Garment Production Process guide

The Production Process in Garment Manufacturing: A Step-by-Step Guide

The garment production process and manufacturing can feel complex AF. But hey, who said fashion was easy? 

I wrote this article to serve as your guide in navigating the long and winding journey of garment production – from the very first stage of concept development to delivery to your (or your fashion brand’s) doorstep! 

So, whether you’re a fashion school graduate seeking a refresher on manufacturing nuances or a freelance fashion designer piecing together your latest project, consider this your backstage pass. 

Ready? Let’s jump right in!

Table Of Contents:

What is Garment Manufacturing?

The garment manufacturing process is the key to turning design concepts into actual wearable clothing items. Clothing manufacturing includes numerous operations, from initial design to the final product – all orchestrated to create garments that fit well, look great, and are ready to be worn. 

For fashion designers, understanding this complex process is crucial to be able to work efficiently, communicate effectively with production teams, and ensure your creations match your vision. 

So, let’s dive into the essential know-how!

Overview of the Garment Production Process

To get a general sense of the garment production process flow, let’s break them down into 4 main phases and how long each stage lasts.

  1. Pre-production (1-3 months)
  2. Garment Construction (1-4 months)
  3. Quality Control (1 week)
  4. Delivery (2-4 weeks)
Garment Production Process
  1. Pre-production: The pre-production phase involves creating concept designs, tech packs, sourcing materials, and crafting initial samples.
  2. Garment Construction: Also known as the bulk production phase, this is where garments come to life – from sampling, cutting, stitching to finishing touches.
  3. Quality Control: This is the stage where every garment gets a thorough check. From the garment’s stitching, construction, and materials – each detail is meticulously inspected to guarantee top-tier quality.
  4. Delivery: Once garments clear quality assurance checkpoints, the rest of the production order is set for delivery to your warehouse.

Pro Tip: While I’ve provided timeline estimates for each stage, the actual timeline will ultimately depend on your circumstances. This includes the quantity of your orders, complexity of designs, number of sample iterations, garment manufacturer’s lead time, and any other unforeseen circumstances. 

An established brand with sources, fit, and factories in place may be able to execute the entire process in a couple months. While for a startup fashion brand beginning from scratch, it can take 12-18 months to complete the garment production process for one design.

Step-by-Step Guide to the Garment Production Process

Let’s take a closer look at the individual steps that make up each of these 4 main stages.

1. Pre-production Phase

Concept & Design Development

During this stage, designers brainstorm and create concepts, envisioning the overall look and feel of the garment. This is where your mood boards and initial sketches come in!

Tech Pack Creation

Usually done by a technical designer, tech packs include detailed information like measurements, fabric details, color codes, stitching requirements, and any embellishments to serve as a guide in the sample-making process. 

For a deeper dive into tech packs, check out my Step-by-step Tech Pack Guide (with free templates).

Material Sourcing & Testing

This step involves selecting suitable fabrics, trims, and accessories. After confirming the final fabrics, it is important to undergo material testing to ensure that chosen fabrics meet quality standards, are durable, and perform well after production and washing.

True Story: I once had a client who was in a hurry to speed up production and insisted on skipping material testing. Guess what? When we reached the final stretch, it turned out the fabric shrinks after washing. So, we had to start over with material sourcing and creating another batch of samples. 

The irony? It ended up costing us more time (and $$$!) than if we had just done the testing upfront. 🙃 So, here’s a nugget of wisdom: save yourself from the headache and get the testing done right from the get-go!

Sample-making & Evaluation

Next, a prototype garment is created based on the tech pack. Technical designers conduct sample evaluations to assess the design’s fit, pattern, materials, construction, and overall quality. This step makes sure that any necessary adjustments are applied before moving to bulk production.

Depending on the design complexity and requirements, it may take several iterations to get the garment sample right. 

Final Sample Approval

Also called the pre-production or just PP sample, the design team provides their final approval as a signal to start manufacturing the garments in bulk.

Final Costing & Purchase Order Creation

The final stretch of Phase 1 – once the pre-production samples get the thumbs-up, a final costing evaluation takes place to align with the intended budget. 

A purchase order or P.O. is then created, serving as the formal request to the garment manufacturers. The P.O. outlines details such as the order’s style numbers, colors, and quantity.

For a quick checkpoint during the pre-production phase, you can use my Pre-production Checklists for Clothing Manufacturing as your guide!

