TECH PACK DESIGN
Tech Pack Design For Fashion.
(004). YES. WE ARE OPEN. We offer a first class tech pack design service. But do you need a fashion tech pack designer in order to have your samples or production made ?
Unlike most UK sampling and production services, we do not need tech packs. Making a tech pack for sampling is not always a god investment.
When Do I Need A Tech Pack ?
There are times when you absolutely do need a tech pack. If you have decided to have your designs sampled and manufactured abroad, you would be well advised to have a professional tech pack. Or if you are using a factory that does not have highly experienced pattern cutters.
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Tech Pack Designer.
It takes a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience to be a professional fashion tech pack designer. There are countless people in the UK clothing industry offering this services, but most are just not up to the job.
Tech pack design requires a thorough understanding of pattern cutting, garment construction, fabrics and sizing. But it also requires specialist knowledge of the specific apparel field in question, such as tailoring, sportswear, swimwear, or lingerie.
It takes at least ten years experience to become proficient in tech pack design, although twenty would be better. Experienced freelance apparel tech pack designers are very hard to find in the UK.
The Apparel Tech Pack Designer.
Theoretically an apparel tech pack designer is trained specifically to design tech packs. But in reality, it may just be a term that they apply to themselves. At the end of the day what counts is their experience rather than their job title.
In the clothing industry it is generally either the designer, or the garment technologist ( garment tech ) who provides the fashion tech pack and garment spec. Their job is to oversee each stage of garment production, from fitting the sample to the final production.
Often the garment tech will have a background in pattern cutting, quality control, or sample machining, with extensive knowledge of all three. They also need to have in-depth knowledge of grading and sizing in order to produce an accurate size chart.
Freelance Garment Tech.
A freelance garment tech plays an even bigger role, even though there is generally far less money at stake. While there is no shortage of freelancers offering a tech pack service, good freelance garment technologists are few and far between in the U.K.
Anyone who is thinking of manufacturing either in the UK, or abroad, should invest in the services of an experienced garment technologist. Our own garment techs are highly experienced in multiple fields.
Accurate Garment Measurements.
We frequently have clients come to us with poorly designed tech packs, with inaccurate measurements and instructions. These are just a waste of money, and far worse than having no tech pack at all.
Often these tech packs have been made by inexperienced fashion designers or garment technologists, who may have experience in their own field, but lack the fully rounded knowledge that is necessary to be a professional tech pack designer.
Sometimes their garment spec bares no relationship to the design, or the sketch is just a generic one. Other times there is too much unnecessary detail.
If we were to follow these tech packs faithfully there could be big problems. But if we dont follow them, we could be liable for any problems that arise.
Our Tech Pack Design Service.
We are happy to work with professional, well designed tech packs supplied by our clients, or offer our own expert tech pack advice and design service.
But we would rather liaise with the client to create our own professional tech packs with our highly experienced fashion professionals.
We can advise on exactly what type of tech pack you need and let you know how much this will cost. We recognise that our UK clients are looking for a cost effective service.
We can advise you on the types of seams, or stitching. We can advise on which labels you need and what important information you need to provide.
If you have a number of designs that are similar, we may feel that you dont need to a tech pack for each design. So, what should be included in a tech pack ?
How To Create A Tech Pack.
A professional fashion tech pack is an undoubted advantage for both factory and client. Anything that requires specific instructions should be illustrated and described succinctly with images and illustrated sketches.
Fabrics, trims, tags and labels should be specified. A separate measurement sheet should be supplied for all important measurements in all sizes. There should be a detailed technical sketch of both front and back.
If you would like tolearn how to create a tech pack professionally, we run a one to one tech pack workshop.
What Is A Tech Pack ?
A garment tech pack ( technical pack ) is a collection of specification sheets that provide the blueprint for your design. It is a crucial tool used in garment product development, providing information for the factory or sampling unit to make your style exactly as you designed it to be.
Done properly, a tech pack should save a lot of time and money in both sampling and production.
An established brand would normally make three or four samples before production. For them, this accounts for an insignificant part of the total costs.
But a small brand needs to get it right first time. Otherwise the costs of sample making alone could break them.
If each repeat sample cost say £60, including fabrics and trims, then four repeat samples would cost £240 for each style. If you are making a total of 100 garments for each style, this would not be sustainable.
A detailed tech pack contains :-
- Technical Drawings
- Zoom Views
- Spec Sheet
- Size Chart
- Bill Of Materials ( B O M )
- Costing Sheet
- Fabric costing
- Construction details
- Quantities per size/colour
- Sample history
- Pantone Colour Reference
- Point of measurement diagram
- Folding and packaging
The technical drawing is the central document in the tech pack. It is an overview of the design. It contains the front and back garment illustrations, along with important information regarding construction, stitching, trims, placements, etc.
