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What are CAD's in Fashion??

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

CAD's are two dimensional sketches of your garment produced to indicate to your pattern maker or manufacturer how the garment should be constructed.

CAD's have many different names within the industry and it is so important to know the difference!


This term is often used to describe all 2D sketches, so it is important to check when asked to produce 'CAD's' what the purpose of the drawings are for.

CAD actually stand for 'Computer Aided Design' and is a term that has been adopted to describe the 2D drawings created using Computer Aided design software to illustrate your garment in a flat form.

Technical Drawings

Technical Drawings are used most commonly in your technical specification or workbook (more to come on this subject later!)

Technical drawings indicate to your pattern maker or manufacturer how to accurately construct your garment.

Technical Drawings must;

  1. Be in proportion.

  2. Indicate stich details.

  3. Indicate correct construction and fastenings.

  4. Be in Black & White or Greyscale.

  5. Be simplistic and not over stylised.

  6. Must not indicate print or colour.

  7. Must not indicate movement.

A technical flat drawing (CAD) of a dress in black and white using Adobe Illustrator
Technical Flat/ Drawing/ CAD

Technical Drawing

Flats (Fashion/ Design Flats)

'Fashion' or 'Design' flats are often used to convey the look and feel of the garment to customers or to the business.

Flats are much more stylised and contain details such as print and colour in order to 'sell' your design visually.

It is recommended that they are still created to scale and be a accurate representation of how you envisage your garment to look.

Fashion/ Design Flats can;

  1. Contain Colour.

  2. Contain Prints.

  3. Have stylised detailing.

  4. Indicate Depth & Movement.

  5. Have slightly exaggerated elements.

  6. Be without stitch lines.

A fashion design flat drawing of a dress using Adobe illustrator, illustrating movement and print details.
A Fashion Design Flat/ Drawing/ CAD

Fashion/ Design Flat

There are now a variety of software's that can be used to create Fashion CAD's, although the industry standard is Adobe Illustrator which I would highly recommend learning to use!

Software Links

Keep your eyes peeled for new learning content on Adobe Illustrator and other CAD software coming soon!!

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