Returned garments due to not being able to attain customers’ standards is very common in the garment industry. It is sometimes inevitable wherein garments/apparel seen in the product catalog are not really what they seem when worn in real life, leading to customer disappointment. Poor product quality is most of the time the reason why garments are returned. This is why garment inspection and product testing is a necessary step to take for most clothing manufacturers out there.
Product testing and inspection is a simple manufacturing process but the problem is most small batch clothing manufacturers do not know the criteria involved in inspection or what on-site product testing processes should be conducted. Here are five usual on-site product testing processes, apparel manufacturers should know of;
5 Garment Inspection Tests
Crocking is an inspection test which helps apparel manufacturers prove the garment’s color does not stain other fabric during contact or the color does not bleed. Crocking is also done to check whether the print or colors on any garment/apparel remain clear and true according to desired specs. This product testing method is usually done to 3-6 samples from different sizes.
There are two types of crocking tests which are dry and wet. Both are relatively the same procedures except a dry white cloth is used for the dry crocking test while a wet white cloth soaked in water is used for the wet crocking test.
Step-by-step crocking method:
- Prepare a cloth (dry or wet depending the type of crocking test being performed), cotton material is advisable for this.
- Examine the garment for prints, patches, labels or logos which need testing.
- Rub the cloth against the areas of the garment which need testing at least 20 times back and forth with regular pressure. For garments with large prints, make sure you cover the entire printed area with the testing method.
- Check the cloth for signs of color transfer. If the white cloth remains unstained then the garment passed the test. On the other hand, if you see any color has bled on to the garment then it has failed the test and should head back to the garment manufacturing factory for correction.
2. Metal Detector Checking
Metal detectors may seem strange for garments but they are necessary to check for needles, pins, staple wires and other metal scraps in clothing most especially if they are still fresh off of the garment manufacturing factory. These metal scraps are sometimes unavoidable because factory workers could have leaved them within the garment as part of the production process.
This test is not only done with samples, but with final products as well most especially before they are sealed into their respective packaging. However, keep in mind this testing method only applies for garment or apparel who do not have any metal components such as zippers, metal buttons or chrome prints.
Step-by-step metal detection:
- Check if the metal detector is properly calibrated.
- Run the garments through the metal detector one at a time.
- Be attentive of any warning sound in case a piece of metal has been detected of the custom clothing
3. Light Box Checking
A light box checking method verifies if the garment/apparel colors conform to the specifications of the product. It is basically an enclosed cube with a light source inside while the other side is covered with a translucent surface of plastic or glass. This apparatus will block out all other light source and will help the inspector examine the colors and shading present in the garment/apparel.
Light boxes are useful for color checking. Most clothing production companies have light boxes available for this purpose alone, but they may not be common due to specific situations like people enjoying the products, consumers not part of the production core, etc.
Here are the steps for light box testing:
- Determine that a light box is available and in working condition.
- Place the clothing in the light box along with one approved sample as basis.
- Examine is there are any color difference between the approved sample and clothing being tested. The clothing passed the test if the color/s are the same.
4. Seam Strength Test for Apparel
Seam strength is always a factor for garment manufacturing companies. Any clothing with poorly sewn seams is bound to break easily due to wear and tear. The seam strength test for apparel makes sure the stitch and seam bind well. It also examines all seams are in place and there aren’t any sewing issues on them.
Step-by-step seam strength test:
- Stretch the garment with average force on areas where seams, openings and edges are present. Check the garment for stitch problems or if there are any holes in the binding. If you see any stitch damage or holes then the garment automatically fails the test.
- Slightly pull on the garment’s trimmings and check if they are still intact after pulling. If the trimming do not loosen or worse fall off, then the garment passed the test.
5. Stitches per Inch Check
Stitch density is another factor crucial in apparel production. Standard stitches per inch (SPI) makes a garment durable and can last longer with wear and tear while a garment with low SPI is more likely to fall apart after a short period of time.
Clothing manufacturers have different SPI standards for their products. However, you can just see for yourself and manually check SPI of a garment with a tape measure. Comparing SPIs of different garment will help you conclude if the garment is durable or not.
How to check SPI:
- Lay out the clothing pieces you will check on top of a flat surface.
- With a tape measure, measure one inch on an area in the garment with a line of stitches.
- Manually count the number of stitches within the inch segment.
- Check the SPI of the product specs and make sure this number is consistent in the entire garment by checking on other areas with stitches.
On-site garment testing is important to assure customer satisfaction. You are able to save time and money this way and cement a good reputation in the industry. You would not want to have returned garments from customers because such action would reflect badly towards your clothing production company. The following testing methods mentioned above are only the common ones conducted and there are a lot more methods and tests which are more complex usually used in major clothing companies. For small clothing companies, these tests will already come in handy.