A picture says a thousand words. It is important for the technical sketch to be clear, accurate and succinct. If there are any special details that need to be explained in more detail it may be necessary to have illustrations of those details along with further information on separate pages.
Each style should have a style number and/or name. This should be noted at the top of the page. Sometimes each design will have one number, and the styles that are put into production will have a different number.
Some design details need to be shown in close-up for accurate illustration. Any detail that is unusual, or unclear needs to be clearly explained, and a picture is the most efficient method.
Hand Written Or PDF ?
There is no law that says you cannot supply a hand written tech pack for sampling – As long as it is clear and accurate. I always provide a basic illustrated sketch with my initial pattern. This includes a front and back sketch, along with basic information about seams and stitching.
Any unusual details would be illustrated in close-up. When clients give me hand written tech packs though, they are often difficult to read and understand, especially when they dont write in capitals.
While a PDF tech pack looks more professional, it can be deceptive. The images are often generic, so although the design looks defined and certain, it may not have been drawn to accurately reflect the designer`s actual ideas.
Seams may be in the wrong position, or collars may be the wrong shape. Even a poorly hand drawn design does tend to reflect more what the designer wants. When it comes to production however, a professional pdf tech pack is a better option.
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Fashion Tech Pack Advice.
We are happy to provide our clients for advice concerning fashion tech packs. Feel free to give us a ring to discuss.
How To Make A Garment Spec Sheet.
This list of garment measurements, taken from the fit sample, is called a spec sheet. Or a size spec. The measurements may well change several times before the final production.
Some people will use the pattern measurements for their size spec. But this can lead to confusion, as the pattern may not correspond to the garment.
And the factory sample may measure differently to the fit sample. If this happens then either the pattern needs to be altered, or the spec sheet is altered.
As the size spec is used in quality control to compare against production, it seems counter intuitive to use the pattern measurements.
Sometimes a diagram is needed to illustrate where precisely the measurements are taken from. The method of measuring the garment needs to be replicated whoever is measuring.
To the beginner it may seem easy to take a series of garment measurements. But it is something that requires some experience. It does need to be done by a professional.
We often have to try to make patterns with measurements taken by non professionals that just dont add up.
The size chart is an important part of any tech pack. It is a list of the spec sheet measurements, covering the full range of sizes. These measurements are calculated from the base size in the spec sheet.
Normally the size chart would be provided by the Tech Pack designer, but it does require an extensive knowledge of grading rules.
Sometimes it is left to the grader to determine the grading rules and to supply the size chart. But this would require communication between the grader and the designer.
There are a number of different standard ways of grading a garment.
Bill Of Materials.
The bill of materials (BOM ) is a detailed list of all the components of your design – Fabrics, lining, fusings, trims, labels and threads that go into making the garment.
Fabric swatches, buttons and trim samples may be included. It is an extremely useful tool. You could also include a column for Suppliers.
The fashion costing sheet is a list of all the costs associated with the cost of the garment. It is useful to use a template for your costing sheet so that everything gets listed.
It is essential to know all of the costs that go into making your garment so that you know how much to charge in order to make a profit.
Fabric consumption may appear on the costing sheet, but needs to be calculated separately. Fabric costing is a skill that requires some experience to master and does really need to be left to the professionals.
Whether figured manually, or using a dedicated computer program, It is important to get an accurate costing for each garment.
Fabric constitutes a large part of the total cost of a garment, so some thought and care has to go into obtaining an accurate costing. Its easy for an inexperienced person to miscalculate.
Sometimes it is possible to work out an accurate costing from one garment. But often there is a lot of waste in costing for one. So, it may be necessary to calculate for two, three, or even four.
If you are using a computer program, then the computer will do much of the work for you. It will have all the pattern pieces for all the different sizes that will enable it to figure out a super accurate lay plan too.
If you are doing the costing manually, then you may just have one size to work with. And just one pattern piece for each part of the garment.
Usually the costing is done by laying the pattern pieces within an area that represents the folded cloth.For a 150 cms wide fabric, this would be 75 cms wide.
If a costing for one is uneconomical, then you would need to draw round the pattern pieces, then re-lay them for a costing for two, three, or four.
This document illustrates which labels are used, where they are placed and how they are attached. Labels include size labels, brand labels, flag labels and care labels.
Some of these are statutory requirements covered by law. Others are up to you. Different countries have different requirements when it comes to labels.
There are no laws regarding size labelling. You can call your sizes whatever you like. Or you can choose not to have a size label at all if you prefer. It is obviously in your interests to label your clothes in a way that accurately informs your customers.
