How to Get a Clothing Sample Made

A Step-by-Step Guide

To bring a new garment to the market, you have to go through a rather daunting process. Deviating from the tried and tested steps is risky. Any miscalculation or omission in the process can result in an end product that does not work and will not sell. You could potentially “lose your shirt” if you try to take shortcuts.

The most important step in the process is the sample. The sample is the template that you will give to a manufacturer to replicate. It is usually one unit of the exact final product and also usually just in one size.

Road to Tech Pack

There is one very important thing that sits between the design process and the production of the sample though. This is the tangible product of the entire design process. 

It is the Technical Package. In the industry, it is known as the tech pack. To attempt to place a sample order without a tech pack is inviting disaster. In fact, it is unlikely that any scrupulous manufacturer would entertain your order.

To produce the final tech pack, the detailed design process goes through several key phases. Let’s step through these phases one at a time.

different views

Conceptual design

First things first. Before you can even think of a garment, a sample, or a tech pack, you need to know what you want to create. Without the seed of a concept, nothing creative would ever germinate. Every product ever made started as an idea. These ideas are born in many different ways. 

An idea could be the result of someone wanting to create something new and unique. A lot of research may be required to find an opportunity. A lot of gadgets are invented in this way. People have a need; they just don’t know it. 

Or someone may decide to improve on an existing item. Or, it may just be a flash of inspiration; a light-bulb moment if you will.

Whichever way an idea forms, you need to get it down on paper. With a garment design idea, your logical first step is a sketch.


The next step is a series of sketches. Even if you think you’re no good at drawing, give it a go. You know the vision in your mind; nobody else does. A design has so many elements. Even the most rudimentary sketch will capture some of these details. 

Sketches could typically go through several revisions before the image on paper resonates with the one in your mind. Don’t give up. Keep at it until the vision becomes a picture. The result is worth the effort.

Keep on sketching. Every angle. Every detail. Include folds, pleats, accessories, colors. This is the only way that you will get a sense of what the garment will look like, how it will wear, and what types of fabrics would be suitable.

Do not move on with the process until you are totally happy with the sketches. It is much easier and cheaper to tweak sketches than to redefine the design when the sample doesn’t turn out as you expected. 

If the sample doesn’t work, changes usually mean that the tech pack must be reworked. This inevitably incurs additional design costs and could also result in costly delays in getting the product to market. The delay could be critical if the garment is seasonal.

Define the design idea

You now have a clear visual representation of your idea. The next step is to gather the technical details that will define the garment and form the basis of the tech pack.

In order to ensure that the sample comes out precisely as you imagined it, you need to source all the raw materials. The characteristics of similar textiles may vary depending on the manufacturer. Color options will certainly be different.

Obtain samples of the fabrics, buttons, yarns, and other materials from several different suppliers. Select the materials that meet your requirements. During the selection process you would consider some or all of the following:

  • Weight, texture, and stretch of the fabric as well as how it hangs. Confirm that the fabric will behave as expected.
  • Available fabric width is sufficient for larger pieces. Wastage can be minimized.
  • Buttons, zippers, and other accessories are available in the appropriate materials. 
  • The color range matches the design.
  • Manufacturing lead times.
  • Minimum order quantities.
  • Cost.

With all the input costs now known, the finished garment cost can be determined. You can now make the final decision regarding the commercial viability of the garment.

All the material specifications such as manufacturer, product code, manufacturer color code, etc. are also now established and it’s time to start assembling the tech pack.

The Tech Pack

The tech pack is a detailed set of instructions on how to make the garment. It consists of drawing, measurements, and other specific details such as fabrics, colors, and accessories. 

At the very least, the documents contained in the tech pack are:

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