25 steps of garment manufacturing process
This article will show you how the garments are made and its processes from fabric to the finished product. Remember, there are different ways of making garments. The most conventional process of making the readymade garments in mass production is explained here.
Garment production consists of multiple steps. Leading fast-fashion brands have the resources to produce hundreds and thousands of items of clothing within a few weeks once designs have been approved. For smaller brands, producing garments takes a little bit longer.
Whether you are a clothing manufacturer who is just getting started or a brand who is looking for a production help our simple guide will help you determine the right strategy for a successful start.
This garment manufacturing process also included the garment designing and costing steps before start clothing production.
Design the garment sketch, print artworks, accessories artworks, tech pack etc. If you already have your own tech packs and original garment samples just want to find a factory do custom clothing manufacture for your orders, please jump to next steps the garment bulk production.
Once you have your inspiration garments, if they are not too expensive, I would recommend buying some similar design of them. It will make the rest of this design process a lot easier. If they are too expensive for your budget. Try to find something similar but cheaper you can use instead off of Amazon, eBay, postmark, the Real, or another second hand used clothing website. Once you have these samples in hand, that will help you for your own garment designs.
I would recommend hiring a graphic artist to help draw out the ideas and Franken garments you are creating in your head. Apparel-CN has the design support team can provide help also.
This steps main help you work out the main design sketch of the clothing you want to manufacture for your brand.
Clothing print pattern and color design
You have to plan the prints and color design. Is your line going to be all about sold colors, or are you going to use different prints? Will you mix and match and do a little of both?
One of the best and cheapest ways to predict color and print trends is to just google it. Tons of websites give recaps of fashion shows and predictions for the upcoming season’s trends.
The colors and prints for different fabric quality with different minimum order quantity, if your order quantity is not big it’s better not design too many solid colors and print patterns.
Garment tech pack making
What is a garment tech pack? A tech pack is also known as a specification sheet. It contains all the components and instructions required for a manufacturer to turn your design into a finished product. Tech packs contain detailed information about your garment design like the size measurements, care label instructions, art-work placement, fabric specifications, packing instructions etc. That includes materials, gradings, seams, colorways, measurements, trim, labels etc. Factories use your tech pack to quote price and make samples. I like to think of a tech pack as a contract between fashion designer and garment manufacturer.
Preliminary garment costing
Once you have your designs and tech pack ready, send to your clothing manufacturers. Based on all of this info, your supplier should be able to give you a preliminary costing. This is an estimate of about, how much your production will cost. But, once a sample is done, only then will they be able to give you a final costing. Generally, the difference between the tech pack costing and costing after a proto sample is complete is about 10%.
If your costing is coming out too high from the tech pack, be honest with your supplier and ask them to help you cut costs. Sometimes the initial costing comes out too high so we work together to redesign the garment into the price as expected.
Sourcing materials for your clothing manufacturing
The fabrics and trims for your clothing determine how the garment will look and feel. These elements will make up the final product and give your garments a unique touch.
Selecting fabric to suit your brand’s vision
Whether you are just starting out or are an established business, the fabric you choose should match the type of brand you want to be for customers. The example below highlights a set of sectors and the types of materials used to complement the brand image.
- Luxury fashion – Leather, cashmere, silk, organic cotton
- Affordable fashion – Cotton, polyester, nylon
- Sports clothing – Technical fabrics such as polypropylene and lycra
- Sustainable fashion – Bamboo, linen, jute, hemp
Alongside the hundreds of fabrics choices available, there are several trims to think about. Below are some examples of common embellishments for garments:
When you have established these details, fabrics and trims will need to be included in your tech pack. Giving your clothing manufacturer as much detail as possible will reduce miscommunication or errors when producing the garments.
Apparelcn is a leading apparel manufacturer, can provide you one stop service for clothing manufacturing. Comtact for apparel manufacturing service! +
Next, you are going to need a pattern that will be used to cut the fabric. Most factories today offer their own pattern making. But some brands like to work with a more local sample maker that can make patterns and samples near to where they live.
Working with someone local can be helpful if you want to make a lot of changes, or if you are working off sketches and do not have a bought sample to base your design off of. Because I have this bought vintage sample as my base with alterations being made, I feel comfortable having my factory do the pattern development.
Development garment sampling
Ok, it’s time to sample. There are actually 5 main steps in the sampling process.
