How to make a line sheet pt.2

This is a follow up to Kathleen’s post on How to make a line sheet because I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to decipher a poorly constructed line sheet. I’m not talking about fancy graphics that are nice and pretty, I’m talking about a document that has all the product information I need to write an order. Most line sheets use technical sketches, often created using either CAD software or Illustration software. Some line sheets use hand-drawn sketches, while a select few use actual photographs. How simple or complex your line sheet is depends on the nature of your line. In this post, I will outline some basic tips for creating a functional line sheet.

One of the things I feel is a good visual organizing cue would be to put a colored (or solid block) block in the upper right hand corner of the line sheet. Why? Because if I were thumbing through pages, it would be easy to identify which line sheet I was looking at (i.e. Spring 06) because I file my line sheets horizontally in hanging file folders. I try to be organized. Most companies put their line sheet info on the front page, centered. This means I have to either pull the line sheet out or push folders forward to peek down. I don’t always have that much space, so I thought it would be easier if you could see the collection information from the top of the sheet so it would be easier to find. I have seen a few line sheets with the information in this area which makes it so much more helpful. Wherever you choose to put it is your decision but be consistent with the placement.

I also have a preference for horizontal line sheets only because that’s how paper gets filed, on its side. But that’s just a minor nuance because most people are used to reading vertical sheets of paper. Whichever format you choose should ultimately depend on which format makes the most user-friendly layout.

I have created a few example line sheets (links at the close) that provide basic information that can -or should- be on a line sheet and is intended to be in black and white, to keep copy costs down. I have also included a link to an example swatch sheet because if you can keep your color all on one page, it’s less expensive to make copies. You can use a swatch card whether you use solids or prints. If you have a sales rep, your rep should always have high quality master copies to reproduce in case they run out of line sheets.

Speaking of swatch cards, I know reps that have to cut tiny swatches from their clothing samples (that they pay for) to make swatch sheets for their customers. They shouldn’t have to do this! And these reps usually do this for lines that are all about the colors (or prints), they may have 12 styles with a palette of 16 colors per season. Thus colors/prints are everything. It really disturbs me when DEs don’t take the time to provide swatch cards -a crucial selling tool- to the rep, yet many of the same DEs complain about a lack of sales. Yes, the buyers can see the line at market, but often specific color samples end up somewhere else (does anybody know what happened to that one top we had in sea foam?), while another person is viewing the line. Or better yet, a buyer needs to write the order after they see the line because they saw something else, somewhere else, that merchandises well with an item in your line and now they are having to figure out if the right green was “grass” or “avocado”. I think this is a real issue as a buyer because I have seen lines that would not make a swatch sheet and have 16 prints per collection and figure you should rely on your memory to know which one was “summer garden” or “spring bouquet”. This type of thinking means you’ll only sell to buyers who visit your showroom or show booth. Not using swatch cards means that the only way a buyer can write an order for your line is if they see it, even if the buyer is a repeat customer! In other words, if you made this A-line skirt for Spring and you bring it back for Summer in 4 new colors, as a buyer, I should be able to write that order without being forced to see a rep to see those new colors in person. You should have something -either a color sheet or swatch cards- to provide. What often happens is that you’ll lose orders because the buyer is not going to that specific market and won’t be able to see the line.

Now, back to the line sheets, I’m not going for aesthetics, or color combinations or anything else, I’m just trying to communicate the idea. Whatever fonts, layout and colors you ultimately choose are up to you. Here are the links to the sample line sheet and the sample swatch sheet. These aren’t fancy but they’re clean working documents. They don’t need to be fancy or gunked up because these are order taking tools, not marketing tools.

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
Line sheet cover letters
Line sheets revisited

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  1. jinjer says:

    Miracle! you’re awesome!

    On your sample swatch sheet what does “group name-fabric” mean? By fabric, do you mean fiber/weave, etc. information? And what does “group name” mean?

  2. MW says:

    Hi Jinjer:

    Some line sheet swatch cards are grouped together with the name of the group of items and then the fabric type. This is more common when a collection is named, but the individual pieces have style numbers. For example

    Lisette- Stretch Silk Charmeuse

    Where Lisette would be the name of the grouping and obviously the other is the fabric. Or sometimes groups have numbers, when a particular group of items is designated with a prefix, such as:

    90000 Series- Ribbed Mercerized Cotton

    This is one collection I know of where the first number of their style numbers designates the fabric.

    So if style 2013 is a camisole, 92013 would be that camisole in ribbed mercerized cotton 22013 would be in jersey, etcetera. Hope that helps.

