Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Guide for Purchasing New Band Uniforms

At one time or another, every band director is faced with the excitement, trials and tribulations and, yes, even the disappointments of budgeting, designing, purchasing, receiving, fitting and issuing band uniforms. This responsibility of purchasing band uniforms is the single most expensive purchase you will be entrusted with, the results of which will be seen by thousands of people over the course of many years. Intimidating so far? What can you do to avoid the many obstacles and pitfalls that await you? The primary purpose of this publication is to help guide you in dealing with this awesome but most important task.

How and Where to Begin When Purchasing Your New Band Uniforms:
You may want to for a committee to assist in the design, evaluation, selection and possibly financial support of your new band uniforms. Suggestively, the committee members should be comprised of the band director (head of committee), an economics teacher, local tailor, principal or superintendent's spouse, board members' spouses, and band booster parents. keep in mind, unless you establish clear objectives and guidelines to begin with, some of the problems you can experience with committees may be dissension, getting everyone together when needed, or creating delays that directly affect your delivery. Below is a list of points to make sure to consider when purchasing your band uniforms.

1. Choosing a Manufacturer (Representative) for Your Band Uniforms:
Even if you have had past experience in purchasing band uniforms, it's always advisable to work with professionals. Keeping you advised on current trends in design, fabric usage, new features, construction/tailoring methods and references is only a portion of their responsibility to you and the company they represent. It is in their best interest to serve and assess your every need, from design to delivery to the fitting of your band uniforms. In other words, they offer expert advice from start to finish. Selecting a manufacturer and representative is an important aspect of getting started. You might start by calling some of your peers regarding their experiences, check through state and national publications for advertisements, or call your state Bandmasters and Music Educators Association for those manufacturers that have been supportive. Select and evaluate the company's representative much like you do when purchasing musical instruments. Choose someone you feel comfortable with and are confident they will work with you from design to delivery for your band uniforms. After all, this is a major expenditure and you want to be certain that every effort in design, quality and appearance will be expended on your behalf.

2. Designing and Preparing Your Band Uniforms:
Your company representative is now ready to work with you and your committee on the visuals, fabric color selections and accessory appointments to achieve the overall visual impact you want to relay.

Areas to consider:
A. Corps Style Band Uniforms - Most prevalent is the Blue Devil look, waist length coats with or without tails, open or closed front. Flashes of bright, contrasting colors and trim are generally utilized. The use of baldrics, capes, gauntlets, etc., accentuate movement. Coordination and overall appearance of the front line units are incorporated in a multitude of colors and styles.

B. Military Style Band Uniforms - The emphasis is on the traditional military look. Seat length or waist length (with or without tails) coats. The regimented "West Point" style has a more disciplined appearance with trim in West Point bars, trefoils or combinations. Variations of front line design relate to a very versatile look.

C. Mult-Use Style Band Uniforms - Commonly known as a "tux-overlay," this style affords the school two uniforms. A formal concert look that is attractive, yet, simple in style. By simply putting on the custom designed overlay, you are ready to compete on the marching field. Depending on your needs, this overlay can range from very plain to very ornate and decorative.

3. Points of Interest:
When designing your band uniform, keep in mind the type and style of music you march to and your competition style. Regarding lettering and trim, if it isn't clearly visible from a distance, is it worth the extra money to apply them on all the garments? You may want to consider including an extra pair of trousers in your budget. This way, it will afford you a different "Home" and "Away" look. Because this age group grows at an alarming rate, it is strongly suggested that you order trousers unhemmed to compensate for normal growth.

4. Band Uniform Sketch:
The company representative will listen, advise, record and exchange thoughts and ideas for your total design package. This information is relayed to the manufacturer's artist, who in turn will prepare a full-color sketch of the band uniform. This sketch will allow you, your committee and company representative to review and evaluate the design. A picture is worth a thousand words -- has the sketch captured and express the visual impact you expected? At this point, you should determine if any minor changes are required, and have them noted and recorded by the representative. Once the sketch is approved, you are ready for the next step of designing the sample band uniform.

