Tech Pack Basics
Building a tech pack will be slightly unique to every company. Each has its own template, and many use Product Line Management Software Systems to store data, simplify the work and standardize the formats. Throughout my career, I’ve found that every Tech Pack should house three main elements at the very least:
I’ve seen technical sketches executed in a variety of ways, and as long as your manufacturing partner can understand the specifications listed, any of them can work. Some companies will allow their designers to do hand-drawn sketches with details called out all around the illustration. A truly buttoned up version will show a proportionally accurate flat sketch, which is digitally drawn on the computer. Surrounding the sketch will be similar detail notes with arrows pointing to the detail location. At the highest level of Technical Sketching, I’ve helped teams employ a coded construction manual. The manual includes close-up digital sketches of each detail itself, which is then coded with an alpha-numeric combination. For example, three different Collar Construction details that the company uses over and over again could be coded as “C01-C03” on the Technical Sketch to simplify the verbiage. As many manufacturers’ first language won’t match yours, it can be much faster and easier to communicate via these drawings, instead of writing out too many words.
Bill of Materials (BOM):
A chart listing out every single fabric, trim, label and packaging item should be included for each garment. These charts should also list out fabric yields and/or trim quantities with their cost per yard or per piece to help calculate rough costs. The factory will use these forms to make sure they’ve ordered all correct elements of the garment, using your chosen items and colors. Bills of material can be an often overlooked item, as they tend to become a copy / paste template from piece to piece when you’re building larger lines. My advice is to pay close attention to every single row and column in your BOM, to ensure all of the details are correct. I cannot tell you how many times a garment arrives with an incorrect trim or missing a crucial part because someone didn’t list it properly on the BOM.
Whether you’re only listing out the sample size measurements at first, or whether you’re fully including graded specifications and grade rules, measurements will be key to creating your apparel samples. Your factory can reference back to your target measurements when they are creating your pattern and sewing your samples. This also gives them a great reference point when they are quality checking your garments before sending to you.
From there, you can add additional elements: Construction Detail Sheets, Packaging Instructions and How-to-Measure Sketches, to name a few. (We will talk more about these details in future posts). The most important goal you want to accomplish with any Tech Pack is to communicate all of the important garment details to the manufacturer as clearly as possible. Simple garments will have less pages and information, so it doesn’t always have to be a huge document.
I also recommend that you never duplicate information in a tech pack, so that can also help to simplify this process. For example, if you list out a pocket measurement on your measurements sheet, don’t also list it on a technical sketch. There is too much room for error when listing information twice in a Tech Pack, which will only cause confusion and unnecessary questions from your manufacturing partner. Keep it simple not only for yourself, but also to prevent these kinds of mistakes and you’ll see success with your Tech Packs.