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A Complete Custom Clothing Manufacturing Guide

Wether you are a fashion industry veteran or an aspiring designer with ideas on paper, the clothing manufacturing process can be overwhelming. To help you understand how your garment moves from the designing stage to production, we have prepared a Complete Custom Clothing Manufacturing Guide!

CFB - Clothing Manufacturing Guide

CFB – Clothing Manufacturing Guide

What is clothing manufacturing ?

Clothing Manufacturing  includes numerous operations necessary to make a garment. It includes processes like cutting, sewing and finishing. The whole manufacturing process breaks down into a number of sub-operations needed for constructing a particular garment. Some of these operations vary depending on the type of equipment available, work methods used and workers’ skills. 

 

How clothing manufacturing business works?

Clothing manufacturing is a complex process that includes multiple steps. We defined the five most important stages:  

Clothing manufacturing consists on the following steps:

 

CFB - Clothing Manufacturing step-by-step

CFB – Clothing Manufacturing step-by-step

  1. Pre-production. Including materials sourcing, pattern making, and sampling.
  2. Production planning. The planning team foresees the production and makes sure all activities are completed on time.
  3. Cutting process. Using the guidelines provided by the designer, the factory cuts the fabric for sewing. Modern garment manufacturers use laser-cutting technology to prevent wastage.
  4. Manufacturing and quality control. Once the production is complete the factory will perform quality the quality check. The customer has a right to return items if they don’t meet the expected standards and quality.
  5. Delivery. After the garments pass the quality control, the rest of the production order will be delivered to the customer.

 

Pre-production planning in clothing manufacturing

The pre-production planning is done prior to the bulk garment production. That includes samples development and approvals, sourcing and testing raw materials, garment costing, pattern making, and production planning. Efficient production can’t be reached without the pre-production planning. 

Design 

Fashion designers attempt to design clothes that are functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. They consider who is likely to wear a garment and the situations in which it will be worn. Garment design is a blending off all the design elements including color, texture, space, lines, pattern, silhouette, shape, proportion, balance, emphasis or focal point, rhythm and harmony. Each of these contributes towards the visual perception of the garment:

Sketches 

The first step in fashion figure drawing is to create a fashion croquis. A croquis is a quick sketch outlining the proportion of the fashion figure. A  croquis is almost like a paper doll – it is template and can be placed under a piece of paper for drawing garments. 

Tech-packs 

Tech-pack, also known as a specification sheet, is a set of documents created by designers to explain their design to a manufacturer so that they can turn this information into a finished garment. It serves as a blueprint of a final garment that includes information like detailed flat sketches of the design, materials to used like trims and labels, measurements specs, size-gradings, colourways, etc. Essentially, it is a tool used by designers and manufacturers to communicate. The quality of a finished product completely depends on the quality of this communication.  

CFB - Size Chart Tech-pack

CFB – Size Chart Tech-pack

CAD files 

Computer-Aided Design (CAD) is the use of computer technology for the process of design development/collection development. CAD reduces the requirement of manual sketching which is very crucial for fashion sketches, flat drawing, pattern making development, manual maker planning and many other fashion designing related aspects. Computer-aided design helps cut down the time factor and helps to reduce the possibility of error to the bare minimum for aspirinf fashion designers. 

How designers and clothing manufacturers collaborate on clothing lines?

Collaboration between designers and manufacturers is the foundation of the apparel business. The first time you communicate with each other you need to have clear expectations of what result you want and how each side will operate together.

The process of collaboration between designer and fashion manufacturer can be broken down into three stages:

  • Product development. At this stage, the designer creates a business plan, visualizes an idea, and develops a Tech Pack.
  • Pre-production. This stage includes finding a manufacturer to work with, making a production agreement, and creating a sample.
  • Manufacturing. Managing the production process includes precise planning of the on-time shipments, effective use of labor, and overseeing the needed supplies and equipment for each order.

 

Sourcing 

Once the designs are ready, the next step is to identify reliable suppliers that can cater to requirements. One may choose to work with a single end-to-end manufacturer or source materials individually from different suppliers. 