5. Band Uniform Sample:
The attention to detail in designing the sample is critical and perhaps the most important step. The feature and benefits of how the band uniform is constructed will be explained and reviewed by your representative. Inner-construction details and quality tailoring methods will dictate not only appearance and shape retention, but also the longevity of the garments. Fabric, materials, trim, accessories and their application will be explained by your representative. Remember, wool or any blend of wool cannot be dyed optic or snow white. Only 100% polyester will allow you a bright, optic white. You can generally utilize a mixture of fabrics to accomplish your final design. Once the specifications are written and approved, it generally takes about two to three weeks for the sample band uniform to be manufactured and delivered for inspection and review.

6. Band Uniform Sample Approval:
A company representative will present the finished sample to you and your committee for a scrutinizing review. it is recommended to choose a student, size 38 regular, to model the uniform. Since you are looking at only one band uniform, but purchasing 50-200 (or more), have the student model and march both inside under artificial lights, as well as outside in natural light. Pay close attention to braid and embroidery. Can you see it clearly? Does it have the impact you expected? If it doesn't why spend the additional money? You should make any changes in detail and have them recorded by the representative at this stage. It is now his job to relay to the manufacturer that this is exactly how you want your band uniforms manufactured. It is also wise to take some photos of the uniform for your records at this time.

7. Band Uniforms Specifications:
Whether or not your school district requires a bid process, it is suggested that the representative submit a bid specifications package, that in most cases, also serves as manufacturing specifications. It should list all for the requirements for the band uniforms (coat, trousers, capes, shakos, plumes, etc.) as well as quantities. This should include drum major, front line and auxiliary units. The representative will advise you on attention to detail (i.e. uniforms to be shipped on hangers, in dry-cleaning bags, a name and number list, some safeguards such as warranty, references, bid bond, care and maintenance manual, and material certificate of quality. If it is necessary to receive competitive quotes, you should be certain that each company is bidding on the same items. Your administration usually has a standard form letter that accompanies each bid, detailing deadlines for receiving the sample band uniform and bid quotations. Exact samples are not required, but you can request a stock sample made according to your construction and style specifications from each of the companies you have selected to quote. Require that sample band uniforms be delivered 5-7 days prior to the bid opening for a proper evaluation.

8. Sample Evaluations & Decision:
Once all the sample band uniforms have been received, and prior to the bid opening, the committee should now evaluate the samples. Using the specifications as a guideline, each uniform should be examined both externally and internally, grading each area, category by category. Don't make the mistake of judging a uniform by appearance only. Examine and inspect the inner-contruction materials and features to determine highest quality for dollars spent. The simplest method is to grade by the point system. Assign points ranging from 0 to 4 in each category (coats, trousers, capes, shakos, etc.). After totalling the points, the manufacturer with the highest point total who also meets the specifications should be recommended for the contract award before the bids are opened. The contract calls for the lowest bid meeting the specifications, not the lowest bidder. On that basis, you can justify awarding the contract to a higher bidder by simply submitting your evaluation and recommendation forms. Remember, it's in your best interest to recommend a manufacturer prior to the bids being opened, eliminating the possibility of compromising yourself or the school district. Other considerations in recommending a manufacturer are the professionalism and services offered by the representative, references, and reputation of the manufacturer.

9. Band Uniform Measurements:
This is a step that requires close attention to detail and organization. Your representative will guide and direct you through the entire process. Here are some brief inputs as to the how, when, where, and who.

How - Exact weights and heights are necessary for each pattern and design. It is best to borrow a scale from the nurse's office or athletic department that allows you to record both height and weight. Have each student fill out a measurement sheet provided by the representative, indicating name, school, whether male or female, and hand it to the person weighing. Other standard measurements such as chest, waist, hips, sleeve length, and inseam will also be required.

When - Time is valuable to both you and the representative, so it is advisable to set up specific times for measuring. Ask your committee to assist in recording measurements, allowing approximately 30 students per hour to be measured. Post a notice in the band room and make periodic announcements to band members as to the date of their measurement.

Where - It's best to measure in a room separate from the weighing. This eliminates any noise distraction, and may also alleviate any vanity concerns that students may have. The location of where you hold this process will be dependent upon the size of the band and your schedule.

Who - This requires some effort on your part. Is the band program growing? How many seniors are leaving? Will the number of sophomores and juniors remain the same? How many students do you expect from the middle or junior high level? Remember that these are adolescents, and they have a tendency to grow 2, 3, and 4 inches or more over the course of just one summer. We recommend measuring current band members only. We have found that when middle or junior high school students are measured, the school invariably has a shortage of larger size band uniforms. Once the measurements are completed, the representative will assist you in transferring them to a size chart and will fill in the stock sizes if necessary. Generally, it is wise to order 15-20% more band uniforms than the number of members in the band. After signing the measurement chart, the final sample approval indicating any changes, and the purchase order, you now can make plans for delivery.

