5 Steps To Improve Quality In Your Garment Manufacturing

fashion brand garment manufacturing production quality control Nov 26, 2021
5 steps to improve quality in your garment manufacturing

If you've ever tried to produce quality finished products, you've already most likely experienced quality issues. By nature, things go wrong, humans are human, so the first attempt at making garments in bulk may not be perfect. But how do you improve quality in your finished garments? These 5 steps will help you always improve and have quality products when adhered to. Read on for more! 

 

Before I share those tips, I think it's important to identify where my strategy starts. It's my opinion that great product development, produces great bulk production. Far too often I see many people rushing through the R&D, or PD of their product, at the sake of their bulk production. Then, they hand off faulty work to the factory and there is no chance for the factory to output perfection when they got dodgy work handed to them in the first place. As one of my old bosses used to say (she was the Sr. VP of Global Manufacturing, Production and Product Development at Ralph Lauren-Club Monaco), "shit in, shit out". Basically, you can't expect great work from your factory team if you didn't give them great work to begin with. Makes sense. It is from this point of view, that my steps for improving your quality begin. 

 

Proper Communication 

If your communication is off, your finished products will suffer. Fact. The thing that so many brands and designers lose sight of is that communication is happening on so many fronts. You're communicating with your pattern maker, your cutter, your factory, your fabric supplier. All of these people/teams need to be on the same page as far as what the finished product will become. They also need to work in harmony. 

I've seen so many toxic professional relationships within this network of people and that too effects the quality of the finished products. In addition to communicating effectively, you also need to communicate in a way that inspires creativity and inspires people to do their best, each and every time. So many companies have a rude way of speaking to their teams, or communicating errors, or how they go about working when up against a deadline and that lack of respect, will also effect your quality of garment. 

I'm not saying you have to be best friends with everyone, but I am saying that you do need to have a professional level of respect that will allow each person to elevate their work to a level where the work shines because of it, and then you all need to be on the same page. 

Failure to be able to do those 2 things effectively and consistently can absolutely cause issues with quality later on down the road. 

 

Proper Patterns

If patterns are the blue print for what we ultimately construct, it makes sense then that if the blueprint has errors, then so too will the finished garments. It's important to allow for the proper amount of time on your calendars for the pattern making process and any revisions that are needed. I've seen brands that approve patterns that probably needed another round of revisions to make it as perfect as possible. 

In additional to allow the amount of revisions needed on your pattern, you also have to make sure that your pattern maker is properly marking your pattern with each and every notation that it needs. These notations start to go back to communication, because it's how your seamstress and pattern maker speak. The instructions on how to construct your garment come from these markings and how your pattern maker is updating the cutter's must. Be sure to update these items on your pattern and your pattern envelope as properly as possible. 

When you get your samples back and make any adjustments, make sure too that the pattern and the cutters must is also updated. NIC TP: Include the date and the name of the person who is making the update so that there is a record and anyone can later ask a question of that person on the change if needed. 

 

Samples

Your samples and your patterns go hand in hand. When you make changes to your pattern, you should be making a new sample. If you make a change to the sample, you should make the necessary revision to the pattern. They should match. If you're making changes to the pattern that aren't reflective in your sample, you should stop and see what's going on. 

Only when both the pattern and the sample are what you want, and match each other, should you be thinking of handing off to the factory. 

Another thing I see far too often with sampling is that brands/designers will sample in fabrics that are not what their bulk will be in. HUGE miss here. If you don't sample with the correct raw goods, how do you know how your bulk will react? How do you know if this bulk fabric is the right fabric for the design? The answer is you don't and you've potentially introduced a quality issue without even knowing it. 

Ideally, your first pattern and sample can be in muslin (your proto). Once you've confirmed your pattern works and has all of the revisions you need, then your next sample should be in the same quality as bulk production. If the color is wrong, that's ok. But it should be the same fabric content/quality as your bulk production will be. 

Then you should be testing it to make sure that the quality of the garment is up to your standards. Testing happens all throughout the garment manufacturing lifecycle, not just at the end when the factory is complete. In theory, you should not be taken by surprise by quality issues because you've been testing all the while and know what shortcomings the style has. 

Working For Your Consumer

Everything we make is for the end consumer. Another common area for quality issues to pop up is brands not making product for their consumer. At no point in the process has the consumer come to mind, and the brand is surprised at the end of it all when the consumer has negative feedback. 

Keeping your consumer front of mind and thought of during the development process will allow for you to make decisions that are best for them. If you're not designing for your consumer, you're setting yourself up for some major quality issues down the road. 

 

Testing Along The Way

I mentioned this during the part about samples, but it's important enough to speak about independently. When you run into quality issues that means 1 of 2 things has happened: either, you weren't' testing along the way and discovered this issue later on because of your lack of testing, or there was an unforeseen issue at the factory level. 

For the most part, factories do what we ask them to. So while it's popular to blame the factory for problems, I've never agreed with that logic. Since we are their paying customers, it's in their best interest to make us happy and execute our production as we request. So why would they give us bad work if they could control it?

This means that we need to have some honest conversations with the quality of work we're giving our factory teams. I'm of the school of thought that while it takes a lot of time, testing along the way saves you a ton of money and time later on. 

You should be washing the sample, wearing the sample, measuring the sample against your finished specs. You should have fabric tests from the mill, you should know if this color bleeds or not when washed, if there are thread issues with your sample. You should know this and more BEFORE going into production, so that you can plan your solutions accordingly and properly prep your factory for what you've discovered in a collaborative effort to fix the quality issue so it never happens at all. 

 

What steps and stop gaps to you currently have in place to ensure proper quality in your finished garments? 

If you need help in this part of your business, message me directly so we can schedule a time to brainstorm to see if I can help you. Email me at [email protected] 

Have questions or want to learn more about Nic Hyl Fashion University? 

Click the link below to see if your questions can be answered on the site. 

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