How to Create a Factory Ready Tech Pack Using New Technologies

MakersValley | How to Create a Factory Ready Tech Pack Using New Technologies
Sayam Kochar

Sayam Kochar

If you’re an emerging designer in the fashion industry and did not attend a fashion design school, you might be wondering what a tech pack is and why you should care. A Tech Pack is a blueprint created by a technical designer. It contains all the components and instructions required for a manufacturer to turn your design into a finished product. That includes materials, gradings, seams, colorways, measurements, trim, labels, etc.

Why are Tech Packs important?

Jacket tech pack from TechpackerTech Pack example

A Tech Pack (short for Technical Packet and also known as specification sheets) is a set of documents created by a designer, technical designer, pattern maker, or product developer to explain the fashion product design to a manufacturer so they can turn the information into an actual product for your customers to buy and wear.

When it comes to outsourcing apparel production, most contractors and factories will not take orders from designers unless they provide a clear and detailed Tech Pack. The ultimate goal of a Tech Pack is to minimize the number of samples made (saving you money) and bring a product to market faster. Tech packs also serve as a master document to track product development including comments, revisions, and changes made.

If you’re creating a private label clothing line of unique products, tech packs are an absolute must have. Fortunately, while every product is unique, every tech pack should contain a standard set of information. Once you master this formula, making tech packs for each product in your clothing line’s inventory will be much easier to accomplish.

What's included in a Tech Pack?

Every tech pack you create should include:

  • Technical sketches illustrating every design detail at different angles.
  • Sample sizes and measurements.
  • Construction details. These usually include diagrams with labelled arrows pointing out collars, plackets, cuffs, fastenings, bar tacks, and artwork placement.
  • Bill of Materials (BOM). It’s the list of all the physical elements and their location on the garment. This includes all fabrics, buttons, labels, tags, poly-bags, threads, pads, lining, etc.
  • Stitches and Seams. These include details such as stitches per inch, seams’s width, seam allowances and seam ISO numbers.
  • Identification on every page. Including your company name, sample size, date, changes made, requests, and version on each page of your Tech Pack.

Here’s why.

measurements from a jacket tech pack

Technical sketches, materials and measurements sheets

7 major reasons why Tech Pack is a must-have to create any fashion product

Tech packs aren't nice to have. They're a must have for any apparel manufacturer worth their cost per piece. They're critical to have to assure:

  1. Error-free samples – a comprehensive and easy to read Tech Pack increases the chance for your sample to match your original vision at first go.
  2. Accurate price quotes – the more accurate your Tech Pack is, the more accurate the price estimation you’ll receive from the manufacturer.
  3. Manufacturer accountability. In case your factory switches materials or trims and produces something that doesn't conform to your instructions, you can always refer back to the Tech Pack to point out the mistakes and indicate how to correct them.
  4. Quality control – your Tech Pack is your master document used during your QA process.
  5. Change request tracking – chances are, no matter how accurate your Tech Pack is, your perfect sample will take more than one round to complete.
  6. Savings of time and money – this includes wastes on wrong samples, development costs, and sample logistics. Each step of the product creation process has pitfalls that are easily avoidable by having a detailed Tech Pack to refer back to and with accurate tracking.
  7. It helps you collaborate in teams – your Tech Pack can unite different roles within your supply chain. It can be transformed from a mere document to a collaborative environment where designers, product developers, buyers, and quality control planners work together to create better products faster.

How to create a Tech Pack using new technologies

As with everything, there’s an old school way of building tech packs and an easier, more tech savvy way to build them.

For years, Excel has been the de facto tool to create Tech Packs for the fashion industry. And for good reason. It’s versatile, jam-packed with features and based on something very familiar: spreadsheets. But this is the crux of the problem.

Excel sheet tech pack example

Excel tech pack example

First of all spreadsheets are static. Your Tech Packs and product info is divided into tabs and spread out inside different files and folders. Your communication and comments are spread out between emails and multiple spreadsheets. And you’re spending an uncanny amount of time copy-pasting.

New technologies like Techpacker offer a different approach. It still has that similar tabular structure where data is laid out in rows and columns, but far more flexible.

techpacker sketches and materialsTechpacker workflow

Each row that could be a sketch, material or a measurement of your design is a card that houses all its related images, comments and files. And at any time in just one click you can turn this visual board into a PDF ready Tech Pack, exactly how you print your spreadsheets on Excel, perfect for uploading into your MakersValley project. Unlike Excel, this visual approach gives you a big-picture snapshot of your entire product development process in one glance. You don’t have to switch between tabs when double-checking or editing different sections in your Tech Pack. Sketches, bill of materials, point of measurements, costings, etc. - everything is visible on a single page.

Here are a few examples of PDF ready tech packs inclusive of all the design details mentioned above – Men’s Jacket, Women’s dresses, bed linens, and Handbag.

Advantages of 3D Prototypes

Traditionally, technical sketches for Tech Packs are created in Adobe Illustrator. They are also called flat sketches or fashion flats.

tech pack fashion flats

Traditional technical flat sketch

Using the latest technologies like computer modeling or simulations we can create a 3D prototype. It allows us to identify the design defects and fix them in the early stages of the product development. For example, tools like Marvelous Designer or Clo3D allow you to simulate a garment on a model and check how it fits.

jumpsuit design rendering

Jumpsuit created in Marvelous Designer

While flat sketches are still an essential part of every Tech Pack, creating a 3D prototype can help you make better decisions and test products before manufacturing.

Measurements sheet and how to improve fit quality of the garment

design measurements for tech packMeasurements Sheet

Considering today’s consumers are becoming more aware of what they purchase, they now pay more attention to not only to the style but also to the quality of what they buy. Beyond choosing the best possible factory, fabrics and materials, other aspects can make a significant difference in the quality of your garment. One of them is the fit. And ever so often even experienced designers overlook this essential aspect.

Fit can mean the difference between having someone hooked on your products for a long time or losing them in a second. These top tips will ensure a great fit for your product:

  1. Provide Garment Measurement Tolerances. When creating the size measurement table in your style Tech Pack, you should ideally provide a tolerance for each point of measurement. Since perfection in clothing is impossible, tolerance allows a small margin of error - a plus-or-minus measurement that is acceptable and still meets your quality standards. Measurements Tolerances are usually provided to manufacturers or QA (Quality assurance) professionals through measurement tables in the style Tech Packs. In Techpacker these processes are automated, which saves you a ton of time.
    measurement table in tech pack
  2. Add a “Fit” column in your measurement table to inspect samples. When you receive your fit sample from Italy, use this column to register the actual measurements.There, you can enter the measurements of the sample piece quality control and compare it to the initial measurements in the table to check whether the dimensions are within tolerance.
  3. Be patient and flexible. Usually it takes about 2-3 pre-production samples to approve a final sample. Sometimes more. Being patient and flexible will help you get a product of your dreams without sacrificing quality.

Tech Pack Related Communication between designer and manufacturer

Poor communication between designer and manufacturer may cause misunderstandings and delays in production. It is crucial to keep conversation threads well organized and accessible at any time. Especially if you have to keep up with several threads with different manufacturers.

While digging through emails can be time-consuming and nerve-racking, new cloud-based technologies that allow communicating in one place, like Techpacker, really come in handy.

techpacker capabilities

Managing conversations in Techpacker

Conclusion

A product without a Tech Pack is like a house project without a blueprint. Impossible, right? These tips will help you create a factory ready Tech Pack that is easy to use and navigate, as well as minimize the number of samples you need to make and help you bring your products to market faster.

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