Apparel Production Planning: How Much Should You Cut for a Production Run?

apparel production, fashion manufacturing

How Much Should You Cut For Apparel Production?

Do you wonder if there is an amount that’s too small or too large to cut for production? What goes in to apparel production planning?  Should I have inventory or should I be doing a limited edition? These are all questions that might be going through your mind. 


After your grading and marking is done, it’s very important that you do this process, you are going to need to issue a cutting ticket for each style that’s going into production. This is a crucial part of the apparel production planning process. What is a cutting ticket?  A cutting ticket is a sheet that gives a detailed view of the number of pieces per size and per colorway that you plan to cut. It helps your factory to know how many pieces that they’re going to make and it keeps everyone on the same page. It usually has your deadline date on it and also sometimes it will have marker information.  

If you are doing prints and you’ve got different kinds of prints, you have to make sure that you have a cutting ticket. If you are curious what these look like we have an amazing cutting ticket template on our website along with the cutting ticket  PO contract that will ensure you are 100% covered with your factory. It will have all the terms and conditions on there as well!

First, before you can actually create cutting tickets, you need to know what you are cutting, how many pieces per size and per color you’re actually going to cut, how would you actually determine this?  There’s six crucial factors that you’re going to want to take into consideration to determine the number of pieces that you actually want to cut in each size and color!

#1 Your apparel production planning will depend on how much you’ve actually sold.  

This could include your pre-sales, your crowdfunding campaign, it might also include store orders.  All of these will apply to handbags, accessories, shoes, etc. You want to start compiling all of your orders and analyzing all of your orders and counting all the units that you sold. 

#2 If you haven’t sold anything yet, it might depend on the market feedback that you’ve gotten so far.

It’s always a good idea to use some kind of scientific evidence which usually occurs in the form of market feedback. Hopefully you’ve gotten some kind of feedback from someone somewhat intelligent in the industry.  If you’re working with me you can definitely get my feedback. You should have shown it to buyers. You should have shown it to other fellow designers, you need some kind of market feedback to determine what you’re actually going to cut if you haven’t actually taken any orders yet.  

#3 The amount of fabric you cut for apparel production depends on how much fabric you have or how much fabric is available for you to order

Maybe your fabric vendor that you sourced the fabric from only has 100 yards available in stock.  So then maybe you can only get 50 pieces out of that 100 yards if you were to order 100 yards. Then you can’t cut more than 50 pieces or maybe your fabric vendor has an MOQ – a minimum order quantity, and they’re forcing you to buy one whole role as the minimum. Maybe you are forced to buy your fabric ahead of time because you went to a jobber which is not recommended (but sometimes it is the only option available). So, you bought all your fabric already and you’ve only got 30 yards to deal with. In this case, you’d need to see how much you can actually get out of that 30 yards depending on the yield of each garment you’re cutting.

#4 How much you cut could depend on how much money you actually have to spend

In this scenario, you did a crowdfunding campaign or you did some presales on your website and let’s say you made about $15,000 in your pre-sales and crowdfunding and the average cost of a garment for you to make is $50 a garment, you would be able to cut a maximum of 300 garments out of that $15,000.  Now it’s not recommended to spend all of that $15,000, so maybe you cut it down to maybe 200 garments instead of 300 garments. That might be a huge factor in determining how much you cut.

#5 Your production planning  might depend on your manufacturer’s MOQ or how much their minimum order quantity is for you to get the best price. 

 So, let’s say your factory has an MOQ of 50 pieces per style per color or 50 pieces per style, you might actually have to start at 50 pieces.  It might not make sense for you to cut 40 if you are going to be paying a much higher price. You might as well cut 50 and have inventory that you can sell or maybe after talking to your manufacturer you’re going to get a better price by cutting a 100 pieces rather than cutting 50 pieces so you’d rather take the risk, get the inventory and just cut a 100 that way. 

#6 The amount you cut depends on whether or not you want inventory left over

Depending on how much you want to cut it’s going to depend on how much inventory you really want.  I don’t recommend having any inventory because literally it’s your money just sitting there and you have no guarantee that it is actually going to sell, some people want to take a risk and have lots of inventory. That’s a risk that you might be willing to take.  I’d suggest over cutting just a little bit, and there’s a number of reasons for this:

  • If the item does really well, you can take real orders a lot faster because you’ve got some inventory. 
  • It’s possible pieces might get damaged in apparel production.  This happens all the time and should be included when planning your production. 

Something might get stained, ripped or someone might make a mistake on one garment; so you want to have wiggle room in case something like that happens. If someone ordered 50 small, 50 medium, 50 large, don’t cut 50, 50, 50 – cut a little bit more, maybe cut 75, 75, 75 , cut a little bit extra. 

#7 This one is crucial, depending on the fabric roll length, the cutter may actually end up cutting less than what you originally requested for production. 

Imagine that you ordered 150 yards of fabric and your supplier sends you four rolls and each roll is 35 or 40 yards each.  (Typical rolls of fabric are about 40 to 50 yds). Let’s say you ordered 150 yards – you got four roles of 35 or 40 yards each. That means every time the cutter spreads that fabric on the table you only have 35 or 40 yards to spread before you need to go and grab the next roll and continue spreading. Let’s say your marker has a total yield of 9 yards. Nine is not easily divided by 35 or 40 so you’re going to be short about 2 to 3 pieces for each roll. You’re going to tack on an extra 10 pieces because you’re going to be short , it just happens to be that’s the way the math works out because that’s how many yards are in your roll. That’s how long your marker is; so you can’t always finagle that. Your marker is your marker– they’re going to make the marker to the best yield possible so you don’t really want to change that and you don’t have much say on how many yards are wound on each fabric roll.

