production 101

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When you are ready to move into producing your garments, there are a number of steps to move through methodically to ensure the most streamlined and efficient process.  At The Whole Works, we offer full service Production Management from grading to packing, so you don’t have to worry about moving your garments from step to step.  We pride ourselves on using the best contractors in the industry, so your garments come off the production line quickly and looking their best.

To get better acquainted with the process, check out the steps below.  Also, be sure to get in touch with our Production Manager to start planning your production today!

If you are just starting out, make sure you start with your best foot forward and take a look at our cheat sheet for Pre-Production 101.



Grading is the process of creating the individual sizes of your size run.  After pre-production, you are usually working with a pattern in one size – your sample size.  This pattern is digitized and run through algorithmic computer software to create the larger and smaller sizes in your size run.  

The jump from one size to another is called a grade rule, and there are different grade rules for different markets.  You can also make up your own grade rule if you are designing for a very particular audience.  

A fairly standard grade rule is a 2” grade.  This means that between subsequent sizes, there is a 2” difference at the crucial measurement.  For example, on a pair of trousers the hip measurement on a medium would be 2” larger than the small.  Keep in mind that this is not a linear equation – as sizes get further away from your sample size, the algorithm changes.  An XL will not be exactly 4” larger than the medium – it will be slightly larger than that.

If this is melting your brain, fear not.  Most grading is done by your grader with a computer.  Some pattern makers will also grade by hand, and if they do, bow down to them, for they are very cool.

If you dislike math and this doesn’t make any sense, get in touch with us!  Our Production Manager will take care of this part for you.   

This will be handled by our Production Manager.

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Make your marker:

A marker is the cutting plan for your cutter to use to cut your fabric.    It looks like a series of outlines of your pattern pieces, all fit together to get the best yield.  It is printed on a wide roll of paper, at the cuttable width of your fabric.  

It is important to convey the cuttable width of your fabric to your marker maker.  The width that usually comes with your fabric swatches is generally the full width of the fabric, including the selvedge.  In most cases, you do not want to cut pattern pieces on the selvedge, because it either full of holes or covered in glue.  So make sure you are clear on the width of the fabric minus the selvedge.

This will be handled by our Production Manager.

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Ordering Fabric:

The reason you don’t order your fabric until it has been placed into a marker is because you won’t really know how much fabric to order until you get your final yield.  A good marker maker will create a very tight marker, a good yield, which will save you money on fabric.  Get the final yield from your marker maker, and use that to determine how much fabric to buy.  

Your yield will be a number – say 1.3.  This means that it takes 1.3 yards of fabric to make each garment.  To determine how much fabric to buy, multiply 1.3 by the quantity of garments you are making.  If you are making 50 garments, multiply 1.3 x 50 = 65 yards.  Add extra!  Your cutter will need a little wiggle room, and you want to account for damages.  It is fairly standard to buy 10% more for damages and inventory.

Keep in mind there will be different yields for each of your fabrics – self, contrast, etc.

Fabric Sourcing services available through The Whole Works.

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When your cutter cuts your fabric, they will layer many plys of fabric so that they can make the least amount of cuts.  This is a very efficient process, and allows for cutters to cut many different colors at once.  

There are few different tools used for cutting, called knives.  They are basically hand held electronic saws that slide along the table, allowing for great maneuverability.  You will receive stacks of cut pieces usually tied together by size.  

This will be handled by our Production Manager.

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We finally made it!  Now we are ready to start getting your final product onto the machines.  This is a very exciting time, but make sure you don’t rush into anything.  Again, the devil is in the details, and there are a lot of details when it comes to sewn garments.   

The first step to prepare to go into sewing is to put together a tech pack.  A tech pack is an even more detailed version of your original spec sheets that you put together in your pre-production phase.  Your tech pack will include a detailed image of your garment, your size chart, your grade rule, your seam types, your finished specs for each size, thread type and color, button size, zipper size and color, needle size, stitches per inch, label placement, etc.

Check out our tech pack template here.  When you work with The Whole Works, we will assist you in putting together your tech pack, and can fill in any details that you might not know.

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It is important to be in close contact with your manufacturer from day one of production.  Ask to see a T.O.P. – top of production garment.  This is one of the first finished garments, and it will be a good bellwether for any problems that might be present.  Rather than letting mistakes be repeated throughout your entire production run, make sure to take the time to look at your T.O.P.  and catch mistakes early.

You should also feel comfortable asking to see a garment mid way through production to check again.  At The Whole Works, we will work closely with you to ensure that you feel included in your production.  We like to be in touch at least once a week during production, to keep you up to date and in the loop.

This will be handled by our Production Manager.

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Dyeing, Printing, Embroidery:

These steps are usually done after the garment is sewn.  There are so many options for ways to color and decorate your garments to make them unique, so be sure you schedule a Design Consultation to learn more about your options.

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This is the last step in the production process.  Finishing includes a lot of different steps, from pressing, snipping loose threads, quality control, stitching on labels, placing hangtags, folding, poly bagging and packing.  This is where the garments are fully inspected for quality and any damages or mistakes that will be pulled aside.  

All placement of labels and hang tags, as well as how the garment is to be folded and bagged, will be clearly indicated in your tech pack, so there are no questions.

This will be handled by our Production Manager.

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Once your production is complete, and a final QC check has been completed, your garments will be packed in boxes and shipped directly to you.  Upon receiving the garments, please take the time to inspect them for any damages.  Once the garments have been received, they become your responsibility, to please make sure you notify us of any problems within one week of receiving them.  

This will be handled by our Production Manager.