How to Make Production Friendly Garments
As a fashion designer, the goal is to create clothing that customers will want to buy. Developing high-quality garments that attract your demographic requires careful planning – something TEG has been an expert in for 15 years.
The garment manufacturing industry utilizes a sequential process to ensure the evolution of your collection progresses smoothly. From the initial intake of your preliminary designs in the development process to the grading of your patterns in the production process, you’ll learn about everything that TEG puts into making a collection that’s fabrication ready.
How to Make a Product Development Plan
One of the keys to developing a successful fashion line is in the planning process. Your new product development strategy sets the framework for your collection and determines how production-friendly your designs result. This is also the best time to set your production schedule and deadlines.
Our development and production departments each assign an expertly trained project manager to you. By having a main point of contact throughout the duration of your collection’s progression, independent designers often feel more confident and supported.
Mapping out a solid strategic plan involves analyzing and understanding your customer and addressing their needs. You will also spend time in the areas of conceptualization, design, scheduling, sourcing, sampling, costing, and more before sending your collection off for production.
To ready your garments for manufacturing, you’ll want to check a few important boxes. Below, you’ll find our essential list that breaks down best practices for designing clothes for manufacturing, making great clothing samples, and making your samples production-ready.
How to Design Clothes for Manufacturing
Designing clothes for apparel manufacturing is what a lot of designers consider to be the “fun” part of fashion design. This is the opportunity for designers to exercise their creativity and innovation to develop next season’s collection.
Although this step is a favorite among fashion designers, it is merely the tip of the iceberg in the clothing manufacturing process. It’s imperative that throughout the design process you are viewing this stage from the point of view of both the manufacturer and the customer, not just the creative designer.
After this preliminary stage, bear in mind that you’ll be including as many production-related details about your designs as possible. Be prepared for some or all of your garments to evolve or change so that they can be made in a way that fits your budget, brand aesthetic, and retail outlet.
How to Make Great Clothing Samples
Clothing samples will make or break the fit of your finalized garments. “Before going into full-blown production, you’ll need to create samples to help you minimize issues and revise your design and fit,” explains Sourcify.
Creating a great clothing sample requires a multifaceted approach beginning with a simple flat sketch all the way up to charting your measurement table. Fortunately, it’s a sequential, step-by-step process that TEG has perfected over the years.
Create a Flat Sketch
Flat sketches are 2D black and white drawings that convey your design as though it were laying flat. An integral part of creating a functional sample, you’ll want to ensure you create a front and back flat sketch for each garment and, in some cases, side views as well. These should include all pertinent details, such as seams, topstitching, and hardware.
Adobe Illustrator is the industry’s preferred program for creating flats. If you’re not knowledgeable in this area, let TEG take the reins and make the flats for you. We will work together from your specifications to produce a blueprint that our pattern makers can work with.
Choose Your Fabric
Choosing fabric is an important aspect of creating a proper sample. You’ll be thinking about how the fabric functions when used in real-world applications and what it will look like collectively to achieve your desired aesthetic.
Ensure you’re sourcing your textiles from a reputable wholesaler. Check that the source has enough of your chosen materials in stock so that you won’t be coming up short during production. Our full-time sourcing manager can assist you with finding the perfect fabrics and trims for your collection.
You should also consider the fabric’s fiber composition. Is it the best material for the job? Is it too stretchy or too stiff? Will it wear well according to your garment care specifications?
Choosing sample fabrics that are very close in nature to your final production fabrics will give you the best idea of how your garment will look, feel, drape, and more. If the material you choose differs too greatly from your final selection, then you may need a new pattern to accommodate it down the line. TEG’s experts can advise you along the way and help avoid re-dos like this.
Form Your Bill of Materials (BOM)
Creating a thorough bill of materials (BOM) means you’ll never be short a button when it comes time for production. A BOM is a list or spreadsheet that charts every single item, no matter how small, required to craft your garments.
It will also aid in developing great samples by allowing you to hash out details early on in your journey. Our California-based studio and factory level clothing manufacturers will refer to this type of document to ensure every aspect of your order is correct.
Techpacker mentions how helpful the BOM is as a communication and organization tool between you and the manufacturer. Akin to following a recipe, says the site, if it’s not on the list it won’t end up in the dish, or in this case, on the production room floor.
