a lot.
5. Remember, any person that visits a factory on your behalf like an IT programmer or a Quality Auditor should be educated about compliance and actively alert and in a “compliance audit” mode while visiting.

6. And if you have the time, ask the factory manager or person giving you the tour, to open the First Aid Kit. Too many times, I’ve found these empty or filled with unusable stuff. If your IT guy ask to look inside the First Aid Kit, I assure you they’ll make sure to fill it before he leaves.

7. Fire Drills are another way to check up on the spot. Do those buckets of sand really work?

8. And I love the ponds in the front of the dye house filled with fish swimming in the cleaned up water.

All for now,


The Underwear Maven

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Compliance - Broken Needles

Broken Needles

Sewing machine needles will break. Horror of Horrors if a broken needle ends up in the garment. Customer returns with a broken needle in the garment make corporate lawyers panic. Make sure your factory has
1. Written and signed Broken Needle Policy.
2. Policy should state that sewing is stopped until all parts of the needle are found.
3. The actual broken needle should be taped to Broken Needle report with other pertinent information.
4. Ask to see the reports when you’re in the factory. Needles will break so no broken needles on file would be a red flag.

It’s also common for factories to have a Metal detector that screens for broken needles in the finished garment. It’s a requirement for many European countries (and I think Japan).

All for now,

The Underwear Maven

Monday, March 9, 2009

Quality Tests – Appearance and Durability After Washing

Quality Tests – Appearance and Durability After Washing

Test Method: AATCC 135/150
Requirements: % Lenght x % Width
Knit Jersey Cotton: 7x6
Knit Jersey Cotton Blend: 5x5
Knit Jersey Synthetic: 4x4
Rib Knit 1x1: 8x1
Rib Knit 2x1: 10x10
Woven Cotton: 5x5
Woven Cotton Blends: 3x3

I have a lot more requirements for different fabrics. Just let me know if you would like them.


The Underwear Maven

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Common Tests on Apparel FABRICS

A list of common physical tests on apparel fabrics

The test methods can be found with the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC) and with the American Standard Test Methods (ASTM) volumes 7.01 and 7.02 . If you need to have something tested, there are several commercial certified laboratories like Intertek and Wal-Mart’s Consumer Testing Laboratories (CTL)

Test: Fabric Weight
Method: ASTM D3776
Requirement: +/- 5%

Thread Count
Test: ASTM D3887 (knits) ASTM D3775 (wovens)
Requirement: +/- 5%

Pilling Resistance
Method: AATCC 135/150
Requirement: Minimum class 3.0

Colorfastness to Crocking
Test: AATCC 8
Requirement: Dry Crocking Min class 4.0
Wet Crocking Min class 3.0

Colorfastness to Washing
Test: AATCC 135/150
Requirement: Shade change: Class 4.0

Colorfastness to Light
Test: AATCC 16
Requirement: Not needed for underwear

Colorfastness to Perspiration:
Test: AATCC 15
Requirement: Shade Change Class 4.0


Test: ASTM D3787
Requirement Lt-Med wt. 20 lbs
Test: ASTM 5034
Light Weight min 25 Warp/15 Fill

Fiber Content
Test: ASTM D629
Requirement: +/- 3% stated on Label

Test: 16CFR Part 1610
Requirement: Class 1

Fabric Defects
Test: ASTM D3990
Requirement: No major defects

And remember, an approved certified lab should stay within the standard conditioned setting of 21 degrees Celsius (+/- 1) and 65% (+/- 2%) Relative Humidity. So if you’re about to pass out from the heat in the dye house, go to the lab and cool off – that’s where you’ll find me!

Next we’ll look at tests for “Appearance and Durability After Washing”.


