Whether you’re an old pro, or a complete beginner in the apparel manufacturing industry, you’ve probably heard the words “tech pack” used quite a bit, but what exactly is a tech pack? Many people have misunderstandings about what they are, and when you need one. Today, we’re going to explain tech packs simply so that you can move forward confidently with your project.
Simply put, a tech pack is a collection of information about your garment or sewn item that explains to the company or person producing the item exactly how it is constructed, including such details as materials used, garment measurements, thread weight, etc. Think of it as an instruction manual or blue-print for your product. These days, tech packs are most frequently seen as PDF documents.
One very common misconception people have starting out in this industry is that a tech pack is the very first thing you need, and that you can’t begin developing your product without one. This couldn’t be further from the truth! In fact, a proper tech pack is a collection of all the information required for a finalized, graded (sized) garment. You can’t possibly have a proper tech pack for an item that hasn’t yet been developed. The best way to create your tech pack is along side the product itself as you develop it with your development team. Once the garment is fully developed, so too is your tech pack.
You may already have a product that is production ready, but you either didn’t know about tech packs, or didn’t need one at the time you developed it. No problem! It’s also very easy to create a tech-pack for an item after it’s fully developed. The only thing you can’t do is make a full tech pack before the garment development has begun.
That said, many clients do come to us with tech packs completed before they have initially contacted us. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s very rare that the information in these tech packs stays true throughout the development process. As you sample and fit your garment, things almost always change from what you may have originally planned or anticipated, and thus your tech pack has to change to reflect that. It’s easy enough to make these changes, but it’s not an efficient use of your money to pay for your tech pack twice, so it’s best to develop your tech pack at the same time or after your item is fully developed.
Now let’s do a brief dive into what a tech pack contains:
Technical illustrations with callouts
Garment specs and tolerances
Pattern chart/Cutter’s must
BOM (Bill of Materials)
1. Technical Illustrations:
No surprises here! This is simply a flat illustration of the garment that the tech pack is for. As seen in the image above, this image will also get “callouts” meaning certain body measurements are called out by numbers/letters so that graded specs (measurements of that body point on the garment through all sizes) can be called out for quality control. This way, whoever is producing your garment can check to be sure that all of the garments fall within the spec tolerances (more on that below!)
2. Garment specs and tolerances:
This page in the tech pack has “specs”, or measurements for each of the called out body measurements in every size that the garment is made in. As you can see, the numbers on this list correspond with the numbers on the technical illustration above to ensure that the production team clearly understands where these measurements fall on the garment.
Tolerances are important and quite simple. The tolerance is the allowable variance from the associated measurement. For example, if the measurement of the chest circumference for a size small is 34” with a 1/4” tolerance, that means that a finished measurement of 33 3/4” to 34 1/4” would be acceptable quality. Anything higher or lower than that number would fall outside of tolerance and be considered 2nd quality. Depending upon your agreement with your production facility, only a certain percentage of your order is allowed outside of tolerance before they would be required to correct or reimburse.
As you can see in this example, there is a general tolerance listed at the bottom of the page stating that 1/8” to 1/4” is tolerable for all specs. In many cases, individual tolerances for each measurement are listed. It just depends on the project and the item in question.
3. Pattern chart/Cutter’s must:
The pattern chart (or cutter’s must as it is traditionally known) is simply a list of the pattern pieces that will be cut to make the garment. This document will usually include the names of each pattern piece, as well as how many pieces are cut, and from what material. This will ensure that your production team has all the pattern pieces they need to assemble your garment. If a piece is listed here, but it isn’t included in your pattern or marker, they will know to contact you before proceeding.
4. BOM (Bill of Materials):
Your bill of materials is very important. This document will list all of the materials that go into an item, with details about them. This includes your fabric, buttons, zippers, labels, hang-tags, threads, trims and notions, absolutely everything. Details about the materials composition, size, color, placement, etc. will be included here. Our example here is incredibly simple as this item has but one fabric (label placement is not included on this example, but would be located here). Notice at the bottom that thread notes about type and weight of thread are included, as well as the machines used in construction.
5. Stitch order:
Stitch order for ST-10001:
- 4T overlock right shoulder seam
- Coverstitch bind neckhole
- 4T overlock left shoulder seam
- 4T overlock sleeves to armholes
- 4T overlock side seams
- Coverstitch 1/8" needle spacing, sleeve hem 1/2"
- Coverstitch 1/8" needle spacing, shirt hem 1/2"
- Lockstitch: bartack left shoulder binding/seam allowance toward back
A stitch order is very helpful for your production team. This document lists the order of operations, including machines used, for the assembly of the garment. Any production team worth their salt would be able to figure this out from the sample and pattern, but it saves a lot of time, and may present a construction method they would have otherwise overlooked, saving you money. It’s important to recognize that every facility has different machines and practices, and will construct the garment according to the machines they have, so some changes may be necessary when moving from one facility to another.
Keep in mind, tech pack needs will vary based on the project. Very simple products may require less information, and very complex items may require much more than what we’ve covered here, but these are the basics. If you need a tech pack made for your product, or would like to begin developing a new product and tech pack, contact us for more information on how to get started with Stitch Texas!
About Stitch Texas:
Stitch Texas is an apparel design, development, and production company based in Austin, TX. Stitch Texas serves emerging and existing clothing designers who want to take an idea from concept to production in the apparel industry. We have helped hundreds of clients move from fashion idea to finished products, and are proud to be a US-based clothing manufacturer that pays fair living wages. Learn more at https://stitchtexas.com.
321 W BEN WHITE BLVD
AUSTIN, TX 78704
BY APPOINTMENT ONLY
* WE ARE LOCATED BEHIND THE RETAIL CENTER*