37 Apparel quality analysis – initial inspection, quality standards and specifications in raw materials

V.Ramesh Babu

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The Apparel industry is a broad based global system of merchandising, manufacturing, distributing and marketing. The success of this system largely depends on meeting the customers’ needs and achieving customers’ satisfaction. The path for achieving this goal is surely through quality control in all aspects of apparel manufacturing and marketing. Apparel business also known as FASHION BUSINESS, changes frequently as the customers quickly become bored with particular product and they constantly seek some variations in the product that facilitate comfort of wearing or different from other similar products. Changes in fashion relate changes in styling, color, and silhouette. These fashion changes combined with seasonal changes alter the product mix in a manufacturing line.


The present open global market doesn’t allow a quality control system that concentrates only on the product and manufacturing process. Normally in apparel firm the quality control process starts with inspection of fabric and continues until inspection of finished and packed garments. But the present scenario needs stretching this quality control process at both the starting and closing ends. That is at the starting; the process of manufacturing the yam and fabric needs to be co ntrolled and needs to be compatible with garment manufacturing process and end use of the garments. And at the closing ends it includes the marketing and after sales service.




The term quality as applied to apparel has multiplicity of meanings. It is an essential part of a product either an inherent or distinguishing characteristic or property which gives the product superiority over similar products, excellence in utility values and hence a better price for it in the market. The term quality is at subjective term and its interpretation varies from people to people. To some, quality is something that gives the customer a status symbol. To others it means durability. Quality is composite of intrinsic and extrinsic features. Intrinsic features include quality of fibre and its manufacture, fabric and its manufacture; fabric finishes and garment assembly process. The extrinsic features include price, brand name, and reputation of manufacturer, visual merchandising, advertising, product promotion and after sales service. Quiet often these extrinsic features influence the quality features. The apparel  firm needs to resist such influences to compromise the product or process of manufacturing in view of long-term benefits even though the firm may face some short-term difficulties.


In earlier days quality control process was generally done for finished goods to identify and separate defective goods. These defective goods are either replaced or. Repaired and the remaining first quality goods are dispatched. Such an approach invariably increases the cost of production, results in delayed dispatches amid affects the company’s reputation. With more intense competition people resorted to IN – PROCESS quality control which identifies defects in the fabric, defects during manufacturing process and prevents or reduces no. of defective goods.,


  A) Roving Floor Inspection/ In-Process Inspection: Inspector moves around shop floor from department to department and machine to machine and Labour to Labour. Helps in correcting errors during the process itself. This type of inspection helps in taking corrective action on the spot and avoids further process on the defective garment. In case of faulty machinery or faulty operation by the operator this type of inspection makes an instantaneous correction rather than delayed action like in fixed inspection or finished garment inspection. This method also prevents further defective garments being produced.


B) Fixed Inspection / Centralized Inspection: Inspection point is located at fixed locations in the factory for example in each department or in between two departments or at selected locations. The sample of the lot to be inspected is brought to these inspection points to carry out the inspection. The garments may be either finished product or semi- finished product or raw material. The results are then passed to the respective departments for necessary action. This method involves certain amount of time delay between time in which the product is produced and the time in  which the inspection is carried out. During this time some more defective products would be produced.


C) Final inspection: This method inspects the garments after finishing and packing. Any corrective action involves redoing the garment. This involves additional labour time and wastage of material and accessories. This method holds up the dispatch depending on the number of defectives. Compared to other methods this method is more costly and affects the efficiently and productivity of the factory. This type of inspection is carried out on finished garments, which are ready for dispatch to the market. The inspection is carried out in the packing department as the garments are being packed or after packing them in carton boxes. The company can do either by the company itself or by some appropriate external inspection agencies as stipulated by the customer of selected the final inspection. This normally the last chance for detecting the defective garments before the lot is released in the market.


In this system correction of defects in the garments either become impossible or difficult and also expensive and often results in delays in dispatch of finished garments. This is a very critical issue in case of export garments where the delivery schedule to overseas buyers is very important any failure in this regard will result in expensive air shipments or even in cancellation of orders. Repeated delays in dispatch will seriously affect the company’s reputation and affect its future prospects.