Fabrics 

First, the right fabric suppliers are identified. The following fabrics are commonly offered in different structures, compositions and weights:

  • Cotton: cotton voile, cotton cambric, cotton poplin, cotton twill, cotton satin, cotton crepe, cotton double cloth, cotton canvas, cotton dobby, cotton denim, cotton lycra denim, cotton silk, cotton viscose
  • Viscose: viscose crepe, viscose dobby, viscose crepe dobby, viscose satin, viscose georgette
  • Modal: modal twill, modal satin, modal dobby, modal crepe, modal crepe dobby
  • Hemp
  • Linen
  • Handspun, handwoven
  • Tencel twill, tencel denim
  • Baby cord, corduroy
  • Silk, and more. 

Dyeing 

A dyeing process is an interaction between a dye and a fibre, as well as the movement of dye into the internal part of the fibre. Generally, a dyeing process involves absorption (transfer of dyes from the aqueous solution onto the fibre surface) and diffusion (dyes diffused into the fibers). 

CFB - Dyeing Colors

CFB – Dyeing Colors

In addition to direct absorption, dyeing may also involve the precipitation of dyes inside the fibre (vat dyes). In order to achieve the required dyeing or printing quality, all factors that may influence the dyeing or printing process must be precisely controlled. As a policy, our company promotes azo-free and vegetable dyes as they are natural and  eco-friendly. 

 

Trims 

Material components that are added to the garment, other than the fabric are called fabric trims or garment accessories. These may include threads, buttons, lining, beads, zippers, motifs, patches etc. They add a style quotient to the overall look of the wearer. 

Labels 

Labels on your garment may be of the following types:

  • Brand or main label: Main labels indicate a brand name or brand logo of the company. A brand label is associated with the product quality, durability and feel-good factor.
  • Size label: A size label defines a specific set of measurements of the human body. Sizes labels may be printed as a letter to denote a specific size.
  • Care label: This label includes wash care and ironing instructions. The purpose of care labels is to inform what to do during washing, drying and ironing to maintain colour, protect printed designs, avoid after wash shrinkage and colour bleeding issues.
  • Flag label: A small label attached at the outside side seam. Flag labels are normally made of brand logos and are primarily used as design features.

Sampling 

Samples are provided at different stages of the production development process. 

Proto-sample

A proto-samble is made to check the design and style of the garment. As this is the first sample, the actual fabric and trims are usually not available. Hence substitute fabrics and trims are used. 

Fit Sample

The main purpose of the fit sample is to check the fit and construction of the garment. The fit sample is made with actual measurements based on the original product and specification sheets given by the buyer. 

Pre-production/ Gold seal sample 

This is the final sample after approval of which the production activity begins. The original fabric along with all original trims and embroidery or print (if any) will be used in the sample. The factory will start bulk production only after the PP sample is approved. 

Shipment sample

Some garments are picked form the final shipment lot and are sent to the buyer as the shipment sample. The purpose of sending shipment samples is to assure buyers that quality is maintained throughout the end of production. 

 

Manufacturing and quality control

Once the design is approved and the tech pack is complete, the brand is ready to start the production order. At this stage, designers have to make decisions about quantities, size, and color breakdowns. This is in addition to getting a quote and estimated shipping date for their order.

Fabric inspection 

Before starting production the fabric needs to be checked thoroughly for any flaws, weaves or dye defects, color fastness, shrinkage, lot variation and appropriate corrective measures need to be taken before cutting the fabric. 

Spreading, Form Layout and Cutting 

After checking, the fabric is transferred to the spreading and cutting area of the garment manufacturing facility. The fabric is laid out on tables either manually or using a computer-controlled system in preparation for the cutting process. The fabric is spread to: 

  • allow operators to identify fabric defects;
  • control the tension and slack of the fabric during cutting; and
  • ensure each ply is accurately aligned on top of the others.

The number of plies in each spread is dependent on the fabric type, spreading method, cutting equipment, and size of the garment order. Next, garment forms – or patterns – are laid out on top of the spread, either manually or programmed into an automated cutting system. Lastly, the fabric is cut to the shape of the garment forms using either manually operated cutting equipment or a computerized cutting system. 

Embroidery, Screen printing, and Embellishments

Embroidery, screen printing and embellishments are processes that occur only if directly specified by the customer, therefore, these processes are commonly subcontracted to off-site facilities. 

Embroidery is performed using automated equipment, often with many machines concurrently embroidering the same patterns on multiple garments. Each production line may include between 10 and 20 embroidery stations. Customers may request embroidery to put logos or other embellishments on garments.