10. Delivery:
Depending on the time of year you place your order, it generally takes 60-75 days for delivery once the manufacturer has the purchase order or deposit, all measurements, and the final sample approval. Orders placed between September and February generally take less time than band uniforms ordered between May and July, as this is the busy season. Occasionally, companies will offer discounts for orders placed during the September to February period, or for either large down payments or full payment placed with the order. Make sure you get all arrangements made in writing prior to awarding the contract. A band booster purchase is treated differently than a school district purchase for obvious business reasons. To avoid the disappointment of your band uniforms arriving later than you anticipated, it is incumbent upon you, your committee and company representative to ensure that the manufacturer has received a complete purchase order, all measurements, and the final sample approval. Once your delivery is made, check the uniforms to make certain they are complete as ordered, sign the delivery packing slip and send it to your purchasing department for payment.

11. Fitting:
Upon receipt of your beautiful new band uniforms, take care in inspecting them and examine them properly. Inventory them accordingly. Members of the committee, your representative and you should now set a time for fitting. Planning and organization is vital to your success in this to avoid frustrations. You can either fit students from the smallest to the largest sizes or seniors to lower classmates, having each student fill out an index card for inventory control purposes. Use your name and number list as a guide. As pointed out earlier, it is recommended that all trousers be ordered unhemmed to allow for better fitting and easier alterations on students who were measured 4 to 6 months ago.

12. Care & Maintenance:
Included with your band uniforms should be a care & maintenance booklet. With proper care exercised, your uniforms should hold their appearance and shape retention for many years. You should read and review the care and maintenance booklet often, because it can be an invaluable guide to assist you in areas such as storage, hangers, washable items, rain, stains, protection, etc. Rain, contrary to normal belief is not water in its purest form. It is laden with harsh chemicals and foreign matter as it falls to earth, causing absolute havoc with fabrics and natural materials, such as plumes. Never store or dry clean uniforms while still wet. Allow them to dry in a well-ventilated room, hanging on wishbone hangers, coats separate from trousers, spaced at least one foot apart. Do not try to remove mud while it is still wet; this will only set a stain in the material. Allow the mud to dry thoroughly, then lightly brush it off, and send it to the dry cleaner. If you have sufficient storage space, never allow the students to take the band uniforms home with them. If it is necessary for your students to store their uniforms at home, be sure that they are aware of their responsibility, both in maintenance and financial obligation. It is also advisable for you to have several local, reputable dry cleaning establishments bid on your cleaning contract and include this in your annual budget.

13. Follow-Up:
From time to time, you are going to have a need for buttons, accessories, major alterations and fill-in orders. We strongly suggest that you appoint at least two band members who will assume the responsibility of checking out and receiving in band uniforms prior to and after each performance. They should report the condition of the uniforms and accessories, and request the purchase of buttons, plumes, etc. The coordination of this step will serve to be a most valuable asset to your organization. Reports should be clear, concise, filed and reviewed at least once a month with you or the members of your committee to make the final determination and decision. It also serves as an incentive in assuming greater responsibility for students.

This guide was prepared to be a helpful guide to assist you with the purchase of band uniforms. 99% of its effectiveness will be determined by the efforts and direction you will receive from your professional manufacturer's representative. The initial relationship you build will be the beginning of a long-lasting, beneficial, and productive relationship, because once the band uniforms are delivered, the representative's job just begins. Assisting with fitting problems (if necessary), care and maintenance, and future orders for fill-ins and accessories. The best of luck to you in your band uniforms purchasing experience.

Becoming Fashion Designers

Fashion designers are responsible for creating the clothing, footwear, and accessories purchased by the billions on a yearly basis by consumers. Some fashion designers specialize in clothing design (men's, women's, and children's apparel). Others concentrate on footwear (shoes and boots). A third variety of fashion designer specializes in accessory design (handbags, belts, scarves, hats, hosiery, etc). Some fashion designers dabble in all three of these fashion categories. A fashion designer will always remain up-to-date by continuously studying fashion trends. He/she will begin the design process by sketching designs and will later begin to select colors and fabrics. The designer will then oversee the evolution of the original designs into the form of new clothes and accessories. The entire process cycle will typically take between 18 and 24 months.

