Textile Inspection: A Complete Guide and Quality Control Checklist

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The global textile trade is a multi-billion-dollar industry, with fabrics and garments crisscrossing oceans to meet the demands of an ever-growing consumer base. However, this massive exchange is not without its challenges. A significant concern is the occurrence of defects in textile products. These defects, ranging from color mismatches to fabric inconsistencies, can severely impact a brand’s reputation and sales. In an era where customers are increasingly discerning and vocal about product quality, even minor flaws can lead to substantial repercussions for manufacturers and retailers.

The solution lies in Textile Pre-Shipment Inspection, a critical quality control tool that, despite its widespread implementation in the industry, is still underestimated by some brands. This inspection process serves as a final checkpoint, ensuring that textile products meet the required standards and specifications before being dispatched to their destinations. It’s a process that not only safeguards the interests of consumers but also upholds the reputation of brands and manufacturers.

This article aims to delve into the depths of textile inspection, drawing upon our extensive experience in the field. We will explore the common quality defects observed in textiles, the methods employed to detect and address these issues, and we share a comprehensive and detailed checklist for textile pre-shipment inspection, developed from our 40 years of experience in quality control.

Common Quality Defects Identified in Textile Inspection

Textile manufacturing is a sophisticated process that blends art and science. Despite technological advancements, the occurrence of defects remains an inherent challenge. Identifying and understanding these defects is crucial in implementing effective quality control measures. Here, we outline the most commonly encountered defects in textile inspection:

1) Appearance Defects

These include any visual imperfections that affect the aesthetic appeal of the textile. Common examples are:

  • Surface Marks: Stains, dirt marks, oil spots, or any unwanted prints.
  • Fraying Fabric: Unraveled or worn-out edges indicating poor finishing.
  • Unfinished Edges: Raw, unhemmed, or improperly finished edges that compromise the garment’s integrity.

2) Seams and Stitching Irregularities

Key aspects to inspect here are:

  • Open Seams: Portions where the seam is not properly closed or joined.
  • Incorrect Thread Selection: Using threads that are incompatible in terms of color, thickness, or material with the fabric.
  • Skipped Stitches: Missing stitches which can lead to seam failure or holes.
  • Uneven Stitching: Irregular stitch lines that can affect both appearance and durability.

3) Color and Dye Issues

Critical for maintaining aesthetic consistency:

  • Dye Spots: Unintended spots or splashes of color.
  • Color Fastness: The ability of the fabric to retain its color during washing and use.

4) Fabric Quality Concerns

Directly related to the material’s quality and durability:

  • Material Flaws: Using lower-grade materials than specified.
  • Fabric Weight Discrepancies: Deviation from the specified weight, affecting the fabric’s feel and draping quality.
  • Cuts/Tears: Accidental damage to the fabric.
  • Slubs or Misweaves: Thicker or irregular threads in woven fabrics.
  • Texture & hand feel: Rough, scratchy, stiffness, or uncomfortable fabrics

5) Sizing, Labeling, and Packaging Errors

Ensuring accurate information and compliance:

  • Misaligned Sizes: Discrepancy between labeled and actual sizes.
  • Missing Labels: Absence of required labels including size, care instructions, and material composition.
  • Packaging Non-compliance: Polybags larger than 5"x7" lacking child suffocation warnings.

6) Logo Print/Screen Printing Errors

Ensuring the correct logo and correct placement:

  • Incorrect logo: Discrepancy in the actual printed logo content, size
  • Defective printing: Misprint,
  • Incorrect placement: Inaccurate printing placement

7) Label Information Accuracy

Crucial for consumer information and legal compliance:

  • Care Label Discrepancies: Incorrect washing or care instructions.
  • Content Label Errors: Inaccurate material composition details.
  • Hang Tag Inconsistencies: Misleading or incorrect product descriptions.