They are –
- lab dips + strike-offs
- fit sample
- final costing
- Lab Dips + Strike-Offs
Lab dips often abbreviated l/d are little fabric swatches of solid dyed colors. They are used to determine if a color matches to the standard that you picked. Generally, brands will pick a Pantone color, and the factory will match to that.
Strike offs, abbreviated s/o, are small fabric cuttings of printed fabrics. The purpose of a strike-off is to check that the print is the right size, on register, not blurry, the correct colors, etc.
Lab dips and strike offs are used to approve the colors and prints before sample fabric is made. Always make sure to get a swatch, and approve it. This becomes your standard that the factory will match to. If you don’t like the way your color or print looks, this is your moment to speak up. It is unprofessional to approve a lab dip or strike off and then tell a factory you want to change it further down the design process.
Make sure not to lose your approved swatches. They will become your gold standard that everything must match back to.
If you try to make changes after an approval, some factories will say no, or sometimes even drop you as a client. So make sure you like it before proceeding to the next steps!
Clothing fit Sample making
A fit sample is a sample made in an available similar fabric to yours. It is an opportunity to check the pattern, and how a garment is going to ultimately look and fit.
With a fit sample, there should always be a fitting session. Put the complete garment on someone and make sure everything looks good. Make sure all the measurements and how the garment fits are perfect. This is your chance to see how all of the changes you made to your original sample look IRL (in real life).
You can even take the sample and throw it on a fit model, to see how it looks on a person. And if that changes you made affected the overall fit.
And, when I say fit model, you don’t have to go out and hire someone. You can be your own fit model, or use one of your friends.
Save that moolah.
Just like the lab dips and strike offs, this is your opportunity to speak up if something is wrong. Once you approve a fit sample, that is that. Again it is unprofessional to make changes after the approval.
Hold on to this sample, it will become your standard for measuring all other samples in your garment manufacturing process.
Apparel proto samples
This is an important step during the whole clothing manufacturing process. A proto sample is also known as a production-quality sample. It is a sample that is made with your fabric, printed or dyed with your approved print or colors, and made using your approved fit sample. In theory, it is exactly what your production will look like.
You can use this sample to take photos to make your line sheets and looks books or to put on your e-comm website. And also, to show to buyers at meetings or in trade shows.
But, don’t give this sample away! You will need it to make sure it matches back to your production samples and production run. More on that later.
SMS- Sales Man Samples
These samples you can give away. An SMS is a Sales Man Sample. Sometimes brands have more than one showroom or more than one sales team. Some brands need anywhere from 10-20 sets of SMS samples. This way, every sales team has them to show to potential customers.
If you do not have a sales team there is no reason to make SMS. You can use your 1 set of proto samples for everything.
Once your proto sample is ready your garment manufacturers can give you a final costing. Again, remember the final costing should be within about 10% of your pre-sample costing. Some simple styles you may no need do finial costing, because there is no big changes during the above process, but for some complicated garment styles, there are many changes during the above pre-production garment manufacturing process, you have to rework the final cost with the garment factory.
Bulk production of garment manufacturing process
The bulk production is the main process of the apparel manufacturing, that including the receiving fabric, fabric relaxing, Spreading, Form Layout, and Cutting, Laying, Marking, Cutting bulk garment fabrics, Embroidery and Screen Printing and heat transfer etc. Sewing, Inline garment production checking, Spot Cleaning and Laundry, Fusing and Pressing etc.
Garment factories receive fabric from overseas textile manufacturers in large bolts with cardboard or plastic center tubes or in piles or bags. The fabric typically arrives in steel commercial shipping containers and is unloaded with a forklift. Garment factories often have a warehouse or dedicated area to store fabric between arrival and manufacturing.
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“Relaxing” refers to the process that allows the material to relax and contract prior to being manufactured. This step is necessary because the material is continually under tension throughout the various stages of the textile manufacturing process, including weaving, dyeing, and other finishing processes. The relaxing process allows fabrics to shrink so that further shrinkage during customer use is minimized.
Garment manufacturers perform the relaxing process either manually or mechanically. Manual fabric relaxing typically entails loading the bolt of fabric on a spinner and manually feeding the material through a piece of equipment that relieves tension in the fabric as it is pulled through. Mechanical fabric relaxing performs this same process in an automated manner.
