Lesson 1, Topic 1
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Quality control Copy

What is quality

Quality is the degree of excellence in products or services. It is important to remember that quality is relative, and what one person believes is good quality, may appear as poor quality to someone else. The aim is for the customer to be satisfied, either it is you or your end consumer. Quality is important in any aspect of your business. Customers expect value for money. It is easy to say that you will have a high-quality brand. But what does it actually mean? You need to think through and describe what quality is to you and your apparel brand. Set standards.

The quality standards of a product are often related to the price point of it. Every part of the product development should be the best possible for the cost you pay.

Even though you will set standards, quality is something that may change from time to time.  There will be new suppliers, new manufacturers, new workers etc.

Below are points to know about where things can go wrong. There is no such thing as a smooth production run. You need to know where problems could arise, to be able to prevent them.

Once a production run is finished and shipped, it’s too late to do something about it. If the retailers receive faulty goods, it could ruin your reputation and brand. That retailer might not want to do business with you in the future.

Quality control

Quality control means ensuring, at a minimum cost, that the quality requirements of a product are being achieved at every stage of manufacturing, from raw materials to boxed stock.

Determine your requirements

In the apparel industry, product quality is based on performance, reliability, durability, visual and perceived quality of the garment. In product development and during the manufacturing process, there will always be a certain portion of defective goods. It can be economical for you to allow a small percentage of defective, instead of screening the entire lot. This is referred to as the Acceptable Quality Level, or AQL.

You need to determine your quality requirements and communicate them to the manufacturer. The manufacturer will then examine them, refer to past performance, discuss with their Quality Control Department, discuss with their Production Department, and then send their feedback to you. You can then revise your quality requirements, and make a mutual agreement with the manufacturer about the AQL.

Maintaining an adequate standard of quality also costs effort.

How to control the quality

Quality control is practiced right from the initial stage of sourcing materials to the stage of the final finished garment. Quality involves fabric, accessories, construction, colorfastness, design, and the finished garment.

Typically, a number of products are picked at random and the quality requirements are checked. To control the quality a number of pre-determined parameters are checked. Below follows a range of standard parameters and defects that are examined before, during, and after the production.

No matter how many pieces you produce, 200 or 5000, you should together with the manufacturer decide how to go about quality control. Either totally by checking every single product or by spot-checking.

Use a Quality Control Specification Sheet. It should include the following:

Quality control before production – Materials

These parameters & defects are checked prior to cutting.

  • Shade Matching
  • Fabric Construction
  • GSM (grams per square metre)
  • Whales & courses if required
  • Diameter
  • Dyeing Levelness
  • Ecological parameters if required
  • Softness
  • Shrinkage
  • Matching of Rib, Collars & Cuffs
  • Fabric Holes
  • Vertical & Horizontal Stripes
  • Knitting defects such as missing loops, sinker lines, etc.
  • Bowing
  • Skewing
  • Yarn defects such as thick & thin places
  • Dirts & Stains

Quality control during production – Product making

These parameters & defects are checked during the making of the garment.

  • Verify cutting patterns
  • Cut components measurements
  • Cutting shapes
  • Fabric defects
  • Other specific parameters as required by the customers Rib, Collars & Cuffs matching
  • Stitching defects
  • Sewing threads matching
  • Dirts & Stains
  • Measurements
  • Labels
  • Trims & Accessories

Final quality control

These parameters & defects are checked during the making of the garment.

1. Packing & assortment

  • Wrong Model
  • Wrong Quantity
  • Missing labels & tags
  • Wrong Size & Colour assortment
  • Wrong Folding

2. Fabric defects

  • Wrong Shade
  • Uneven dyeing
  • Holes
  • Knitting stripes
  • Thick & Thin places
  • Dirt & Stains
  • Oil stains
  • Sinker line
  • Poor softness
  • Higher Shrinkage
  • Crease Marks

3. Workmanship defects

  • Open seam
  • Puckering
  • Needle holes & marks
  • Unbalanced sleeve edge
  • Unbalanced placket
  • Insecure shoulder stitch
  • Incorrect side shape
  • Bottom hem bowing
  • Uneven neck shape
  • Cross labels
  • Broken & Missing stitch
  • Unsecured buttons
  • Untrimmed threads & fabrics
  • Poor Ironing
  • Double stitch

4. General defects

  • Shade variation within the garment parts
  • Shade variation between the garments
  • Defective printing
  • Defective embroidery
  • Defective buttons

5. Measurement deviations

  • Garment length
  • Body width
  • Shoulder length
  • Arm hole
  • Arm Opening
  • Sleeve length
  • Placket length
  • Placket width
  • Neck width
  • Neck opening
  • Hemming width
  • Rib or Collar width

6. Sustainable parameters

On top of the parameters above, these can be relevant to you if you have a sustainable approach.

  • pH range
  • Formaldehyde levels
  • Extractable heavy metals
  • Chlorinated phenols ( PCP, TeCP)
  • Forbidden Amines of MAK III A1& A2 categories
  • Pesticides
  • Chlorinated Organic carriers
  • Biocide finishes
  • Flame retardant finishes
  • Colorfastness to Water
  • Colorfastness to acid & alkali perspiration
  • Colorfastness to wet & dry rubbing
  • Colorfastness to saliva
  • Emission of volatile chemicals
  • Other specific parameters as required by the customers

It is your responsibility to check the manufacturer’s work, while the goods are still in the factory, and specifically before the entire bulk production is made. It’s ideal to be present in the factory before they start sewing the full production run to make sure everything is as intended and if there are any problems they can be corrected at once. Include your quality requirements in your terms of agreement.

The above is only applicable to products but you should have quality standards for all aspect of your business.  E.g. customer service, shipping, returns etc.