8) Component and Trim Quality

Ensuring all parts of the textile product meet standards:

  • Zip Teeth Smoothness: Zippers should operate smoothly without snagging.
  • Component Quality: Ensuring buttons, snaps, and other components are of good quality and securely attached.

9) Measurement and Fit

Ensuring the textile product fits as intended:

  • Size Deviations: Products not meeting the specified dimensions.
  • Poor Fit: Garments that do not conform to the intended fit standards.

10) Safety Concerns

Eliminating any potential hazards:

  • Loose Snaps: Snaps that can detach and pose a choking hazard.
  • Foul Odors: Indicating the use of harmful chemicals or dyes.
  • Removal of Sharp Objects: Ensuring no pins, needles, or staples are left in the product.

11) Overall Workmanship

The general craftsmanship of the textile product:

  • Uniformity in Construction: Consistency in design and construction across all products.
  • Attention to Detail: Ensuring all aspects of the product are finished to a high standard.

During a textile inspection, these aspects are scrutinized against the specified quality criteria. The inspection process involves a systematic examination of the textiles, using both visual inspection and physical testing where necessary. The aim is to identify any deviations from the agreed-upon standards and specifications, ensuring that the final product delivered to the customer meets their expectations in terms of quality, safety, and functionality.

Standards Used in Textile Inspections

1) Fabric Inspection

For fabric inspection, ASTM D5430 – Standard Test Methods for Visually Inspecting and Grading Fabrics is commonly used and is often associated with the "4-Point System" for fabric inspection. It outlines methods for assessing fabric quality and identifying any imperfections or irregularities that may affect the fabric’s performance or suitability for its intended application.

2) Dimensional Stability Testing

Dimensional stability refers to a fabric’s ability to maintain its original dimensions after washing and drying. Textile inspectors use standards like ISO 5077 and ASTM D4970 to assess shrinkage or elongation of the fabric after laundering.

3) Colorfastness Testing

Colorfastness is a crucial quality aspect, determining whether a fabric’s color will bleed or fade under various conditions. Tests are conducted for colorfastness to washing (ISO 105-C06), rubbing (ISO 105-X12), and light exposure (ISO 105-B02).

4) Strength Testing

The strength of the textile is evaluated to ensure durability. Tensile strength tests (ISO 13934-1) measure the force required to break the fabric, while tear strength tests (ISO 13937-2) assess the force needed to propagate an existing tear.

5) Flammability Testing

For certain textiles, especially those used in home furnishings and children’s wear, flammability tests are crucial. Standards like the U.S. Flammable Fabrics Act (FFA) set requirements for fabric flammability.

6) Chemical Testing

Textiles are tested for harmful substances to ensure they meet health and safety standards. Tests include checking for pH value (ISO 3071), presence of azo dyes (EN 14362-1), and formaldehyde content (ISO 14184-1).

7) Fiber Composition Analysis

Fiber composition is verified using methods like the burn test or chemical analysis to ensure the product matches its label. This is important for consumer trust and regulatory compliance.

8) Pilling Resistance Testing

Pilling is the formation of small, fuzzy balls on the surface of the fabric. Resistance to pilling is assessed using tests like the Martindale method (ISO 12945-2).

9) Seam Strength and Slippage

Seam strength is vital for garment durability. Tests like ASTM D1683 measure the strength of sewn seams, while seam slippage tests (ASTM D4034) assess the integrity of the fabric at the seam.

10) Water Resistance Testing

For fabrics that are meant to be water-resistant, tests like the Spray Test (AATCC 22) or Hydrostatic Pressure Test (AATCC 127) are conducted.

11) Compliance with International and Regional Standards

Finally, textile inspections ensure compliance with international standards such as ISO, ASTM, and AATCC, as well as regional regulations like REACH in Europe and CPSIA in the USA.

What is a Textile Pre-Shipment Inspection?