Different countries have different sizing, so it may be advantageous to include a label that has all the different alternatives. Or you may prefer to use S-M-L-XXL etc.
As part of the sale of goods act, garments must be “as described”. It is illegal to label fabric composition inaccurately. You may want to supply a separate composition label, or to add the information to another label.
It is important to provide accurate care labels to avoid unhappy customers and returns. Many small businesses provide care labels with extreme caution. They may for instance, label everything as “hand wash” if they dont really know what the care instructions should be.
Any specific construction details need to be described and illustrated, using images, photos, or sketches. Sometimes this requires a separate page for each detail.
Other times a single page can carry a number of details. Some types of garment need more construction details than others.
Quantities Per Size / Colour.
As the heading suggests, this sheet details the quantities of the style that are to be made in each colour and each size. Each size and colour has to be made in a separate batch to avoid mixing them up.
The higher the quantity per size and colour, the cheaper the production costs should be. The Pantone colour finder is a good source for colour definitions.
This page documents the sampling history. It lists the sample measurements, and the alterations required through the sampling process.
For most small brands we would not want more than one set of alterations in this history. Some types of product do require more development though. These are generally garments that are more functional than fashion related.
Good communication, correct procedure and experience are very important here, as it is remarkably easy to get this wrong.
Tech Pack For Sampling.
Most clothing factories insist on tech packs, even before sampling. in our opinion, they are not really necessary until the production stage.
Advantages In Using A Tech Pack.
A detailed Tech Pack is absolutely vital for a large fashion business. They can afford to employ experienced professionals throughout every stage. These people know exactly what they are doing, and why. They can be confident that their instructions are clear and accurate.
The factory believe that you have a more professional approach if you supply a well designed tech pack. They are therefor more likely to take you seriously and to put care into creating your styles.
They are less likely to outsource your production . Many factories will not even consider your order if you do not provide a tech pack.
“Paper money eventually returns to its intrinsic value – Zero.” VOLTAIRE
How Much Does A Tech Pack Cost ?
The cost of a clothing tech pack can be prohibitively expensive for a small fashion business. The price for a comprehensive tech pack can be anywhere up to £800 for each style.
This is way too expensive for a small business, so we need to determine what is actually necessary and what can be cut out. The price depends on the complexity of the design and the depth of information required. Our standard tech pack costs £160.
If a size spec is required, this would add to the cost, but it can be very useful. It can be cheaper to allow the factory to do the grading, but dont rely on them doing so without a size chart.
Size charts for Childrenswear can cost more as there are so many more sizes, but few graders understand childrens grading, so need to be provided with a chart from an expert.
If there are large production runs at stake, then this is definitely a worthwhile investment. Even for small production runs, I would recommend having a professional tech pack created, but it would be worth considering the tech pack workshop as an alternative cost effective solution.
In these 1-1 workshops we sit down with you and go through your designs, providing you with the information for you to complete the tech pack, using our tech pack templates.
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The hardware used in garment termonology refers to the trims such as buckles, poppers and zips.
Do I Need A Tech Pack For A Sample ?
Many factories and sampling units will insist on a tech pack from the start. This is not a problem for the larger, established clothing manufacturers because they can afford it.
But for small startup brands it can prove to be very expensive and time consuming, especially if they do not fully understand what a tech pack is.
We at The London Pattern Cutter, prefer not to use formal tech packs for the initial sample, as we believe them to be unnecessary and prohibitive at this stage. We do of course try to ensure that we gather as much information as necessary to be able to get the sample right first time.
Once the sample is perfected, we can then provide you with a tech pack for production. If we are doing the production we may not need a formal tech pack, but if you are going elsewhere we would definately advise on using one.
Unless the designer fully understands what they are doing. I believe that tech packs can be a waste of money that inhibits the sampling process. This is because, unless you know exactly what you want you are preventing the pattern cutters and sample makers from using their own judgement.
A professional designer will normally know exactly what construction they want for their garment, but the average startup designer does not really have a clue.
They just know what the garment needs to look like. When you provide a tech pack you are providing complete instructions on making something that you may not understand.
The sample maker may be happy because they simply need to follow the instructions to cover themselves. Some sample machinists need to have everything written down, others are happy to just use their own judgement. Sometimes that is what you may want.
But the sample machinist isnt interested in leafing through pages of notes. They just want one sheet of paper with a practical working sketch along with clear and precise information such as seam allowances, hem types, top stitching etc. This is normally provided by the pattern cutter.
In my opinion there is a lot of misinformation about tech packs, given by very experienced fashion professionals. Throughout the internet and even in popular books on starting a fashion business, these professionals tend to think that everyone starting a fashion brand has plenty of money available to do things as the big brands would do them.
