This post will show you exactly how to properly create clothing tech packs. No fluff, just facts and examples.
I’m writing this post from the perspective of clothing manufacturers. I have worked in the clothing manufacturing industry for many years both as a designer and within a large-scale clothing manufacturing company.
If you do less than what’s in this post then you risk not receiving accurate quotes; you risk not having your clothing produced correctly; and you risk not even being considered by clothing manufacturers.
I’m also not going to lie, this page will be a bit long. I prefer to think of it as, comprehensive.
This post has everything you need to know and do in order to properly create clothing tech packs. Tech packs are the most important asset you have when approaching manufacturers for your new productions.
So take your time. I understand it may seem daunting at first, it was for me. But trust me, you need to get this part right. And if you follow this post exactly, you’ll have the ability to quickly obtain quotes and get your pattern making started with any clothing manufacturer.
What Are Clothing Tech Packs and Why Are They So Important?
I want to get this one important fact addressed and out of the way, right now.
There is no such thing as a globally accepted standard cost or minimum order quantity for all clothing. There is no central database for all manufacturers to follow. Your production quotes need to be calculated from your tech packs.
Please don’t send enquiries such as “How much does a pair of shorts cost?” or “How many pieces can I produce with your company?” without your detailed tech packs.
My answer to this question is always, “How long is a piece of string?”
Tech Packs or technical specification packs, are like the blueprints to each of your garments. It doesn’t matter whether you’re designing hats or bikini’s or playsuits; the basic principles apply to all clothing.
Manufacturers need to see every detail of your clothing because they need to first calculate your production costs, MOQs (minimum order quantities), and the length of time it will take to produce each piece.
What are we calculating?
From your tech packs:
- we can assess what style of clothing you’re producing and determine the complexity of the work involved, which helps us calculate your production timeframes as well as your costs;
- we can use your seam-to-seam measurements to calculate how much fabric needs to be cut and used in order to produce your clothing;
- from your materials lists (Bill of Materials), we can calculate the costs of items such as sequins or buttons or zippers and also determine the MOQs because we’ll be sourcing these from suppliers and they always come in bags of hundreds or thousands;
- from your Pantone colour choices, we can determine whether your fabric choices already come in stock colours or needs to be dyed;
- since we can provide natural dyeing as well as conventional dyeing, we can then calculate which cost will apply to your production;
- by reviewing your artwork files, we can determine what printing technique will best suit your specific clothing and calculate its costs;
- when you provide specifications of your care labels, woven labels, or hang tags, we can calculate how much these will cost and since there are so many possibilities and options from suppliers, we’ll also be able to tell you what the MOQs will be;
- since we’ll be able to calculate all of the above, we can also accurately calculate your pattern making and samples production costs;
- and more.
As you can see, without your detailed tech packs, manufacturers can’t accurately calculate your costs. And at Clothing Manufacturers Asia, we simply won’t provide you with quotes.
The next part of this post is going to take you on the step-by-step process to properly create clothing tech packs by showing you exactly what information you need to provide in your clothing tech packs.
We’ll be following the flow from our website’s Design Tech Packs page, so feel free to refer to it if you wish.
Grab a bottle of water, rustle up some healthy snacks, and let’s tuck in to this tutorial.
Steps to Properly Create Clothing Tech Packs
Step 1 – Show Us What Clothes You Want To Produce
Every tech pack should have an introduction page or a cover page of some sort. On this page, you should have a variety of photos or sketches that give the manufacturer a general idea of what you’d like to produce.
This is where the manufacturer wants to know whether you’re going with sustainable materials or natural dyes or a high-end market niche. It’s all about the clothing.
The images in this section are for inspiration only, and it will help the manufacturer to understand what style and look you’re aiming for.
The easiest thing to do is to conduct a quick search on Google Images. This is Google’s search service for image content.
When you find clothing that looks like what you want to make, save it, then add it into your tech packs.
Whatever you do, please use some form of file size compressing tool. When you add images with a large file size into your tech packs, the overall file size of your tech packs becomes too big to email or download.
If you’re anything like me, then your drawing skills are probably that of a 4-year old. If you can sketch your styles, then keep them simple.
Use basic outlines with simple elements to represent the various features, their placement, and shapes. These sketches should show the clothing from a straight on angle. Your sketches should be more detailed than artistic.
Add these into your tech packs in some sort of an introduction page or inspiration page at the front.
In TechPacker.com, the area where you upload these images is called Sketches. Check out examples of acceptable image types below. Click these images to enlarge them.
Step 2 – Tell Us How Many Pieces Per Style, Per Colour, And Per Size of Each Clothing You Want To Produce
It’s true that all reputable manufacturers have MOQs. But we still need to know what you envision for your total order quantity and how that is supposed to be spread over sizes.
It’s also true that on this page of our website we state, “The lowest MOQs within our network of manufacturers is approximately 30 pieces per style per colour.”