The Underwear Maven

Friday, February 27, 2009

Quality Auditing Plans- Acceptable Quality Level or AQL

Quality Auditing Plans – Acceptable Quality Level or AQL

It’s common for sewing factories to use the Military Standard 105-E sampling plan to determine if the quality of the garments meets the specifications.
1. You need to determine your Acceptable Quality Level or AQL. This basically means what percent of the total products DO NOT MEET Acceptable Quality Levels. So an AQL of 2.5% means that up to 2.5% may be something less than first quality.
2. What is the total number of garments or Batch Size?
3. For our purposes, lets go with Normal Inspection Level II. (If there’s a failure, it’s common to apply a tightened inspection on the supplier until the quality is back in line.)

Go to this link and plug in the numbers
For example, 2000 pieces and AQL of 2.5%
i. Randomly pull and inspect 125 pieces
ii. If 7 or less pieces fail, ACCEPT the entire lot
iii. If 8 or more fail, REJECT the lot

Note: If you’re sampling for 2.5% AQL and you do not find any defects, you can’t claim that the entire batch has no defects. You’d need to tightened your AQL and inspect more garments.

More Later, Please let me know if you have questions!


The Underwear Maven

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Finished Garment Measurements

Finished Garment Measurements

I know it seems like measuring and recording different parts of a garment would be easy. Please learn from my mistakes and

1. Expect that any person doing measurements will measure differently from you.
2. Therefore, You MUST have a “How to Measure Manual” and it must be clear with a picture or sketch of the garment showing each measurement.

For fit garments or anytime we have a measurement to discuss, we take a digital photo. The photo shows the garment with a tape measure and a sticker with numeric number displayed. The brain remembers pictures and in the digital world, pictures are fast and cheap to send.

And while we’re on measurements, Women’s sizing in the US drives me crazy! It’s all over the board. Men’s has stayed relatively consistent. Maybe we should learn from Europe and force compliance on garment size.

You gotta love wikipedia. I think this is a good link for various sizes and the measurements in the US.

All for today,

The Underwear Maven

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Quality Control, Quality Assurance, Fitness for Use

Quality Control, Quality Assurance, Fitness for Use or however you want to define “good” apparel. I tend to divide the Quality functions and measurements into 4 groups.

1. Physical measurements of the garment and how these meet the standards
2. Fabric performance. Criteria such as garment shrinkage, color fastness and pilling.
3. Defects in the garment such as holes, open seams, color machining, etc.
4. Quality audits on the garments and work in process. AOQL or AQL.

In the following posts, I’ll invite you to links where you can find free information and learn more if you wish.


The Underwear Maven

Friday, February 20, 2009

Preferential Trade Programs for Apparel Part 2

Using Free Trade Programs like CAFTA, NAFTA, ATPDEA, HAITI HOPE, AGOA and others, apparel can be imported to the USA with no duty. Most of these programs have a requirement that the yarn and fabric be produced in the USA or within the region. (And you better follow the program rules and have your approved and active certificates or origin or you will be in BIG trouble.) The requirement for regional or US yarns and fabrics can be a problem for many of the countries. (Read more about all of these and more at this link
1. Using USA materials can make the end garment too expensive to attract the volume mass garments sold by discount retailers like Wal-Mart
2. Producing the yarn or fabric in the region is usually not an immediate option because the manufacturing equipment is so expensive. In addition, the infrastructure needed to support these manufacturing operations like cheap reliable electricity and water treatment facilities are also expensive to set up.

In principle, the goal of these trade agreements is to generate employment for the people in these countries. Setting up a sewing factory and employing sewing machine operators matches up perfectly with this goal.
1. Sewing machines are relatively inexpensive and can be easily set up in a simple structure.
2. Operators can usually be trained in 6 weeks to efficiently sew garments

So if the US really wanted to quickly provide employment through apparel jobs, they would permit duty free garments sewn in these countries with fabric from anywhere. Indeed, in the programs for some of the poorest countries like Haiti and the sub-Saharan countries of AOGA there is a limited quantity of apparel granted duty free treatment with fabrics sourced outside of the region. But there id not enough of this free quota and there's no guarantee that it will be available when your garments need it. So the big volume players usually elect to pay the higher duty and source from a country that already has the infrastructure and technology in place to produce garments. ` `

I do think that garments labeled Made in the USA have an advantage over garments made in other countries. It’s just that today most US consumers will not pay a premium for a garment just because it’s Made in the USA.

