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Fashion and textile design terms

Updated: May 22

Fashion and Textile Design Terms

If you are new to the fashion and textile design world, there may be a few terms and abbreviations that you are not familiar with.

This list is by no means extensive. It is just a quick and basic introduction to the terms that I personally use the most within the textiles and fashion industry.

OK. Are you ready?


This is a technical 2D sketch of the garment laying flat. Hence the term, 'flat sketch'! This is usually a clean and neat line drawing in black and white, featuring important design details such as topstitching and trims. Did you know? Back in the day, this was all done in pencil on paper. But since the introduction of computers, the term 'flat sketch' is often referred to as a 'fashion CAD'!


CAD stands for 'computer-aided design', but when used in the fashion industry, it is basically a digital format of a flat sketch. Most fashion CADs are created in Adobe Illustrator but as new technologies are introduced, fashion CADs could also include 3D models of garments!


This is a detailed document that serves as an instruction manual for factories and manufacturers to create your product. A tech pack will include things like:

  •  Flat sketches

  •  BOM

  •  Graded specs

  •  Artwork specs


Short for 'bill of materials'. This is a master list of every single physical item needed to create your product such as trims, buttons, thread, fabric, swing tags, etc.


This is used to document the various points of measure for each size range for your garment.


This is used to provide details of any printed artwork required for your garment, such as artwork dimensions, print technique, placement, and colours used.


Short for 'minimum order quantity'. In the supply chain, a supplier of a product may ask for a minimum number of units required before ordering and purchasing. For example, a minimum of 1000 meters of fabric must be ordered before going to print.


Short for 'pre-production sample', this sample needs to be approved before production begins. Be sure to check that the fit, colours, trims and construction are perfect - because once production starts, you can't go back to change anything!


Short for 'salesman sample', this sample is used by your sales and marketing team to book orders.


This is a small swatch of printed fabric that needs to be checked and approved before the factory goes ahead with the full print run. Things to check include:

  •  Colour - does it match your desired outcome?

  •  Repeat - does it repeat seamlessly?

  •  Scale - did the factory print at the correct scale?

  •  The hand feel - how does the print look and feel on the fabric?

  •  Print quality - is the print clean and has no errors?

  •  Shrinkage - does the print differ in size compared to your original artwork?


This is a small swatch of dyed fabric in a solid colour that needs to be checked and approved against the colour standard. Lab dips usually come with 2 to 4 options (tints and shades) so that you can select the best match.


The exact colour that you have decided to design for your fashion or print collection. This is the benchmark (standard) for all of production. Typically the Pantone Colour Matching System is used to pick the perfect colour. See more here.


When it comes to the textile design process, this is a colour combination of an artwork or print. For example, a print can come in two colourways.


A technique that literally separates each individual colour used in a textile print design. This is a way of preparing artwork for screen printing. Did you know? That you can choose as far as up to 16 to 23 colours for a screen print? But for the sake of budget and cost efficiency, many brands limit their colours to 8 or 10 as a maximum.


A technique that ensures the artwork or print that is displayed on a computer screen matches the physical printed sample. I use the Pantone Colour Matching system.


Printed fabric that features artwork that is in a seamless repeat across the width and length of the fabric roll.


A print design that is placed or engineered onto fabric or a garment. Unlike a repeat or yardage print, a placement print relies on the artwork being in a fixed scale and position. For example, a T-shirt graphic will always be printed in one scale, in one position, of the T-shirt.


A printing technique that involves several screens made of mesh, with each screen containing a layer of transfer ink or dye. For example, if I want to print a design that has 4 colours onto a T-shirt, then 4 screens will need to be prepared for each colour being used.


A printing technique that involves engraved metal rollers. Just like screen printing, each roller contains a layer of transfer ink or dye. The rollers then roll across the fabric.


A printing technique that uses heat to transfer ink onto fabric. The artwork is printed on a sheet of special paper first, which is laid on top of the fabric before the heat is applied. Did you know? That the inks first turn into gas before they combine and bond to the fabric? This is a great option for placement print designs and signage.


Short for 'direct to garment' printing, this is a process of printing directly onto your garment of choice. This is often done by printer inks that are jetted or sprayed onto the textile, (much like a home-based inkjet printer!)


Digital printing is a method of printing from a digital-based image directly to a variety of media and uses the same technique as DTG printing.

So that's my list! Did you learn any new terminology?

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