How to make a line sheet

If you recall from last week’s How to issue style numbers pt. 127 and pt. 128, we’d been troubleshooting Danielle’s style numbers. In this post, I’ve put together the comments from the forum regarding the makeover of her line sheets. Before I start discussing the problems with these line sheets, you should know that Danielle’s line sheets are some of the best I’ve seen -and she’s a student. Many of the designers I know have line sheets that are much worse, if they have them at all. Below is the first sample of Danielle’s line sheet (the full size jpeg can be found here, about three quarters of the way down the page):

First, what is a line sheet? A line sheet is a document designed to assist buyers in the placement of their orders. It’s a sales tool which is not to be confused with a marketing tool. As such, line sheets depict styles in flat, black and white sketches. Line sheets are not to be confused with “look books”. On look books, Miracle says

First things first, your color sketches are what would be considered part of a “look book”. Look books usually have photographs and style numbers. They are visual tools to give buyers (and publication editors, etc.) a view of your line. Sometimes look books have product information, but usually they do not. Your line sheet is similar to a sketched look book and not a line sheet at all. A line sheet has all of the product information a buyer needs to order. ALL of it. Of course, it may not have your minimum order info (but it sometimes does).

So according to our resident retail buyer cum blogger Miracle Wanzo, Danielle needs to revamp her line sheets to include product information (you may want to reread Miracle’s post What is a Line Sheet). Miracle continues

I strongly suggest that you put separate categories of merchandise in separate documents. Accessories together, outerwear together and so on. If you need to merchandise items together, this is what a look book is for. But a line sheet should be categorized because it makes it easier for buyers to sort out their merchandising. This also makes it easier as your line grows, so it’s good to start now. You might think that you don’t have enough items to do that, but you will use more space on your line sheet if you incorporate my other suggestions, so don’t worry about it.

1. Put your company contact information on every single page. EVERY SINGLE PAGE. Or your sales rep’s contact info. Every single page because when you have multiple pages, sometimes buyers will unstaple the pages they don’t need.
2. Put your delivery dates and order cut off dates on every single page.
3. It’s a good idea to put your minimum order amount on the page as well. For example:

The Last Collection
Delivery 3/15 – 3/30
Order by 2/15
Minimum 4 pcs per style, per color

4. For each ITEM, you should have the following information: Style number, style description, fabric composition, wholesale price, color and sizing. For example:

a. Style #15001 Wide leg Capri
b. 100% linen (If you are grouping your items by fabric, which many companies do on their line sheets, then you can put it on the page once)
c. S,M,L,XL (if all your sizing is the same for every item on the page, then you can put it on the page once)
d. Available in white, cream, taupe and black (if all your colors are the same, then you can put it on the page once)
e. $60

Lastly, a line sheet needs to be functional more than it needs to be artistically pleasing. Your look book and photographs generate interest, your line sheets are a tool for the buyer to order. What you have to think of when laying out a line sheet is how easy it is to write an order based on the information you have presented and the layout.

Miracle revamped Danielle’s line sheet as shown below (here is the full size version). Miracle also qualifies her submission with “for what it’s worth, I do not believe this is the type of line sheet that an instructor would want to see”. While we all know there’s a big disconnect from what you’re taught in school vs what’s done in real life, follow the conventions of your environment. If your teachers don’t like technical data, don’t put it in there. In real life however, you’re going to have to have it.

Then Danielle wrote:

Okay, so I haven’t learned about line sheets yet. I thought they were just a sheet that showed the entire line. Thanks for taking the time Miracle! Do line sheets have technical drawing or photographs on them? Back views? Or are they presented in conjunction with a look book for visual reference? Are there swatches?

Line sheets do not have photographs. Sometimes they will have back views. I think that depends on how much room you have on your sheet and whether your sketches are clean enough to depict details (Danielle’s are nice and clean). Line sheets are a ubiquitous working document. It’s best to assume that a buyer will only see your line sheets without having seen the look book or any press materials. Your line sheets should contain sufficient information that any buyer could order your products without an order form.

About swatches, I’ve seen those done one of two ways. Either a company will make up separate swatch cards that are independent of the line sheets and pass those out in conjunction with line sheets or just as often, I’ve seen swatches glued to line sheets.

If you are producing a line or would hope to, you really need to read The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Sewn Product Manufacturing because this entry (or this blog) cannot begin to teach you all you need to know. After all, if you didn’t know you needed line sheets, what else don’t you know? You can read sample chapters free online.

Why American Apparel has the best line sheets
What is a line sheet?
How to make a line sheet pt.2
Line sheet cover letters
Line sheets revisited

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