Written by: Jennifer Stepniowski, Special Projects Manager, Pro QC International
Textile and garment inspections require specialized expertise. Unlike wood, metal and other materials, textiles and garments have unique variables that may result in unexpected issues throughout manufacturing and during the final inspection. As one of Pro QC’s textile inspectors noted, “it’s an art of using many variables to produce a piece of art.” A garment or fabric inspector must bear in mind these variables and conditions that can result in defects and delayed shipments.
Irene Gebrael, an inspector for Pro QC in the New York and New Jersey area, indicates the importance of an inspector’s specialization in this field is based on the following two considerations:
1) Credibility & Process Knowledge
In fabrication, there are many defects that are caused by variables that may be due to ginning, spinning, finishing, dyeing, or might be due to a mistake in checking. To stand on the reason of the defect, an inspector must have prior knowledge of the processes for dyeing, finishing (fabrication), cutting, sewing (garment manufacturing), standards for care labels and regulatory compliances.
2) Inspection Conditions
The factors causing confusion and misinterpretation of defects are numerous, so an inspector must have a solid understanding of the conditions for inspection, such as the lighting, the effect of rolling on fabrics, the effect of packaging on garments, etc. For example, some of the common problems that differentiate textiles from other products are shade and the effect of light on shades during inspection. Inspectors must identify and use a good source of light to discover shade issues such as un-leveling and shade continuity.
Similar to other product inspections, Pro QC uses ANSI Z1.4 2008 to determine sample sizes. AQLs are either specified directly by the client or the client will work with Pro QC to determine what the Acceptable Quality Levels should be.
Standard defect classifications apply and are used in combination with product specifications. Definitions for critical, major and minor defects include:
Any condition found which poses the possibility of causing injury or harm to, or otherwise endangering the life or safety of, the end user of the product or others in the immediate vicinity of its use.
Any condition found adversely affecting the product's marketability and sale-ability or adversely affecting its required form, fit, or function, and which is likely to result in the end user returning it to the source from which it was purchased for replacement or refund.
Any condition found which while possibly less than desirable to the end user of the product, does not adversely affect its required marketability, sale-ability, form, fit, or function and is unlikely to result in its return to the source from which it was purchased.
Common defects noted during textile and/or garment inspections include:
-Defects in appearance, such as marks, fraying fabric or unfinished edges, etc.
-Defects with seams and stitching, including open seams, incorrect thread selection, skipped stitches, etc.
-Defects concerning color, such as dye spots and color fastness
-Defects concerning fabric, such as its material, fabric weight, cuts or tears, slubs or misweaves, etc.
-Defects concerning sizing, labeling and packaging, such as labels missing or top/bottom sizes are mismatched
-Defects concerning care label information, content label information, hang tag descriptions, correctness of components or trims, zip teeth smoothness, etc.
-Defects concerning measurement and fit
-Defects concerning safety, such as pins, needles and staples not being removed
Pro QC’s experienced textile and garment inspectors use applicable standards such as those listed below:
ASTM 5430-07 (Standard Test Methods for Visually Inspecting and Grading Fabrics)
These test methods describe a procedure to establish a numerical designation for grading of fabrics from a visual inspection.
ASTM D3990-2012 (Standard Terminology Relating to Fabric Defects)
This terminology covers defects in both woven and knit fabrics.
ASTM D3775 (Standard Test Method for Warp End Count and Filling Pick Count of Woven Fabric)
ASTM D3136 – 04(2008)e1: Standard Terminology Relating to Care Labeling for Apparel, Textile, Home Furnishing, and Leather Products
This test method covers the measurement of warp end count and filling pick count and is applicable to all types of woven fabrics. The number of warp yarns (ends) per unit distance and filling yarns (picks) per unit distance are determined using suitable magnifying and counting devices or by raveling yarns from fabrics.
Pro QC’s textile and garment inspectors can perform the following evaluations on-site:
-Wash test in the factory to make sure the color fastness and shrinkage is acceptable
-Needle detector checking to make sure no metal is within the garment. Note that the factory must have a detector machine for this evaluation on-site.
-Broken stitch record to make sure the broken stitches are under control
-Child safety using the button fastness test. Note that the factory must have the equipment for this evaluation on-site.
-Nickel free and pH test if the chemical reagent is available .
In-house laboratory testing of textiles and garments includes lead and phthalates content evaluation and color fastness.
For more information regarding textile and garment specific inspections, contact an account manager. Example reports are provided on request.