Education, Certification, Licensing

A degree is extremely useful in this profession. Bachelors and associate degree programs in fashion design are offered at many colleges, universities, and private art and design schools. At a minimum a student should plan on spending two years in any fashion design program. As an added measure to succeed in the field, an aspiring designer should supplement a fashion design degree with a business, marketing, or fashion merchandising degree. An understanding of the business end of the fashion industry is extremely important, and strong sales and presentation skills are valuable assets in forging a successful career.

Most of the over 200 schools accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design require applicants to submit sketches and other examples of their artistic ability as a criteria for admission. Therefore, industry experience is very important in this profession, regardless of whether it is acquired before, during, or after pursuing a formal education program. Early volunteer work, like costuming, can help a person get started. An internship with a design or manufacturing firm or a first job as a pattern maker or sketching assistant for more experienced designers will be well worth it in the long run. Also worthwhile would be a job working in a retail store or as a custom tailor.

Embroidered Patches Are Great Designs for Embroidery of Logo Apparel

There are several reasons why clothes are designed with patches. Probably, the custom embroidered patches found on the apparel are intended to establish the personal identity of the wearer. Say a boy can be easily identified as student if the uniform shirt he is wearing comes with a custom embroidered patch of his school logo. In the military, patches are incorporated in the uniform to represent honors and missions accomplished by the serviceman. For business firms, the primary purpose of incorporating an embroidered patch company logo on employees' work uniform is to acknowledge them as part of the organization or association.

Aside from practical function that custom embroidered patches serve, they are also great designs for embroidery if the person wants distinctive logo apparel. Additionally, they can be used to cover the damage on the apparel so that the clothing will still be wearable. With these practical functions of patches, many of today's custom apparel shops provide variety of patches designs for embroidery to suit the needs and interests of every individual for their logo apparel. The patches designs found in local market or via online stores are usually categorized according to profession, age, gender, sports, numbers, cartoon characters, and popular brand logos.

For individuals who are not able to find the patch design they want for their logo apparel, they can also request for custom embroidered patches service from reliable embroidery shop. Most of these shops are now equipped with highly advanced tools like computer, electronic sewing machine, and embroidery digitizing software. These innovative equipments for embroidery facilitate embroiderers produce custom embroidered patches that are exactly the same as the original design that the customer wants for his logo apparel.

When it comes to pricing, the cost of patches to be used as designs for embroidery of logo apparel usually vary on how they are made. Those that are custom embroidered are definitely more expensive than ready made patches or those that are available in stocks. The size, the thread color, as well as the intricacy of stitch patterns will also matter.

Top Dream Jobs - High School Students' Career Picks, From Green Business to Fashion Design

The careers that teenagers dream about can tell us a lot about their values, especially as they're shaped by media and pop culture. So what do the teens of today want to do when they grow up? Recently, Teen Ink magazine polled high school students about their dream jobs, and these were some of their top choices. Interestingly, the jobs range from altruistic to glamorous, reflecting aspirations driven by both social conscience and media fascination. And as we can see, some are more realistically attainable than others.

Journalist. The idea of globe-trotting wherever news happens, investigating stories, and writing for newspapers and magazines does sound exciting. To enter the world of journalism, a college degree in journalism, communications, or English is important, especially if you want to go beyond the small town paper into national and international publications. You should also be an excellent writer with good ethics and a respect for facts and fairness.

Fashion designer. For the person who not only loves clothes but is also interested in the apparel manufacturing industry, fashion design can be an ideal field to pursue. Even if one is not interested in starting a label, there are several career tracks within fashion design, including buying, merchandising, and marketing. Those seriously interested in breaking into the business are advised to earn a degree from an accredited fashion college, as well as have an industry internship or relevant work experience under their belts.

Photographer. As a shutterbug, you might be photographing celebrities and seeing your work on the cover of magazines. But that's a big "might." 99% of photography jobs are much more mundane. Anyone with a camera can call himself a photographer, so you must learn to differentiate yourself, specializing in a targeted field like consumer products, advertising, or fashion design, and then work relentlessly to promote yourself to potential clients.

