Garment Quality Control Procedures: What You Need to Know

by | Dec 12, 2019 | Product Inspections, Quality Control

Why is quality control so important in the apparel industry?

When a consumer walks into the retail store, picks a pair of 32W x 32L straight fit jeans off the shelf, and goes to the register, they expect it to fit the same way it did the last time they bought a pair of those same straight fit jeans.

When it comes to garment production, shipment-to-shipment variances in size can have a major impact on how your brand is perceived, and clothing that doesn’t stand up to normal usage is bad for your image as well.

These kinds of variances can lead to increased returns or a decline in sales. That’s why it is critical that you have proper quality control procedures in place to catch garment defects before your orders are shipped to you.

How do you ensure the quality of your finished garments? This article will give you an overview.

Your Tech Pack Lays the Groundwork for Quality Control

In order to achieve consistency with your finished products, you first need to have clear specifications that serve as standards to which you can compare all finished goods. This is why your tech pack is important.

A tech pack is essentially a blueprint created by your designer that provides instructions for the manufacturer to use during the production process.

According to Techpacker, a tech pack is usually made up of the following components:

  • Technical Sketches
  • Sample Sizes and Measurements
  • Construction Details
  • Bill of Materials (BOM)
  • Stitches and Seams
  • Branding Artwork
  • Measurement Specs
  • Point of Measurement (POM)
  • Diagrams

Having all of these bases covered in your tech pack allows you to provide clear specifications to a third-party inspection company as well. An inspection services provider can serve as your QC team at factories overseas and will conduct inspections on your behalf.

You can provide them with your completed tech pack and they will use it to help you ensure that your garments meet specific quality standards.

How are these inspections conducted?

Garment Inspections: How They are Conducted

Working with a third-party inspection company to conduct Final Random Inspections helps ensure that orders meet your quality expectations before they leave the factory and are shipped to you.

You will need to work with your inspection partner to develop a quality inspection manual, provide measurements for all sizes of each of your products, and develop an inspection checklist.

Inspections are conducted based on the AQL standard, which is used to determine how many pieces of clothing to inspect. Once the appropriate number of pieces is selected for inspection, the inspector can begin going through the checklist and start taking measurements.

Taking Measurements During an Inspection

When it comes to garments, measurements are incredibly important. As such, items will be picked and measured, but it is important that you decide on specific tolerances like the ones you can see in the table below.

Measurement Table for Garment Inspection

In this example, measurements over 35cm long have a tolerance of +/- 1.5cm.

That means that if an XS polo shirt is supposed to have a half-chest measurement of 48 cm and a QC inspector measures a piece at 49 cm, the piece is considered acceptable. However, If it measures 50cm, the shirt is rejected.

Some examples of common Points of Measurement (POM) that might be taken for a polo shirt include:

  • 1/2 Chest
  • 1/2 Hem
  • CB Length
  • Hem Drop
  • Shoulder
  • Sleeve
  • 1/2 Armhole
  • 1/2 Bicep
  • 1/2 Cuff
  • 1/2 Collar Length
  • Center Front Opening
  • Center Back Collar

For each Point of Measurement, all sizes such as XS, S, M, L, and XL need to have measurements specified.

Care / Size Label Inspection

Another key part of a garment inspection is performing label checks.

Blue polo shirt ready for garment inspection procedures

After determining the AQL sample size, garments are set aside for measurement, label checks, fabric and physical tests.

Each garment needs to have the correct information on it, such as the correct size and the right care instructions, to ensure compliance with regulations.

If the wrong symbols or instructions are used, the shipment may fail inspection.

Physical Tests

The following physical tests are generally conducted to ensure product quality:

  • Stretch Test – This involves testing straps or elastic bands to see if they stand up to pulling or stretching.
  • Pull Test – Zippers or buttons are pulled for 10 seconds with a gauge to determine if they stay attached.
  • Fatigue Test – An accessory is used repeatedly to determine if it stands up to normal usage. For example, a button is snapped or a zipper is pulled 50 times.

If garments don’t pass these tests, the shipment may fail inspection.

