How to create a tech pack
The Tech Pack
A builder would never build a house without a blueprint and it is exactly the same thing for a garment. The manufacturers need to know what you have in mind, what the garment looks like front and back including details, what materials you have in mind, what trims you want on your garment, and what type of fit it should have.
This is the most important document in your product development process, and needed in all areas of bringing your brand to the market. The patterns are made based on the tech pack, the sourcing is done depending on what materials and trims you want, and the price calculation is based on the sketch of your garment. The sketches can later be used in your line sheet and workbook.
A tech pack is required for all styles in your collection. One garment = one tech pack
When the manufacturers have your tech pack they can product develop without having to talk to you and ask you about details every time they are wondering about something. All the information will be there visible for them to do their job. Depending on where you have your production/factory, most of the time the people on the factory floor don’t speak English and the sketches need to be correct and very clear. Think about a tech pack like this: From the moment you hand over the tech pack, it should be clear enough that you don’t have to explain or instruct anything else. All the information needed for that specific garment should be clear and visible on the tech pack. The efficiency and productivity will be higher and you will have fewer misinterpretations along the way.
The more details you put in the tech pack the better information you give the manufacturer. This limits the number of errors in your products and in the end, this will save you money and time.
How to make a great tech pack
Most of the time a tech pack is made in Adobe Illustrator. This document is later saved in a smaller PDF size, that can’t be edited, and sent to the pattern makers and factories. There are templates you can buy and use as a base, so you don’t have to start from scratch every time you design a new garment.
If you want to be in full control of your product, learn the program and make your own sketches and tech packs. This will give you the flexibility to make exactly what you have intended and you’re not dependent on anyone else. As with everything, there are good and bad tech packs. The better yours are, the more accurate protos you will get.
The document should consist of several pages. The number of pages depends on the complexity of your garment. A basic T-shirt tech pack may only have 4 pages, but a complicated jacket 12 or more.
Preferably the tech pack in Illustrator is divided into different layers. One for the main information, one for sketches, one for colors and one for text. This will make your life easier when copying and pasting info on different pages.
Teck pack information
Information needed on ALL pages in the tech pack.
- Company name and logo
- Style number and style name
- Page content: Ex Front and back Instruction, Trims and accessories Instruction, Hood Detail etc.
First page: Color Options
- Color options. The style in x amount of colorways. Write down the color name and code below each colorway. You can also mark with for example a colored dot if the style is NEW, Updated or Carry Over. Mark the same way if a special colorway is new.
Second page: Overview instruction
- A black and white – front and back sketch. No colors, no shading, no frills, keep it neat and clean and very visible and detailed. All stitching down to the smallest bartack should be included in the sketch. No text on this page, only the front and back sketch. A big sketch size is advisable. Some factories are very big and they will print out the sketches on bad printers, make copies of copies to have in different departments. You want to make their jobs easier by trying to keep the sketches clear and visible.
Third page: Fabric instructions
- Front and back sketch, with different color shades in the areas of different materials. Here it should be clear where all the different materials go on the garment.
- At the side of the page or at the bottom, have small squares with the different shades of color and a text describing the materials intended.
- On the sketch, show what fabric goes where, with the help of arrows and text. You show the manufacturer both in written form and in color/texture where the different materials should be placed.
- Keep the text away from lines in the sketches. It should be CLEAR and visible.
Fourth page: Trims and accessories instructions
- Front and back sketch, black and white
- Arrows and text on what trimmings should go where on the garment
Fifth page: Stitching and lamination instruction
- Front and back sketch, black and white
- Arrows and text on what type of seam/stitch should go where on the garment
- For laminated areas you can for example mark with a different color on the seam you want to be taped or mark an area with a pattern.
- Do detailed sketches of special seam constructions if you want a specific construction on your product. You can also include pictures if you don’t know exactly what the construction is.
Sixth page: Detail Instructions or Hood Instructions or Inside Instructions
- Depending on what details you want to communicate, this is the page to put it on. For an inside instruction draw the inside of the garment and write where all the details should go and what finishings you want to have. Here as well, you can have pictures if you’re not sure exactly what you want.
- For hood details its a good thing to do 2 different pages, one for the outside of the hood and one for the inside of the hood. Write what everything should be and do detailed sketches for wished construction solutions.
- If you want a specific pocket solution, draw it out or include a picture.
Separate pages: Body silhouette
- If the factory is making the patterns you can have a body silhouette “wearing” the intended garment. This way you show the pattern maker the fit you wish to have.
Separate pages: Measurements instruction
– If you wish to have the measurements in the same document you can have a separate page for this. Use arrows and text to instruct what measurements go where on the garment
Last page: Logo instruction
– The black and white, front or back sketch and your labels, print or branding that you want to be visible or on the inside of the garment. Write distance from for example seams to indicate where the branding/logo should be placed on your garment.
A reminder: keep everything neat, clear and VISIBLE. The arrows should point to the exact thing you want to be highlighted and not below, above or at the sides.
Keep the proportions accurate when designing the products. Visually you want a sleeve to end where a sleeve “usually” ends on a normal garment. E.g. on a pair of pants, the waist width should be proportionally wide to the length of the legs. If you don’t really know what the proportions are, take a similar garment as your intended design and place it flat on the floor. Make the proportions similar.
When the tech pack is done, make sure you triple check it. Get rid of typos and mistakes.
Mistakes in the tech pack end up being production mistakes…
The aim is to arrive at your intended garment as soon as possible, with as few prototypes as possible. The “normal” procedure is to have 2 prototypes and one salesman sample before the bulk production. After showing the salesman samples to buyers you will probably want to see a size set and a pre-production sample to make sure everything is as intended. This is not mandatory, but if you want to have full control and make sure you get what you have ordered, it’s a clever thing to do.
When in doubt on how much info is needed, a lot is better than too little. Your tech packs and the information within will be a big part of your brand/branding. If you have sloppy and ugly sketches, text errors and a lack of information, this will have a negative effect on your business.