  3. perna says:

    Thank you so much for you “line sheet” info,I have been trying to figure out how to best do mine. You said that some companies uses actual photographs? Is that ok, because that would help me solve my problem,

    Also, one question: Do I need to have all the fabrics already purshased before I get the orders?

    thanks again hope to hear from you! perna

  4. MW says:

    To answer your question, photographs can work for you or against you. I have seen some companies that should have skipped the photos becuase they made the line look horrible. With that said, I’d prefer a clean technical sketch over a bad photo, but that’s only my biased opinion.

    If you feel the need to have photographs, what I would suggest (I was going to make this another post, but we’ll see) is having a full color postcard printed in 6 x 9 format or larger size (full color on front, blank on back), and having group shots of your line done well, with good lighting and color correction and attach that to the line sheet. The reason I say this is because it is expensive to reproduce color, whether you make copies or what not, and you don’t want to have buyers trying to “read” color off bad copies. If this confuses you, don’t worry, because I do have a full post coming about this.

    But most importantly, I think psychologically a bad photo can just kill your chances. When a sketch is not that great, we can forgive it because we figure that sketches won’t be that great the real item will look better. But when a photo is bad or poorly reproduced, I just think the negative impact is larger. The reason I say this is that I know a company that puts out a look book and a line sheet with photos. And… well… the line sheet just doesn’t look good…

    I know other people will have their opinions on the matter. But a lot of DEs I know feel that if you’re going to have photos, the photos better be good. With that said, there are several places in downtown LA (if you are there) that will do professional photos on mannequins or models for $15-25 per picture (and up) and drop out the background to white.

  5. zoe says:

    Thanks about those useful information you provided. Do you know how much does a freelancer would charge for a line sheet? Because I am offered a job which is a line sheet of 11 garments and for the first time i really don’t know how to set the price. Could you help me please?

  6. hala says:

    Great information.
    Do you have names and/or contact info for any of the companies in L.A. that will do the photographs on models or mannequins for line sheets? I can’t seem to find them via the internet.

  7. Kathleen says:

    The whole issue of line sheets is that they should consist of simple line drawings -technical rather than artistic renderings- as opposed to photography.

  8. melissa says:

    In terms of line sheets and providing season, order cut off date and delivery time frame, what if your items are not seasonal. Say something that can be ordered from January-December. Is it ok to omit that information and/or should something else be inserted instead?

  9. Kara says:

    All of this information is very helpful. I’m still a little confused though. Do line sheets need to be computer generated documents? Or can they be hand sketched? If it is better to use a computer program can you advise me which program would be best to buy and easiest to use? Also on the line sheet somewhere (my apologies if you’ve addressed this already) do you need to show dimensions and sizing?

  10. Carolina says:

    As a technical designer for 3 years, I strongly feel linesheets should be computer generated. With the click of a button you can alter very very quickly something for a last minute change. It is time efficient, consistent, clean. The best program to use is Adobe Illustrator. As far as dimension and sizing, dimension isnt as important -thats more for a tech pack… but the sizing of leg openings, skirt lengths, sleeve lengths are kinda important… it helps the rep sell items easier when they too feel knowledgable about the fit. I hope this hels.

  11. Minrose says:

    I work in retail for the past 3 years and I usually work with line sheets when the new stocks come in and we needed to do the stock take, we check the garments codes and tick it off in the line sheet.

    What I remembered about them was that it was an A4 size two times the length. Having the technical drawing on them with description. Fabric Type, Season, Style Code & Price

    { It was handrewn and edited with computer. They also put the swatch beside the style. But not as in swatch fabric but a printed picture of the swatch. It gives a clear meaning to what it looks like too. }

    So that’s one tip I guess, generally speaking. Hope any bit of it helps.

  12. Jessica says:

    I was wondering if the same applies for footwear. I have the CAD designs and I also have product shots for my line sheet. Which is best to use for the line sheet. I have only seen actual shoe images (photo taken on a seamless white background and image extracted) for the line sheets

  13. Amanda says:

    Dear Miracle,

    Wonderful post by the way which will probably save my life! I showed at LA fashion week last weekend and a director of branding and development approached me asking if I have a line sheet. I thought a line sheet was just your sketches with info about fabric and pricing, so I said yes! Turns out there is also order minimum, cutoff dates, delivery dates!!!! The collection I showed is definitely avant-garde and conceptual, so shouldn’t I include a postcard with colored photographs alongside my sketches and order info? Thank you!

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