My quality control firm mostly works on inspections of textile products in China and other Asian countries. This type of goods is very particular, and it takes a specialized inspector to do the job correctly.
Quality inspections consist mainly of three parts:
- Looking for visual defects on the products, their labeling, and their packaging
- Checking whether the client’s specs (including measurements) are respected
- Performing a range of tests in the factory
List of tests that can be done on site (in the factory):
Here are the most common tests that are applicable specifically to textile products:
- Counting the number of stitching points per inch/cm for the main stitching
- Checking the types of stitching, and the seam allowances
- Measuring the fabric weight, for the main fabric
- Comparing of colors (of fabrics, accessories, and stitching threads) with a TPX or TCX Pantone book / lab dips / fabric swatches
- Checking seam strength, by pulling in both sides with normal force
- Checking the strength of stitches for all accessories (buttons, bows…)
- Checking the dry color fastness, by rubbing a piece of white tissue / cotton fabric
- For certain accessories such as fabric flowers: checking the frayability at edges
- Doing a fitting test, to checking fitting but also to see overall outlook
- Making sure the lining is never longer than the self fabric, and is not visible during fitting tests
- Making sure the products look good and have no wrinkles when presented on a hanger
- Making sure the products are as flat as possible in cartons and the foam parts (if applicable) don’t get crushed
- Making sure there is no color shading on the same product, and no strong color shading between different products
- Taking very clear photos of the care & content label (composition, care instructions, country of origin…)
Of course this list is not exhaustive. Depending of the type of textile product and the market of the importer, many other tests can be inserted in the inspector’s checklist:
- Checking the direction of threads (the “grain line”) of the main fabric, compared with client’s sample or client’s pattern
- Measuring the stretchability of fabrics and elastics, compared with client’s sample or specs
- Counting the number of threads (i.e. the construction of the fabric)
- Doing a shrinkage test, after normal cycle washing and natural drying
- Checking color fastness to washing, by washing a sample with normal cycle together with a piece of white cotton fabric
- If there are strings that could cause strangulation: measuring the length of strings
- For some textile products such as underwear, measuring the height of the garment on the hanger (because of shelf space and outlook consistency).
And, of course, some tests are exactly the same on textile products and other consumer goods, especially concerning the labeling and the export cartons.
Is there anything that I forgot? Any suggestions?
—- Update —-
For children products, I forgot the pulling test on all accessories and snaps that are small enough to be ingested. This is the same as toys and other juvenile products and there is nothing particular to garments / textile products, but it is really important.