For every industry or business, to get increased sales and better name amongst consumers and fellow companies it is important to maintain a level of quality. In the garment industry quality control is practiced right from the initial stage of sourcing raw materials to the stage of final finished garment. For textile and apparel industry product quality is calculated in terms of quality and standard of fibres, yarns, fabric construction, colour fastness, surface designs and the final finished garment products. However quality expectations for export are related to the type of customer segments and the retail outlets. There are a number of factors on which quality fitness of garment industry is based such as performance, reliability, durability, visual and perceived quality of the garment. Quality needs to be defined in terms of a particular framework of cost.

The national regulatory quality certification and international quality Programmes like ISO 9000 series lay down the broad quality parameters based on which companies maintain the export quality in the garment and apparel industry. Here some of main fabric properties that are taken into consideration for garment manufacturing for export basis:

  • Overall look of the garment.
  • Right formation of the garment.
  • Feel and fall of the garment.
  • Physical properties.
  • Colour fastness of the garment.
  • Finishing properties
  • Presentation of the final produced garment.

There are certain quality related problems in garment manufacturing that should not be over looked:

  • Sewing defects - Like open seams, wrong stitching techniques used, same colour garment, but usage of different colour threads on the garment, miss out of stitches in between, creasing of the garment, erroneous thread tension and raw edges are some sewing defects that could occur so should be taken care of.
  • Colour effects - Colour defects that could occur are difference of the colour of final produced garment to the sample shown, accessories used are of wrong colour combination and mismatching of dye amongst the pieces.
  • Sizing defects - Wrong gradation of sizes, difference in measurement of a garment part from other, for example- sleeves of XL size but body of L size. Such defects do not occur has to be seen too.
  • Garment defects - During manufacturing process defects could occur like faulty zippers, irregular hemming, loose buttons, raw edges, improper button holes, uneven parts, inappropriate trimming, and difference in fabric colours.

Various defects in garments:

v      Broken buttons

v      Broken snaps

v      Broken stitching

v      Defective snaps

v      Different shades within the same garment

v      Dropped stitches

v      Exposed notches

v      Exposed raw edges

v      Fabric defects

v      Holes

v      Inoperative zipper

v      Loose / hanging sewing threads

v      Misaligned buttons and holes

v      Missing buttons

v      Needle cuts / chews

v      Open seams

v      Pulled / loose yarn

v      Stain

v      Unfinished buttonhole

v      Zipper too short


Garment defects, classified according to the various manufacturing stages are:

Pattern defects in garment:

Some parts of pattern are missing, probably because the marker did not include the correct number of parts. Mixed parts, probably because the marker is not correctly labeled, resulting in a marriage of wrong sized parts. Patterns not facing in correct direction on napped fabrics. Not all patterns facing in same direction (either way) on a one-way fabric. Patterns not aligned with respect to the fabric grain. Poor line definition (e.g. too thick chalk; indistinctly printed line, perforated lay not powdered) leading to inaccurate cutting. Skimpy marking, caused by either the marker did not use the outside edge of the pattern; or the pattern was moved or swung after partial marking to squeeze the pattern into a smaller space for economizing the fabric. Marking back from miniature markers also can cause trouble unless the miniature marker making is in the hands of experienced operators. Alternatively the full size pattern may be having worn out edges.

Generous marking, especially in combination with skimpy marking results in components being sewn together with puckering and pleating. When the marker is too wide, the garment parts at the edges of the lay get cut with bits missing. Not enough knife clearance freedom. Wrong check matching, i.e. lines across the seam are not matching.

Wrong check boxing, i.e. checks are not showing a full or partial box across the seam.
Notches and drill marks omitted, indistinct or misplaced.