Tech Packs For Start-ups.
Most startup owners know very little about tech packs. They do not know what it is, or how to go about creating one. Often they do not have a clear idea how they want their design to be made.
They tend to rely on the factory to just sort it all out for them. The factory may well do just that, but not always as the Designer had envisaged.
The average startup fashion company is working on a limited budget, so they cannot operate in the same way that the big brands do. I am not saying that they should not use tech packs – Just that they should use them wisely and efficiently.
Most big brands will not develop their samples in the U.K. They may still have their design studio in London, but the factory may be in Turkey or China.
They would usually get the factory to do the sample development while they provide the instructions. In this case it would be absolutely necessary to supply a tech pack from the start.
But the tech pack is not a static document. It will change as the design and fit changes. Each change would require a revised tech pack.
The big brands may make three or four samples of each style before production. This would mean four or five tech packs, as there would need to be a final tech pack for production as well.
It goes without saying that most startups cannot afford to have this many samples, along with patterns and tech packs. So a method has to be found to reduce costs dramatically without increasing risks.
Unlike many sampling units we do not require tech packs. In fact we positively discourage them. Once we have made the final sample to your satisfaction, we can then produce a definitive professional tech pack for you to provide to the factory.
I often have clients come to me with their tech packs in hand asking me to provide a sample accordingly. Normally these tech packs have been designed by fairly inexperienced designers.
The information is normally incorrect and very restricting, so I usually suggest ignoring the tech pack and starting from scratch. I just get the client to provide me with the type of information I need to ensure as far as possible that the resulting garment is correct.
” Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt” HERBERT HOOVER
We have dealt with many new fashion entrepreneurs whos first experience in the fashion industry has been a complete disaster, due to very basic and avoidable errors.
Often these errors are just due to poor communication with the pattern cutter or with the factory. Sometimes it is due to the assumption that the people they are dealing with have a basic level of competence. This is a dangerous assumption in the clothing business.
Sometimes it is due to the factory taking advantage of the client`s lack of experience by overcharging, and providing an inferior service.
If you decide to use foreign factories, then you cant leave anything to chance. You will have to pay for your garments before they ship them to you.
The first you will be aware of any problems with them would be when they land on your doorstep. This is where a professional tech pack is essential. You definitely must use one produced by an experienced professional in this case.
Swimwear Tech Packs.
In order to construct a swimwear tech pack to a professional standard, it is necessary to have very strong experience of swimwear construction, sizing and pattern making.
An experienced swimwear garment technologist should be sufficiently qualified for this task. The same applies to any specialist area of garment development.
Lingerie, sportswear and underwear are related areas. Our swimwear specialists can provide a swimwear tech pack service to your exact requirements.
T Shirt Tech Pack.
Although T shirts are just about the easiest garment you can make, they do need to be exactly right. And it is more difficult to get right than you may think.
A tech pack is an essential part of the production process, ensuring that your T shirt is perfect. Everything about the shape needs to be exact, and the sizes need to be graded exactly to ensure that every size looks like a bigger version of the base size.
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We dont really encourage the use of generic garment tech pack templates for new businesses.
Each design is different and each type of design requires a different template.
While professional tech packs can be very useful, the DIY approach results in poor information that in turn can lead to disaster.
I get quite nervous when given a comprehensive tech pack by a new client.
They have normally read some article on the internet that tells them that a factory wont take them seriously without one.
Yes, many factories do require a tech pack. But that is because it is in their interests, not yours.
If they follow your tech pack instructions they can take no blame for anything that goes wrong.
We really dont need a tech pack to get your samples made.
We just need some basic information. And I need a bit of freedom to create what I believe is wanted from your design.
If you restrict us with poor information and incorrect measurements, then we have to follow your instructions to the letter, even if it is wrong.
If you are designing T shirts, we can offer you a specific T shirt tech pack template.
If you are designing tailored trousers, then we can offer you another template.
You may need some guidance in completing the tech pack professionally though.
If you are doing large production runs, then I would suggest contacting us first to determine the best approach.
In this case we would be very reluctant to suggest making your own tech packs from our templates.
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How Much Is A Tech Pack Template ?
We offer two types of tech pack template services – Supported, or unsupported.
In both cases you would need to contact us in order to discuss what type of templates you need for your specific designs.
But in the supported version we will give you telephone and email support while you create the tech packs yourself.
The price for both the supported and unsupported templates would depend on the templates you need.
Tech Pack Workshop
In our opinion, an excellent way for a new business to produce a tech pack is to do our one-to-one tech pack workshop.
In this workshop, you will sit down with a highly experienced professional and make the tech pack together using your design ideas.
Please visit our Tech pack FAQ page for more information.
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