Textile & Garment Quality: Inspecting a T-Shirt

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We are preparing for TexWorld next week in NYC and thought it appropriate to revisit quality within the textile and garment industry.  A recent question we received related to what we would evaluate during a t-shirt inspection.  That’s a good question…

With order details and product specifications in hand, our experienced textile/garment quality engineers go on-site and first verify the order quantity available. We confirm the quantity packaged (and labeled) vs. not packaged. That matters because a pre-shipment inspection generally requires 80% of the order be packaged at the time of inspection.  An in-process inspection is scheduled around 30-50% complete.

If the verified quantity meets the client’s expectations, the inspector will select a random sample of items using ANSI Z1.4 as a standard.  With something like t-shirts, we determine how the client would like sampling in advance. Considerations include various sizes, colors and/or styles.  Many times, clients will combine these variables and divide out the sample size proportionately. Sampling individually results in additional time-on-site and for reporting, so supplier performance/history and cost are considerations when determining what the sample sizes should be.

With samples in hand, the inspector will spend some time verifying the packaging and labeling. This includes checking any barcodes, measuring and weighing the boxes and drop-testing for packaging integrity.

The visual component of the inspection uses the product specifications or other details to compare the samples and generally confirm workmanship and/or other cosmetic defects. Defects are classified as major, minor or critical.

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 with polybags over 5″x7″ used that are not marked with applicable child suffocation warnings
  • 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 loose snaps
  • Defects concerning foul odors from dyes or other chemicals used in the process
  • Defects concerning safety, such as pins, needles and staples not being removed

The functional evaluation of textiles and garments usually includes measurements.  A reduced sample is often pulled for functional evaluation.  Measurements are confirmed and compared against the specifications. The tolerances are determined by the client and provided in advance.  Another component of the functional evaluation is often verification of the SPI, or stitches per inch.


Pro QC’s textile and garment inspectors regularly 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. 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.

Applicable standards are used, 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 

Let us know if you have questions about ensuring quality of your textile and/or garment shipments! We have example reports for review and experienced professionals on our team that can provide timely feedback.

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