Spreading defects in garment:

Not enough plies to cover quantity of garments required. Plies misaligned, resulting in garment parts getting cut with bits missing in some plies at the edge of the spread. Narrow fabric, causes garment parts at the edge of the lay getting cut with bits missing. Incorrect tension of plies, i.e. fabric spread too tight or too loose. This will result in parts not fitting in sewing, and finished garments not meeting size tolerances. Not all plies facing in correct direction (whether 'one way' as with nap, or 'one way either way' as with some check designs). This happens when fabric is not spread face down, face up, or face to face as required. Unacceptable damages in the garment parts. Parts not fully included owing to splicing errors. Spread distorted by the attraction or repulsion of plies caused by excessive static electricity. Plies are not spread accurately one above another for cutting. This results in mismatching checks.

Cutting defects in garment:

Failure to follow the marker lines resulting in distorted garment parts. Top and bottom plies can be a different size if the straight knife is allowed to lean, or if a round knife is used on too high a spread. Notches, which are misplaced, too deep, too shallow, angled, omitted, or wrong type to suit fabric .Drill marks, which are misplaced, wrong drill to suit fabric, omitted, not perpendicular through the spread. Frayed edges, scorched or fused edges, caused by a faulty knife, not sharp enough, or rotating at too high a speed. Knife cut. Garment part damaged by careless use of knife, perhaps overrunning cutting previous piece. Marker incorrectly positioned on top of spread. Garment parts have bits missing at edge of lay. If too tight or too loose then garment parts are distorted. Slits opened inaccurately or omitted.

Garment Twist

A rotation, usually lateral, between different panels of a garment resulting from the release of latent stresses during laundering of the woven or knitted fabric forming the garment. Twist may also be referred to as Torque or Spirality.

Identification of knitted fabric defects:

It is very natural that in the course of knitting fabrics, imperfections occur. The imperfections may be the result of faulty yarn, knitting machine malfunction or improper finishing. The defects in knitting construction are considered in terms of appearance and nature.


Various Types of Defects in Knitted Fabrics

Bands and Streaks

There are different kinds of bands and streaks that may occur in knitting. Some of the popular defects are as follows:

v    Barrie Effect: A Barrie effect has the appearance of a stripe with shaded edges. It is horizontal in weft knits and vertical in warp knits. The barrie effect is caused by various factors like:

       »  Lack of uniformity in yarn size, color or luster.

       »  Mush tension on the yarns during knitting one section of the fabric.

       »  Uneven shrinkage or other finishing defects.

v    Bowing: A line or a design may curve across the fabric. This bowing is the distortion caused by faulty take-up mechanism on the knitting machine.

v    Streak or Stop Mark: A straight horizontal streak or stop mark in the knitted fabric is due to the difference in tension in the yarns caused by the machine being stopped and then restarted.

v    Skewing: Skewing effect is seen as a line or design running at a slight angle across the cloth.

v    Needle Lines: Needle lines or vertical lines are due to a wale that is either tighter or looser than the adjacent ones. This is caused by needle movement due to a tight fit in its slot or a defective sinker.

Stitch Defects

There are various kinds of stitch defects like:

v    Boardy: The knitted fabric becomes boardy (a stiff or harsh hand) when the stitches have been knit very tightly.

v    Cockled or puckered: If the knitted fabric is cockled or puckered, it is due to uneven stitches or uneven yarn size.

v    Dropped Stitch: This is an un knitted stitch caused either by the yarn carrier not having been set properly or the stitch having been knitted too loosely.

v    Run or ladder: A run or ladder indicates a row of dropped stitches in the wale.

v    Hole: A large hole or a press off is the result of a broken yarn at a specific needle feed so that knitting cannot occur.

v    Tucking: This is the result of an unintentional tucking in the knitted fabric. This is also called the bird's eye defect.

v    Float: This is caused by a miss stitch which is the result of failure of one or more needles to have been raised to catch the yarn.


Common Denim Seam Quality Defects

Broken Stitches - Needle Cutting:

Where the thread is being broken where one seam crosses another seam (ex: bar tacks on top of waistband stitching, seat seam on top of riser seam) resulting in stitch failure.