Interior designer. Designing the spaces in which people live and work can be both artistically and professionally rewarding. But interior design is about more than just choosing colors, fabrics and furniture. A designer also has to be knowledgeable about construction codes, engineering, and safety. That's why many states require interior designers to be certified, only granting licenses after candidates have earned an Interior Design degree from an accredited college.

Environmentalist. Today's high school students are committed to the protection of our natural resources, so many want to work in the green industry. Environmental work can encompass law, engineering, education, architecture, or business administration, so it's best to pursue a degree in those fields, especially at a college that offers an environmental focus to its majors. Internships with a variety of green companies is also recommended, so you can experience firsthand the advancements and policies in environmentalism, and gain valuable contacts for future job searches.

Actor. Visions of acting fame dance around not only in teenagers' heads, but many adults. This is one profession that does not guarantee success, however, or even survival. The average annual income of actors in the Screen Actors Guild is $5,000 a year, so most actors must take on other jobs as well to make ends meet.

Lawyer. Trial deliberations in the media look exciting, but most legal work involves extensive research, writing, and paperwork. A recent survey by the American Bar Association revealed that only 4 in 10 lawyers would recommend a legal career to others. If you do want to pursue law, know that it's a hard academic road before you ever get to call yourself an attorney. You need a minimum of four years of college and three years of law school before you can even take the bar exam that decides if you're allowed to practice.

Celebrity Stylist. The job of celebrity stylist has gained exposure and popularity over the last few years thanks to women's magazines, television shows and red carpet events. While competition to become a celebrity stylist is understandably fierce, many high school students do not realize that there are many more opportunities as a fashion stylist for movie, television, and advertising shoots. Fashion training is invaluable, preferably from an accredited fashion school, as well as an internship that offers the chance to shadow a stylist.

Teacher. Decade after decade, high school students aspire to be teachers, as the desire to help children and educate the next generation is a strong motivating force. Teaching usually requires a four-year degree and a teaching credential, though with the teaching shortage across many parts of the country, many states allow candidates to earn their credentials on the job.

Crime scene investigator. The CSI franchise of television shows has ushered in a generation of teens eager to be forensic scientists. But a CSI job is one of the most difficult to land. Most crime scene investigators have four-year degrees in chemistry or biology, and on top of that, they are also police officers. So one has to be both a scientist and a cop - that's a hard combination to find.

Training for Fashion Design Careers

There are a number of training options available for those who wish to enter into the field of fashion design. Career training can be completed by enrolling in an accredited vocational school or college. Students can gain the skills and knowledge required to enter into the workforce by earning a variety of degrees and training for fashion design careers. Accredited career training is available to students looking to start the career they desire in this exciting area. There are a number of things to learn prior to enrolling in a higher education fashion design program.

1) Professions

Gaining an education in fashion design will allow students to prepare for the career they desire. Professionals in this field are trained to carry out a number of tasks related to their specific career. Depending on the career professionals are trained to:

  • Design Clothing
  • Create Sketches
  • Select Material
  • Coordinate Colors
  • Research Fashion

...and much more. Professionals gain the necessary education by earning a degree from a vocational school or college. Training can prepare students for various careers designing accessories, footwear, clothing, and much more. Students who wish to enter into this type of profession can do so by gaining an accredited degree.

2) Education

Students can earn a variety of degrees in the field of fashion design. Accredited career training is available to students at the associate and bachelor degree level of study.

  • Associate degree can take students around to years to obtain, and will prepare them to seek employment or pursue a higher degree.
  • Bachelor degree programs typically require four years of training and study and will allow students to enter the workforce prepared.

Gaining an education at either of these levels will provide the skills and knowledge needed to enter into an exciting career.

3) Careers

Accredited training will give students the opportunity to earn the degree they need to seek employment. Careers in this field can include working for:

  • Manufacturers
  • Department Stores
  • Specialty Boutiques
  • Design Firms

...and much more. Training will prepare students to work in these areas and more based on their level of education. Students can study for their desired careers as fashion designers by completing all required coursework.

4) Coursework

Specific areas of study will depend on the desired career and level of education obtained. Students can expect to study CAD (Computer Aided Design), sewing, fashion history, pattern making, textiles, tailoring, and many other relevant areas of study. Coursework will provide skills and knowledge by allowing students to learn marketing and sales, current fashions, anatomy, and other topics to start the career of their dreams.