What is a tech pack?
I’m in the process of planning a series of articles on technical specification packages, in part to explain some of the features of the new PDM Style File software from Patternworks but it should apply across the board. Using the example of Style File makes it easy to do this because of the many different types of reports it will generate -depending on the phase of planning, testing and production. I don’t have another PDM package so I’d be stuck cobbling spreadsheets together. Since spec or tech packs can be so complex, I’d like to break it up into easier to digest chunks. Likewise, every company has different needs. I’m trying to get a cross section of ideas to determine what some/many/most users would or could use for any given phase. Here is an example from the design phase (only), your process may vary.
- What sort of documentation should be generated at the outset?
- What would you give a pattern maker?
- What does the pattern maker give the sample maker?
- What is returned to you?
If my two cents as a pattern maker would help your thinking, I’d want:
- Either a sample garment to work from (pull measures) or your basic measurements be they actual measures or the measures of your fit model or profile customer.
- A clean, line drawing of the style.
- If you knew you wanted a particular seam, I’d want the name, number, description or jpeg of it (Style File will have a database of all known seam classes you can drag and drop into your sketch).
- A complete set of target specs for details like pocket sizes, etc
- Preferred seam allowances.
- Sample fabric.
- The results of any shrink testing you’d done. If not, I’d want to do it myself before making anything. Does it go without saying that this includes fabrics for production -all of them- contrasts, trims, any kind of fabric component?
By way of further illustration as to how a product like Style File facilitates this, you can use the software to:
- Itemize sizes, measurements, grades (if known) per size.
- Create a sketch sheet (drag and drop your line drawing)
- List specifications for seams (again, drag and drop seam graphics from the Style File database)
- Track the testing process to quantify shrink percentages or other dimensional changes -of all goods used in the product.
Now, assuming I’d made the pattern and done all my portion of the work, I’d add documentation with the software that would integrate with my CAD system to automatically load all the points of measure (POM) into the technical package. POM isn’t something I’ve done in the past because few have asked for it or expected it and also, I’m usually working off of known quantities. Is that something you do or would like to do (or have done)?
With the seam specs, creating the sewing instructions are as easy as drag and drop. With fabric information and size specs, we get allocation and costing. All of these details (“values”) are automatically loaded into a given report as soon as you select its creation. You never have to re-enter or copy and paste information from one report into another -being a relational database. Changes are handled the same way. If you change the zipper size or sewing process in any given form, it automatically propagates across all files for that style number. One possible downside though. If you haven’t been issuing good style numbers, you will definitely be forced to start.
I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday (Jeff, a pattern maker in CO). We both agreed that doing tech packs has always been a hassle, cutting and pasting from different spreadsheets, and trying to make CAD reports resemble something discernible for literate people has always been too much trouble to the extent that we won’t do them. I’d always thought that the biggest value of a tech designer is that it’s their job to do all of this stuff. With this software, it really makes it seamless with just a tiny bit more work (that one arguably should be doing anyway) and it could end up becoming another revenue stream. Either that or bonus service we can offer to the customer that our colleagues don’t. Speaking as a service provider that is.
Anyway, I’m looking for some feed back with which to structure the future entries. Can you give me some hints as to how the structure of technical packages work in your business across all processes? If you can. I know that’s a lot to ask for. Whatever ideas you have are great, no matter how demanding. Case study anyone?