There are many moving pieces to creating a garment from scratch. And the garment spec sheet plays a big role in making sure your design gets made right.
‘What is a garment spec sheet?”What’s the difference between a tech pack and a spec sheet?”What should I include in my spec sheet?’
I wrote this guide just for you!
Why am I qualified to write about this stuff? In my 15 years of experience in the fashion industry, I’ve journeyed from being an in-house designer, starting my own brand (yep!), to growing my freelance career to $100,000+. Now, with all the knowledge I’ve learned along the way, I want to help fashion designers (and PDs, TDs, etc.) like you make it in the industry.
A garment specification sheet, often referred to simply as a “spec sheet,” is a comprehensive document created by fashion designers (or technical designers) to provide detailed information about a clothing’s design, construction, and measurements.
It serves as a communication tool among everyone involved in the product development process, including the fashion designers, technical designers, pattern makers, sample makers, and manufacturers.
It’s easy to confuse the two, and some people think they’re the same thing. In reality, there are differences between tech packs and product spec sheets.
A tech pack, short for “technical package,” is a comprehensive document that serves as the master guide for producing a garment. It includes sheets of technical and design information necessary for manufacturers, pattern makers, and production teams to create the clothing item exactly as envisioned by the designer. A tech pack typically has several pages, including technical sketches, bill of materials (BOM), colorways, and the garment spec sheet.
A garment spec sheet is a dedicated sheet within the tech pack that is primarily focused on the detailed specifications of the garment like the measurements and construction details.
Basically, a spec sheet is a component of the tech pack. And if you want to learn more about tech packs, check out my handy Guide on Tech Packs.
To help you get started on spec-ing, download my FREE Tech Pack Template that also includes dedicated free garment spec sheet templates with pages for specs, tech sketches, BOM, colorways, and proto comments – basically, all you need to create a production ready tech pack!
A garment spec sheet can be the most detailed page in a tech pack, so it’s important to keep a checklist of all the components to include.
Here’s a list of things you need to make sure to have on your spec sheet:
Using a mix of software tools is the way to go when creating garment spec sheets. Among the options available, my most recommended combo is Adobe Illustrator and spreadsheets (like Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel).
Adobe Illustrator is the BEST illustration application for fashion designers when drawing technical sketches and creating detailed garment spec callouts.
On the other hand, a spreadsheet is super handy when automating graded specs and creating tech packs as a whole.
If you want to dig more into tech pack software, you can hop over my Tech Pack Software Comparison Guide.
Getting your garment spec sheet right can make a world of a difference especially when working with outsourced manufacturers who are solely basing production on your documents.
Here are some tips to make sure you avoid bumps along the way:
An effective product spec sheet isn’t about packing in as much information as possible. Information overload can do more damage than good, especially when you’re working with manufacturers across the globe.
An effective garment spec sheet should be clear and concise. The more straightforward your descriptions are, the less room there is for misunderstandings.
Pro Tip: Regularly communicate with your sample makers and manufacturers. Oftentimes, they have their own set of fashion lingo, and it’s easier when you speak one language. (Like that one time I kept on using “garterized” when my factory said “elastic”.)
A picture really can speak a thousand words when it comes to garment design—sketches or photos of different views of your garment alongside detailed notes will give manufacturers clearer direction.
Pro Tip: While most might think that product specification sheets should be made completely from scratch, you can add reference photos of existing products if needed. This is a very common practice in the industry, and saves a ton of back and forth by being clear upfront. Some fashion brands even send out physical samples of references to make the process easier.
With so many details that need to be incorporated, it’s easy to get lost. So, before finalizing the product specification sheet, review it carefully. Ensure that all details are correct. Revise as needed to eliminate any inconsistencies.
If changes happen after sample evaluations (as they often do), make sure these adjustments get reflected in your spec sheets promptly – you don’t want old versions floating around causing confusion. Garment spec sheets are living and breathing documents that track a design through the entire development process. Keeping them updated will ensure everything comes out right in production.
Now that you’ve learned everything that needs to go in garment spec sheets, you can see how much attention to detail is required.
Double check your work, making sure all portions of the garment are accounted for, and pretty soon creating effective spec sheets will be a piece of cake!