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Tech Pack: What It Is and What It Isn’t


I selected this topic because in recent months, we’ve had many designers come to us to have their products produced, and while they didn’t have a pattern or a sample, they did have a tech pack. Or at least what I would call the beginnings of a tech pack.


Think of a tech pack as a blueprint for producing your item, whether it’s a T-shirt or a full-length gown. Many details are included in the tech pack about that item, such as measurements, fabrics, tolerances, seam allowances and a flat, which is a two dimensional drawing of the front and back of the item, usually created in a graphics program such as Adobe Illustrator.


Here’s the thing: When we tell them we basically have to start at the beginning, first creating a pattern, and then building a sample from that pattern and making adjustments to both pattern and sample as needed until the desired look and fit are achieved, they are confused. They already have a tech pack. Why do they need to pay for these other services?


Because the foundation of your garment is the pattern, not the tech pack. While it’s good to know what fabrics you would like to use, until you actually sew that garment, you don’t really know if those fabrics are going to behave the way you want them to. (This is why you want to purchase sample yardage for samples and not whole rolls of fabric at this stage.) Will it give you the drape that you’re looking for, or wash well with the other fabrics you are planning to use? The pattern and the sample are the building blocks. The tech pack at this point is additional helpful information.


Why companies are talking designers into charging them for tech packs at the get go is beyond me. And with it, the designers we meet with really do believe they are halfway there, when this is not the case at all.


We would prefer that a designer starts with a free consultation with the factory, going over what is wanted, inspiration images, sketches, fabric choices, whatever that designer has. We can measure at that time for free as well. From there it’s determined if product development is needed, or if we have enough information to begin the pattern. Once the pattern is made, and the cutters must is developed, the sample can be created once we have fabric and notions. And then that sample may need to be altered or re-created until it matches the designer’s vision. Once that sample is approved, we grade the pattern for all the sizes the designer wants to offer. (Having a tech pack with “graded” measurements doesn’t mean much if a pattern has never been made. Having a grade rule is awesome, typing in those extra numbers and charging for it without an approved pattern isn’t.)


It is only then that we would talk about a tech pack, and we would only suggest one if the production was going to be done somewhere else, whether domestic or overseas.


Otherwise, if we are doing production, a tech pack is nothing but an additional charge.