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DIY Technical Design Section 1: Introduction to Tech Packs

INTRODUCTION TO TECH PACKS

If you haven’t already, take a peek at my post, Developing Your First Apparel Product or Accessory: The Basics, to get an idea of the overall development process we’ll be discussing during DIY Technical Design. You can also get a detailed overview of the sections included in this series in my last post.

 

WHAT IS A TECH PACK & WHAT IS IT USED FOR?

A tech pack is the blueprint for your garment or accessory design. The production factory uses your tech pack as a guide to create the design, therefore it should include all the details necessary for them to be able to produce the goods. Your tech pack also acts as the standard for which your prototypes and production quality will be measured against. It’s important to maintain the tech pack and keep it updated through the life of the product so that if any problems arise, you have a “master copy” to refer back to.

 
tech pack infographiC.jpg

WHAT IS INCLUDED IN A TECH PACK?

I’ve already written a great post about what’s included in a tech pack. You can check out that post for a more detailed description. Here I’ll give a brief overview of what each section includes.

COVER PAGE

The cover page provides a “clean” version of your technical sketches. The cover page also sets the stage for the format of your tech pack, usually with a header. The header includes information like brand name, style number, season, and the names of who the factory should contact if they have questions.

GRADED SPEC (POM)

Because your grade won’t be finalized until the end of the sampling phase, I typically leave this section blank, except to include my corresponding POM’s and standard grade. Instead, I add my POM specs to the Prototype Review Page. This also makes it easier for your factory to produce your sample, because they only need to refer to one page in the tech pack in order to produce the sample. Once the grade has been finalized, this section will house your POM’s, tolerance, specs, and grade.

CALLOUT PAGE

Your callout page houses your Technical Sketch with stitch, seam, and construction details called out.

ARTWORK AND PACKAGING

In most cases, your garment or accessory will need to be specially packaged for shipment to you or your distributors. Special packaging reduces damage, creases, and bulk, allowing your product to be delivered in the best condition. In this section you will also include any special artwork for packaging such as hangtags or labels. If you have special artwork on the garment/accessory like a logo or branded zipper pull, you’ll need to create a separate page for those.

BILL OF MATERIALS (BOM)

The BOM houses all of the materials and findings that go into making your product. This includes everything from the label material and stitching to the main body fabric. You will list the materials along with their details such as type, quantity, color, finish, and more.

COLORUPS / COLORWAYS

Your colorups show your sketches colored and placements for any color combinations or color blocking. While color callouts are typically housed in the BOM, sometimes it can be helpful to call them out on this page if there are a lot of different trims or color combinations.

PRICING

In some cases, you may be only working with one full service factory that provides you all of your sourcing as well as production. In this case, you most likely wouldn’t need a pricing page. The pricing page becomes essential when you are dual sourcing or working with multiple factories to produce one item. The pricing page houses the pricing for each item needed to produce the final goods.

PROTO REVIEW PAGE

This is the most important page in your tech pack when you are going through the sampling process! I house all of my initial specs here, along with their POM’s and tolerance. In addition, I include a space for the factory to add their garment measurements, for my own checked measures, as well as a section for comments.

 

HOW DO I USE A TECH PACK?

The first step to using a tech pack is to create your own template (DIY below!) or purchase a template. Once you’ve determined your formatting, you can move into developing your technical sketches.

This series is created under the assumption that you’ve already designed your garment or accessory. If you want a tutorial strictly focused on design, let me know in the comments or send me a message!

To DIY your technical sketches you can follow my free series, Introduction to Technical Flats, and I’ll be talking in more detail about it when Section 2 of this series launches. Once your sketches are complete, add them to your tech pack. With my templates, all you need to do is copy them from your vector program (Illustrator) and special paste them as a PDF.

You can then move onto speccing your garment and adding those measures to your POM or Prototype Review Page. Add any details for your BOM, color, art, and packaging. Now that your tech pack is complete you can use it to contact a factory. All of these items will be discussed in the next sections of this series. To see the full line up, head here.

Uses for your tech pack include:

  • Contacting the factory

  • Reviewing the sample(s)

  • Maintaining the life of the product

  • Pitching to upper management, stockists, and buyers

 

TECH PACK FORMATS: COMPLEX VS. SIMPLE

I have seen and used several different formats of tech packs ranging from simple to complex. I want to talk about the types of formats I’ve seen, what’s included in each of them, and the pros and cons of each.

1 PAGE

A straightforward, single page Tech Pack. Includes limited spec and BOM information, a sketch, and a heading.

Pros = Simple and easy to use

Cons = Leaves out important information regarding your materials and construction

SKETCHES & SPECS

A simplified tech pack only including the important construction information. Includes a Graded Spec Page and a Callouts Page. This is the Tech Pack format I see most commonly used among my clients.

Pros = Simple and easy to use, Only includes the most important information, Great for smaller brands that are working closely with their factory or supplier

Cons = Does not include information for materials, colors, art, or packaging

FULL TECH PACK

A full Tech Pack that includes everything you need to produce your product.

Pros = Includes all of the sections you need to have your product produced

Cons = Can be overwhelming to use, especially for beginners.

PLM VS. EXCEL

Please note that, while this tutorial is mainly focused around Excel Tech Pack formats, there are professional programs for larger businesses. A PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) System allows you to house and edit all of aspects of the Tech Pack in a cloud based software. This software makes it easier to edit, share, and maintain the Tech Pack through the lifecycle of the garment. However, PLM’s are incredibly expensive to integrate! I just wanted to touch on the fact that you may consider switching to a PLM as your brand grows. Excel is an efficient and cost effective way to get a similar result and is the method that I used while working for large brands in the industry.

 

HOW TO CREATE A TECH PACK

In this video tutorial I will walk you through how to create a simplified, full tech pack. I’ll also talk about ways in which you can improve your tech pack by using the powerful functions of EXCEL. The beginning of the video is an overview of the Tech Pack. The in-depth tutorial starts at 15:48.

USING FUNCTIONS TO IMPROVE YOUR TECH PACK

As promised, in the video, here are the functions I use to improve my tech packs. If you are interested in purchasing my tech pack templates, both formulas are included in the Full Tech Pack Template. The header function is included in the Simple Tech Pack Template.

To create a header that automatically pulls the information from your Cover Page, I used an IF function.

For the header: =IF('TECH SKETCH'!F3:I3="","",'TECH SKETCH'!F3:I3)

If you are using this function, you will need to adjust it to fit your specific tech pack.

The function VLOOKUP is a powerful tool for creating and using Tech Packs in EXCEL. This article gives a great explanation of VLOOKUP, what it is and what it’s capable of. I explain it simply in the video tutorial and for specific use in tech packs. Here is the VLOOKUP function that I used to pull information from my POM table into my Graded Spec. The function then auto calculates my graded specs from my sample size using my grade rules.

For the garment specs & tolerance: =IFERROR(VLOOKUP(A9,POM!A:B,2,FALSE),"")

For the grade: =IFERROR(VLOOKUP(A9,POM!A:E,5,FALSE)+N9,"")

If you are using this function, you will need to adjust it to fit your specific tech pack.

 

SHOP TEMPLATES

FULL TECH PACK TEMPLATE
Quick View
FULL TECH PACK TEMPLATE
30.00
Add To Cart
SIMPLE TECH PACK TEMPLATE
Quick View
SIMPLE TECH PACK TEMPLATE
5.00
Add To Cart
 

Thanks for following along! Section 2 will focus on Technical Sketches and will launch on Thursday, 7/4/19.


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