What A Cut & Sew Factory Will Need To Make Your Design

When you have tested your idea and are ready to get your designs made in bulk or in batches, it is time to work with a factory on production. Finding the right factory for your brand is often not a quick and easy process, so it helps if you are prepared. While each factory has their specialties and ways of working, there are certain things that all cut & sew factories will need from you in order to make your design successfully. In this post, let’s look at what you need to send to your factory and why.

The pattern for your design

A cut & sew factory does just that – cuts and sews your design. They don’t make the pattern for you like a full service factory can. (For more about the difference between cut & sew and full service factories, see this post.) This means that you are responsible for sending the production-ready pattern to them. The pattern is what determines the fit, size, and shape of the final garment. If the pattern isn’t right, the final products won’t be either no matter how good the factory is. If you don’t have a patternmaker on your team, you’ll need to work with an independent patternmaker (like myself) to develop and fit the pattern. Once the pattern is tested and approved, it can be sent over to the cut & sew factory so the factory can make pre-production samples and then start your production order. The pattern is often sent as a digital file but is sometimes sent as paper or as a printed marker. 

The factory will want to see your pattern prior to giving you a production quote so that they can test how well the style moves through their sewing line and time out how long the garment will take to produce. The pattern plays a large part in not only the garment fit, but the technical construction and efficiency of producing the garment. 

The tech pack with all the details and instructions

While the pattern may be the template for the garment, the tech pack is the blueprint. It contains all the technical information about how the garment is put together and what each point and size should measure. It sets the standard for quality and establishes your expectations for the finished garment. A cut & sew factory will want to see your tech pack along with your pattern to fully understand what you are asking them to make for you. 

Not only does the tech pack communicate the details of your design, but it gives the factory necessary information on what finishes you want and what components are required. This information helps them to set up their machinery and workflow for your design and calculate an accurate cutting and sewing cost for you.

A sew-by sample garment

The pattern, tech pack, sew-by combination is the trifecta of design communication to a factory. You have the template, the instructions, and a physical example of the final result. The information in the pattern and tech pack are often sufficient for the factory to produce your design, but often they will prefer a sew-by sample as it can be an additional point of reference. It is like having a picture in the recipe book instead of just the instructions and the cookie cutter. 

Having a physical sew-by sample to look at gives the factory sewers a tangible example of the construction and order of operations to make the garment. This can be helpful for sewers whose first language is not the same as yours or for those that are kinesthetic/visual learners. A sew-by sample is another way to communicate your design to the factory and answer questions they might have.

Your estimated production quantities

A cut & sew factory (or any factory, really) will want to know what your estimated production quantities are. Sometimes this is to see if you meet their minimum order requirements (MOQs). If you do meet the MOQ, the factory will still want to know the estimated quantities before quoting a price. Often factories have tiered pricing where once you reach a certain quantity of units, you get a cheaper price per unit. Samples and small-batch are the most expensive to make because the quantity is so low. 

Providing your estimated quantities to the factory helps you both. You both can see if you are a good fit to work together. The factory can quote an accurate price for your production levels. You can budget and plan your inventory better when you have accurate pricing.

All the materials and trims (first for samples and then for production)

Many factories won’t quote a production price until they’ve made a sample, so initially you’ll need to send the cut & sew factory enough of your final materials to make a sample or two. You’ll need to send sample yardage of your fabrics as well as your trims and notions. Don’t forget to send brand and care labels! Sometimes factories will provide thread as long as your design doesn’t require specialty types or colors, so this is something to ask about before sending your materials. 

Once the samples are approved and you are ready for production, you’ll need to send the factory enough of each of your materials to cover your production order. If the factory has given your project a production schedule of when they will be working on your order, make sure all your materials (yes ALL) arrive prior to that date. Even a single component being late can delay your order.

Production P.O. and markers

When you’ve found a cut & sew factory that is the right fit for your brand and product, the factory has made a sample to test your product, and you’ve reviewed and approved the sample, then you can place a production order! The purchase order should indicate the styles, sizes, and colors you are ordering – which should correspond to the style, size, and colorway information in the pattern and tech pack. You will usually also send the factory a deposit to start the order. 

If your factory requires a production marker instead of just the pattern, this is when you’ll send that as well. Some cut & sew factories make the production marker with the pattern you send, while some want you to send a marker already made. The marker is the layout or print out of how to cut the pattern from the fabric and is made specific to the ratio of sizes and quantities on your production order. 

Finding a factory and getting your products into production with them can be a lengthy process, but being prepared with everything the factory will need makes it easier. To quote you a production price and get your design into production, a cut & sew factory will need you to send your pattern, tech pack, sew-by, materials, and production order quantities.

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