3 WAYS TO MANAGE GARMENT QUALITY CONTROL (Part 2)

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Tips for how to measure garments

Here are some helpful tips for how to measure garments accurately:

  • Lay the garment on a flat surface for easier and more accurate measuring
  • Avoid stretching the garment in any way when measuring, as this will skew results
  • Always take initial garment measurements before fitting the garment on a model or dummy
  • Take any stretched measurements last (e.g. minimum neck stretch)
  • Touch the measuring tape to the surface of the fabric when taking garment measurements
  • Lay the garment openings (e.g. sleeve, neck, leg) so the seams are not positioned on the side. Ensure the seams are shifted slightly inwards (see below photo).

garment quality control

In a typical garment inspection, an inspector will randomly pull and measure one or more pieces per SKU and record all dimensions in a measurement table. This table lets you see each measurement for all sizes and will show whether dimensions are within tolerance.

garment quality control

Although the garment in the above example doesn’t comply exactly with your garment specs, the deviation is within your allotted tolerance. So you could still accept the shipment, assuming the garments complied with your other quality standards.

2. CONDUCT ON-SITE TESTS DURING PRE-SHIPMENT GARMENT INSPECTION

Garments aren’t considered “functional” products in the same way consumer electronics or sporting equipment are. But that doesn’t mean you should skip on-site testing during garment inspection.

On-site testing during inspection helps ensure you’ll receive a finished product that meets your quality expectations, aside from fit. Your inspector can help verify your garment’s durability and functionality with on-site tests that mimic regular consumer use.

Below are some of the most common on-site tests performed during a garment inspection.

Fitting test

The inspector will put the garment on a model or mannequin to check whether it fits correctly. Inspectors will typically check one piece per size.

The number of sizes the inspector can check will depend on whether the factory has mannequins of multiple sizes available. Be sure to clarify this availability ahead of inspection if its important for you to fit each size before shipment.

Dry and wet crocking test

garment quality control

Crocking tests involve rubbing a piece of white fabric on each colored fabric of the garment for 10 repetitions. Then the inspector checks the white piece of fabric for any color transfer.

The dry crock test uses a dry piece of white fabric, while the wet crock uses a wet piece soaked in water. Inspectors will typically test at least two pieces per style for this test.

Seam strength test

The inspector will stretch a garment along its seams and any edges or openings (e.g. armholes, necklines, etc.) using a normal force during this test.

The inspector will check for any cracking of the stitching or binding after the test, as well as verify the security of any trims (sequins, beading, etc.). These trims should stretch with the garment without breaking.

This test is typically conducted on the full sample size inspected, since a quality issue with seams could have a major impact on the product’s salability.

Fatigue test of fastener

The fatigue test of fasteners entails opening and closing any fasteners, such as buttons, zippers or snaps, 50 cycles per fastener. There should be no loss of function after this test.

garment quality control

Inspectors will usually test at least two pieces of each style to ensure proper functionality. A supplier will typically use the same fasteners throughout the entire shipment. So inspectors can often find any issue with the fasteners by checking a small sample size.

Stretch test

Inspectors will typically stretch the elastic fabric and straps of any garments that contain elastic to check elasticity. Any elastic straps or fabric should show proper elasticity without exposing elastic fibers or broken stitches during this stretch test.

Inspectors will typically check the full sample size inspected for this test, as elasticity can be vital to the fit and function of certain garments like underwear and sportswear.

Stitches per inch (SPI) check

The number of stitches per inch (SPI), or stitch density, can impact the strength, appearance and performance of a garment seam. 

garment quality control

A greater number of stiches per inch often indicates higher-quality stitching.

Set a standard for stitches per inch in your spec sheet for garments before production (related4 Sewing Stitches Used in Manufacturing and Their Benefits). Inspectors will use a measuring tape to simply count the number of stitches per inch on at least two pieces per style. The SPI count should conform to your garment specs and your approved sample, if available for reference.

Roughly checking the SPI of bulk garments during the regular visual inspection is also helpful to ensure these are consistent with the pieces measured above.

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