Apparel Construction from A to Z: Garment Construction Cycle

Many of us love fashion. We like watching the runway shows. Reading up on the seasonal trends is a pastime for some of us. However, we don't all have much of a clue about how a garment is made. I can't give you a detailed play-by-play because this post would be a mile long. I can give you an overview that will let you know fashion is not just a sketch that magically turns into a garment.

Fashion Concept Stage

It all begins with a concept or idea. This idea is placed on paper. Typically, it takes the form of a fashion illustration. For those not skilled in illustration it may be a simple quick sketch. This is also where fabric is selected.

Patternmaking Stage

From the sketch comes the flat pattern. Sometimes, a fashion concept is draped over a dress form then the pattern is made.

Flat or Technical Sketch

This sketch shows the garment as a whole but shows the placement of seams and any embellishment placement. Even topstitching is drawn on this sketch. Both the front and back views of the garment are sketched.

Spec(ification) Sheet

This sheet has thumbnails of the technical sketch plus the order of construction for the garment. It also gives specific details such as what the exact measurements of the garment should be.

Sample Garment

This is sort of the first run of constructing the garment. Typically, it is made from a cheaper fabric that has similar characteristics as the final fabric used in the finished garment. Any errors along the chain before this point will be noticed. Sometimes design details look or work better on paper than they do in a three-dimensional garment. You will go back and make any necessary changes. Then create the sample again.

Finished Garment

After the sample garment is constructed and is the way you want it you are ready to make the finished garment. This could be for made to order or mass production. The final, finished garment is your last step before the retail or merchandising begins.

This is the basic garment design/construction cycle. Depending on the designer's or firm's needs additional stages are added, or a couple are skipped. As you can see, a garment goes through different stages between the fashion illustration and the garment you are wearing. Fashion design is not just drawing a sketch or sewing. There are many technical skills needed to produce one apparel. Yes, what I just laid out in this post are the basics.

Did you know your clothing goes through these different stages of construction?

Main Image Credit: Esther Noriega design via All Rights Reserved

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