Fabric Tests

The following fabric tests are usually conducted:

  • Stitches Per Inch Check – The inspector counts the number of stitches over one inch of the garment to determine durability.
  • Fabric Composition Check – The inspector uses hand feel to determine if the fabric seems to match the appropriate composition.
  • Fabric Grams Per Square Meter (GSM) Check – The inspector cuts out a piece of fabric and weighs it to see if the weight matches specifications.

If any of these tests are not passed, the shipment may fail inspection.

Lab Tests: An Additional Quality Control Option

In addition to conducting inspections, you can also send completed garments out for lab testing.

Garments can be tested for colorfastness to washing, crocking (rubbing), light, perspiration, or water. The lab can also conduct piling tests, do fiber analysis, test for flammability, and more.

Together with inspections, lab tests can give you a well-rounded QC program that helps ensure your garments are compliant with regulations and meet your high brand standards.

Summary: Quality Control Procedures Help Importers Avoid Poor Quality Garment Shipments

Having proper quality control procedures in place is important to any brand that wants to have long-term success in the marketplace. Third-party quality inspections can help brands to accomplish this.

Once a tech pack is provided to the QC company, a quality manual and an inspection checklist can be developed. Inspections can be conducted, which include procedures such as measurement taking, label checking, and conducting physical tests and fabric checks.

Sending garments to a third-party lab can help you conduct additional tests to ensure quality, safety, and compliance.

Because it is important to invest in the quality of your products, we recommend you read the following white paper.

Price vs. Quality: What You Need to Know

When you’re making products to sell in the marketplace, you have to consider the tradeoffs between price and quality. Sometimes, producing better quality products can lead to paying a higher price for manufacturing.

Download our free white paper, Price vs. Quality, to learn how to produce great quality while keeping your costs low.

Thanks for reading! Do you have any questions about the article? Is there something else you’d like to add? Leave a comment below.

Andy Church

Founder & CEO, Insight Quality Services

6 Comments

  1. Sohail Farooq

    1) Please explain carton selection method for final inspection for any customer?
    2) Please explain what are international parameters for carton selection at the time of final audit?
    3) Please explain how much percentage of measurement deviation could be acceptable which can not effect salability of apparel?

    Reply
    • Insight Team

      Procedures for selecting the actual sample size can differ by service provider but one common standard is to use the formula Square Root +1 to determine the number of master cartons from which to select samples.

      As to the tolerance allowed for defects, that is up to you as the brand owner/purchaser. A defect that may effect salability of an item at one price point may have a different tolerance, or percentage of measurement deviation, than one that sells much higher or lower.

      Reply
  2. Sohail Farooq

    Dear Insight Representative,

    Please note I need elaborate my question with example as below:
    For example we are going to conduct final inspection of any garment P.O and quantity will be under 10K. we measured 3 garments in 1 size and number of measurement points per size required in spec sheet 20. so 20×3 = 60×6 sizes = 360 points measured then how much percentage of out of tolerance would be allowed as per international standard??

    Reply
    • Insight Team

      You’ve asked some good questions which are beyond the scope of this article and we’ve answered below. Search our blog for additional information on AQL sampling inspections (Link) or reach out to us directly to discuss your specific inspection plan needs.

      The sample size that will be inspected based on the assigned inspection levels and the number of defects that are allowed are based on the specific order quantity/lot size. Refer to the AQL chart (link) and article on AQL inspection (link) mentioned in the article above.

      Generally, a sample with multiple defects is counted as one defect with using a defect label such as “multiple defects”. It is important to be aware of product with multiple defects while at the same time protecting the integrity of the inspection by not having one piece with multiple defects rejecting the entire lot.

      Tolerances should be defined by the purchaser and established and communicated with the factory when placing an order.

      Reply
  3. Md. Riku

    want to know that how to improve garments quality AQL 1.0 from AQL 1.5?

    Reply
    • Insight Team

      The information and results from previous inspections can be used to review with the factory the defects found for improving quality of future orders. Note – the AQLs used for an inspection determine the number of defects that are acceptable. Increasing the AQL from 1.0 to 1.5 is loosening the quality and would allow more defects to be accepted. Lowering, or tightening, the AQL from 1.5 to 1.0 would allow less defects to be accepted.

      Reply

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