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What is a tech pack and why is it important?

A tech pack is a master document that contains all of the technical information about a product. It includes everything from the product’s measurements to the type of fabrics that should be used. A tech pack is an essential tool that works like an instruction manual for any clothing manufacturer, as it ensures that all products are made to the same specifications.

By providing a factory ready tech pack you are taking the guesswork out of how to produce your style and will receive a sample that is truer to your design. Having a tech pack also gives you the ability to shop your product around to different manufacturers and manage quality control.

What goes into a tech pack?

A tech pack typically includes the following information:

Style Details

The style details in a tech pack are usually in the header and include:

Style Number:

  • Each of your styles should have a unique number. This will help you keep track of your tech packs and make it easier for manufacturers to identify each style.

Description:

  • A good description will notate key details about the design such as garment type, customer (man, women, or child), and fit. An example description for a women’s legging may be “Women’s full length legging”.

Size Range

  • Notate what size range the garment will be produced in. Most commonly seen in the industry are small through extra-large.
  • This is also an excellent location to notate the sample size of your fit sample. The sample size is the size that you would like the sample to be produced in.

Technical Sketch

The technical sketch can be referred to as a fashion flat. This will show the garment from multiple angles with all the design details that are important to the construction of the garment. This is used as a tool for both the design team and tech team to ensure that everyone is on the same page with what the final product should look like.

Callouts

Callouts notate specific construction details that the garment needs to have per the designer. These can be things like:

– Trim details

– Functional pocket details

– Buttons and buttonholes

– Zipper placements

– Elastic placements

and more. Without these callouts, it would be very difficult for the factory to construct the garment correctly. A detailed tech pack should have high quality photos or sketches of these details from existing garments. This portion of the tech pack should be handled by an expert pattern maker or technical designer to make sure the garment comes together in the best possible way.

Measurement Chart

The measurement chart will have the initial measurements for key points of measure that the pattern maker will follow to create the pattern. Included with the measurement chart will be a description of how the garment should fit. For example, if the tech pack is for a pair of jeans the measurement chart will include waist, hip, outseam, inseam, rise, and thigh measurements. The description might read: “The garment should fit snug through the hips and thighs with a tapered leg opening”.

Once your sample is approved and graded the rest of the measurements will be filled out with the measurements for each size. This may be called the spec sheet as well. When your initial sample is complete the actual measurements will be recorded to document the changes from the pattern to the sample.

Measurement chart sketch

A good tech pack should also include fashion flats of the garment in this section. This sketch will help the factory understand the points of measure used to take the measurements.

Bill of materials

The bill of materials (BOM) is a list of all the components needed to make a product. It includes everything from the thread and elastic used to assemble the product, to the fabric and trims used for its finish. The BOM is an important tool for factories, as it ensures that they have all the necessary components to complete a product.

Information to include in the BOM:

Description

  • Describe the materials by the type of material, width, and other qualities that helps identify the material.

Placement

  • The location of where the material is used. For example, if an applique is placed on the left chest, it would be notated as “LC”. The main fabric of a garment will be placed on the “body” as an example.

Supplier

  • This column will have the vendor that is supplying the material.
  • If your manufacturer is sourcing the material this column can be filled with “vendor to source”. If you are sourcing the fabric yourself, then list the specific fabric type, content (if known) and weight/hand. Be as thorough as possible.
  • Reference number or SKU. Most suppliers will carry a dozen more types of the same fabric. By including the reference number, you can be sure that everyone in your supply chain is referring to the exact same fabric.

Colorways

  • The colors that the material will be purchased in.
  • A mistake that many new designers make is to specify the exact Pantone colors without consulting the vendor to see what is available in stock. By requiring exact colorways you are telling the manufacturer that your materials need to be dyed and that comes with higher MOQs and costs. If you are producing small batch quantities (under 500 units), it’s best to work with their existing stock of fabrics and trims.

Material Pictures

  • A picture of your material will help the manufacturer understand your vision for the product.
  • If you do not have a picture of the exact material, you can use a placeholder image like a swatch or sketch. The important thing is to be consistent with the image throughout your tech pack so that everyone is clear on what materials are being used.

Cutters must

The cutters must, like the map key to your pattern, is a list of all the pattern pieces that are relevant to a particular design. It will show you how many types of fabric there are and which pattern pieces are cut in them. It’ll tell you how many different types of each pattern piece will need to be cut out to make one sample.

This is an important tool for the factory as it ensures that they are cutting out all the correct pieces in all the right fabrics.

