Technical Design: Cad Systems & Spec Sheets

Technical design is also a very important profession in the design field. The designer will do well to pay close attention to the technical aspect of their designs. Designing clothing from a technical aspect saves more time and money than not doing so. Otherwise you run the risk of not getting a quality product early. You may end up spending a lot of time remaking samples, thus eating up sample yards of fabric and delaying production time.

Technical design is the process of getting the right information across to your team, as well as the initial measurements of a style, detail drawings, construction information and fit requirements. If a garment going into fitting started with the latter information, it is easier to track and correct. A good designer will know the ins and outs of both the pattern making trade and the technical design trade. If you are not doing it yourself, make sure your professionals you hire are tried and true.

CAD Systems

Computer-Aided Design Systems help with the design process. Initially, a design idea may start with a quick sketch, which then may evolve into a stylized color drawing of the garment. For production and selling purposes, CAD systems take the garment that you designed and turn it into a 2D flat, technical image. These images make it easier to understand the garment from a production and selling aspect. When in the process of producing the garment, the picture helps the manufacturer to see exactly how the garment is to look upon completion. From a buyer’s point of view, a CAD image gives them a clear idea of what they are thinking to purchase, and these images are usually put onto the line sheet.

Many companies now offer the ability to take pre-existing garments and custom make them to fit your design, instead of having to design from scratch. For example, you could choose a shirt, take off the sleeves, replace the neckline, add some detail, and you have a new design; easily attainable and doesn’t take up too much time. Amazingly now, some advanced CAD systems offer the ability to take the garment that you created and put it on a digital human form so that you can see how it will look on a person. You will also be able to see how it sits on the form, how the garment moves, etc. These programs also help to make the patternmaking, marking, and grading processes much easier and less frustrating.

Many companies now offer full-package servicing, including all patternmaking, grading, marking, cutting, and sample-making. All you have to do is send them your design and they do the work, and then send it back to you for approval. Here are some places to look at for design and production services:

Spec Sheets

Specification sheets, also known as spec sheets, are among the most important documents when it comes to the technical aspect of designing and producing. Once the initial design is completed (this could be a drawing or quick sketch), a technical flat sketch has to be created. This can be done manually (by hand), on the computer using Adobe Illustrator or any other design program, or using a CAD (Computer Aided-Design) System.

Once you know exactly how you want the garment to look and fit, you have to draw up measurements for the piece. This includes lengths of sleeves, armhole openings, neck openings, back drops, front drops, bottom hems, stitching length, pocket size, label placement, leg openings, etc. There should be a set of measurements for one size/style. If you have a T-shirt that comes in three different colors and prints, but are all the same size and have all the same specifications, then all you need is one set of measurements on the sheet. The reason that there should be one set of measurements for each size is because a Small is going to have different measurements from a Large.

There are various forms of specification sheets that are used and they all depend on the company. You might prefer to have once spec sheet for one style and size, whereas someone else may prefer to have one specification sheet for all sizes within one style. The basic information that MUST be on a spec sheet, besides the measurements, would include:

  • Garment name:
  • Style #:
  • Date:
  • Season:
  • Revisions: (if any)
  • Fabrication:
  • Trimmings:
  • Accessories:
  • Description:
  • Label:
  • Flat sketch, front and back:
  • Fabric swatch: -fColorways:

Measurements and other specifications depend on the garment and style. For example, a pant spec sheet would have measurements for leg openings, hip width, crotch width, knee circumference, waistband height, etc., whereas a spec sheet for a shirt would have measurements for neck drop, shoulder length, chest width, collar width, sleeve opening, sleeve length, elbow placement, etc.

Each spec sheet will vary on the details included because not every style is the same. Also, if doing off-shore production, it is even more important to make your spec sheets easily understandable, since there is the language barrier that is to be dealt with. So it is extremely important to make sure that every little detail is included and the measurements are as close as possible to what the finished garment should be, up to 1/16 or even 1/32 of an inch. Yes, it matters. Wrong measurements, wrong fit, delayed production, no sale. Details, details, details. As the saying goes, “The devil is in the detail.”