Minimizing broken stitches due to Needle Cutting

v    Use a higher performance Perma Core or D-Core thread.

v    Use a larger diameter thread on operations where the thread is being cut.

v    Make sure the proper stitch balance is being used. On a chain stitch seam on denim, you normally would like to maintain a 60%/40% relationship of Needle thread to looper thread in the Seam.

v    Use needles with the correct needle point.

v    Change the needles at regular intervals on operations where the Needle Cuts are occurring frequently.

Broken Stitches:

Where thread on the stitch line is broken during stone-washing, sand blasting, hand sanding, etc. Broken stitches must be repaired by re stitching over the top of the stitch-line.

Minimizing broken Stitches due to abrasion

v    Use a higher performance Perma Core or D-Core thread;

v    Use a larger diameter thread on operations where excessive abrasion is occurring

v    Make sure stitches are balance properly,

v    Use a Magic air entangled thread in the Looper due to its lower seam profile making it less susceptible to abrasion

v    Monitor the Finishing Cycle for compliance to specs.

Broken Stitches by Chemical Degradation

Where thread is being compromised by the chemicals used during laundering resulting in loss or change of color and seam failure.


Minimizing broken stitches due to Chemical Degradation:

v    Use a higher performance Perma Core NWT that has greater resistance to chemical degradation.

v    It is recommended to go to larger thread sizes when the Denim Garments will be subject to Harsh Chemical washes.

v    To achieve the best laundering results make sure that the water temperatures and PH Levels are correct and that the proper amounts and sequence of chemical dispersion are within guidelines.

v    Make sure the garments are being rinsed properly to neutralize the chemicals in the fabric.

v    Monitor the drying process, cycle times, and temperatures to make sure they are correct so that the best possible garment quality can be achieved.

Unraveling Seams:

Generally occurs on 401 chain stitch seams where either the stitch has been broken or a skipped stitch has occurred. This will cause seam failure unless the seam is Re stitched.

Minimizing unraveled Stitches:

v    Use a high performance Perma Core or D-Core thread that will minimize broken stitches and skipped stitches;

v    Insure proper machine maintenance and sewing machine adjustments;

v    Observe sewing operators for correct material handling techniques.

Restitched Seams

Where there is a "splice" on the stitch line. If this occurs on Topstitching, then the seam does not appear to be 1st quality merchandise. Caused by:

  1. Thread breaks or thread run-out during sewing; or
  2. Cut or broken stitches during a subsequent treatment of the finished product (I.e., stone washing).


Minimizing Restitched Seams:

v    Use a better quality sewing thread. This may include going to a higher performance thread designed to minimize sewing interruptions.

v    Insure proper machine maintenance and sewing machine adjustments;

v    Make sure sewing machines are properly maintained and adjusted for the fabric and sewing operation

v    Observe sewing operators for correct material handling techniques.

Sagging or Rolling Pockets:

Where the pocket does not lay flat and rolls over after laundering.

Minimizing Sagging or rolling front & back Pockets:

v    Make sure the sewing operators are not holding back excessively when setting the front pocket.

v    Make sure the hem is formed properly and that excessive fabric is not being being put into the folder that will cause the hem to roll over.

v    Check to make sure pocket is cut properly and that pocket curve is not too deep.

v    Use a reinforcement tape on the inside of the pocket that may help prevent the front panel from stretching along the bias where the front pocket is set.

v    The type and weight of denim, along with the fabric construction, may contribute to this problem.

Skipped Stitches:

Where the stitch forming device misses the needle loop or the needle misses the looper loop. Skips are usually found where one seam crosses another seam and most of the time occurs right before or right after the heavy thickness.

Minimizing Skipped Stitches:

v      Use core spun thread.

v      Use minimum thread tension to get a balanced stitch.

v      Use the ideal foot, feed and plate that help to minimize flagging.

v      Training sewing operators NOT to stop on the thickness.

v      Make sure the machine is feeding properly without stalling.

v      Make sure the machine is not back feeding.


