How to create professional fashion Tech Pack for garment-Tips and Best Practices
For many years I was fashion technical and production “go-to person”. Tech packs were part of my daily joys and sorrows. Each day had its own unique drama moment related to either technical or production problems. In most cases, we found the problem within the tech pack. Sometimes, important construction detail or spec got ignored, causing the major upset.
Days were boring (read superb) if everything went well. Other times, days would turn into Dante‘ Inferno (all nine circles), devouring our time and energy.
Throughout my technical journey in the fashion industry I encountered many tech pack variations created on various platforms.
PLM -product life-cycle management, PDM-product data management, Excel and Adobe Illustrator are the most popular tools for tech pack creation.
What is a Tech Pack?
Tech pack is an important document consisting of detailed information related to the garment making. Factory will require tech pack for each style they are hired to develop and produce. Each style (even if it looks, feels and fits the same but with different minor detail) must have its own technical package.
How to make Technical package in Excel? Best Practices and Tips
Create an Excel document and name it with a unique style number and style description (e.g. 1001 V-neck tee). Most likely, you will communicate all garment changes and updates to your vendors via style numbers rather than style description.
Tip: Create style number coding list and issue styles from the list. You might want to define coding by clothing category, specific to your brand (e.g.1000-tops, 2000-bottoms, 3000-dresses etc.)
Create and format the first page (Cover Page) to include basic information:
style number and style/garment description
Base size (sample size)
Front and Back sketch
You can format the page to your liking. Example shown below is guidance, not a rule.
Copy and paste the page and name the new tab (e.g. Construction Page, Artwork page etc.). Repeat this step to create as many pages as needed.
The Tech Pack Structure
Tech Pack has few pages or tabs. Each page contains information related to the particular garment segment. Providing a clear and comprehensive information in the tech pack will assure expected outcome throughout sampling and bulk production process.
Consider that most garments are being produced overseas. Technicians will translate tech packs to their best ability. Often, translation or interpretation of the most important construction detail will be erroneous. Consequences are dire and might lead to a faulty final product shipment, therefore heavy financial loses.
To prevent such a mistake, include a lot of visual descriptions of the garment in the tech pack. Sketches and photos will provide better quality information rather than writing a “novel” when describing desired design details for the garment.
However, large amount of drawings and photos will increase the file size. Storing and e-mailing large files might become a major headache. There are many available platforms to store and send large files. It is worth spending some time to research the most suitable one for your needs.
Typical tech pack will include:
Designated for flat sketch placement (front and back). Fashion designers use floats while technical designers prefer flats.
Flat sketch is a line sketch created in Adobe Illustrator. Flat sketch is more technical and informational to the actual garment engineering and construction. It shows simplified garment or clothing style and with stitching and shaping devices.
Float sketch is simplified fashion drawing of the garment showing the drape, color and texture. Some fashion designers prefer to make sketches by hand, others use Adobe Illustrator. Floats with color and texture are more attractive than flats. Brands like to use color floats for presentation purposes.
Includes photo of the actual garment for fit and styling reference. Sending the sew-by-sample to the factory to follow for construction and fit is the way to go.
Includes descriptions of construction methods. Seam finishes (stitching), pocket placements dimensions and other specific styling details are essential garment information that sample maker or factory needs to know.
If the garment construction is complex, you might include additional pages to illustrate specific stitching details such as reinforcement stitch (bartack), top stitching or decorative stitching.
Seam finish abbreviations are common when describing construction details. Majority of domestic and overseas factories are familiar with abbreviations for seam finishes. Let’s name a few.
SNTS-single needle top stitch
DNTS-double needle top stitch
SNES-single needle edge stitch
Abbreviations with definitions vary among different companies. For clear understanding of construction methods each company should compile vendor manual or show definition in the tech pack.
Bill of Materials or BOM page
Lists all components needed to make a garment. The list should have a detailed information for each component as the accuracy of the information will play an important role for the garment pricing. BOM page details are:
Fabric information-includes width, weight, color and content. It is important to specify the fabric (woven or knit) and type of finish (pre-shrunk, washed, enzyme wash). Include the lining and interlining information if applicable.
Trim information-includes type of buttons, size and quantity, zippers, elastic, cords and other. List the color and article number. Button and zipper tape color is often listed with the acronym DTM (dye to match).It means that button color must match the garment color.
Thread-it is important that thread weight and quality matches the fabric weight. Allocated factory usually knows this, but it does not hurt to list the thread weight and color.
Label and Hangtag-Include a simple sketch illustrating the placement and dimensions of the main label, size label and COO (country of origin).
Specify each color by the name and Pantone number (preferred method) or CMYK/RGB if created in Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop (if no other information available) for all colorways for the style. For printed fabrics, include repeat snap shot and list all colors with Pantone numbers used within the print.
Include information about logo, embroidery or other decorative, top applied, details. This page should have exact dimensions and specific placement diagrams on the garment. Include detail drawings with placement dimensions (logo, embroidery or stripe details).
What is spec?
Spec or garment specifications are essential part of tech pack. It presents the measurements of the finished garment. Each measurements is called Point of Measure or POM. Description of each POM is very specific, to assure measurement method consistency. Most companies create their own “How To Measure” manual with code number for each POM.
This topic is very complex and deserves separate blog. Look for it in the near future. We will go into more details describing POM-s for various clothing categories.
Let’s focus on basic outline for the spec sheet.
The spec sheet, points of measures, recorded specs should be well organized document as it will be the most important reference for the best garment fit.
Sampling process focuses only on one size. After fit approval of the physical sample, graded spec is submitted to the factory for the final bulk production. Essentially, graded spec refers to size range that factory will make and ship. Spec sheet contains garment spec history throughout development cycle.
Tip: specs for knits are recorded in half measurement and specs for woven garments are commonly referred as full measurement (full circumference).
Full Size Spec Page
This page includes approved PP (pre-production) specs with grade rules for each size. It is the most important information for the factory to produce size run or size range. The sizes are commonly produced as Alpha (XS to XL) or Numerical (e.a. 2-10). Sizing and size range varies among brands on the market and you should get familiar with sizing methods and grade rules to refine your own brand’s sizing and fit signature.
Comments Pages-Fit History
Comment Pages or Evaluation comments present visual record of physical samples fitted on the live model. The best practice is to create comment page for each sample (e.g. Development Comments, PP Sample-Pre-Production Comments), take photos (Front, Side and Back) and include workmanship, fit and spec comments. This is the best way to communicate any changes you want to make on the style to the factory.
Let us know about your experiences creating your own tech pack. Take action and go forward with confidence!
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