The best technical software for small companies

stylefile_graphic [This is the perfect example of why tunes should not be playing when people land on your website. I’d lose at least half of you because my preference would be to play the Glenn Miller version of At Last. Yeah it was a bunch of white guys so it’s not as popular or cool as the Etta James version but the clothes were better.]

If you’re having a hard time keeping on top of things like quality, vendors, product testing, keeping on schedule with patterns, sampling and production, have I got news for you! Yes, StyleFile, the best and lowest cost technical design package and project management software is back with a new version called StyleFile LE. Since I know budgets are tight, I’ll give you the cost up front, it’s $699. You can try it free (no registration hassle) for 30 days. I strongly suggest you use the wiki which will be invaluable in getting you started. Amended: Lorraine mentions there is a full  LE manual in the demo download folder.  I didn’t know that because I didn’t open that file -oops!

Here’s a tiny list of what it can do for you: -oh wait, new FTC regulations governing endorsements say I must disclose the nature of my relationship with the vendor. The vendor is Patternworks Inc, a boutique pattern services provider in Los Angeles. In my opinion, they are the standard by which pattern services should be measured. Which is no small thing to say considering they are technically my “competitors” although I prefer the term “colleagues”. I enjoy warm collegial relations with the owners -as well as one can considering distance and all. I have not been paid for any entries I’ve written about any of their products or services. I have not received a free software package of LE either. I was employed by the firm to test the first PLM/PDM product and to write documentation (I am a technical writer) for which I was not paid but I did receive the software in trade. Lastly, I will not be paid a commission if you buy any of their products or services. Disclosure dispensed with, this is but a tiny portion of what StyleFile LE will do for you:

  • Tracking the work process, soup to nuts.
  • Line sheet creation
  • Bill of Material (BOM)
  • Complete costing
  • Full technical specification packages
  • Writing sewing instructions (to which you can attach illustrations)
  • Grading and sizes management (grading charts and reports)
  • POM (point of measure) database
  • Cutting tickets
  • Style management by style, size and colorways (duh)
  • A wide variety of reports which can be emailed or printed (pdf)
  • Detailed measurement specifications
  • Complete revision history
  • Manufacturing orders
  • Fabric testing reports, tracked at the fabric level rather than style number
  • Calculating materials needed for cut orders
  • GCC forms built in (for CPSIA)
  • Vendor database
  • Sewing and service providers tracking
  • All manner of dye lot and sublimation tracking and testing
  • Shrinkage tracking built in
  • Pattern cards

If you’re at the over-whelmed stage, this will help you write technical specifications, illustrate construction details and changes, assist with auditing your service providers and in general, prove you said what you said, meaning your contractor can’t come back later and quibble about the details. All of these elements are the basis of the sewing contract (really, a work contract) for your jobs. Service providers will also love it because this will allow them to offer tech pack services. I know a lot of us (including technical designers) have been leaving that service option on the table because we didn’t have robust relational database software to do it. Anyway, I have kicked the tires on this one (played with it entirely too long this afternoon) and the long and short of it is, anybody need a tech pack? I’ve got the tools to do it.

Seriously, download it and try it out. Post questions (the wiki is invaluable!), read the manual and I’ll be happy to help you out if I can or get more expert help as needed. I’m working on a tech package for my bag (4217) which I’ll post when it’s done.

Related entries:
Technical designer qualifications
What is a tech pack?
Management Software pt.2
Style File!
What is a Bill of Materials (BOM)
Giving instructions to a pattern grader
Sewing contracts
CPSIA tracking label requirements
Who pays for a sewing contractor’s mistakes? SOW
Quality Control and SOW pt.1
Quality Control and SOW pt.2
What is a cutting ticket

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  1. Oriole says:

    While reading this I was reminded of the blog on drawing programs that could be used for flats. This may be old news, but was new to me.

    is a free drawing program and it seems to be more like adobe illustrator than the others. I downloaded it the other day and it is really nice. I haven’t downloaded the free book on how to use it or the tutorials. This would be a good alternitive to using AI.
    I also found a great site,

    This site has very good free croquis and flat figures for anyone that needs help in drawing. They have childrens figures as well. They are downloadable in AI or .jpg

  2. celeste says:

    Exclent, I always love to learn about new software and things that apply to smaller companies.

    Oriole – i was glad to learn of a new resource from the designernexus site. As I pretty much own everybook on the subject (only missing one or two), and there was so limted resources for the subject when i studied this in school (and against the advice of the fashion teacher – and why I eneded up studying graphic design instead)

    But, I can’t find the blog on inkscape, and although a fantastic and great free program it does have its limitations (as does gimp).

  3. Lorraine says:

    Hi Noah,

    The StyleFile full version has the ability to turn your computer into a web server so that you can give others secured access to your style files. You can limit access to certain information and your contractors can add comments directly into the file so that all communication is documented. StyleFile LE runs with a built in Microsoft database engine (like Access). There are other differences which you can view in a comparison chart on the StyleFile website. StyleFile LE users will be able to move into the full version as their needs grow. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions!

  4. Kat says:

    Can someone give me any updates on this software? I read this post and am really interested in it but it seems the company no longer exists. Are there any similar programs out there?

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