Most EU countries don’t even require country of origin on their garments.

And then there is Jordan and the Qualifying Industrial Zone or QIZ that allows foreign fabrics if the garment uses 8% Israeli input. But the QIZ factories I’ve visited in Jordan usually have a lot of imported sewing machine operators hired from countries like Bangladesh. These workers are recruited, shipped, and housed by the factories. So, maybe the goal here is Peace in the Middle East and not employment.

Let me know if you have any specific questions and I’ll be glad to track it down! There’s even a presentation on the Haiti 3x1 – DR 2x1.

The end of Trade Programs!


The Underwear Maven

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Preferential Trade Programs for Apparel Part 1

Preferential Trade Programs for Apparel- Getting access to the US market and reducing or eliminating duties

President John F Kennedy established restraint quotas on textiles and apparel to protect our domestic mills. This became to Multi-Fiber Agreement (MFA). Years later it was agreed that developed countries like the USA should not be allowed to stop foreign apparel imports from our "friendly" countries. So the MFA was integrated into the World Trade Organization (WTO). The latest talks are called the Doha Round. (Doha’s the capital city of the county of Qatar.) (And the talks started back on Feb. 12 and centered again on Farm and the “Trade Distorting domestic subsidies” of the developed countries. Like the HUGE United States COTTON subsidies.)
1. Point from this paragraph is that apparel and textile imports have historically been protected in the USA.

Off Shore Assembly of USA components has been around for a long time. It basically states that if you use components made in the USA and send them off shore for assembly, you only pay duty on the “value added” or assembly. But with apparel, it didn’t help much because of the quota restraints. Then in the late 1980’s, a new type of quota was introduced to Caribbean countries called Guaranteed Access Level or GALs. This opened up new quota limits for apparel if the apparel was assembled from USA components or cut parts. (There are qualification rules for qualifying cut parts such as “fiber forward” meaning the cotton, polyester, or fiber must be made in the USA and all processes of yarn formation, fabric production, cutting, must be performed in the USA.) Still had to pay duty on the value added but that was soon wiped out with CAFTA, NAFTA, and other programs.
2. Point from this paragraph, the domestic brands that owned textile factories shut down their US sewing operations and moved sewing to the Caribbean and Central America countries.

With the elimination of restraint quota in 2005 from most WTO countries and the elimination (for now) of safe guard restrictions from China in 2009, countries with textiles can sew and ship apparel from their own country to the US. Now the US companies are shutting down their US yarn and textile factories and going to Asia - unless there are competitive textiles operations in the CAFTA/NAFTA countries to consume the textiles from the closed US factories.
3. Point from this paragraph, barriers are removed and gates are opened and smaller guys can competitively play in the apparel game.

But there are still many games that the big guys play and win to stop foreign imports. These games aren’t available to us smaller players. The Socks saga is a great example and I'll go into some of the details in my next post.

I welcome comments!
The Underwear Maven

Friday, February 13, 2009

Standard Allowed Minutes or SAMs

Standard Allowed Minutes or SAMs

Once the garment is defined, it is sent to engineers where they determine the best way to sew or stitch the garment. This is usually documented on paper and reviewed with the sewing instructors in a factory. The engineer will also use a stop watch or some other method and determine how long each step should take. This becomes the Standard Allowed Minutes or SAMs. The SAMs will determine how many operators need to be sewing to make the required inventory. Efficiency factors and graphs are sometimes maintained by factory managements in order to track the performance and estimate the required volume.

1. Body Sized tee shirts, ladies panties, men’s briefs, all fall around 20-25 minutes to sew a dozen garments.
2. In this hemisphere, it’s common to pay a sewing contractor based on a fee per minute which could be .05 per minute up to even .10 per minute. So if it takes 20 minutes to sew a dozen tee shirts, the contractor would make $1.00 to $2.00 dollars for the cost to sew and pack.

All for now!

