Assessment of apparel quality refers to the wide variety of methods used to evaluate, measure, and document the quality of apparel. Quality means satisfying the needs of customer. In garment industry quality control is practised right from the initial stage of sourcing raw material to the stage of final finished garment. The quality comprises not only the physical and chemical properties against the order but also the commercial issues like labelling, marking on cartons packing and presentation.
The paper enlightening, on how quality is perceived by manufacturer and consumer, and different inspection and test carried from fabric arrival to apparel packing.
Keywords: apparel, appearance, inspection, quality, garment, customer
Quality is a relative term which means customer needs is to be satisfied. Quality is of prime importance in any aspect of a business. Customers demand and expect value for money. Producers of the apparels must have a constant endeavor to produce work of good quality.
- Some main quality aspects
Below are some of the main quality aspects that are taken into consideration for garment manufacturing for an export basis
- The overall look of the garment
- Right formation of the garment
- Feel and fall of the garment
- Physical properties
- Colourfastness of the garment
In this context, the customer is the entity receiving a service or product from our work. For example, we can take a short production line.The quality problem in cutting may lead to problems in sewing, inspecting and finishing. It’s like “garbage in garbage out”. In other words, one needs to have good quality materials to produce good quality goods. So, this has to be applied to every process in the system to have total quality control.
- Way to control the quality
- Have the proper approach toward operators.
- Train the operator to sew with good quality from the beginning.
- Know quality specifications and tolerance. Be sure you understand what constitutes good and poor quality. Be consistent in your decisions toward quality.
- Comment on both good and bad quality. We all have a tendency to be silent during good times and vocal during the bad.
- Be sure to check each operator work daily.
- Use a checklist. Do not rely on memory of specifications.
- Do not rely on inspectors to tell you the quality level of your operators, instead find out yourself.
- Do not have a compromising attitude towards problem-related to quality.
- Fabric Quality Inspection
Inspection in reference to the apparel industry can be defined as the visual examination or review of raw materials (like fabric, sewing threads, buttons, trims, etc.). It is an important aspect prior to garment manufacturing to avoid rejects due to fabric quality and facing unexpected loss in manufacturing.The quality of a final garment depends on the quality of a fabric when it is received as a roll. Even the most outstanding manufacturing methods cannot compensate for defective materials.There are four systems are used for inspection of finished garments.
- 4-point system
- 10-point system
- Graniteville “78” system.
- Dallas system.
But among them,four-point system is widely used.
- 4 (Four) pointinspection system
The 4-Point System, also called the American Apparel Manufacturers (AAMA) point-grading system for determining fabric quality, is widely used by producers of apparel fabrics and is endorsed by the AAMA as well as the ASQC (American Society for Quality control). The 4-Point System assigns 1, 2, 3 and 4 penalty points according to the size and significance of the defect. No more than 4 penalty points can be assigned for any single defect. Defect can be in either length or width direction, the system remains the same. Only major defects are considered. No penalty points are assigned to minor defects.
|Size of defect||Penalty|
|3 inches or less||1 point|
|Over 3 but not over 6||2 points|
|Over 6 but nor over 9||3 points|
|Over 9 inches||4 points|
Total defect points per 100 square yards of fabric are calculated and the acceptance criteria is generally not more than 40 penalty points.
Major woven defectsoccurred in fabrics are Slubs, holes, missing yarns, yarn variation, end out, and soiled yarns, wrong yarns etc. whereas major dyeing or printing defects are out of register, dye stops, the machine stops, colour out, colour smear, or shading.
- Fabric Package Test
Testing which is carried out in fabric form is known as a fabric package test.
- Dimensional stability
It is a very important factor for any physical inspection. Small mistakes in checking might prove disadvantageous for the pilot run followed by production. An optimum condition of the width and shrinkage properties has to be made. The fusing of lining to some parts may also be done in the cloth store. If the shrink characteristics are consistent, then the patterns may be designed to the correct oversize and sampling checks for consistent shrinkage carried out.
According to standard, a fabric piece of the is cut according to the dimensions marked. Then a washed it with a soft enzyme. Any deviation in shrinkage is marked between the points. Shrinkage of 1-1.5 cm is acceptable. If it is more than this then the merchandiser is supposed to take the desired action.
