Fall 2017: Coats for Kids

L-R: Joanna, Dustin Alexis, Hannah, Jamie & Mimi

Scope of project:

We will be making 100+ fully lined, complex and serviceable coats for donation to needy school aged children in New Mexico.  We have openings for 25 positions. If you want to jump ahead to registration, start by filling out this form.


July 1-4, 2017, are the dates we will hold the design phase of the coat project. There are six slots open with three reserved for New Mexico residents. The production segment will commence Sept 1-4, 2017 with coaches and managers starting work on August 31st. We encourage anyone to come early. For example, pattern grading and marker making begins August 30th. Fabric spreading takes place on August 31, 2017.

Design: In the first phase July 1-4, 2017, boot camp designers will:

  • Analyze fitting and dressing challenges for our “customer”.
  • Design for a production run for one style and 2 colorways.
  • Design coats with features valued by our “customer” with an emphasis on safety and utility.
  • Assist in pattern creation and complete production pattern auditing for each style.
  • Sew mock ups of each proposed style for group critique
  • Once a design is selected from the submissions, create finished samples.
  • Create an industrial engineering work study to determine the number of operations, sewing time per operation and type of equipment will we need.
  • Analyze the sewing skills we need to train for and finalize a plan to manage the challenges of an unknown workforce.
  • Assist with cut order planning (calculating yields), creating the master schedule to order goods, final costing, and generally learning how to manage production soup to nuts.
  • Finalize the sourcing plan to include the costs and inventory we need to complete the project.
  • Ideally, those attending the design phase will assume supervisory or management roles for the production phase in September.
The cutting room at apparel manufacturing boot camp, Spring 2016.

The cutting room at apparel manufacturing boot camp, Spring 2016.

Production: In this phase Sept 1-4, 2017, attendees will assist with:

  • Spreading and cutting large quantities of fabric (if you want to help spread, be here on August 31, 2017)
  • Organizing cut pieces for best sewing efficiency (bundling and shade marking)
  • Proper factory fusing
  • Sewing– for quality and efficiency!
  • Troubleshooting and problem solving
  • Finishing and quality control
  • Packaging and labeling
  • Order fulfillment

Prospective attendees are required to read the caveats, follow the dress code, bring minimal supplies and observe all safety requirements. Again, you register by filling out this questionnaire.


There seems to be a bit of confusion on this. We lose money on this project; it is a charitable endeavor that my company has created to benefit entrepreneurs who want to start sewing factories but have never been in one; and to benefit needy citizens of New Mexico. The fee covers the cost of fabric, thread, zippers, buttons and all the stuff we need to make the products that we donate. The Sewing Factory School (Apparel Technical Svcs) volunteers the use of the factory, buys the machines, provides the training, to say nothing of not being able to earn an income to pay our own bills for the two week duration of these events (including set up and break down), so we rely on our volunteers to cover the cost of hosting the event for each boot camp session. We provide a few scholarships as donations permit but these are not guaranteed.

You’ll know you’ve been accepted when you receive an invoice but your slot is not guaranteed until you pay the $50 deposit to secure your slot. If the deposit is not paid within 3 days, the slot is considered to be available for another participant. Final payment is due by the date listed on your invoice, usually around 90 days before boot camp starts. I do not have time to email anyone to remind them to make payment so read your invoice (not just the mobile version of it) carefully. If payment isn’t made, the slot opens for someone else. I do email sign ups with occasional notices. As my emailing anyone is a very rare event, I suggest that reading the emails, in their entirety, is important. No refunds for cancellations 60 days prior to the event.

  • $500 -Design phase (includes production).
  • $350 -Production
  • $40 for catered lunches ($10 per day per person)

Spring 2017 Production Team -less a few who left before we took the photo.


There’s a gem of a place just a few blocks away -the Sandia Peak Inn Motel. This isn’t the best part of town but this place is the second most highly rated place in the city. It is also possible that we may be able to host visitors here in the factory provided one is not too particular. We have a full kitchen with stove, microwave, refrigerator, coffee maker, a shower and laundry facilities.


If you’re ready to sign up, please start by submitting the questionnaire. Again, signing up for the design phase automatically registers you for production. Since the design phase will fill quickly, registrants may be put on a wait list. In the past, design fills within 30 minutes and production is full in 12 hours so I’d strongly urge you to pay the invoice for the deposit because if you don’t, your slot becomes available to someone else after 3 days.

Support the project

If you know you can’t participate but would like to underwrite the project or sponsor a scholarship, you can do that too. If you choose to donate, please fill out the registration form so we can thank you properly and notify the benefactor of your generosity.

Previous session was rated 4.67 out of five stars by attendees. Some of their comments:

I was amazed by the laying out the fabric and cutting, level of quality and complexity of the coat.

I didn’t understand how much work would go into the project and the scale of all the people involved, I was amazed at the planning and prep work required for an operation like this. Meeting new people and seeing the project from beginning to end was beyond my expectations.

Being able to get hands on training from people in the industry was invaluable. I was glad to see that everybody was encouraged to try anything and everything.

The thoroughness in which the production process was organized. Numbering each piece and garment helped to alleviate much of the confusion I thought we would face. I also appreciated how everyone was encouraged to try things they had not done before or may not been successful with in the past.

I didn’t expect the attention to detail and quality of finished product. The teamwork and overall interactions were fantastic!

Exceptionally hands on. No shortage of all kinds of work. The group was diverse and had specialized knowledge (industry and otherwise).

I thought we would get to observe up close, the manufacturing process. I didn’t realize we would get to be the factory. That absolutely made this experience even more awesome!!

The factory was well equipped, a lot of care and expense went into making sure we had everything we needed. The lunches and dog tags were completely unexpected, loved them both!





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