Many garment manufacturers will also integrate quality assurance into this process to ensure that the quality of the fabric meets customer standards. This step is performed by manually spot-checking each bolt of fabric using a backlit surface to identify manufacturing defects such as colour inconsistency or flaws in the material. Fabrics that fail to meet customer standards are returned to the textile manufacturer.
Spreading, Form Layout, and Cutting
After the fabric has been relaxed, it is transferred to the spreading and cutting area of the garment manufacturing facility. The fabric is first to cut into uniform plies and then spread 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.
Laying of paper pattern helps one to plan the placement of the pattern pieces in a tentative manner.
- Lay large pieces first and then fit in the smaller ones
- It is very economical in laying the pattern and cutting. Even a small amount of material saved in a single layer will help to bring about a large saving of money as hundred’s of layers of fabric will be laid and cut simultaneously.
- When laying, the length of the garment should be parallel to the selvedge of the material. Be sure the pattern is placed in the correct grain. Fabrics drape and fall better on the lengthwise grain and also last longer.
- Parts that have to be placed on the fold should be exactly on the edge of the fold.
- All laying should be done on the wrong side of the material.
When laying the paper pattern, consider the design of the fabric. Care should be taken to see that the design runs in the same direction throughout the garment. All checks and strips should match the seams both lengthwise and across.
This can be a manual or a computerized technique
- The marker planner uses full-size patterns and arranges them in an economical manner on marker paper.
- This is a specially printed paper having symbols on it which enable the marker planner to visually control the positioning of components according to specified grain lines.
- Markers produced on paper are fixed to fabric with pins, staples or on an adhesive paper which is heat sealed to the top layer of the fabric.
- Marker planning provides details of the spreads. In the cutting room, the fabric is laid manually or a spreading machine is used to arrange fabric inlays 100 (layers) and markers for the production, any in orders planned. Here planning is done also for fusible, linings, trims, pocketing etc.
- The supervisors of marker planner plan and allocates the cut orders to various operations to be carried out in the cutting room.
Cutting bulk garment fabrics
This is the major operation of the cutting room when they spread and cut into garments. Of all the operations in the cutting room, this is the most decisive, because once the fabric has been cut, very little can be done to rectify serious defects.
- A first planning consideration is whether the totals arrived at in the cutting room are the same as those required to maintain full production in the sewing room and subsequently the planned delivery schedule. Any cloth problems created in the cutting room can affect the output in the sewing room. Assuming all components of fabric, design, and trims are acceptable and correctly planned and cut, the next stage is to extend the cutting room programme to the sewing room.
- All cutting operations are carried out by straight knife cutting machines.
Embroidery and Screen Printing and heat transfer etc.
Embroidery and screen printing are two 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 pattern 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.
Screen printing is the process of applying paint-based graphics to fabric using presses and textile dryers. Specifically, 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 garments or to print brand and size information in place of affixing tags.
Stitching or sewing is done after the cut pieces are bundled according to size, colour and quantities determined by the sewing room.
Garments are sewn 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 assembled and that no manufacturing defects exist. When needed, the garment will be reworked or mended at designated sewing stations. This labor-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.
Inline garment production checking
It is realistic to assume that however well checking or quality control procedures operate within a factory there will always be a certain percentage of garments rejected for some reason or other. The best way to carry out quality checks is by
- Establishing a standard as a criterion for measuring quality achievement.
- Production results can be measured and compared to the planned quality standard.
- Corrective measures to be carried out if there are any deviations in the plans.
Ideally, any system should detect possible deviations before they occur through forecasting. Work produced with minus defects will produce quality products, enhance economy and productivity.
Spot Cleaning and Laundry
In addition to identifying manufacturing defects, employees tasked with performing quality assurance are also looking for cosmetic flaws, stains, or other spots on the garment that may have occurred during the cutting and sewing processes. Spots are often marked with a sticker and taken to a spot-cleaning area where the garment is cleaned using steam, hot water, or chemical stain removers.
Some customers request that a garment be fully laundered after it is sewn and assembled; therefore, garment factories often have on-site laundry or have subcontract agreements with off-site laundry operations. Commercial laundry facilities are equipped with at least three types of machines: washers, spinners, and dryers. Some facilities also have the capability to perform special treatments, such as stone- or acid-washing.
Laundering is done by highly sophisticated washing machines if any articles are soiled during the manufacturing process. However, this step is required only if the garments are soiled.