A textile pre-shipment inspection is a quality control process conducted on textile products before they are shipped to the customer. This inspection is crucial in the textile industry to ensure that all products meet specific standards and requirements. It involves checking the material’s quality, verifying color and pattern accuracy, ensuring the correct sizing, and examining the stitching quality. The process also includes testing the fabric’s strength and durability, confirming the proper labeling and packaging, and ensuring that the products comply with both the importing and exporting countries’ regulatory standards. This inspection helps to identify any defects or non-conformities in the batch, allowing for corrections before the products reach the customer, thereby safeguarding the buyer’s reputation and minimizing the risk of costly returns or complaints.

As an example, we will present you below in the article a real inspection report of a service we conducted for a hoodie jacket.

qc inspection of a hoodie jacket

Sampling plan and AQL for Textile Pre-Shipment Inspections

When it comes to ensuring the quality of textile products before they are shipped, it is essential to understand two key concepts: sampling size and AQL (Acceptable Quality Level).

Sampling Plan

Let’s start by breaking down what these terms mean and how they apply in a real-world scenario.

In our hoodie jacket pre-shipment inspection example, the total number of pieces produced is 550 Hoodie Jackets. The first step is to determine the number of jackets to inspect, which is where the sampling size comes into play. The sampling size isn’t just a random selection of units; it’s a carefully calculated number based on specific criteria, ensuring a representative and efficient inspection process.

For our Hoodie Jacket inspection, three types of checks are recommended:

  • Workmanship Check: This involves assessing the overall quality and craftsmanship of the jackets. For a batch size of 550 units, a General Level II (GII) approach is recommended. In practical terms, this means inspecting 80 units.
  • Special Functional Check: Sometimes, certain aspects of the product require more focused attention. For this, a Special Level 3 inspection is suggested. This involves a more detailed examination of 13 units, specifically looking at any special features or functions that the Hoodie Jackets might have.
  • Other Check: Finally, for any additional checks that might be needed, a Special Level 1 inspection is appropriate. This is a more cursory examination, involving just 5 units, often focusing on aspects like packaging or labeling.


Now, let’s talk about AQL or Acceptable Quality Level. It is the maximum number of defective units that can be considered acceptable during the random sampling of an inspection. In other words, it is the worst tolerable process average when a continuous series of batches is inspected. For each type of check (workmanship, special function, and others), there’s a corresponding AQL that dictates the number of defects that can be tolerated.

The selection of the AQL level depends on the importance of the product and the risks associated with product failure. For example, a higher AQL (meaning more defects are tolerated) might be acceptable for a less critical aspect like packaging, whereas a lower AQL (fewer defects tolerated) is essential for key functional aspects of the Hoodie Jacket.

For our hoodie jacket inspection, our team selected the following AQL:

  • Critical: 0
  • Major: 2.5
  • Minor: 4

Let’s break them down:

  • Critical 0: This indicates that for critical defects, the AQL is 0. Critical defects are those that might result in unsafe conditions or contravene mandatory regulations. An AQL of 0 for critical defects means that no critical defects are acceptable in the sample. In practical terms, if even one critical defect is found in the sample, the whole batch is likely to be rejected.
  • Major 2.5: For major defects, an AQL of 2.5 is set. Major defects are not as severe as critical ones, but they are significant issues that can result in the failure of a product, affecting its appearance, function, or lifespan. An AQL of 2.5 means that up to 2.5% of the sampled items can have major defects before the batch is considered unacceptable. This is a common standard in many industries, as it strikes a balance between quality control and practical manufacturing tolerances.
  • Minor 4: This refers to an AQL of 4 for minor defects. Minor defects are issues that are not likely to reduce the usability of the product but might include imperfections that are less than ideal from an aesthetic or finish standpoint. An AQL of 4 means that up to 4% of the sampled items can have minor defects. This higher percentage reflects the less critical nature of these defects.

To learn more about AQL, read our article dedicated article 5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About AQL.

On our textile pre-shipment inspection reports, we present in a table the sampling size and AQL that was selected at the beginning with the breakdown of the defects we identified by the type of check and by the defect category (minor defects, major defects, or critical defects).

