POM: Point of Measure Codes

POM_vest1smIn the process of writing a review of a book called The Spec Manual, I can’t find material that I know I wrote at one point or another so I can link to it. In the interest of expediency, I’ve created this glossary entry.

POM Codes are used to specify the measuring points of a garment or product. If you measure garments, you will need to have codes to indicate the location you measured at given points of the product.

Generally there are no established standards for code abbreviations (with some caveats below) but some codes are in such broad usage as to be universal. You’ve seen these abbreviations on this site before, maybe you didn’t know what they were. These are used so often that I do recommend you memorize them. These are the most common examples:

CF= center front
CB= center back
SS= side seam
HPS= high point shoulder
TM= total measure

Caveats:
Some customers (department store etc) may specify POM codes. If this is the case for you, these will be listed in the vendor compliance manual they give you.

Codes don’t have to be letters, they can also be numbers. At top right is a sample vest from The Spec Manual that I reviewed Tuesday.

Most often, it’s up to you or whomever you hire to make up your tech packs to figure out where and how to use codes. Codes can be one-time use, meaning given codes vary per each specific garment spreadsheet or they can be universal codes. By universal code, I mean that a given code will always have the same meaning no matter the style or in which spreadsheet or document it may appear.

By way of example is the coding system used in tech pack software like StyleFile. The program includes a database of codes for use across all of your tech packs if you want to use it or you can create your own universal codes. At right is a sketch of a style with universal codes.

Which system should you use?
If you’re just starting up and only have a few styles, single use numbered codes are probably the best option. This is also a good option if your products are not garments and have unusual attributes that vary. For example, a back pack or other type of utility product.

If your firm is larger and trying to reduce confusion and ambiguity by streamlining the tech pack process, universal codes might be a better choice for several reasons. For one, as an established firm, you have signature pieces and usual product types you produce repeatedly so it is easier because you have fewer variances. Using universal codes in this environment means that people will eventually memorize the most common ones, making the specification process that much faster.

Related:
Review: The Spec Manual
Things you must know if you have a clothing line: garment measuring
Creating Tables: POM Table (off site: Style File Wiki)
Giving instructions to a pattern grader pt.2
Giving instructions to a pattern grader pt.3
What is a tech pack?

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7 comments

  1. Jess H. says:

    I’m definitely interested to see your review – I actually had the author of The Spec Manual as my technical flats professor while studying at FIT. I don’t remember much from the book, but was highly enamored with the included CD, due to the large library of line styles for doing flats in Illustrator.

  2. Bente says:

    I have also sean used alphabetic coding like A, B and C. Some prefer as it would not interfere/create misunderstanding together with the numeric measurements.

  3. Lorraine says:

    Hi Kathleen,
    StyleFile comes with alphabetical codes but can be easily customized by the user. Our main reason for using letters for POM codes was to make it easy to remember. The first letter was a clue to the point and the last letter the type of measurement. In your example above, the A=armhole while the L=length. This made if very easy for our patternmakers, tech writers and QC staff to memorize. As a service, we see alot of different methods used for POM coding.

    Whatever the method, either numeric, alphabetical or combined, it is important to not re-use the name with multiple descriptions. For example, if ABC=across chest on one style, ABC should not be used as across waist on another style.

    POM codes can be consolidated and have associated grade rules. The POM code for “sleeve length from shoulder seam” might be 1001. So you might wonder if that is a short sleeve, 3/4 sleeve, or long sleeve. Instead of creating 3 completely different codes, you might create 1001 to mean long sleeve, 1001.1 to be short sleeve 1001.2 to be 3/4 sleeve. That way whenever you see 1001 you know that it is a sleeve, and also the length of that sleeve and sleeve grade.

    Thank you for your post on this subject. The importance of POM coding is often overlooked– we have seen small companies grow into large companies and then take years to update their technical data/specs because they have so many existing styles with inconsistent codes–very time consuming/costly, especially if the specs have been created in a spreadsheet program. That’s the beauty of starting out using a relational database system-you change the POM name once and it can automatically update in all the associated records.

  4. Allen says:

    Are all code created equal? There are basic measurements plus specific ones per design. Vest v.s Dress v.s. jeans v.s. sweater v.s. specific (medevil, sci -fi/anime, halloween, non-standard size, etc – yes there is quite the niche market for these)
    I do not know many people who cross these lines. Each sticks to their own forte’. However business requires vertical and horizontal growth. Horizontal – wide variety of style and type. Vertical – from cheap, few details or alterations to expensive, detailed and more form fitting.
    To go this way plan on prefix by department (cheap v.s expensive, summer v.s winter) then cataoriy and then measurement. 01B2.FL is 01(cheap) B (winter) 2(vest).FL
    Sound extreme? Look at SEARS. Each Sears model number starts with a dept. code. subsection then item. VIN (vehical identification number) is set up the same way. One look at it and you know who made it, what it is, what year, engine size, transmisison, etc, etc. MIL-SPC (military spec) numbers are the same. Telphone numbers – well used to be userful. Country code – area code – exchange and 4 digit line num.

    BTW – alternating numbers letters numbers helps prevent typos and transposition. Oddly they can make it easier to read.

    I hope this is helpful.

  5. Kathleen says:

    To go this way plan on prefix by department (cheap v.s expensive, summer v.s winter) then cataoriy and then measurement. 01B2.FL is 01(cheap) B (winter) 2(vest).FL

    I don’t understand why this level of specificity is necessary. The POM for the sweep of a vest (for example) is the same regardless of price, size, category and season.

    Sound extreme? Look at SEARS. Each Sears model number starts with a dept. code. subsection then item. VIN (vehical identification number) is set up the same way. One look at it and you know who made it, what it is, what year, engine size, transmisison, etc, etc.

    I suspect we’re talking about different things. POM codes are for measuring products. Sears uses SKUs to track products rather than POM codes. A VIN is a sort of SKU for vehicles or maybe it’s closer to a style number. Mil-specs are (for all intents) document SKUs or maybe even style numbers.

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