- Colour Fastness or Crocking
In order to check colourfastness, two fabric swatches are taken. On 1 of the swatch, a white seam is put on all the four sides of the fabric. Both of them are washed and the results are compared. If it is stained or slotted then it’s rejected.
- S or Centre Selvedge test
This test is used to check the colour variation in the fabric. Full width of the fabric is taken (length can vary according to requirement say 10”). The Fabric is divided into 6 pieces and their grainline is marked.
These pieces are then cut and re-stitched in a random series. For e.g. 3, 6, 2, 5, 4, 1.When these fabric pieces arrange in series, the shade variation is observed in the same fabric. Noting of this variation is very important at the time of cutting.Maximum CS is seen in solid/printed fabrics as compared to stripes and checks.
This include dry clean and washability, areal density, abrasion resistance, pilling (especially for mixed fibers), Bow and skew (using a ruler and set square for checks and stripes), Drape and crease resistance (that includes permanent press capability), Strength (tensile, tear and bursting (for seams), Flammability, Surface wetting and penetration.
- Inspection & Quality Control for garment making
The following levels are discussed at the Garment Making Department assuming that this department is receiving the ready to cut dyed & finished fabrics from the Dyeing & Finishing Department
- Pre-production Inspection
The following parameters & defects are checked prior to cutting.
- Shade Matching
- Fabric Construction
- GSM(grams per square meter)
- Whales & courses (Knitted)
- Diameter (Knitted)
- Dyeing Level
- Ecological parameters (if required)
- Matching of Rib, Collars & Cuffs
- Fabric Holes
- Vertical & Horizontal Stripes
- Knitting defectssuch as missing loops, sinker lines, etc.
- Yarn defectssuch as thick & thin places
- Dirt & Stains
- During Production Inspection
- Verify cutting patterns
- Cut components measurements
- The positioning of the patterns, buttons, embellishment etc.
- Cutting shapes
- Fabric defects
- Other specific parameters as required by the customers Rib, Collars & Cuffs matching
- Stitching defects
- Sewing threads matching
- Dirt & Stains
- Labels attachment and position
- Trims & Accessories
- Final Inspection for Garment package Test
3.3.1 Accessories inspection
The accessories play a very important role in adding value to the garments. They include the buttons, hooks, zips, badges, buckles, belts, logos, elastic tapes, beads, sewing and embroidery threads, etc. They are also designed to meet specific requirements and functions. The checkers need to be trained to check the critical requirements of accessories and trims and should have knowledge of its ill effects. Some examples are shade and size checked to be correct stability within tolerance, extensibility and modulus.
3.3.2 Packing material inspection
Packing is a very important process, which not only protects the garment from getting disturbed due to handling, storage but also helps in improving the image of the products and the company. A well-packed material can attract customers, rather than a good quality product poorly packed. The packing quality influences the first impression of the customer. Hence it is very essential to critically inspect the packing materials for their design, colour, functional suitability, strength, dimensions, marking etc. no risk can be taken if the quality of packing materials is not as per the agreement.
Department wise quality system in the factory
- Fabric Stores
- Neatly arrange the fabric rolls received and maintaining the department cleanliness to avoid spotting and contamination of the fabrics. Packing the fabrics in plastic sheets can be useful.
- Fabric inspection is done on the 4-point system.
- Shade cards/fabric quality swatches for each style approved by the PO are maintained.
- Trims Stores
- Trims stores have a racking system to store the trims in proper order.
- Trims card for each PO/style being processed should be maintained.
- Cad Section
- CAD section has the patternmaking, grading and marking software.
- Pattern preparation and grading will be checked for its correctness.
- Cutting Section
- Making CSV (centre to selvedge variation) sample for each of the rolls to analyze the shade variation.
- Maintaining shade samples and providing shade details to presentation checkers in finishing dept for shade reference.
- Proper pattern checking report.
- Proper lay check, marking check, sorting/bundling check report.
- Cutting projection tallies updated.
- Sewing Section
- Effective maintenance for each of the machine.
- Proper updated broken needle log (should have needle issuing record from stores and properly pasted broken needlebook).