However, this number is not set in stone nor does it apply to every client or every manufacturer. Let me explain.
Firstly, reputable manufacturers always know the lowest number of pieces they are willing to produce, even if they don’t publicise it. This number allows their business to stay profitable. If your total order is below this number, they won’t want to work with you.
Additionally, these MOQs aren’t always determined by the manufacturer only.
When a manufacturer calculates your production quotes, one of the factors that impacts your MOQs is the amount of fabric that will be used up when producing each piece of your clothing. While another factor is whether you need to dye the fabric.
Manufacturers don’t like to stock large amounts of fabric; it’s costly and takes up a lot of room. They generally source your fabrics through large-scale suppliers as needed. These suppliers have their own MOQs. That means if the manufacturer is forced to purchase a specific MOQ of fabric from the supplier, they will use all of it to produce your clothing.
And if dyeing is required, then the manufacturer needs to mix a certain amount of dyes to achieve the colours you’re looking for. That amount of dye is going to produce X-amount of dyed fabric, which will produce X-amount of clothing.
For example, our smallest manufacturer can generally produce Cotton t-shirts at a starting MOQ of 30 pieces per style per colour. But, if you require dyeing, the MOQ from the fabric dyeing increases the total fabric MOQ to 100m, which produces around 90 t-shirts.
Without your preferred order quantities clearly highlighted in your tech packs, we can’t properly identify the best option for you. If your production requirement is too small, we may not be able to work with you.
If you’d like to properly create clothing tech packs, you must tell us how many total pieces of each article of clothing you expect to produce, and in what sizes.
Step 3 – List What Specific Fabrics And Materials You Want To Use
This is the most important aspect of your clothing because fabrics and materials is what your clothing is comprised of.
You don’t need to know all the exact fabrics and compositions. But you do need to be able to highlight some fabric type in your tech packs because manufacturers need a starting point.
If you do know which fabrics you would like to use, then enter them into a section of the tech pack that is dedicated to showing your fabrics.
In TechPacker.com, the area where you upload example images is called Materials. Check out examples on the images at the bottom of this section.
If you’re not sure about your fabrics, an easy way to learn which fabrics are commonly used, is to visit any online retailer that matches your clothing styles, and simply look at what their clothing is made of.
You can also include the general hand-feel, or perceived weight of the fabric you want to use. For example, there are many ranges of Cotton. Instead of adding in a specific composition or weight, you can simply enter something like “Cotton that is slightly heavy and thick, for wearing t-shirts in the Spring“.
From this information, your manufacturer can more easily narrow down your possible fabrics range, which quickens the quoting process as well.
Materials Lists or Bill of Materials
Materials lists or the Bill of Materials is also a crucial part of every properly completed tech pack.
This is a separate section that needs to be in each of your clothing tech packs, and this is where you highlight what types of materials you want to use.
What are materials? Zippers, buttons, trims, tassels, sequin, beads, jewels, custom drawstring ends, straps, clips, and any other type of functional or aesthetic feature that goes on your clothing is a material.
Ideally, when you create the Materials section, you will also provide images of each item. For example, if you need to use zippers, there can be so many types, qualities, sizes, etc. that you need to tell your manufacturer what type of zippers you envision using.
The best thing to do is to go on Google Images, search for images of your zipper type, download them to your computer and put them in your tech packs. Then include a description, and show where on your clothing the zipper will go. This should be done for all materials or embellishments as well.
Check out some examples of acceptable ways to do this. Click these images to enlarge them.
Step 4 – Include The Specific Colours Of Your Fabric, Your Artwork For Printing, Embroidery, Or Other Embellishments
The way colours should be included in your tech packs is via something called a Pantone Code, while artwork for printing or embroidery can be sent via screenshots and image files.
Pantone is the world’s leading authority on colour matching. They have a website which you can visit that will give you your Pantone code for each colour you want.
The way to include this in your tech packs is to first visit Pantone’s Colour-Finder page, adjust the colour finder palette or enter the name of your desired colour into the search field, and click Submit. The resulting code is what you must enter into your tech packs.
Another alternative way is to go on Google Images, search for the name of a colour, and take a screenshot of an image or download it. Include that image file inside your tech packs. It’s still important to tell us the name of the colour you searched for because there can be many variations and shades.
What about prints?
The same principle applies to all around designs or embroidery. The best way to include your artwork or screenshot files into your tech packs is to include them only into the tech pack it belongs to. After you have entered these into your tech packs, you should also send them as separate files when you submit your tech packs.
The most widely accepted file formats for submitting your artwork are either Ai (Adobe Illustrator), JPG, PNG, or PDF file formats.
If your printing requires that your artwork is to be placed in a specific spot on your clothing rather than being all around, then in your tech packs, you will need to indicate the exact position of the artwork on the clothing and include its dimensions.
This also goes for any other embellishment work such as embroidery, sequin work, beading, etc.