2. Garment Construction Phase

Bulk Material Purchase

During this phase, the necessary amount of fabric and materials are procured. Ensuring uniformity in color and quality across all sourced fabric rolls is essential, making a quality control checkpoint at this stage valuable in ironing out any potential issues down the line.

Pattern-making & Grading

Although initial patterns have already been made during the sample-making process, this step ensures that the pattern makers apply all necessary revisions before the final pattern pieces are graded into the requested sizes.

Marking & Cutting Fabrics

Precise pattern pieces are laid out so the clothing manufacturer can start cutting the fabrics. This step should be done with accuracy using techniques like computer-aided design (CAD) or manual methods. 

Sewing & Assembly

Another exciting milestone – this is where the garment finally takes shape! Skilled hands meticulously sew together the cut fabric pieces, bringing them to life according to the design.

Garment Washing

Depending on your requirements, some garments may undergo washing to soften fabric, remove shrinking, or achieve specific finishes. This step can affect the garment’s appearance and fit.


Embellishments and finishing touches like beading, appliques, and washing treatments are added to enhance the garment’s appearance and functionality. This is also the step where any additional material treatment methods like bleaching, dyeing and coating are done. 

Finally, the garments are pressed and iron to ensure a polished final product.

Pro Tip: Depending on the design requirements, finishing techniques may be done to the fabric prior to garment sewing & assembly. For example, a shirt with a print on its pocket might be printed on the pocket piece before stitching it on the body pieces.

3. Quality Control Phase

Quality Assurance & Inspection

This stage involves meticulous assessment of garments to ensure they meet predefined standards. QC inspections involve comparing finished garments against predefined criterias on constructionstitching, and materials.

4. Delivery Phase

Labeling & Packaging

Garments are individually tagged, labeled, and neatly packaged to prevent damage during transit. 


And finallyyyy! The finished garments are transported from the clothing manufacturer to your warehouse. Depending on factors like urgency and volume, distribution options like air or sea freight or fulfillment services are chosen. 

And there you have it! The garment production process comes to a close.

Well… almost.

Although I am closing the garment production process in the delivery stage – the reality is that there’s still a lot that needs to be done from this point onwards, like inventory management, in-house quality control inspection, etc. But let’s save that for another time! 😉

garment production process steps

Managing the Garment Manufacturing Process Timeline

With so many moving parts in play – from pattern making to fabric selection and cutting process, meeting deadlines can be as complex as the garments themselves.

Here are some tips to ensure you stay on track!

  • Set realistic timelines: Begin with the essential foundation – creating realistic timelines for each step. This establishes a good rhythm throughout the entire garment production process, making sure that each person in charge of a task in the team and also your garment manufacturers can deliver and commit to reasonable deadlines. And I say this with utmost conviction because I’ve been on the receiving end of this, and let’s just say, it. is. not. fun.
  • Plan ahead: Invest time in thorough pre-planning – from initial concept and tech pack creation to detailed material sourcing. In a complex process such as garment production, there are many steps that can be changed around and done simultaneously. Maximize time efficiency by doing production planning ahead of your timeline, and seeing what things can be done at the same time. For example, while waiting for the garments to be constructed in bulk, you can start sourcing your packaging. 
  • Be Proactive:  Not to scare you away – but I have never encountered an entire production process that did not have a single hurdle along the way. Acknowledge potential bumps and be ready to address unexpected challenges. A mindset I continuously rely on is–  “right now” is the next best time to make it right!

Pro Tip: Make sure to ask your garment manufacturers about their production and shipping lead times, including their holidays so you can keep track and avoid missing your deadlines! 

You don’t want to find yourself in a frenzy when they take off on a looong holiday, and you’re left with a looming delivery deadline. I’ve been there!

Stay on Track with My Free Garment Production Timeline Template

Embarking on a garment production journey requires top-notch organizational skills. The garment production process includes precise planning – from the development of a design concept to the production of a tangible garment. 

That’s why I’ve drafted this Garment Production Timeline Template for you. This template outlines each phase’s key stages of the process so you can keep track of crucial milestones, allocate time wisely, and maintain the rhythm of your garment production process. 

And oh, did I mention it’s completely FREE?

As crazy as fashion manufacturing can get, with the proper tools and a proactive mindset you’ll be able to navigate through it!

You got this!


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