Here is how this table looks in the report of our example on Hoodie Jacket inspection:

Hoodie Jacket inspection

Our comprehensive textile inspection checklist

At Pro QC, our textile pre-shipment inspection checklist covers the following criteria:

  1. Quantity Verification
  2. Package & Packaging Inspection
  3. Product (s) Style/Construction
  4. Product(s) Logo, Labelling & Markings
  5. Measurement Data Inspection
  6. Textile Functional & Performance Tests
  7. Product(s) Workmanship

In the section below, we present the details of each criterion, including pictures, based on our example of hoodie jacket inspection.

A) Quantity Verification

The first step in any pre-shipment inspection is the verification of the quantity. This evaluation checks if the actual quantity ready to be shipped to the client matches the quantity indicated in the purchase order (PO). The key aspects that need to be assessed during this stage include:

  • The precise count of products manufactured, confirming they match the quantity specified in the PO.
  • Verification of style or model numbers, ensuring every product aligns with the designated style.
  • Verification of the color, ensuring they meet the precise specifications provided in the P.O.

For our hoodie jacket inspection example, we have reported the quantity as per the following in our inspection report.

inspection report

B) Package & Packaging Inspection

This stage is essential not only for upholding the brand’s image but also for ensuring that the packaging is robust and suitable for transit, minimizing the risk of damage. It includes: 

  1. Packing visual check:
  • Packing method and conditions check
    • Ensures the method of packing is appropriate for the product, protecting it from damage during transit and storage. It includes the carton dimensions, carton weight, sealing method (staples, adhesive, plastic band or metal band), and the carton quality.

Packing method and conditions
Packing method and conditions
Packing method and conditions
Packing method and conditions

  • Shipping marks/labels check
    • Verifying the accuracy and visibility of shipping marks and labels aids in proper handling and routing during shipping.
  • Retail package artwork check
    • Ensures the packaging aligns with brand standards and marketing requirements, enhancing customer appeal.
  • Correct content within the package
    • Guarantees that the package contains the correct product and components, avoiding customer dissatisfaction or returns.
  • Quantity of items & accessories within the package
    • Confirms that the correct number of items and any accompanying accessories are included, ensuring complete product delivery.
  • Presence of correct version of printed literature within the package
    • Ensures that the right instructions, warranties, or promotional materials are included, providing necessary information to the end user.
  1. Barcode visual check
  • Cleanliness of Barcodes:
    • Clean barcodes are essential for efficient scanning and inventory management.
  • Barcode Type as Requested:
    • Verifying the type of barcode confirms compliance with industry or client-specific standards.
  • Positions as per Client Requirements:
    • Proper positioning of barcodes is crucial for easy scanning and handling in the supply chain.

Barcode visual check

C) Product (s) Style/Construction

In this stage, we verify if the style and construction of the textile product match the approval sample and the client’s technical file.

  • Verifying if the product matches the same style and materials as the approval sample.
  • Inspecting if the same materials as the sample have been used which prevents discrepancies in quality, feel, and overall appearance.
  • Checking if the actual products match the client’s technical file. It ensures that the final product adheres to the specific design, quality, and material requirements set by the client.

style and construction

D) Product(s) Logo, Labelling & Markings

  1. Logo Inspection
  • Inspecting the logo quality, colors, dimensions, positioning, and alignment to ensure they conform with client specifications.

Inspecting the logo quality

  1. Label and marking test
  • Verifying that the label & marking have the correct content.

Label and marking test

E) Measurement Data Inspection

During the inspection, precise measurements are a critical aspect to evaluate. This involves verifying several key dimensions to ensure consistency and adherence to design specifications (within tolerances or out of tolerances).