In TechPacker.com, the area where you upload example images is called Materials. Check out examples of acceptable supporting images to use. Click these images to enlarge them.
Step 5 – Show Us Exactly What All the Seam-to-Seam Measurements Need To Be
Following your fabrics choices, the next most important aspect of your tech packs is your seam-to-seam measurements.
I can’t stress how important this section is. Your seam measurements help us to do two things.
First, we use them to calculate how much your production will cost by calculating how much fabrics and materials are going to be consumed for each item of clothing. This also helps us calculate how much dyeing and printing will be required.
Secondly, once your patterns are being made, the manufacturer will use the measurements from your tech packs to create your custom fit clothing. If you have measured correctly, or fairly correctly, your first prototype will come out closer to the desired fit and sizing.
What if you’re not a designer?
No problem. One of the most common things most new designers do is they use existing clothing that they like the fit and sizing of.
For example, lets say you’re designing your own playsuits. And you like the fit of one of your own playsuits that you always wear. You would simply lay it down on a flat surface, take a photo of the front and the back of it from above. Then you would measure all of its seams, and put those images and measurements into your tech packs.
An alternative that CMA gladly supports is to connect with budding designers at universities and colleges in your area. You can hire them as an intern to help you design your clothing. They would gain the experience of working with a brand, while you would gain the experience of working with someone who can create clothing designs.
Sometimes new brands expect the sampling process to be perfect on the first try. I don’t want to disappoint you but this isn’t always the case, and the more complex your clothing is, the longer it may take in the sampling phase.
There are also other types of tests that are happening in this phase that you should be aware of. For example, if you are printing fabric, there is a stage called a Print Strike-off that must be conducted. This is when your manufacturer prints on a 50cm x 50cm bit of your fabric to test for print quality.
Keep in mind that the purpose of the sampling stage is to use this time to perfect your final product. It can take a while to go through this process so be patient. No one is a magician and if your measurements are off, your samples will not come out perfect the first time. It’s very common to rework samples until you are happy.
One last thing to keep in mind. If you are going to be wanting your samples to increase in size, the manufacturer can’t just add more fabric. You’ll need to make new samples from your new measurements.
Think of this like a haircut. You can cut your hair, but you can’t put it back on.
In TechPacker.com, the area where you upload these images is called Measurements. Check out examples of how measurements should be indicated. Click these images to enlarge them.
Step 6 – If You’re Selling Your Clothing You’ll Need To Tell Us About Your Labels and Tags
One of the most exciting moments for all designers is seeing your branded labels and tags get included with your clothing. To me, this part always feels like the process to get my order off the ground is more complete.
There are some things to consider when designing your care labels or tags. There are additional costs for these, so if you include them in your tech packs from the start, you’ll receive a more accurate quote for your whole production.
And costs for these can vary greatly from one country or city to another, from one supplier to another.
For example, when you want to produce swing tags, you need to consider the variety of options that are available to you. Ordering swing tags is a bit like ordering business cards because they can come in a variety of card stocks, and are usually printed on.
Swing tags also have the added features of an eyelet which the chord or string goes through. The eyelets can be left natural or have some form of metal ring to protect against tears. Options for strings is usually also quite varied. The same rules apply to woven labels.
The easiest way to include label and tag designs into your tech packs is to either find images of similar examples on Google Images or draw them yourself. Just remember to include all the artwork for what you want to print on the labels.
Your manufacturer will need to know the dimensions of the label, its position on each clothing, your label’s fabric and colour, along with any artwork for printing or embroidery. Indicate this per clothing item per tech pack via the images you provide.
In TechPacker.com, the area where you upload these images is called Materials. Check out examples of the most acceptable ways to do this in your tech packs.
Step 7 – Final Checklist To Properly Create Clothing Tech Packs
By the end of this exercise, you should know exactly how to properly create clothing tech packs.
Now is a good time to review everything before you send your completed tech packs to manufacturers.
- Is your tech pack in a clear and understandable format that any manufacturer anywhere in the world can understand?
- Did you include an introduction page at the front of your tech packs that shows various images of your clothing?
- Inside each of your tech packs, did you highlight how many pieces you’re looking to produce and the size breakdowns for each item of clothing?
- Have you included your desired fabric choices for each tech pack?
- Did you clearly enter and provide examples of each fabric’s Pantone colour and the materials you want to use for each clothing?
- If you are printing or embellishing your clothing, did you include the correct examples and specifications in each of your tech packs?
- Did you correctly include your seam-to-seam measurements for each article of clothing in its specific tech pack?
- Did you provide examples and specifications for all your care labels, woven labels, and swing tags?
If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to all of those questions, then you’re ready to send your completed tech packs to manufacturers.
Learning how to properly create clothing tech packs is an integral part of obtaining quotes from manufacturers and producing your patterns or samples.
Well, that’s it. Good luck with your clothing designs and manufacturing. I wish you loads of success!