Ragged / Inconsistent Edge

Where the edge of the seam is either extremely "ragged" or "rolls" inside the stitch.

Solutions to Ragged / Inconsistent Edge:

v    Make sure the sewing machine knives are sharpened and changed often;

v    The knives should be adjusted properly in relationship to the "stitch tongue" on the needle plate to obtain the proper seam width or width bite.

Wavy Seams on Stretch Denim:

Where the seam does not lay flay and is wavy due to the fabric stretching as it was sewn or during subsequent laundering and handling operations.

Solutions for wavy seams on stretch Garments

v    Use minimum presser foot pressure

v    Instruct sewing operators to use proper handling techniques and not stretch the fabric as they are making the seam.

v    Where, available, use differential feed to compensate for the stretch of the fabric.

Ropy Hem:

Where hem is not laying flat and is skewed in appearance.

Solutions for Ropy Hems

v    Usually caused by poor operator handling.

v    Instruct the sewing operator to make sure they get the hem started correctly in the folder before they start sewing. Also, make sure they don't hold back excessively as the seam is being sewn.

v    Use minimum roller or presser foot pressure.


Twisted Legs:

Is where the side seam twists around to the front of the pant and distorts the appearance of the jeans.

Solutions for Twisted Legs:

v    Usually caused by poor operator handling. Instruct the sewing operator to match the front and back properly so they come out the same length. Sometimes notches are used to insure proper alignment. They should NOT trim off the front or back with scissors to make them come out the same length

v    Make sure the cut parts are of equal length coming to the assembly operation.

v    Check fabric quality and cutting for proper skew

v    Make sure the sewing machine is adjusted properly for uniform feeding of the top and bottom plies.

Disappearing Stitches in Stretch Denim:

Is where the thread looks much smaller on seams sewn in the warp direction than in the weft direction of the fabric.

Solutions to minimizing disappearing stitches on stretch Denim:

v    Use a heavier thread size on topstitching.

v    Go to a longer stitch length (from 8 to 6 spi).

v    Make sure the thread tensions are as loose as possible so the thread sits on top of the fabric rather than burying in the fabric on seams sewn in the warp.

Thread discoloration after Laundry

It is the thread picks up the indigo dyes from the fabric giving the thread a 'dirty' appearance. A common discoloration would be the pick-up of a greenish or turquoise tint.


Solutions to Thread Discoloration

v    Use thread with proper color fastness characteristics.

v    Correct PH level (too low) and Water Temperature (too low) during laundry.

v    Use the proper chemicals & laundry cycles.

v    Use Denimcol PCC in wash or similar additive

v    Do not overload washers with too many garments at one time.

Poor Colorfastness after Laundry is where the thread does not wash down consistently in the garment or changes to a different color altogether.

Solutions to poor Colorfastness after Laundry:

v    Use thread with proper color fastness characteristics.

v    Use threads from the same thread supplier and do not mix threads in a garment.

v    Always do preproduction testing on denim garments using new colors to assure that they will meet your requirements.

v    Make sure sewing operators select thread by type and color number and do not just pick a thread off the shelf because it looks close in color.


Quality is ultimately a question of customer satisfaction. Good Quality increases the value of a product or service, establishes brand name, and builds up good reputation for the garment exporter, which in turn results into consumer satisfaction, high sales and foreign exchange for the country. The perceived quality of a garment is the result of a number of aspects, which together help achieve the desired level of satisfaction for the customer. Therefore quality control in terms of garment, pre-sales service, posts sales service, delivery, pricing, etc are essentials for any garment exporter.

About the Authors:

D. Gopalakrishnan is the faculty in South India Institute of Fashion Technology & Arpita Nayak is the student of UG Technology Programme (Apparel Manufacturing & Information Tech.)

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