It typically includes the length of the jacket from shoulder to hem, ensuring it matches the intended design length. The chest width, measured across the garment under the arms, is checked for size accuracy. Sleeve length, from the shoulder seam to the cuff, is measured to ensure comfort and fit. The waistband and cuff measurements are also important, especially for ensuring a snug fit and maintaining the garment’s shape. Lastly, the placement and size of pockets, zippers, and any decorative elements are measured to guarantee they align with the design specifications.
Measurement Data Inspection
Measurement Data Inspection

In the textile pre-shipment inspection report, the results of the measurement data check are presented in a table as follows:

measurement data check

F) Textile Functional & Performance Tests

  1. Fabric weight check
  • This process involves using precise cutting tools to obtain small, representative samples of the fabric. These samples are typically cut from three distinct areas of either a single sample garment or from the bulk fabric, to provide a comprehensive overview of the fabric’s weight uniformity. The weight of these samples is then measured in grams per square meter (gsm). It’s important to note whether the fabric was ironed before taking these samples, as this can affect the weight. The results are considered acceptable if they fall within a +/-5% range of the client’s specified weight requirements.

Fabric weight check

  1. Shipping carton stacking test
  • One column of export carton is piled up to a height of 2.5m or as intended to be palletized for four hours. After the test, the bottom carton must show no compression that would affect the carton’s shape and no damage to the product inside.
  1. Shipping carton drop test
  • Height and drop sequence according to ISTA 1A procedure.

Shipping carton drop test

  1. Fatigue Test
  • Operating the zipper 20 times. It shall respond properly during the test; no damages or blocked function shall occur.

Fatigue Test

  1. Adhesive Test
  • Applying adhesive to all logos, printings, and markings, and then removing the adhesive without causing any damage.
  1. Colorfastness Test
  • Rubbing the textile 10 times over a 10 cm distance with a force of 9N (1kg).
  • There should be no color transfer greater than 4 on a grey scale (between the original white cloth and the colored one) after the dry test.
  • There should be no color transfer greater than 3-4 on a grey scale (between the original white cloth and the colored one) after the wet test.

Colorfastness Test

  1. Odor Test
  • Checking the smell of the product. It should not have any solvent, mold, or strong smell.
  1. Barcode Scan Test
  • All the barcodes need to be clean and readable with a barcode reader and the reading must be corresponding to the client’s information and printed numbers/characters.

Barcode Scan Test

  1. Seaming Strength Check
  • Checking seam strength of each connection, pulling by hand with normal force for all seaming, and stitching. No damages shall occur.

Seaming Strength Check

  1. Needle Detection Test
  • Full sample size must be scanned using a needle detection machine (conveyer type) with a calibration standard of 1.2mm.
  • No metal contamination should be found.

Needle Detection Test

G) Product(s) Workmanship

  • Visually inspecting the product’s physical conditions, appearance, and cleanliness.

Here are examples of quality defects that we identified during the hoodie jacket inspection:

product's physical conditions, appearance, and cleanliness

Those visual defects are categorized by defect category in a table within the inspection report as follows:

visual defects

Here, the number of defects is within the acceptable limit (the allowed number of defects), so it passes the check.

Download the complete textile inspection report in PDF format for free here: Sample Report


In conclusion, the role of textile pre-shipment inspection in the global textile industry cannot be overstated. As this article has highlighted, the presence of defects in textile products poses a significant risk to both brand reputation and consumer satisfaction. By implementing inspections, brands can mitigate these risks, ensuring that only the highest quality products reach the market.

Our exploration of common quality defects, coupled with our detailed inspection checklist, offers valuable insights and practical tools for anyone involved in the textile trade. In a sector as vast and interconnected as the textile industry, textile quality control checks stand as a crucial pillar, supporting the seamless flow of quality products across global markets.

About Us

Pro QC is a global quality assurance company. Since 1984, we have provided quality control solutions for textile and garment manufacturers and buyers such as textile inspections, factory audits, social compliance audits and supplier management. We support our clients in over 88 countries by verifying supplier reliability, improving factory performance, and ensuring product quality. Contact us for any questions, or to request a quote.

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