Fusing and Pressing
Fusing and pressing are two processes which have the greatest influence on the finished look of a garment. Fusing creates the foundation and pressing put the final seal of quality on the garment.
After a garment is fully sewn and assembled, it is transferred to the ironing section of the facility for final pressing. Each ironing station consists of an iron and an ironing platform. The irons are similar looking to residential models but have steam supplied by an on-site boiler. Workers control the steam with foot pedals and the steam is delivered via overhead hoses directly to the iron. In most facilities, the ironing platforms are equipped with a ventilation system that draws steam through the ironing table and exhausts it outside the factory.
The basic components of pressing are:
- Steam and heat are necessary to relax the fabric and make it pliable enough to be moulded by manipulation.
- Pressure: when the cloth has been relaxed by steam, the pressure is applied which sets the fibres into their new positions.
- Drying: After the application of steam and pressure, the component or garment must be dried and cooled so that cloth can revert to its normal condition. This is done by a vacuum action which removes surplus water from the fabric and at the same time cools it. For some pressure operations hot air or infrared heating is used instead of vacuum for drying;
Machinery used for pressing and finishing are
- Hand irons with a vacuum press table
- Scissor’s press
- Carousel machines
- Steam dolly
Last steps of apparel manufacturing process
The last steps of apparel manufacturing process mainly for garment bulk production packing, garment final inspection and international clothing buyers’ goods global shipping etc.
Bulk clothing production order packing
Folding: The finished garments are then folded in a specific dimension. Folding can be done by using a template too. The price tags, hang hags and any other kind of tags are attached to garment after folding. The garment folding types varied depending on the article and buyers requirement. Sometimes the whole garment is packed in a hanger without folding.
Packing: The folded garment is packed into a poly bag to keep it fresh till it reached to the retail showroom. Different types of packing accessories are used to keep the garment in a desired shape. Some products are packed into paperboard cartons directly without packing it into a poly bag.
Carton packing: For the transport of the finished garment are packed into bigger cartons.
Internal Audit: The packed garments are then inspected for quality assurance of the outgoing finished products. This process is followed for internal quality audit and to ensure that no defective garments are packed into the cartons.
There are so many ways to pack garments. And, there are so many regulations on the type of boxes, to the types of hangers, to how many pieces can be in a box depending on who the final recipient of the box is. Once everything is approved your bulk order is packed. This is the final step in garment manufacturing, workers fold, tag, size, and package garments based on customers’ requirements. All garments are packed in protective plastic bags, then placed in cardboard boxes to be ready to ship to customers’ warehouse.
I was just talking to someone who received a chargeback from a retailer because they used the wrong color tape for the season on their boxes, caused confusion in the warehouse, slowed down the workers, and ultimately because time is money had to pay penalty fees for not complying to the warehouse regulations.
Be extra careful in your contracts about how things are packed.
Final clothig inspection
What is Garment Inspection? Garment’s inspection is an important term in the readymade garments sector. Quality inspector is the main in apparel inspection, who certifies the garments export order, whether it is perfect for shipping or not. The quality inspector has to ensure perfect quality according to the buyer’s instruction in various stages of garments inspection, which have been discussed in this article.
A quality inspector should check different issues according to the buyer’s instruction in the finishing stage of garments. Those are-
- Poor Ironing,
- Dirt’s& Stains,
- Back Board,
- Collar Stay,
- Neck Board,
- Size strip,
- Pocket flasher,
- Price ticket,
- Tissue paper.
A quality inspector should confirm various matters according to the buyer’s instruction in the final inspection stage of garments. Those are-
- Shade variation from one part to another part of garments,
- Garments measurement with the allowance from buyers provided measurement chart,
- Collar and sleeves balanced,
- Pockets correct,
- Absence of fabric faults and stains,
- Appearance correct,
- Patterns matching,
- Absence of miss stitching,
- Seams finished correctly,
- Accessories correctly applied and working,
- Correct labeling.
Global shipping & logistics
After your production leaves the factory, there is still work to be done. You need to make sure your garments get to where they are supposed to go. Part of that job is clearing and paying customs, then from customs making it to the warehouse, your house, store, wherever they are going.
There is a ton of legal things to consider when shipping like who is liable and responsible for the goods. What happens if the plane your garments are on crashes? Do you pay? The factory? The store you are selling them to? All of this should be pre-negotiated.