The Underwear Maven

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sew Sequence and Stitch Number

Sew Sequence and Stitch number

Here’s an example of a Sew Sequence document for a body sized tee shirt.

1. Seam Shoulders 504 stitch
2. Seam Collar 504 stitch
3. Attach Collar 504 stitch
4. Bind Shoulder seam and back neck opening 301 stitch
5. Hem Sleeves 406 stitch
6. Close Sleeves with thread tie-back at sleeve opening 504 stitch
7. Hem Bottom 406 stitch

If you want to know what the stitch numbers mean and look like - here's a link for Stitch Matrix from the big thread company American and Efrid. There's lots of other information on their site if your interested in learning more.

More to come!

The Underwear Maven

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Care Instructions on the Label

Care Instructions

These guys tend to get serious and yes, it’s still the FTC. Here’s the link for almost everything you need to know about writing a care label.
Some clothes must be dry cleaned so there’s some room for pointing blame if the care instructions arent’ clear and correct. Funny, you also can’t make the instructions too safe. Here’s a link to an article that shows a penalty given to Jones New York During my Corporate America days in the Quality Control department we were educated to put the “harshest” care instruction that the garment could repeatedly handle. It's not OK to play it safe and recommend all be hand washed and line dried, or dry clean only.
1. The care instructions should be able to remain on the garment for the life time of the garment. (Tag free labels can be a challenge for life time compliance.)
2. It’s OK to use only care symbols, only written instructions or both.
3. Here’s a link for what those symbols mean.

All for now,
The Underwear Maven

Monday, February 2, 2009

RN number on your Label

Registered Identification Number (RN)

Did you ever wonder about the RN followed by numbers on your garment labels? It’s called a Registered Identification Number. It is free to get and not required on a label. However, if there’s not an RN then the business name of the company should be on the label. This is so someone can be located that’s responsible for the product. For more details, check out the free government link compliments of the Federal Trade Commission at

Canada has their own system and they use a CA number.

The Underwear Maven

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Made in the USA

Labeling for Made in the USA

Per my earlier post, I shared the government link for garment labeling in the USA.

1. The country of origin stating Made in the USA can ONLY be used if the fabric was also made in the USA. If the fabric was made in another country, it must state Made in the USA of Imported Fabric, Or Made in the USA of Fabric from China or something similar that clearly specifies that the fabric was Not made in the USA. Most of the Big Brands and Big Retailers know these rules and follow them closely.
2. But, it’s not well known among smaller players. I don’t think anyone means to misguide the public, it’s just unknown. And thankfully, we aren’t funding a government agency to round up and issue fines to smaller start up brands for failure to comply with Country of Origin rules. That would surely back fire. You’d see a mass exit of sewing in the USA so now ALL the jobs would be out sourced to other countries and the Label would simply state Made in China. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.
3. It reminds me of the recent “dumping” penalty that the US applied towards polyester fiber from China. The US Man Made Fiber companies went after the Chinese for selling polyester below cost. (I’ll save the topic Buying from China – Where’s the Logic in the Prices- for another post.) The companies that still blow-filled-stuffed (or what ever you want to call it) and closed pillows in the USA with Chinese fiber were forced to pay more for the Chinese polyester or use the more expensive US polyester. The big winners here were those companies that had already shut down their USA operations and out sourced the entire product. These guys are already located across the border in Mexico where they fill, stitch and close pillows using cases made in China of Chinese fabric and polyester made in China. ( Or for Many, cost or price isn't the primary issue so they make and fill all the pillows in "another country" and import into the USA.) And the label correctly states Made in Mexico. I’m sure they got a chuckle on their way to the bank. Read all about it at the government link below.

All for now,

The Underwear Maven

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Labeling Requirements for USA

I was politely but firmly told that my Knit. Tuck. Or Float post was boring, rambling and not relevant to anything. But as a student of author David Allen and his “Ready for Anything” books, I’m using my Blog to park ideas.

