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DIY Technical Design Section 4: Stitch Callouts and Construction

On your callouts page of your tech pack you will use your sketch to call out all of the construction details of your garment. Construction callouts include stitch and seam types, plus any specifics of how you’d like the factory to create your garment.



As I’ve said in the earlier sections, the number one rule of the Tech Pack is “do not duplicate information.” One of the most common places that duplication occurs is on the callout page, so be extra careful in what you include. Ask yourself, “is there somewhere else this information should go in the Tech Pack?” If the answer is “yes” then you can leave it off of your callout page.

Here are some common duplications:

  • Do not include measurements, other than stitch widths, on the callout page. Garment measurements are housed on the POM page.

  • Logo placement measurements are housed on the art page for any logos or graphics. You can add a copy of the sketch on that art page to call out the placement.

  • Do not include materials on the callout page (ie. velcro, button, fabric names, etc.). All trim, fabrics, and materials should be listed on the BOM page.



The callout format for stitching is simple. A stitch callout is characterized by the stitch width or distance from the seam, plus the number of needles/thread of the stitch, plus the stitch name. Like this:

[distance] [number of needles] [stitch name]

ex: 1/4” 2 NDL BTTM CVR ST

Read as: “quarter inch two needle bottom cover stitch”

My industry approved formula is my preferred method for calling out stitch and seam types because:

  • It states the stitch width / distance from the seam

  • It can be clearly read as long as you know the abbreviations

  • It is descriptive and gives a visual idea of what the stitch looks like

  • It is short and concise

It does take some time to learn all of the different stitch names and what they mean. There are a lot of resources out there that you can use including books and free resources (I’ve linked my favorites below). The problem with using a lot of these resources is that every factory and production facility is unique in how they reference stitch and seam types. There are actually quite a few different ways to callout the same kind of stitch! That’s why I’ve created a comprehensive guide of the most common stitches that you can use and share with your factory. Sharing a guide with your factory is a great way to confirm you and your factory are consistent in the construction of your garments.


Did you know there are hundreds of different stitch and seam types? And for each of those there are about 5 different ways that you can call each of them out. Not to mention, the needle spacing can add anywhere from 1 - 6 options for each! That’s a lot to learn. Let’s use our example from above. Here are all the different ways to callout this one type of stitch:

  • 1/4” 2 NDL BTTM CVR ST

  • 1/4” 2N - bottomCvS

  • ISO #406 2N - CS

  • + any stitch width variations (1/8”, 3/16”) for each

There are so many variations! That’s why it’s really important to be clear with your factory about how you’re calling out each stitch and what it means. The easiest way to share that information is to give them a stitch guide that you will both follow.

Here’s another method, but I don’t recommend using it.

Note that ASTM, which we talked about in the previous section, also has standards for how to callout stitch types. However, please also note that they say, “these terms and definitions are not necessarily consistent with those used in the apparel or home furnishings manufacturing industries.” So, while it may be a good resource, it is not the standard for the industry. Here is their formula to callout stitch/seam types:

[stitch class ] [ stitch type ] [ seam class ] [ type ] [ number of independent stitches ]

ex: 406 BS b - 1



Stitches are broken up into 2 categories, hand sewing and machine stitches. We will focus on machine stitches for this section. In each class there are a number of stitch types. Take a look at the table below for some examples. There are six classes of stitches:

  1. [ CLASS: 100 ] Single Thread Chainstitch

  2. [ CLASS: 200 ] Hand Stitches and their Machine Simulations - for decorative use

  3. [ CLASS: 300 ] Lockstitches - most common stitch used in ready to wear

  4. [ CLASS: 400 ] Multithread Chinstitch and Coverstitch - used in wovens like jeans, seaming for knits

  5. [ CLASS: 500 ] Overedge Stitch (non safety) and Safety Stitches - edge finishes

  6. [ CLASS: 600 ] Coverstitch or Flatlock - most common stitch used for knits and cut and sew jersey

There is a free resource for ISO Stitch Terminology that includes seam types. This document by American & Efird is a great resource to see in detail what the stitches look like and is commonly used in the industry. The drawback to this guide is that it gives you limited information about how to call out the stitch or seam type on your construction page. That’s why I’ve created a guide that breaks this information down into all of the most common stitch and seam types and lists them out in the formula from above.

Free ISO Stitch Terminology resource from American & Efird, Inc. Click image to download from their website.

Free ISO Stitch Terminology resource from American & Efird, Inc. Click image to download from their website.


The ISO Stitch Terminology from American & Efird is a great place to start, but if you want to get into a lot more detail you can check out The Technical Sourcebook for Designers. Chapter 9 goes into great detail about stitches and seams! In general, this is a great book for Technical Design and can help you learn everything you need to know.



The most important thing to callout is your topstitching. However, there are some other construction details that you will want to be sure to callout. Some examples of this are exposed zipper widths, hem types, and other details that may not be evident in the sketch like understitching or stitch in the ditch.

In most cases, all of your interior seams will be joined with a serger, so unless you have a specific type of finish, you won’t need to expressly call that out on each seam. You could make one overarching statement with the seam type appropriate for the garment.

There are some specific ways to reference certain constructions. One way to research terms specific to your type of garment is to look at product descriptions on competitor websites or even just a basic Google search. I’ve included a Construction Callout Cheat Sheet in my Stitch and Seam Guide that has common callouts for your garments.




Watch the video to see how to add callouts to the sketch and tech pack. The tutorial starts at 09:48.

Be consistent and use the same width of line and arrow head. Add a line with an arrow. Add your callout in all caps, in consistent sizing and font. You can use different colors to callout different categories of items if you wish.

Once you have all of your callouts completed, you can copy and paste that information from your AI (or other vector program) file into your tech pack (Excel file). If your tech pack is created in Excel, be sure to “paste as” and choose PDF.


Thanks for following along! Section 5 will focus on Points of Measure and will launch on Thursday, 7/25/19.

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