- Keyhole, barrack, overlock, label attach operation internal approvals and display of mockups.
- Effective mockup system on all operational areas.
- All scissors and trimmers should be secured properly.
- Clearance of WIP at all levels.
- Display of trim card at required areas.
- Checking garments before wash and after wash for both quality and measurement.
- Random in-line checking at each chain stitch operation like a feed of arm machine.
- Each supervisor is advised to check randomly the operation in their own working limits.
- Each operator is advised to clean their machine and area before the start of work in the morning and after lunch- waste fabric is issued to the operator for the same.
- In-line and end-line checking report.
- Before wet processing,an in-line audit report is also maintained.
- Washing facility is not available in-house. It’s done on a jobber basis.
- Finishing Section
- Fabric defect identification by stickering and alteration piece identified by knotting at a place of altering by the checker.
- Dusting is done by dust pads wherever sucking machine is not used.
- Cartoons are properly stacked.
- Presentation checker to have a ready reference of shade cards of fabric and trims cards as well.
- A daily checking report is maintained.
- A measurement audit report is maintained.
- Pre-final auditing is also gone on garments.
- Defective cartoons are replaced by good cartoons.
- Packing and Dispatch Section
- Separate departments are maintained for top wear and bottom wear.
- The fully packed garments are racked in a sequential manner and each rack is given a number for identification.
- Garments are stored brand wise, size-wise, and garment wise.
- Barcode stickering is done and checked.
- Packing in inners and outer cartons are done according to the size ratio or packing specifications as specified.
- Goods to be shipped are packed readily with proper covering and sealing and kept near the main gate to be loaded in the cargo.
- Proper recording of dispatch, packing and stock stored in-house pending for shipment are maintained along with Chelan entries of cargo and transportation services.
- Good relations with distributors are held.
- Entire Working Area
- Properly certified fire extinguisher to be free from all obstacles.
- Each operator to wear a mask to avoid inhalation of dust inside the factory.
- Dust collection bags for each work station/machine.
- Separate area for storing rejected garments.
- Proper covering of stored pieces.
- Properly maintained QC reports and files maintained by QA.
Garment inspection procedures
- Inline/mid inspection: This will be carried out during the production of a garment in order to carry out this inspection effectively following information is a must.
- Updated W/O sheet
- Style approved; sample approved by the merchandiser
- Fabric, trims and accessories cards rectified by the merchandiser.
- Approved measurement specificatio
- Random final audit or inspection: this will be carried out when goods are in the pressing and packing until its completion. Random audit at AQL 4 in order to make this audit a truly effective tool, since it is the last checkpoint before dispatch, following information is essential.
- All the line detail information mentioned therein plus.
- Washed approved samples (in case of washed order).
- Packing list wherever applicable.
- Quality related to the fitting appearance
- Improper fit
fitting is one of the important criteria for consumers in their buying decision. Variation in dimensions and improper fitting are the normal complaints in readymade garments.
collecting data on age, body structure and ethnicity. Data can be collected by a sample survey method that can represent the population as a whole. Appropriate statistical tools can help in getting range and variation of sizes found in people. Adopting technologies such as automated measurement and 3d scanning facilitate more effective and affordable data collection for garment manufacturing companies. The effectiveness of sizing system is highly dependent on skills of patternmakers and graders in identifying, defining and manufacturing the type of fit appropriate for the target market. Some of the tools and strategies to facilitate this are target body scanner, market surveys, wear testing and virtual fit assessment. Materials with stretching characteristics can fit a wider range of body.
- Improper size labels
It is seen that consumers get confused with the sizes. They are not able to correlate the numbers with body measurement, so they prefer taking trails of various sizes of the same item. The reason behind this is the non-standardization of label sizes among manufacturers.
To get rid of this problem, manufacturers are using terms such as slim, classic, relaxed fit. Use of international standards for dress size and educating the users on the standards adopted could solve the problem to a certain extent.
There are many quality parameters in different types of fabric. And there are also many different faults in different types of fabric, which are effective in quality of fabric. If we control those faults and effects, we can get a good quality of fabric. So quality control is very important for all types of fabric and textiles.
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