Still - I’ll save Body sized tee shirts verses those with a side seam, the number of needles in a machine and the corresponding ends of yarn being fed into a machine at one time, and other great facts for later.
Let’s move to apparel labeling requirements for the USA. I must commend someone in the government for their sense of humor as many of these free informative booklet's have cute titles like this one called Threading Your Way Through the Labeling Requirements Under the Textile and Wool Acts
Check it out at this link

I wish the Federal Trade Commission and their Writing a Care Label booklet and the Consumer Product Safety folks and their textile Flammable Fabrics Act (and no this isn't just for children's sleepwear) would all get together and publish one booklet.

More later, sincerely,
The Underwear Maven

Monday, January 19, 2009

Knit. Tuck. or Float

Knit Tuck or Float – Circular Weft Knitting (Part 1)

I have a chant that goes through my head over and over when I visit circular weft knitting rooms. It goes like this “Round and Round, Up and Down; Knit, Tuck or Float.” Of course, it’s much more complicated but once you get the basic science down, do you really need to know much more?
Yes, those tiny loops that are intertwined to make the moveable knit fabrics with the wonderful hand and drape are knit on circular weft knitting machines. If the loops couldn’t distort to be tall and thin or stretch from side to side to be short and fat – well- you’d have something that felt and acted more like a woven. And always remember that the Loop Length Rules. Even in China although I had to get down to the dot – dot pictures with their technical guy before I understood that we were trying to explain the same thing.
Athletic Socks, panty hose, “seamless microfiber underwear”, tee shirts, and polo or golf shirts – it’s usually all knit on those circular weft knitting machines where the “stitch length” or loop length determines and controls the performance. Some of these knitting machines are smarter than others so let’s start with the dumbest of them all, a single needle jersey for a tee shirt.
Let’s pretend we’re the big brands and we blow out tee shirts by the millions of dozens every week. We’re so cost conscious that our Single Needle Knitting machines only have 1 set of tracks in the cams. So think about it like a roller coaster and the knitting machine needles are the passengers and they ride on this roller coaster track in attached cars. The arms on these passengers in the cars can raise their hands and grab a streamer and then put their hands back down. So the roller coaster track becomes the knitting machine cam track, the roller coaster car is the bottom of the needle called the needle butt that rides on this cam track. The passengers are the top of this “latch” needle and they can grab and release. This grab and release motion will mimic the top part of the the latch needle.
I’m sorry to say but our roller coaster only goes in a circle. And yes, if we’re the passengers then we’re going to be riding Round and Round, Up and Down, and our options are to Knit (hands up and grab) Tuck (hands back down) or Float (do nothing.) “Round and Round, Up and Down; Knit, Tuck or Float”
So how many people can ride on our roller coaster at one time? How many people can grab and pull different streamers in at one time? So when my needles travel one time in my circular machine – how many rows of fabric has been knit?
Suspense got you? Check back for these answers and more!


The Underwear Maven

Thursday, January 15, 2009

How much should your undies cost?

The cost of your underwear comes down to three main items. How much for the raw materials, how much material do you use and how much labor is used to transform the raw materials to garments.
1. For this example, let's stick to cotton underwear. (If you're into fossil fuels like polyester or regenerated wood pulp... hello it's modal, bamboo, and good old fashion rayon- it's the same principal only different starting numbers.) Cotton's a commodity and prices all over the world are easily found. Of course the USA has a HUGE subsidy which is usually a HUGE issue in World Trade Organization talks but I'll save that for a later post. I like Textile World on line magazine for a quick snap shot of cotton and yarn prices in the US.
2. How much fabric is used to make the garment. For knits this is called the Block Weight.
3. How much time does it take to sew the garment. Big companies have engineers that determine the best way to put the garment together or the Sew Method and then time each operator and operations for the Standard Allowed Minutes or SAMs.
4. Email me if you'd like a copy of my Excel Spreadsheet so you can play around with the Google document below. The current labor and overhead costs in blue are for USA. Labor can be cut significantly for lower wage countries and there's room for fixed overhead costs to come down - especially when it's related to buildings and supervisory costs - not machine repair parts.

