Julie Hutton, Inc.
A Full Service Apparel Production Company

Personal Label Design and Manufacturing: From A to Z

Bringing your ideas from concept to market follows a logical process of design, fitting, prototyping and manufacturing. Following are explanations of some steps in that process.
  • Spec Sheets can be just a few basic measurements such as shoulder width, bust, waist, hip and length, along with a flat sketch of the garment. This spec sheet will enable a patternmaker to have some idea as to what the garment will look like.
  • Patterns are templates, usually made of paper, representing different parts of a particular garment. A complete pattern will comprise several of these templates which when pieced together become a two dimensional representation of the garment that will be produced. In a commercial enterprise, fabric that the garment will be made from is laid on a cutting table. The pattern pieces are placed on the fabric and held in place with weights. The fabric is then cut and is ready to be sewn. Patterns can be made from a garment similar to what a designer wants produced, from muslin, or mock-up samples, or even from a detailed sketch. Commercial patterns, intended for factory production, are made of sturdy paper, or cardboard that can withstand repeated use.
  • Grading is the process of marking patterns that create a range of sizes for a single style. The pattern used for the prototype sample will be marked for sizes both larger and smaller.
  • Samples are made during initial phases of apparel development and are basically used for two purposes: to finalize the production pattern, and to insure manufacturing consistency. The following types of samples are the most commonly used.
  • Muslin samples (a.k.a. mock-up, or drape) are basic renditions of a garment, in muslin, and are used to create the first pattern.
  • Fit samples are made from the first pattern and are the first indications, in a selected fabric, of how a garment will look and fit. If the fit of this sample is as planned, with no corrections required, it is approved and becomes the prototype sample. If the sample needs adjustment, the adjustments are first made to the pattern and from the corrected pattern, a new sample is made. This process should be repeated until a proper fit and desired “look” is achieved. A fit sample might be modified because the fabric a garment was to be made of didn’t “drape” correctly, or may not “move” in a way the designer intended. For whatever the reason, a fit sample should accurately reflect the desired finished product. It, along with the corresponding pattern, are the foundation on which all else is constructed.
  • Prototype samples are the final fit samples.
  • Sew by samples are made by the factory that will be doing the manufacturing run. This allows the contractor to determine how long it will take to make a garment which will be used to determine costs. Also, it allows sewers to become familiar with the garment they’ll be constructing. A sew by should always be left where sewers can refer to it, should that be necessary.
  • Photo samples used for photo shoots and intended for editorial and marketing purposes, are usually made in smaller sizes
  • Production samples are approved sew by samples and are the final versions of a style to be produced.
  • Top of Production samples (a.k.a. T.O.P.’s) are pulled from the first production run and are used to insure that the garments being factory produced are correct in every detail.
  • Tech Packs are important to have during production. The title is somewhat misleading as they aren’t really “packs.” They are usually one sheet of paper with your flat sketch on one side and all of the information about that style on the other. It will have the bulk fabric supplier, the trim supplier, the length of the zipper, the type of snap, elastic, fusible, stay tape, cut and sew price, the language used for the care and content labels, and placement of any labeling or hang tags. Teck Packs are kind of an instruction manual to be used during production and should have notes added to it regarding any manufacturing pluses or minuses. The notes will be immensely helpful should there be additional production runs.

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