Create Your Measurement Table
The measurement table is a spreadsheet that keeps track of all measurements for each component of your garment. From chest circumference to strap widths, the rows in your measurement table are there to display the specific parts of your clothing that need a measurement assigned.
The columns will hold measurements for all rounds of samples, size ranges, and tolerance levels. The tolerance level column represents the amount of leeway you’ll allow in terms of measurement. When creating your first sample, it’s only necessary to measure for one size until the sample has been approved.
Making Your Samples Production Ready
Congratulations! At this point in the process, your sample will have been created. Once the sample is materialized, we suggest preparing it for production as soon as possible.
Like all steps in garment production, readying your sample is a linear process. The sequential steps outlined below cover everything from garment fitting to the accuracy of your sew-by sample. Transform your collection from samples to production-ready pieces with the help of TEG’s knowledgeable experts.
Fit Your Garment
“The fit sample is exactly what it sounds like,” says Startup Fashion. “It is a production of your design specifically for fit. This sample does not have your brand-specific trims, but does use your fabric.”
Enlist the help of a model whose body-type best represents your target demographic. You’ll also want their clothing size to be similar to that of your sample. It’s a good practice to fit the same sample on other models who believe they are the same size as the size of your sample. Taking a sizing average will allow you to create a final garment that really represents your customer.
Testing & Pattern Adjustments
After a preliminary fitting of your sample, you may find that your pattern needs adjusting. This is a time when you may wish to rely on the expertise of manufacturing experts, like those found in our in-house staff. Not only can they assist in everything talked about so far, but they can also reduce the number of times you have to readjust your patterns.
Keep Your Tech Pack Up-To-Date
“One of the most crucial tools to developing your product and making the communication process more efficient between you and your manufacturer,” says Maker’s Row, is the tech pack. This informational guide contains both written specifications and diagrams.
They also go on to mention that your chances are better at getting a sample made properly and with minimal errors the first time with a tech pack. You can make a tech pack using Adobe Illustrator, the same recommended program used for creating your flat sketch. You also have the option of working with one of TEG’s technical designers to create your tech pack.
Grading Your Pattern
Pattern grading is necessary for creating one garment in multiple sizes and is the systematic increase or decrease of your original pattern’s size to fit a complete size range. Textile School recommends basing your pattern grading on “the average measurements for the population group for which the garments are intended.”
Imperative that this is done accurately, you must also account for shrinkage and ensure your fabrics are relaxed during rolling and unrolling for cutting. Pattern grading can be done manually, but most manufacturers do it automatically through the use of a computer-aided design (CAD) system.
You may also find that you need more than one base pattern to account for large differences between groups of sizes. For example, sizes 2 through 8 may rely on one base pattern, while sizes 10 through 16 may rely on another base pattern of a different starting size.
Create a Marker
Resembling a colorful puzzle comprised of disassembled garment pieces, a marker is a cutting guide that’s printed on a long sheet of bond paper. Material costs account for 60-70% of your budget, according to Maker’s Row. Therefore, improving your yield, which is the purpose of creating a marker, will often save you money on fabrics.
Your marker contains all of the pattern pieces used to make a single style and accounts for every size in your garment’s range. Positioned in close proximity to one another, the goal is to use as little fabric as possible. The pieces are placed on top of the fabric layers and used to cut out all the pieces at one time.
Fashion Incubator explains that although markers are single-use and will cost money to reprint, it is more cost-effective to continue to print them with all of your sizes from the size range on the same sheet since a single (and often reusable) print for each individual size will waste more fabric. The latter could end up costing you about 25-30% more than it normally would.
Ensure Your Sew-By Sample is 100% Accurate
Your sew-by sample is the culmination of all your development and production labor. It’s the final sample handed over to the manufacturer. It should be absolutely flawless and appear exactly how you want your garment to look, down to the finer details. Everything from Button placement to where you want your label sewn will need to be conveyed with this piece.
You never want the manufacturer to have to make any assumptions or guesses as to how your garment should look. In fact, your sew-by sample can even override the information in your tech pack, which is why 100% accuracy is so crucial during this step.
TEG are the Clothing Line Development Experts
Clothing line development and production is second nature to the experts at TEG. We thrive on supporting independent designers, many of whom consider our presence to be pivotal in the outcome of their collections.
From creating a personalized production development timeline to helping you fabricate the perfect sew-by sample, we will be right there with you every step of the way. If you’d like more information or have any questions about what you’ve just read, please don’t hesitate to reach out.