Ask The Entreprenette

What is a spec sheet anyhow?

This question came up in my Ask Sarah call this week and it seems to be a confusing topic for a lot of Entreprenettes.  Not to be confused with a cutting ticket, a spec sheet gives all the details of what is needed to make the item. A cutting ticket gives the quantities or sizes so they know how many to make and exactly what to make.

If you manufacture overseas, I suggest giving a purchase order that shows style numbers and quantities, plus a cutting ticket with sizes if apparel based.  Be sure to include required delivery date, any agreements to percentage of damaged goods you will accept, and how the good will be delivered to you (boat or air)

A spec sheet is a detailed description of what is required to make your product look and function as you desire.   This can be done in Excel (usually easiest as you can make grids for different sections and make it look really pretty) but a word doc is fine too.

You may need to create this to get your first samples done if going overseas.  When working with a local manufacturer, you may be able to do more verbally, but I don’t like to leave anything open for misinterpretation.

This is going to be the Blue Print for your manufacturing.

A spec sheet for an overseas manufacturer a shirt might look like this:

  1. Photo of the approved FINAL sample – this becomes your HERO shirt.
  2. Size of Hero Shirt – this size is used as the basis for your grading (sizing).
  3. Style number of the shirt
  4. Details of the required sewing  – cover stitch, baby hem, overlock etc..
  5. Fabric – if more than one, then specify where they go on the shirt
  6. Findings – buttons, bows, ribbons, embroidery etc..
  7. Pockets, placket, collar etc..
  8. Is there an extra button included?  Where?
  9. Is the item garment dyed or pre-shrunk?
  10. Fusing – specify which pieces are fused and with what weight.
  11. Grading instructions – Grade is 1”, 2”, 2 14”  etc…
  12. Label placement – be exact – center back ¼” below neck seem
  13. Care label placement – be exact – inside right side seem 6’ from bottom
  14. Size label placement
  15. Made in china label needed?
  16. Hang tag?  How is it attached and where.
  17. Hanger with poly bag or folded in a poly bag?
  18. Does the poly bag (either one) have anything printed on it?
  19. How many items in each carton? (This is usually based on a prior discussion)

Hope this helps to make your manufacturing flow better.

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    Written by Sarah Shaw

    There are 3 comments

  • Dana says:

    This collection of documents is also called a “tech pack”. I would advise anyone needing to use these types of documents to include a “flat sketch”. It’s a technical drawing (as if the garment were laid out flat) that shows all the seams, pockets, topstitching, proportions, etc. that make up the garment detail. The sketch needs to show front and back and sometimes even close ups of detail if needed, for a specific garment. It is a far more reliable element than a photograph to communicate design detail. I wouldn’t send anything overseas for development work without it. Patten makers work from these as well. I put a copy of this sketch on my cutting tickets (with a fabric swatch) and all other development communication even domestically. The old picture is worth a thousand words thing.

    Labeling was mentioned. Keep in mind that not only do you need to tell the contractor where to put them but you are responsible for accurate wording on labels. Content, care, c of o, … Contractors don’t do this for you.

    One other element that was missed above, is garment measurements. You need to document the bust, waist, hip, etc of your garments otherwise you won’t know if they’ve been graded correctly or be able to verify for quality control later. For example, if you run jeans and need a size 26 but production comes in and the waist measures 30″, you have a problem. If not documented originally, you’ll have no grounds to fight your contractor or your grader. Some people refer to just the measurement sheet as the “specs”.

    Not sure if you were using the word HERO as a style name reference, ie the hero shirt or suggesting that that was the terminology for the final approved sample. I’ve never heard it used that way. The phases I’m familiar with would be “approval sample” or “preproduction sample”.

    This isn’t the sexy part of doing a clothing line but it will help keep you in business. Important stuff.

  • Sarah Shaw says:

    Dana, Thanks so much for your additional suggestions. Yes, I agree about the sketch showing the stitching etc – was trying to make this a bit more simplified and not overwhelm anyone….. Once your production sample is made and you approve the Size as your sample to be graded from and institute your grading parameters… 1′ or 2″ etc.. you should be covered if the pants come in 3 inches too big!

    And yes, you are right, you do need to include the exact wording on all your labels, pick the type of size label etc.

    Thanks again for your detailed response


  • I hope this product plug is permitted. It’s not mine and I don’t gain from recommending it but I love it. The software is called StyleFile and it does everything to put your tech packs together as listed above (Heya Dana!) and a whole lot more. The LE version is under $700. Anyone who works in apparel and sewn product development will love it. One example of “does everything” is being able to drag and drop seam class schematics into the spec sheets directly. It’ll also create line sheets, cutting tickets, compile shrinkage testing results etc etc ad nauseum. As Dana mentions, a spec sheet is but one of a whole collection of documents needed.

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