If you ordered 150 yards, you might get three rolls of 50, or four rolls of 35 and 40.  You don’t have a say and you don’t always know ahead of time what’s actually on the roll. Your supplier might say we are shipping you one roll of 50 but in reality it ends up being 49 yards instead of 50. This is like the whole thing with why fashion is so complex and why being a designer is not as easy as everyone thinks it is. It’s just always good to cut a little bit extra, but it’s up to you whether you want to cut extra and have left over inventory.  

#8. Don’t get too emotionally attached to your designs.

Let’s say you have an eight-piece collection, you take all of your pre-orders, you do a crowdfunding campaign, you take some store orders and 2 out of the 8 pieces nobody orders. I would drop them. It’s not good to get attached emotionally to your designs. It’s understandable because you designed them and you love every single one of them but if nobody ordered it – drop it.  

#9. Consider your purchase order minimum

Out of the remaining six styles that you have left, let’s say two of the styles were actually under the purchase minimum. Every time you work with the store account or a buyer, you are going to have a purchase order minimum.  Let’s say it’s 12 pieces per style per color. A buyer is going to say that I only want 6 pieces even though your minimum purchase order is 12 pieces. It’s up to you to decide whether you want to fulfill this order for six pieces or whether you want to tell the buyer that they need to up your order back to 12 pieces.

Let’s say two of the styles are under the purchase minimum, you might want to drop those styles or you may want to go back to your buyers to increase their buys and buy more of them.  

#10. Try to combine fabrics whenever possible

Next, you may want to look at your fabrics and try to combine fabrics wherever possible to help meet minimums. Hopefully you’ve already merchandised your line from the beginning. This way your styles can be offered in multiple fabrics. If not, you can sometimes go back and do that. There is no industry standard when it comes to the number of pieces.  

You’re going to want to combine your fabrics wherever possible, so you want to look at styles that you are cutting and see what colors are offered. See if any of the other styles that you plan to cut can also use the same fabric or color. 

Say you have a pant that’s being sold in black crêpe and you have a top being sold in white crepe but nothing else in your line is being sold in white crepe.  Say a buyer bought six pieces of that white crepe top and your minimum order is 12 pieces– it might not even make sense for you to cut those six pieces in white crepe, you might go back to me as the buyer and say “Hey buyer, by the way we ran out of white crepe” or you kind of say something to make it sound like there’s a reason why you’re not cutting it. And then you say “by the way, we can offer to you in the black crêpe would you like to order 12 pieces in black crêpe instead of six pieces in white crêpe?” and then now you have combined your orders, so now you have a pant in black crêpe and the top in black crêpe and you are cutting them both in the same fabric, so you are combining fabrics. 

#11. Merchandise, edit, merchandise!

You want to cut more styles in the same fabrics and  colorways than not. You don’t want to have a million fabrics and a million colorways. That’s not going to help you meet minimums on your fabrics or for production.  When you do this for all of your styles, know that it’s a very tedious process. It requires a lot of analyzing and lot of going back and forth with the buyers. There might be some styles that you go back to the buyers on after you do all of this and ask them to either switch their buy or increase their buy. You might have to go back to customers and say we are sorry we are sold out of that which maybe you’re not sold out, maybe you just don’t have fabric or you don’t want to cut the fabric etc. 

It’s really hard to explain without line sheets and diagrams which is why I have an entire course called Production Like a Pro where we go into this idea more in-depth and I show you with an actual line sheet and diagrams, so definitely take that course. 

#12. Conservative is key for all production processes

At the end of the day, you want to cut as few pieces as possible. But you want to increase the number of individual units so you can meet minimums on your fabric. It’s the same thing with handbags and accessory production as apparel production. You’re going to want to use the same leather if you’re using leather or whatever fabrication that you’re using to make handbags. You are not going to want five different colors if you didn’t get that many orders in some of those colors. Let’s say the yellow and blue got the lowest amount of orders– you might go back to those people and ask if they would rather order the red, the black, or brown instead. 

#13. Create your BOM’s

Once you have your final counts for your production, you can start to create your cutting tickets, search for your BOMs (bill of materials) and  order your fabric and your trims.  

BOM stands for bill of materials– you are going to want to create one of those for every single style that you are cutting. So, a BOM is a form that you use that’s kind of like a recipe filled with all of the ingredients or parts of your design. Then you’ll be able to see how much fabric you actually need to order, how many zippers you need to order and what colorways, how many buttons, how much lining, how much interfacing, fusible, etc and we can help you set those up.  I also have BOMs available on the website for download so you can download those contracts as well.  

#14. Continue to educate yourself

That was a crash course on how to do your cutting tickets and know what to cut for apparel production. Again like I mentioned before, if it doesn’t make sense or you want more clarification on the apparel production planning process, definitely take the Production Like a Pro class.  The BOM is similar in a sense to the cost sheet in that it has all of the components but it’s more detailed because your cost sheet is not going to say how many zippers or buttons you need to order or how much each item costs.  

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So, take the class, purchase the cutting ticket template and BOM contracts, they are only $25, which is a steal! Comment below if you have had any apparel production issues in the past, we would love to hear them and see how we can help you solve them! And for weekly fashion biz advice, check out our Fearless Fashionpreneur Facebook Page here!


Fashion Consultant Christine Daal

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