D) Key Point Inspection: Inspections points are located at key points or critical points of the factory like cutting department where defects in fabric can be detected while fabric is being layed for cutting. And before ironing the sewn garments are checked and packed garments are checked before dispatch. Compared to fixed-point inspection, key point inspection has only fewer number of inspection points and hence results less handling of the garment and requires less number of inspectors.

  1. Inspection should also be located at points where it is possible that defective work, if not discovered, will effect a long series of operations.
  2. A logical point of Inspection is prior to an operation that would conceal a defect of the previous operation. For example painting would cover up the surface defect of a metal product. In garments, hidden materials such as Canvas are placed inside of Collars and Cuffs, have to be inspected before placing them inside the components.  

    E) 100% Inspection


This type of inspection involves inspecting each and every garment and ensures the garment passes without a defect. The quality level of the garments subjected to 100% inspection will be very high and this very high quality comes of a high cost. This is because all the defective garments are identified and corrected or replaced. This correction or replacement of defective garments with defect free garments will incur high cost in terms of material wastage, remaking cost, etc. Hence one can opt for 100% inspection depending on the sale price for the garment like a premium quality garment selling at a very high price should necessarily be subjected to 100% inspection. As any consumer paying a very high price for a garment will not accept any sort of defect in the garment, even if it is of very minor nature. This type of inspecting may be adopted for quantity of small size, whereas for larges lot of garments 100% inspection will be time consuming and will be either holding up production or dispatch. And also cost of inspecting will also be high, as it requires more number of inspectors and hence high overheads. Alternately one can opt for 100% inspection for selective items like critical parts of a garment, which affect the product appearance or performance to large extent.


F) Sample Inspection / Random Inspection


Sample inspection is a technique of determining whether a lot should be accepted or rejected on the basis of inspection of sample drawn from the lot. When doing sample inspection care must be taken to ensure that the sample drawn is true representative of  the lot. That is each and every product of the lot should be given and equal chance of being selected as a sample. If for any reason the selection of sample is biased like selecting samples in definite predetermined pattern then parameters of the sample may not match the parameters of the lot. Any decision taken based on inspection of biased sample might be wrong leading to unnecessary loss to the company. The size of the sample will increase as the size of the lot increases; otherwise the sample will not be a true representative of the lot.


Wherever the testing or inspection involves a destructive method, where the product is physically altered or damaged then it is preferable to go for sample inspection. This will reduce wastage of raw material. The samp le inspection method also requires less time and decision on the quality of the lot can made quickly when compared to 100% inspection.


Advantages of Sample Inspection

  1. In involves less amount of inspection to achieve a predetermined degree of certainty about the quality.
  2. It consumes less time, and is less expensive.
  3. Fatigue and boredom incurred by the inspector is much less, hence there will be less error due to fatigue and boredom. Their operating efficiency will be high.
  4. It is more accurate because in 100% inspection errors get introduced because it’s repetitive nature.
  5. Since fewer piece are inspected, there will be no damage to remaining pieces, as they are not handled. This will avoid soiling or dirtying of garments due to handling. This is very important in case of white and very light colors.
  6. In certain cases where components or garment itself is to be inspected by destructive testing, 100% inspection can never be adopted.


The fabric selection should be based on cost limitations and ability to perform according to user’s expectations and company’s reputation. Fabric selection also depends on type of garment – fashion wears or utility wear. This is because fashion wear requires color and texture and can be expensive. But utility garments require sufficient performance characteristics. The selection should also be based on source of supply, ease of availability, cost of procurement, requirement of firm, production capacity, which will decide between bulk purchase and. phased purchases. This will help in effective utilization of finance. Fabric selection is also based on seasonal factors; winter garments require bulky and heavier fabrics like loop knit, terry etc that will retain heat.


The following aspects need to be consi dered in selection and procurement of fabric.