CFB - Printing House

CFB – Printing House 

Screen printing is the process of applying paint-based graphics to fabric using presses and textile dryers. Specially, screen printing involves sweeping a rubber blade across a porous screen, transferring ink through a stencil and onto the fabric. The screen-printed pieces of fabric are then dried to set the ink. This process may have varying levels of automation or may largely be completed at manually operated stations. Like embroidery, screen printing is wholly determined by the customer and may be requested to put logos or other graphics on garment or to print brand and size information in place of affixing tags. 

Sewing

Stitching or sewing is done after the cut pieces are bundled according to size, color, and quantities determined by the sewing room. Garments are sew in an assembly line, with the garment becoming complete as it progresses down the sewing line. Sewing machine operators receive a bundle of cut fabric and repeatedly sew the same portion of the garment, passing that completed portion to the next operator. For example, the first operator may sew the collar to the body of the garment and the next operator may sew a sleeve to the body. 

Quality assurance is performed at the end of the sewing line to ensure that the garment has been properly assemble and that no manufacturing defects exist. 

When needed, the garment will be reworked or mended at designated sewing stations. This labour-intensive process progressively transforms pieces of fabric into designer garments. 

  • The central process in the manufacture of clothing is the joining together of components.
  • Stitching is done as per the specification is given by the buyer.
  • High power single needle or computerized sewing machines are used to complete the sewing operation. Fusing machines for fusing collar components, button, and buttonhole, sewing machines for sewing button and buttonholes are specifically employed.

 Testing 

Third-party inspection has become a key part of many garments importers’ supply chains. With an inspection team on the ground, you can see exactly how your products look without needing to personally visit the factory to check. Let’s look at the seven steps to garment inspection you should always ensure your QC staff follow. 

Measuring garment dimensions

The most important function of any piece of clothing is that fits the end consumer as intended. Every garment importer can attest that consumers will often return a garment if it doesn’t fit as expected. Ill-fitting garments don’t just create entra costs for you in the form of unsellable products. They can also create long-term problems as once-loyal consumers disavow your brand and turn to a competitor with better quality control. 

Checking function of closures, buttons and other accessories

Most garments aren’t simply a few pieces of fabric stitched together. Rather, they also include functional and stylistic accessories like buttons, snaps, zippers, ribbons and elastic bands. A broken closure on a garment usually renders the clothing item unwearable and, therefore, unsellable. Most consumers find poor quality closures to be a nuisance and frustrating to repair. Poor quality or attachment of these accessories can lead to negative customer reviews and can even cause bodily harm to consumers. Garments inspection should include on-site function checks of closures to test the durability and ensure they’re securely attached to the garment. 

Common tests include: 

  • Pull test: Pull at the accessory with a pull gauge for 10 seconds to confirm it stays securely attached to the garment.
  • Fatigue test: Use the accessory as intended for 50 cycles (e.g. button and unbutton 50 times) in quick succession and confirm it’s still functional and the garment is undamaged after testing.
  • Stretch test: Stretch elastic bands and straps for proper elasticity and check for any breakage in elastic fibres or stitching.

Quality Control generally conduct pull tests and fatigue tests on two pieces of each style of garment. It’s normally unnecessary to carry out these tests on every piece in the sample during inspection because the processes used in attaching accessories to garments tend to be consistent throughout a shipment. But the quality of elastic materials used in the production of some garment s can vary between pieces. So inspectors usually perform a stretch test on the full sample size when relevant. 

Testing fabric for conformance to quality standards

For some product, such as promotional goods, the quality of input materials might. To drastically impact salability. But fabric quality is a major determinant of the quality and salability of the finished product when manufacturing garments. Product testing of your garments, both on-site and in a qualified laboratory, provides assurance that your product meets your quality standards. 

Fabric GSM check 

Grams per square meter (GSM) is a measurement of fabric density applied to garments and raw textiles. Almost anyone can perform a GSM check with little training and equipment needed. 

During inspection, QC staff use a GSM cutter to cut a circular piece of fabric from a sample and then weigh it using an electric balance. They then compare the measured GSM to the costumer’s specifications.

CFB - Fabric GSM Test

CFB – Fabric GSM Test

Garments typically have a somewhat low GSM if they are intended to be light and comfortable for the wearer. Other times, the GSM found during testing can be significantly lower than agreed upon. And this would be a “red flag” showing that your supplier might have used a lower quality fabric than you specified. The consequence to consumers could be that the garment doesn’t stand up to regular wearing and washing.  

