Even though I went to technical school first, I only learned about Tech Packs when I got my first job, as a Product Development Assistant.
This was back in São Paulo, Brazil, and all our manufacturers were local sewing workshops or independent seamstresses.
They'd come to us, we'd have a chat about the design we wanted to make; give them the fabric, buttons and labels; sometimes lend them one of our pieces to copy; and they'd return in 2-3 weeks with a prototype.
If it sounds too casual, well... it's because it was.
And chaotic as hell. Most Fashion brands are, so all my jobs have been less about making Tech Packs, and more about organisation: tidying up the studio space, documenting the history of new developments, cataloguing new fabric samples etc.
The first time I realised Tech Packs were a big deal was when I started looking for gigs on freelancing websites: NOBODY needed a Fashion Designer, just someone to turn their half-baked ideas into something a Chinese factory would understand.
In their heads, Tech Packs were almost magic: you pay $30 to someone on the internet, get a PDF to send to China and BAM! Garment!
(and who even cares about the insane environmental impacts and disgusting working conditions of garment workers in the countries where big brands outsource production to keep costs as low as possible)
The closest thing to a Tech Pack I've got
I made this Tech Pack when I first thought of this design:
I've adapted it a couple of times to make new samples, but the important things don't change:
- the correct fabric information is always there: the fabric name, weight, composition ("cotton" is NOT a fabric!);
- an accurate flat sketch of how the t-shirt should look like when finished, with the right proportions and notes next to relevant design details, such as the slits and the wider hem on the sleeves;
- an indication of the print I want to make + my note saying the artwork has been changed;
- my logo, name and contact details
These super specific measurement guidelines were meant for a cheeky manufacturer that ghosted me.
After that, I developed this design the same way as my other pieces:
- I created the pattern = the black outlines for front, back, sleeves and neckline;
- I placed the artwork;
- the factory sourced the fabric, sent for my approval, then bought 50m of it = a whole roll = minimum orders for Prepared To Print fabric in most mills in Portugal (stock fabric could be less, but custom colours usually start at 300m minimum order);
- The roll was digitally printed, then cut following the black outlines + another file created specifically for the cutting machine;
- the tech pack was used by the seamstress to sew it together, but the markings (the little dashes indicating where to stop sewing the sides to create the slits; where fold the hem; where to sew the sleeve caps...) were also on the patterns.
In conclusion: making a good Tech Pack did not solve all my problems.
In the end, I still did most of the work at home on my laptop, but the most important part were my soft skills in liaising with the manufacturer.
Your ability to communicate with another human will be your most valuable asset if you're gonna learn on the go as you start your label - so bring your best self, and good luck!