  1. Proper count of warp, weft yams needs to be specified. A variation of 5 % is allowed for count. Too much variation in count will result in Barre effect.
  2. Fabric weight per linear yard should be accurate and consistent across the width and length of fabric. Any variation in fabric weight will affect garment feel and drape.
  3. The length of fabric roll should be preferably in even multiples of lay length on cutting table. Any excess length at end of each lay will be an end bit, which is normally used for cutting larger size / single or for re-cutting defective parts both ways this will increase the consumption of fabric per garment. So the more no. of end bits the more will be the fabric consumption and product cost.
  4. The width if fabrics meant for the same lay should be constant. This is because the marker is made for lowest fabric width and any deviation above this lowest width will result in fabric wastage and higher production cost. When too many widths are used they will result in more no. of lays and will add to the labour cost. This mill also seriously Affect the productivity of the cutting room.
  5. The fabric should have sufficient resistance to shrinkage and stretching. Excess shrinkage property will affect the measurement and fit of the garment after stretchability will cause the fabric to stretch while laying and when allowed to relax will cause, decrease in measurements; and spoil the fit
  6. While manufacturing or finishing the fabric in wet processing or during shrinkage control, the fabric should not develop any BOWING in the horizontal direction or SKEWING the vertical direction. This will affect the appearance of the garment and design balancing. Any attempt to correct this bowing or skewing is a cumbersome process that will result in fabric wastage, affect efficiency of cutting room and increase cutting cost.
  7. Fabric should have good color fastness to washing, dry cleaning, perspiration and sunlight.

     Fabrics have certain desirable characteristics depending on end-use. Various defects in the fabric either mar the appearance or adversely affect some of these desired characteristics. Thus fabric produced must be inspected before releasing it for dispatch so that proper quality goods reach the customers.




Fabric Inspection is an important aspect followed prior to garment manufacturing to avoid rejects due to fabric quality and facing with unexpected loss in manufacturing. Fabric inspection is done for fault/defect rate, fabric construction, end to end or edge to edge shading, colour, hand or feel, length/width, print defect and appearance. Fabric inspection ensures to minimise the rejection of cut panels or rejected garments due to fabric faults. Cutting inspected and approved fabric ensures not only finished garment quality but also reduces rejects, improves efficiency and timely deliveries.


The purpose of fabric inspection is to determine the quality and acceptability for garments. As fabric is received, it should be inspected to determine acceptability from a quality viewpoint. Some garment manufacturers rely on their fabric suppliers to perform fabric inspection and fabric defects. In many small companies, spreading and cutting is done by the same personnel and fabric is inspected as it is being spread on a table for cutting.


Fabric inspection, mapping or marking defects is important prior to spreading and cutting because:

  • Spreading can be done more quickly because the spreader is not also inspecting the fabric.
  • A cutter’s productivity will increase because the defects are already marked.
  • The patterns are cut around the defects so as not to include them in the finished garment.



Fabric inspection is usually done on fabric inspection machine. These machines are designed so that rolls of fabric can be mounted behind the inspection table under adequate light and rerolled as they leave the table.


Defects can be seen readily with these machines, as the inspector has a very good view of the fabric and the fabric need not be reversed to detect defects. These machines are power driven or the inspector pulls the fabric over the inspection table. The defects are located, marked and recorded on an inspection form. These machines are also equipped to accurately measure the length of each roll of fabric as well as monitor the width of the fabric. The variation in width of fabric can result in a higher cost of manufacturing for basic garments since profit margin for these garment manufacturers is usually lower than that for fashion garment manufacturers and therefore, maximum fabric utilisation is vital.


How much to inspect?


When a sewing factory receives fabric from the mill, it is difficult to conduct a full 100% inspection of the fabric. A minimum 10% inspection of all piece goods prior to spreading the fabric is recommended.




Definitionof defect:

  1. An imperfection that impairs worth or utility.
  2. Want or absence of something necessary for completeness or perfection.
  • Afault that spoils the material.

Fabricdefect:A Fabric Defect is anyabnormality in the Fabric that hinders itsacceptability by the consumer.

Importance of Fabric Defect

  • Due to the increasing demand for quality fabrics, high quality requirements are today greater since customer has become more aware of poorquality problems.
  • To avoid Rejection of fabric, It isnecessary to avoid defects.
  • Price of fabricis reduced by 45%-65% due to the presence ofdefects.
  • Company image will go down.

