What is a sketch sheet

This entry applies to everyone but most especially producers of kid’s products. In writing the CPSIA tracking and labeling requirements, I find I need to backtrack a bit more than usual. I really don’t want to be a nag but if you don’t know how to do this already, you should seriously consider purchasing my book. There’s a whole section on this vital process (pg 54-59).

A sketch sheet is much more than a piece of paper with your design drawn upon it; it is the first and most pivotal form you have. You may as well drag out a file folder because this is the first of many forms that will go into it. Start one folder for each style. My personal preference is to use a three ring binder, perhaps that will work for you. I use one binder per season. If styles are carried over from one season to another, I make copies to put them in the new book.

Off to the side is a hand drawn sketch sheet sample I did when I made this jacket for a friend (now my spouse). Because it was a private project, I didn’t need a real form, just a record to keep me on track. I actually do fill out sketch sheets for personal projects and save them for later reference. There’s also a larger version of this form available (73kb). Your form will need to be much more detailed and you can create one as a database form in Excel or other program.

At a minimum and for these purposes, your sketch sheet must include:

  • A style number
  • A sketch
  • Fabrications (all of them)
  • Colorways
  • Inputs and qty of each (zippers, buttons etc)
  • Product description
  • Swatches

The form in my book is much more detailed. It includes sourcing information with fields for specific codes for fabrics and inputs. In the form you create, you must also include product codes for fabrics etc. If you don’t have room, add a second sheet listing the specific sourcing information of each input. This could loosely be defined as a BOM (bill of materials).

For some of you, this will be difficult because inputs are usually not substituted. Typically we draw from one specific source of goods so if you’re buying from a variety of sources to make your stock items, this can be more complex. Nonetheless, this problem isn’t surmountable, it can be managed with a cut ticket (entry to come). At this point, it would be good to create a field to check off for testing of each component. Caveat: component testing has not been approved but you’re required to meet compliance now. Testing at the component level is how most people are doing it until February 2010.

If you are not creating style numbers, I’m afraid your practices that will have to change. As we get further along into this, style numbers will become indispensable -even if it were not required by CPSIA.

Here is the evolution of forms needed to keep yourself on track thus far, regardless of whether you need to comply with CPSIA or not.

  • Sketch sheet
  • Bill of materials
  • Cutting ticket

Here is a schematic. If you are not making children’s products, the tracking label and GCC is not required.

The optional steps are in purple. Also, not everyone needs to control batches. That function is mostly used by larger firms with multiple contractors who may need to track for quality control in the event of returns. Somebody like Levi’s will do batch control because they’ll have 501’s made in 14 different factories. However, all those producing kid’s products need to control batches from here on out. I will also explain batch control too.


  1. sally says:

    This label CPSIA stuff is so far, the least clear to me. I buy my garments from a us distributer (who sells to lots of other companies) He imports them from a factory in China. He already has his RN numbr on the tag. then I silkscreen the garment and sell them.
    This is all done out of a workshop in my house,
    Do how do I interpret a “batch” number? and what kind of tracking number do I put on there when he already has he RN that would track back to his factory overseas? And also. how would I put a date of mfg on there when I don’t know when he actually served them up over in China?
    follow me on twitter veryexcellentReport

  2. Kathleen says:

    Yes, a technical package includes a sketch sheet but not necessarily all of the documents I’m writing about in this series. This series is the tracking component, which explains why I’m writing about it in the context of cpsia labeling and tracking. :)

    For more on tech packs, see this previous entry. The comments are very educational too. Since you belong to the forum, we’ve talked about it a lot there.

    I will later do a follow up post (what is a tech pack pt.2) once I’ve finished this documentation series and will try to remember which items in this tracking series also belong in the tech pack.Report

  3. Liat Hoffman says:

    Hey Kathleen
    I was wondering if you have a template form of the sketch sheet and other forms that you have in the book? It would be super helpful!
    Your book has been invaluable in so many ways – thanks!!

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