Lea’s Knit Tee Shirt Cost Estimator - Used a cotton tee shirt so there's no need to account for elastic and or strip rubber or spandex in the legs. Also used a body sized tee so the number of sewing minutes is low since there's no side seam.

Red = Major cost trigger: Cotton per lb, dye or bleach stuff, block weights
Blue = Direct Labor Triggers Current blue are for USA direct labor cost. (Can also cut some overhead cost- especially in cut and sew operations.)
Black = process loss or waste and Fixed and Variable overhead (utilities, parts, etc.)
Green=Locked cells as these are calculated for above row


The Underwear Maven

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Dozens and Dollars of undies imported to USA

Now that we have our Harmonized Tariff Number or HTS which is 6701.11.00.10 we can enter the United States Office of apparel and Textiles or OTEXA at and look up the volume and dollars for imports. I used the common format which is for years 2006, 2007 and 12 months ending Oct 2008 but you can look up years of history if you want too!

I've organized the data on the Google Document in the link below.

Some of my highlight's and assumptions based on Dozens of Men's cotton brief imports to the USA 12 months ending Oct 2008
1. 42,218717 dozens were imported at a total imported value of $602,921,084 US dollars.
2. The big guys like Hanes Brands and Fruit of the Loom along with notable local factories are still in Central America and Dominican Republic.
3. 21% of the Total dozens were from Honduras with an average value of $9.36 a dozen, followed by El Salvador with 18% of the total volume and a value of $11.93.
4. Dominican Republic was in 4th place with 15% of the volume and a value of $10.89 a dozen.
5. Think of these as the the current CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) of the underwear business churning out pound after pound playing with Preferential Trade Programs to eliminate the 7.2% duty rate. Can bet that there's lots of US cotton (or cotton yarn) being hauled to these countries and then returned to the good ole USA as your Mass produced undies.
6. I love India and I'm glad to see that they are continuing to grow in volume. In 2006 they had 11.5% of volume, 2007 13% and 2008 up to 16%. Most of these companies in India are not the mindless CAFOs but still take the time to think about what they are making and how to improve the lives of their people and country. I still see the wind mill farms on the road from Tirupur going south to the port.
7. So, where's China. Actually China still had volume restraints so the big guys in Latin America could get their production established. In 2008, less than 2.5% of the men's cotton briefs came from China at a whopping average cost of $22.86. If China decides to play in the lowest cost commodity brief business - watch out Honduras, El Salvador and Dominican Republic because the 7.2% duty rate won't stop China.

All for today but please check out the official government link for additional data. And you can look up data for any and everything.

And if you want to know how much your cotton tee shirt should cost or something similar, check back tomorrow. It's all in the cost of cotton, the weight of the garment and how long it takes to sew it up.

bye for today,
The Underwear Maven

Lordy Where did they get your Underwear?

Lordy, Lordy, I declare Where’d they get your Underwear?

Thanks to the internet and government statistics, it’s rather easy to find out what countries are importing your undies into the USA and how much they cost. Let’s start by looking at men’s chief value cotton underwear bottoms. This would include knit briefs, thongs, and boxer briefs that are over 50% in weight of cotton (does not include any elastic bands.)
A cut and paste below directly from the United States International Trade Commission Website

Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (2009)
Annotated for Statistical Reporting Purposes
Heading/ Stat. Unit Rates of Duty
Subheading Suf- Article Description of 1 2
fix Quantity General Special
6107 Men's or boys' underpants, briefs, nightshirts, pajamas,
bathrobes, dressing gowns and similar articles, knitted or
Underpants and briefs:
6107.11.00 Of cotton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.4%
10 Men's (352) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . doz.

20 Boys' (352) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . doz.

OK, so maybe this is a little boring but corporate America actually paid me to do this so I’m sharing it for free with you! We need this HTS number for our next step at yet another free government web site called the Office of Textile and Apparel or (OTEXA)

So tomorrow we’ll check out the top countries and corresponding costs!
Bye for now,
The Underwear Maven