Major Fabric Defects

  • Colouredflecks
  • Knots
  • Slub
  • Brokenends woven in a bunch
  • Brokenpattern
  • Doubleend
  • Float
  • Gout
  • Hole,cut, or tear
  • Lashing-In
  • Localdistortion
  • Missingends
  • Missing Pick
  • Oil and other stain
  • Oily ends
  • Oily picks
  • Reed mark
  • Slough off
  • Shuttle smash
  • Snarls
  • Stitches
  • Untrimmed loose threads
  • Weft bar
  • Bariness
  • Bunching up
  • Drop stitch
  • Holes or Crack
  • Crack fall out
  • Horizontal srtipes
  • Verticle stripes

There are various fabric inspection systems:

  • 10-Point System.
  • Graniteville “78” system.
  • Dallas system.
  • 4- Point system.

4.1 Ten Point System


It was developed in the 1950’s. This system assigns penalty points to each defect, depending on the length of the defect.


Penalty points are assigned as per the following:


Under the Ten-Point System, a piece is graded a “first” if the total penalty points do not exceed the total yardage of the piece. A piece is graded a “second” if the total penalty points exceed the total yardage of the piece.


The following points are noteworthy:

  • This system is bit complicated because points per length are different for warp and weft defects.
  • It is difficult in practical use.

4.2 Graniteville “78” system


This system was introduced in 1975 for the field of fabric grading. The system divides defects into major and minor types .The major defect is one, which is very obvious and leads the goods to second quality. The minor defect is one, which may or may not have caused garment to second, depending on its location in the end use item.


Penalty Points are assigned as per the following:


The following points are noteworthy in this system:

  • The principle was established in garment cutting piece, in which, the short length defects (less than 9″) will normally be removed.
  • The system tries to balance the importance of longer defects (over 9″) and put less weight on 1-10″ defects such as slubs.
  • The system also suggests the viewing distance of 9 foot instead of normal 3- foot viewing distance.
  • The system tends to eliminate very small defects from the total penalty score.
  • This is mostly recommended for use, where larger garments are to be cut with fabrics of wider widths.

4.3 Dallas System


This system was developed in 1970s specifically for knits. It was approved by Dallas Manufacturers Association. According to this system, if any defect was found on a finished garment, the garment would then be termed as a “second”. For fabrics, this system defines a second as “more than one defect per ten linear yards, ca lculated to the nearest ten yards”. For example, one piece 60 yards long would be allowed to have six defects.


4.4 4-Point 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 or 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.


In this system, one should inspect at least 10 per cent of the total rolls in the shipment and make sure to select at least one roll of each colour way.


Fabric defects are assigned points based on the following:

Total defect points per 100 square yards of fabric are calculated and the acceptance criteria is generally not more than 40 penalty points. Fabric rolls containing more than 40 points are considered “seconds”.


The formula to calculate penalty points per 100 square yards is given by:


The following are noteworthy points for this system:

  • No more than 4 penalty points can be assigned for any single defect.
  • The fabric is graded regardless of the end-product.
  • This system makes no provision for the probability of minor defects.
  • 4 point system is most widely used system in apparel industry as it is easy to teach and learn.


  1. Fabric inspection is done in suitable and safe environment with enough ventilation and proper lighting.
  2. Fabric passing through the inspection frame must be between 45 – 60 degree angles to inspector and must be done on appropriate Cool White light above viewing area. Back light can be used as and when needed.
  3. Fabric speed on inspection machine must not be more than 15 yards per minute.
  4. All fabric inspection must be done when 80% of good or lot is received.
  5. Standard approved bulk dye lot standards for all approved lots must be available prior to inspection.
  6. Approved standard of bulk dye lot must be available before starting inspection for assessing colour, hand, weight, construction, finish and visual appearance.
  7. Shade continuity within a roll by checking shade variation between centre and selvage and the beginning, middle and end of each roll must be evaluated and documented.
  8. Textiles like knits must be evaluated for weight against standard approved weight.
  9. Fabric width must be checked from selvage to selvage against standard.
  10. All defects must be flagged during inspection.
  11. The length of each roll inspected must be compared to length as mentioned on supplier ticketed tag and any deviation must be documented and reported to mill for additional replacement to avoid shortage.
  12. If yard dyed or printed fabrics are being inspected the repeat measurement must be done from beginning, middle and end of selected rolls.


