In the highly competitive landscape of the clothing industry, maintaining high-quality standards is of utmost importance for importers, manufacturers, and brands. With customers becoming increasingly demanding, ensuring top-notch product quality has become critical in achieving customer satisfaction and safeguarding brand reputation.
In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the significance of quality control in the clothing industry, shedding light on standard tests for apparel and providing practical insights to help you implement effective quality control measures.
Why Quality Control Is Important in the Clothing Industry
The clothing industry is highly competitive, and customers have become increasingly aware when it comes to product quality. Unsatisfied customers can harm your brand reputation, lead to negative reviews, and ultimately impact your sales.
Quality control in the clothing industry ensures that garments are free from defects, meet the required standards, are safe to wear, and are durable. The main elements of quality control in the clothing industry include fabric inspection, pattern grading, cutting, sewing, finishing, and packaging. The implementation of a quality control process guarantees that the final product aligns with the desired quality standards and fulfills customer expectations.
A comprehensive quality control program helps ensure that your garments meet the required quality standards before they reach the market. This involves inspecting each garment during various production stages, from raw materials to finished products.
How to Check Apparel Quality?
Ensuring the quality of apparel during the production process is of paramount importance, as it directly impacts the final product’s adherence to desired standards and customer expectations. The implementation of comprehensive quality control procedures at various stages of production is instrumental in detecting and rectifying defects or inconsistencies promptly. Below are valuable insights on apparel quality control:
Pre-Production Quality Control for Apparel:
Pre-production quality control focuses on inspecting fabric and garment samples before they are cut and sewn. In addition to the aspects mentioned earlier, here are a few more essential points to consider:
- Fabric Composition: Check if the fabric composition aligns with the desired specifications. It should match the intended fabric type, such as cotton, polyester, or a blend.
- Weight and Thickness: Measure the weight and thickness of the fabric to ensure it meets the required standards. This ensures consistency across the entire garment.
- Print and Pattern Alignment: If the garment involves prints or patterns, verify that they align correctly across the fabric. Misaligned patterns can significantly impact the overall appearance of the garment.
In-Process Quality Control for Apparel:
In-process quality control for apparel is performed during production to monitor the quality of the manufactured garments. Here are some additional methods to enhance the effectiveness of in-process quality control:
- Seam Strength: Inspect the strength of the seams by applying controlled force. This ensures the seams can withstand regular wear and tear without quickly unravelling.
- Stitching Accuracy: Examine the stitching to ensure it is consistent, even, and free from loose threads or skipped stitches. An irregular hem can weaken the garment’s structure and compromise its durability.
- Fit and Sizing: Randomly select garments from the production line and conduct measurements to verify that they adhere to the specified size and fit. This step helps identify any inconsistencies that could lead to customer dissatisfaction.
Post-Production Quality Control (Pre-shipment Inspection) for apparel:
Post-production quality control is conducted before shipping the finished garments to the customers. This final inspection aims to catch any defects or quality issues that may have been missed during earlier stages. Here are some additional aspects to consider during the pre-shipment inspection:
- Visual Inspection: Thoroughly examine each garment for any visible flaws, such as fabric defects, stains, uneven dyeing, or irregularities in print or embroidery.
- Functionality Testing: Test the functionality of features like zippers, buttons, hooks, or snaps to ensure they operate smoothly and securely.
- Packaging and Labelling: Verify that the garments are correctly labelled with accurate size, care instructions, and brand information. Additionally, check if the packaging is intact and protects the garments effectively during transit.
Types of Garment Defects
Garment defects can occur at any production stage, from raw materials to finished products. Understanding the common types of defects is essential to identify them during quality control inspections.
- Color variations: These can occur due to dye lot variations or inconsistencies in the dyeing process. Identifying color variations during quality control inspections is crucial to ensure that all garments in a batch have consistent colors.
- Stains: Stains on fabric can occur during manufacturing or transportation. These can be caused by oil, dirt, or other substances. Inspectors should check for stains and remove them before the garment is shipped.
- Holes: Holes in the fabric can be caused by snags, tears, or damage during production or transportation. Identifying these defects and either repairing them or removing the affected garments from the shipment is essential.
- Snags: Snags occur when threads are pulled out of the fabric, creating a loop. This can happen during production or wear. Identifying and repairing snags is crucial, as they can lead to further tearing or damage to the garment.
- Broken stitches: Broken stitches can occur when the sewing machine needle breaks or the thread tension is incorrect. This can lead to loose seams or even holes in the garment. Identifying broken stitches and repairing them before shipping the garment is crucial.
- Misaligned seams: Misaligned seams occur when the pieces of fabric need to be sewn together correctly, resulting in uneven seams. This can make the garment look unprofessional and affect its fit. Inspectors should check for misaligned seams and correct them before shipping.
- Loose threads: Loose threads can occur when the thread is not trimmed correctly after sewing. These threads can become tangled and create a messy appearance. Inspectors should perform yarn inspection and cut them before shipping the garment.
- Print smudging: Print smudging occurs when the ink smears or rubs off during production or transportation. This can result in an incomplete or distorted design. Inspectors should check for smudging and ensure the print is complete before shipping.
- Fading: Fading occurs when the design’s colours fade after washing or exposure to sunlight. This can lead to a garment looking worn out or old. Inspectors should check for fading and ensure the colors are vibrant before shipping.
- Alignment: Alignment issues can occur when the design needs to be placed correctly on the garment, resulting in an uneven or crooked appearance. Inspectors should check for alignment issues and ensure the design is set correctly before shipping.
- Incorrect measurements: Incorrect measurements can occur when the pattern or template used to cut the fabric must be corrected. This can result in a garment being too big or too small. Identifying sizing defects and adjusting the pattern or removing the affected garments from the shipment is essential.
- Inconsistent sizing: Inconsistent sizing can occur when different garment parts have varying measurements. Inconsistent sizing might affect the fit and comfort of the garment. Inspectors should check for inconsistent sizing and ensure that all aspects of the garment meet the required standards.
How To Perform Apparel Standard Tests
When conducting garment quality control inspections, it is essential to adhere to industry-standard tests. These tests ensure that garments meet the required safety, durability, and performance criteria. Some common standards for apparel include:
Fabric Performance Tests: These tests assess the fabric’s characteristics, such as strength, abrasion resistance, colorfastness, and shrinkage. Standard tests such as ASTM D5034 (Tensile Strength), ASTM D2261 (Colorfastness to Crocking), and ASTM D3511 (Pilling Resistance) are commonly used.
Seam Strength Tests: Seam strength is crucial for the durability of garments. Standard tests such as ASTM D1683 (Trapezoid Tear Strength) and ASTM D1682 (Breaking Strength and Elongation) can be performed to evaluate the strength of seams.
Dimensional Stability Tests: These tests determine how well garments maintain their shape and size after laundering or other treatments. ASTM D5587 (Shrinkage), AATCC 135 (Dimensional Changes in Automatic Home Laundering), and ISO 5077 (Dimensional Change of Garments After Dry-Cleaning) are some of the relevant tests.
How Tetra Inspection Can Help
At Tetra Inspection, we specialize in providing comprehensive quality control solutions for the clothing industry. Our expertise and meticulous inspection process helped over 500 importers, manufacturers, and brands ensure exceptional product quality. Our experienced inspectors conduct thorough pre-production, in-process, and pre-shipment inspections, covering all stages of garment manufacturing. We are well-versed in international quality control standards and tailor our inspections to meet specific requirements.
Our customized quality control programs and timely, actionable reports empower businesses to make informed decisions, take corrective actions, and continuously improve their quality control processes.
To schedule an inspection for your apparel product, contact us today.