Necessary Steps in Garment Inspection
Karthi Krishna1 & Siragam Naga Leela2
Department of Fashion Technology1,2
Sona College of technology, Salem, Tamilnadu
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com
There are five fundamental steps which QC inspectors should take during their garment inspection procedure:
- Measuring garment dimensions
- Physical tests of buttons, zippers and accessories
- Fabric density & composition tests
- Label verification
- Packaging inspection
A. Measuring Garment Dimensions
Ensuring that the dimensions of garments comply with their specified sizes is especially important when a part or the entire garment manufacturing process is done by hand, which can result in large margins of error compared to the precision of machined cutting and sewing.
Nevertheless, no matter how precise the manufacturing process, there will always be discrepancies in dimensions. If these are not spotted before the garments leave the factory, you risk customer complaints or entire batches being recalled, and ultimately a demise in brand loyalty.
Specifying tolerances for garment dimensions:
QC inspectors and your supplier should be well informed of acceptable tolerances for garment dimensions, which determine an acceptable margin of error for any defects or discrepancies found to ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ garments.
Tolerances for acceptable margins of error can vary for different parts of the garment, depending on their significance to the entire garment. For example, a sleeve being too long or short by ⅛ inch may be an acceptable margin of error and still pass, but ½ an inch difference would be marked as a fail.
The acceptable tolerances for margins of error should be clearly specified on the QC inspectors’ checklist.
B. Physical Test of Buttons, Zippers and Accessories
A zip that comes off after little use could indicate that the manufacturer is using inferior accessories, or a button coming loose could identify weak stitching.
These are defects which QC inspectors should look for with physical testing methods such as ‘pull tests’ and ‘fatigue tests’ on garment accessories such as zippers, snaps, ribbons and elastic. The tests are performed on a designated number of garments in each batch.
Predominantly used to test zippers, a QC inspector uses a gauge to pull the accessory with a predetermined amount of force for 10 seconds.
This test determines whether the accessory will last as long as intended under normal use by the consumer. A typical test on a snaps or buttons would be to repeatedly button and unbutton the accessory 50 times and check for any damage to the garment after testing.
Testing elastic bands and straps for proper elasticity and to check whether the elastic or stitching stands up to being pulled or stretched. Stretch tests only need to be carried out on a small selection of finished garments.
C. Fabric Density And Composition
Testing the density or thickness of fabrics used in garment production determines whether the fabric meets the correct quality standards. A fabric that’s too thin or not dense enough could mean your manufacturer isn’t using fabric of the quality you have specified to ensure the garment has a significant lifetime under normal wearing and washing.
There are three fabric density and composition tests which QC inspectors can carry out on site:
Fabric GSM check:
QC inspectors use an electronic balance to measure the grams per square meter (GSM) of a sample of the fabric and compare that measurement with the customer’s specifications.
Stitches per inch (SPI) check:
QC inspectors simply count the number of stitches in a square inch of sample garments. The higher the SPI, the more durable the fabric and the less likely it will stretch or fall apart during normal wear and washing.
Material composition check:
Verifying the composition of fabrics used in garment production is important due to the legal requirements of correctly labeling garments, as well as ensuring that the manufacturer is not using inferior materials. If for example a garment label states that the garment is 100% wool or leather, this must be verified by qualified QC inspectors. If subsequent inspections by authorities reveal that the fabric is not as labeled, you could face fines and other penalties.
An experienced QC inspector can judge the composition of fabrics from a hands-on inspection carried out at the factory. However, most garment importers demand third-party lab tests with proper equipment and controls to ensure transparency.
D. Label Verification
As mentioned above, correct labeling is essential for complying with garment labeling requirements for destination markets in Europe and the US. Incorrect or missing labeling could mean fines for the importer as well as having the product rejected by Customs.
The US Textile Fiber Products Identification Act stipulates that garment labels must include the following information:
- Fiber content of the garment
- Country of origin
- Identity of manufacturer / importer / distributor
- Care instructions for washing and ironing
There are specific labeling requirements for wool, leather and fur garments, as well as for footwear, for which the materials used in each part of the footwear item must be specified.
E. Packaging Inspection
One of the final on-site inspections for garments before shipping from the factory is to ensure the packaging is suitable for the garments so they’ll reach their destination in good condition.
Inadequate storage and packaging can lead to damage from moisture and soiling. One way manufacturers may attempt to mitigate moisture damage is to include a desiccant sachets but there are strict regulations governing the chemicals used in these moisture-absorbing packets.
Testing for DMF is a chemical test which should be carried out in a lab. Silica gels are a safe desiccant sachet ingredient. However, some manufacturers may use Dimethyl Fumarate (DMF) instead, which is banned in most developed destination markets due to its high toxicity and the allergic reactions consumers can suffer from contaminated garments.
Packaging must also comply with destination market regulations such as clear labeling informing the consumer what the product is, what it’s made from and where it came from, among other requirements which may be stipulated by consumer protection laws in different countries.
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- Quality Control Inspection in Garment Industry
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