5. Quality Control in Trims




The usefulness of a zipper in service can be evaluated by the following strength tests. No one test determines the suitability of a zipper for a specific end use. Since the tests are interrelated, more than one may be needed for a complete evaluation. Zipper strength is usually tested in the following areas:

  1. Crosswise strength. The ability of a zipper chain to withstand lateral stress is measured by loading to destruction a 2.5 cm (I in.) section of the specimen in a tensile testing machine.
  2. Scoop pull-off. The gripping strength of a scoop (tooth) around the bead is determined by pulling a single scoop from the bead at right angles to the stringer using a tensile testing machine with a specially designed fixture.
  3. Holding strength of stops. The ability of stops to perform their intended purpose is determined through the use of five different methods that simulate the important stresses encountered in the end use of zippers.
  4. Scoop slippage. The ability of a scoop to resist longitudinal movement along the bead of the tape is determined with a tensile testing machine fitted with a specially designed fixture.
  5. Resistance to cushioned compression of slide rs. The lower plateau of compression tester is cushioned with a neoprene pad. The specimen is laid on the pad and a load is applied. Then, the operability of the zipper is tested and compared to the operability of the original zipper.
  6. Slide deflection and recovery. There are two procedures for determining the resistance of slider planes of zippers to an opening or spreading force. In one procedure, the Me is applied to the mouth of the slider; In the other, an alternative method, the force is applied through the slider pull and back plane of the slider.
  7. Resistance to twist of Pull and slider. In this method, the twist resistance of a pull and slider assembly against a torsional force applied to the pull of the zipper is evaluated. A fixture is used with a torque wrench to apply a specified twisting force to a slider pull. The amount of permanent twist imparted to the slider pull or other permanent damage or deformation are noted. The specimen is also examined for any other effects such as breaking or deformation of the lug or any other part of the assembly.
  8. Resistance to pull-off of slider pull. In this test, with a special fixture, tensile load is applied to the slider pull to determine how much force is required to pull off the slider pull.


The operability of zippers is tested by pulling the slider with a force indicator (Such as a pull gauge) along the zipper chain alternately in the opening and closing directions and the force required to maintain each movement is recorded. The force required to move the slider on the chain is a measure of the ease with which the zipper will operate in end- use applications.


Yarn ply


For checking the number of plies in a sewing thread, simply cut a short length of the sewing thread from the spool, hold two ends in each hand and untwist the sewing thread to a point that one can count the number of yarns plied together to make that sewing thread, unless it is a single ply sewing thread.


Sewing threads


Good-quality sewing threads are essential for quality sewing. Therefore, sewing threads should, be checked and tested for the following, characteristics:


Construction. Yarn count, yarn ply, number of twists, twist balance, yarn strength (tenacity), and yarn elongation. The test methods for these characteristics were covered under testing section.


Sewability. At least three sewing-thread packages from a lot should be used for at least 100 yards of sewing under normal conditions and a record kept of running performance. A good quality sewing thread should be able to produce uniform consistent stitches in the chosen sewing material at the highest machine speed under normal conditions. In addition, actually using at least three packages of sewing thread from each lot or shipment will give a very good indication of the following properties of a sewing thread:

  1. Impe rfections. Sewing thread should be free of slubs, knots, or any such defects. Otherwise, there will be excessive stoppage on the sewing machine, resulting in lower sewing efficiency.
  2. Finish. Thread finish is basically a lubricant applied to a sewing thread so that the thread will slip easily and smoothly through the eye of the sewing machine needle and through various thread-handling parts of a sewing machine,, This finish varies- from 3 to 15% Of the weight of the thread. The amount of finish must be consistent from package to package and from lot to lot; otherwise, sewing quality and efficiency will be lost completely.
  3. Colour. Colour of a sewing thread (including white) should match that of either the original or the standard sample and should not vary too much within a lot or shipment of sewing thread. Also, the colour should not bleed in washing and/or dry-cleaning and fade in sunlight.
  4. Package density. Package density of sewing thread should be consistent from package to package within a shipment or lot and from shipment to shipment. If package density varies too much, sewing machine operators will have to adjust the tension frequently, resulting in lower productivity.
  5. Winding. Winding of sewing thread on packages should be uniform; otherwise, it may result in excessive thread breakages, again causing lower efficiency.
  6. Yardage. Length of sewing thread on each package should be at least the specified amount or within a certain tolerance, such as ± 2% of the labeled length.