Stitches per inch (SPI) check

A check for stitches per ink (SPI) involves the Quality Control inspector simply counting the number of stitches in one inch of a selected area of the garment. An SPI check is easy to conduct, as it only requires a tape measure and adequate lighting. Checking SPI on two pieces of each style in a shipment is normally adequate. 

While an SPI check is relatively nontechnical and easy to perform, that doesn’t make it any less important than other testing. Stitch density is an important determinant of a garment’s quality and durability. Garments with a higher SPI are less likely to fall apart with regular use and tend to last longer than those with lower SPI. 

Material Composition Check 

Some obvious differences in fabric composition can be detected by hand feeling alone during a garment inspection. But most garment importers require material composition testing but a qualified lab that’s outfitted with proper equipment and controls. 

Material composition should reflect the breakdown of fibre types listed on the product label. Fabric composition that doesn’t match what’s printed on the labelling can cause financial and legal trouble that can irreversibly damage your brand. 

Report on quality defects and severity

Visual inspection for quality defects is a critical step to any professional quality control inspection for garments. Like those found in other types of products, different quality defects found in garments often differ in severity. Some defects may be easily overlooked by customers, while others are likely to result in product returns. Some common defects garment importers might face include:

  • An untrimmed thread 
  • Shading variance between different pieces of the same style or different parts of the same piece. 
  • A loose needle left in the garment.

 

Packaging 

Packaging can be described as a coordinated system of preparing goods for transport, warehousing, logistic and sale. After final inspection and garments folding, the garments are poly-packed dozen-wise, color wise, size ratio wise, bundle and packed in the carton. Cartons are then marked with important information which can be seen from outside the carton. 

If you are building a sustainable business, it is advisable to get in touch with packaging suppliers that offer natural and biodegradable alternatives to traditional polyethylene packets. 

CFB - Packaging

CFB – Packaging

Apparel packaging sequence

  • After folding, garments are packed in polyethylene packets. 
  • During packing, the position of the sticker and other labels should be confirmed.
  • After polyethylene packing, garments are kept in the sorting rack according to size and color.
  • Then garments are placed in an inner box from the sorting rack according to size and color. 
  • Packing in an inner box according to the work order is called “assortment”.
  • The packaging that is done by the fixed number of inner boxes in the carton is called cartooning. 
  • Thereafter the cartons are sealed.
  • Cartons bear some information on them eg- carton box number, carton box size, shipping mark, destination etc. 

Verifying proper packaging and labelling

Verifying proper packaging and labelling of garments is an essential part of most final inspections. Proper packaging ensures your garments arrive at their final destination in the same condition they left your supplier’s  facility. Some buyers might have specific packaging instructions and its the duty of the Quality Control team to ensure those are adhered to. Aside from inspecting packaging, your Quality Control team should also check the labelling of garments to ensure compliance with legal requirements. 

 

 Delivery

Delivery of goods can be arranged in the following manners:

FOB 

Free on board (FOB) is the most commonly used shipping agreement in garment exports. As the name indicates, the seller holds the responsibility of goods until it is loaded onboard the ship/aircraft nominated by the buyer. Responsibility shifts to the buyer once the cargo is on board the ship/aircraft. 

CIF 

Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) is a shipping agreement under which the seller is responsible for the cost of the goods in transit, providing insurance with the buyer’s name as the beneficiary. Risk passes to the buyer as soon as the cargo is on board the ship/aircraft. 

The biggest difference between FOB (Free on Board) and CIF (Cost, Insurance, and Freight) agreements is the point at which responsibility and liability of goods transfer from seller to buyer.

Each agreement has particular advantages and drawbacks for both parties. With FOB shipment, responsibility and liability transfer from the seller to buyer when the shipment reaches the port or other facility designated as the point of origin. With CIF agreement, the seller pays costs and assumes liability until the goods reach the port of destination chosen by the buyer. CIF is considered a more expensive option when buying goods. Very often sellers prefer FOB and buyers prefer CIF.

 

Final Verdict

If you care about the environment, you should make your clothing brand your image.
The public is increasingly concerned with the environment, because the environment damage is no longer the future, it is now!

CFB believes in striving hard for making a change in this society. Our input revolves around the ultimate effort to have a fruitful output for the environment.

Our globally recognized quality has been winning hearts for the last three decades. We are looking forward to expanding our eco-friendly business sector and reducing the carbon footprints in many more coming decades.

 

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