To create your cutters must list:

Pattern Piece Name: This is the name of the individual pattern piece. For example, if you were making a pair of leggings you would have a pattern piece for the front, back, and waistband.

Number of Placements: This column will tell you how many times that pattern piece appears in the garment. For example, a pair of leggings would have 2 front pieces and 2 back pieces.

Cut from: This column will list all the different types of fabric that the pattern piece can be cut from. In our leggings example, the front and back could both be cut from an interlock, but the waistband would need to be cut from a stretch fabric with more compression.

Notions: This column lists all the trims and other materials that need to be applied to a pattern piece. For example, a legging pocket might need a zipper or topstitching in addition to the interlock fabric.

Decoration placement

The exact location of your artwork placement and branding goes is important for maintaining a uniform look across your collection. This section provides your manufacturer with precise measurements and notes on where to place your logo, hangtags, and other details.

Labels and care instructions

Labels often come as an afterthought in the design process, but they are an essential part of every garment. In this section, you will want to include the type of label (woven, printed, etc.), the size, and the placement on the garment. You will also want to provide care instructions in multiple languages.

Packaging

If you are selling your garments in stores, you will need to provide packaging materials specifications such as hangtags, poly bags, and boxes. If you are selling online, you will still need to provide packaging specs for shipping. In this section, you will want to include the dimensions of each type of packaging, the weight, the type of materials to be used, and any further printing or embellishments.

Why The Details Matter

Creating a tech pack can be a daunting task due to the number of design details that can go into any one style. A T-shirt alone can have over 30 different points where design decisions need to be made by a pattern maker or technical designer.

A poorly finished tech pack will raise more questions than answers. As a manufacturer, we have seen tech packs for garments that couldn’t physically be constructed. The time we spent going back and forth with the brand owner trying to decipher what he wanted extended his lead time by 6-8 weeks. A professional tech pack tells your manufacturer that you are serious about establishing yourself in the fashion industry. If you are starting out determine how much your time is worth and then decide if you want to make your own tech packs.

How much does a tech pack cost?

When contacting a technical designer to get a quote for your tech pack, you can expect to be charged a design fee, revision fee and sometimes a per hour rate. The design fee is a one-time cost that will cover the time it takes to create your tech pack. The revision fee is for any changes (big or small) that you may want after the tech pack has been initially created. The per hour rate is what you would expect to pay if you need to make changes on an hourly basis.

The complexity of your style and the number of details will have the most influence on price.

The more references that you can provide with callouts of the elements that you like the lower your quote will generally be. This is because the designer has less guessing to do and can spend more time on the details that you are looking for. If you have no references at all expect to pay a higher design fee.

Benefits of using a tech pack

When you have a technical packet, you are essentially giving your manufacturer all the information they need to create your product. This includes details on the fabric, colors, trims, and any special features or requirements that your product may have. Having a tech pack also ensures that there is no miscommunication between you and your manufacturer.

A technical packet can help you save time and money in the long run. By having all of the information organized into one document, it makes it easier for everyone involved to understand what is needed and eliminates the need for additional back-and-forth communication. This leads to error free samples and gets your styles to market faster.

A tech pack is also used throughout the product development process of a product to track product development and vendor compliance. Without a detailed record of your product, it can be difficult to know where things went wrong – or right – during the manufacturing process.

Tips for creating an effective tech pack

When it comes to creating an effective tech pack, there are a few things to keep in mind. Here are some tips:

-Start by assembling all of the information you’ll need before you start drafting your tech pack. This will include product specifications, measurements, sketches, and any other relevant information.

-Be as specific as possible when drafting your tech pack. The more detail you include, the easier it will be for your manufacturer to understand your product and create a prototype.

-Include photos or sketches of your product to help illustrate your specifications. Include callouts of the details that you want in your style.

-Make sure all of your information is accurate.

Software used to create a technical packet

There are a few different software programs that can be used to create tech packs. Some of the most popular are Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and Excel. Techpacker and BackBone PLM are two software programs that are specifically designed for creating tech packs, both are cloud based software.

When it comes to choosing a tech pack software program, it is important to find one that is user-friendly and offers all the features you need.

It is also important to make sure that the software is compatible with your manufacturer’s systems.

Conclusion

If you’re a designer or brand looking to take your product idea from prototype to reality, it’s important that you have a tech pack. A tech pack is essentially the instructions for how to make your product and what materials are needed. It also includes details on sizing, colors, trims, or any special features of your style. If you need help getting started with putting together a tech pack or want someone else to put one together for you contact our team here at Arcus Apparel Group, and let us know! We’ll be happy to get in touch with you about pricing and other services we offer!

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