Buttons, buckles and snap fasteners


Quality of buttons, buckles, and snap fasteners should be checked [Waldes and Reid 1954]. One can have a beautiful garment but that can be rendered poor quality due to a defective button or snap fastener.


Buttons. Buttons should have large, clean sew holes that are free from flash and will not cut the thread. Holes must be located properly in relation to the edge of the button. Buttons should be of uniform thickness. The colour or shade of the buttons should be within a certain visual tolerance. Buttons should be able to withstand laundering, dry-cleaning, and pressing without any changes such as cracks, melting of surface (scorch), and change in colour or shade.

Buckles. Buckles should be checked for any visual defects such as sharp, burred edges. If a buckle is cloth- or vinyl-covered, there should not be an appreciable difference in the buckle and garment materials.

Snap fasteners. The attaching machinery should locate the snap fasteners accurately and at proper pressure. Component parts should be checked to close tolerances and free from dirt and other foreign substances so that they will feed rapidly through the hopper and permit uniform and trouble- free assembly. Hardness and workability of metal are important factors also and are controlled carefully by quality suppliers. If the metal is too hard, the parts will be formed poorly and may crack; if it is too soft, the closure will be weak. Of course, such  problems would not arise with plastic snap fasteners. The snap fasteners should attach firmly and withstand the maximum pull that they can be expected to endure on the garment. The snapping action of snaps must be positive yet easy enough for practical use.




There is nothing much that can be done visually on interlinings. The performance testing of interlinings as well as the control of variables in the fusing of interlinings are of the utmost importance.




There are different types of labels.  They are:

  1. Main label or Brand label
  2. Size Label
  3. Wash Care Label
  4. Small Label Logo Label

This labels are sewn into the garments and the type of label and its cost are closely related to the type of garment and the level of market in which it is selling


Care Label

Denotes the washing instructions a customer has to follow while washing the garment. Generally wash care label also provides information as to at what temperature garment Fiber content may be mentioned in different languages.

Ex: 100% COTTON
100% COTON


The garment consists of 80% COTTON


It should be mentioned in descending order as mentioned above.

This instructions are not only to protect the consumer but also to protect the manufacturer against return made by consumers who do not care for their garment as instructed.


Size Label


The size label indicates the size of the garment which is made up of woven label or taffeta label. The size of the label will be 8 mm to 12 mm approximately. The size number or letter is woven on the woven label with colors or printed on the white taffeta paper in black colors.

The main purpose of putting the size label on the garment at neck line is to identify easily by the customer and other people such as stores, production unit etc for accountability.

Figure shows different types of attaching size labels to the garment. It should be visible and should not be hidden.


Figure shows different types of sewing of the size labels (i.e.,) stitched on both sides and folded and stitched on the top while closing the seams. The cost of the size label will be 50 paise to Rs.1 approximately and depends upon the size and material used.


Label Place ment


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  2. David J.Tyler, “Materials Management in Clothing Production”, 2000.
  3. William K.Hodson, “Maynord’s Industrial Engineering Handbook”, IV edition, McGraw Hill Inc., New York, 2010.
  4. Herold Carr and Barbara Lathem, “ The Technology of Clothing Manufacturing”, II nd Edition, Blackwell Scientific Publications, London, 1988.
  5. Prodip V.Mehta, “An Introduction of Quality Control for the Apparel Industry”. ASQC quality Press, Marcel Dekker Inc., Newyork, 1992.
  6. Managing Quality In Apparel Industry, S.K.Bhrdwaj & Pradip V Mehta. Quality is Free,Philip Crosby.
  7. V.RameshBabu “ Industrial Engineering in Apparel Production” Wood Head publishing India Ltd., ISBN 13:978-93-80308-17-3, 2012.