- Materials & Industrial Technology
The Step-by-step Process of Garment Manufacturing
Garment Manufacturing Books
Garment manufacturers are primarily engaged in the design, cutting and sewing of garments from fabric. Some manufacturers are contractors or subcontractors, which generally manufacture apparel from materials owned by other firms. Larger manufacturers often contract production to many such contractors or subcontractors in the U.S. and abroad. Some manufacturers are vertically integrated, producing the textiles from which they make garments, or even operating retail outlets too.
History of Garment Industry
First sewing machine was invented in the Victorian era, after the development of machine elite class use to have a seamstress who stitched the clothes for them on sewing machine. Before sewing machines everything was done by hand. The seamstresses went to the home of the woman who wanted to stitch the clothes. As industrial revolution started in the 19th century, garment industry too began to evolve but it was in its infancy and had no developed system for garment manufacturing. Seamstresses observed that they can develop standard patterns which can fit more than one woman. They developed a mathematical sizing system to accommodate most women with very few patterns. As businessmen, interested in lowering costs, they continued developing these patterns to become paper “information systems” engineered to control quantities of exact reproductions in cutting and stitching clothing in mass production systems.
The apparel industry grew from these tailors/businessmen, as they built manufacturing factories for production, which pattern engineering accommodated. Pattern engineering grew a great industry in the early and mid-20th century. Pattern making was first taught to “apprentices” who were called “designers”. Creative designers of styles didn’t exist in the early 20th century. Paris was center of the developments in style and creation in garments at that time and many other countries copied from there. Later designers created booklets for teaching the pattern making systems mathematically – that came to be called “pattern drafting”. One dis-advantage of mass production was that designers put little effort in bringing new designs and patterns but they either copied or else made very little changes. Even today the readymade garment industry does not bring too many new ideas in the products rather it is creating mass garments to reduce cost. Garment industry has developed many new and time saving techniques, processes and machinery for the effective production today. The most important is the CAD/CAM which enables the designer, pattern maker, marker and grader to do their jobs precisely and effectively.
Step-by-step of Garment Construction
. Organizational Areas in Garment Manufacturing
On industrial basis there are certain areas or sequence through which garments are manufactured.
· Design / Sketch:
In the garment manufacturing the first step is designing the sketch for the dresses that have to be prepared. For this purpose the designer first draw several rough sketches in the sketch book. The designer does not go for details at this moment but he rather let his creativity flow on the paper and he draws many sketches. Later these sketches are analyzed by a panel of designers. They finally select few out of them. These few sketches are rendered in detail separately or in the form of a single collection. The designer also draws working drawings along with the sketch. Working drawings are flat drawing of the sketch and it help pattern maker in understanding the patterns involved in the construction.
· Pattern Design:
The pattern maker now develop first pattern for the designsin any one standard size. This is made by pattern drafting method and the purpose of making this pattern is to create the sample garment for test fit.
· Sample Making:
The first patterns are sent to the sewing unit for assembling them into garment. This is usually stitched on calico or muslin which is an inferior quality of fabric and it reduces cost. This sample is constructed to analyze the pattern fit and design too. After the sample garment is stitched it is reviewed by a panel of designers, pattern makers and sewing specialists. If any changes have to be made they are made at this time.
The pattern design is now taken for creating the production patterns. The production pattern is one which will be used for huge production of garments. The pattern maker makes the patterns on standard pattern making paper. These papers are made-up of various grades. The most important component, the tissue paper pattern, is made from the lightest and thinnest paper commercially available (it is not made at the pattern companies). It is called 7.5 lb (3.4 kg) basis paper, meaning that a ream of it (500 sheets) only weighs 7.5 lb (3.4 kg).
Garment patterns can be constructed by two means: manual method, CAD/CAM method. Today many companies have developed CAD/CAM because of the ease of designing patterns, fluency and precision involved which cannot be guaranteed with the manual method. Investing once into the CAD/CAM unit is worth in itself. Many buyers around the world prefer manufacturers who are using CAD/CAM methods. The production patterns created in CAD/CAM can be stored easily and they can be modified at any point of time.
A garment sewing pattern or garment fabric & patterns draft is developed by calculating, taking account of the following measurements: -
1. Direct Sample.
2. Specification Sheet/ Measurement Chart.
3. Actual body size measurements.
4. Ease Allowances.
5. Sewing Allowance.
These allowances are different for different type of fabrics and patterns.
The purpose of grading is to create patterns in different standard sizes. Grading a pattern is really scaling a pattern up or down in order to adjust it for multiple sizes. Pattern sizes can be large, medium and small or else there are standard patterns of size 10, 12, 14, 16 and so on for different figure and statures sizes. This is generally how we get S M L XL XXL sizing. Pattern grading by manual method is a cumbersome task because the grader has to alter the pattern on each and every point from armhole, to neckline, sleeve cap and wrist etc. by using CAD it is much easier and faster.
· Marker Making:
The measuring department determines the fabric yardage needed for each style and size of garment. Computer software helps the technicians create the optimum fabric layout to suggest so fabric can be used efficiently. Markers, made in accordance to the patterns are attached to the fabric with the help of adhesive stripping or staples. Markers are laid in such a way so that minimum possible fabric gets wasted during cutting operation. After marking the garment manufacturer will get the idea of how much fabric he has to order in advance for the construction of garments. Therefore careful execution is important in this step.
Computer marking is done on speciallized softwares. In computerized marking there is no need of large paper sheets for calculating the yardage, in fact, mathematical calculations are made instead to know how much fabric is required.
With the help of spreading machines, fabric is stacked on one another in reaches or lays that may go over 100 ft (30.5 m) long and hundreds of plies (fabric pieces) thick.
The fabric is then cut with the help of cloth cutting machines suitable for the type of the cloth. These can be band cutters having similar work method like that of band saws; cutters having rotary blades; machines having reciprocal blades which saw up and down; die clickers similar to die or punch press; or computerized machines that use either blades or laser beams to cut the fabric in desired shapes.
The sorter sorts the patterns according to size and design and makes bundles of them. This step requires much precision because making bundles of mismatched patterns can create severe problems. On each bundle there are specifications of the style size and the marker too is attached with it.
The sorted bundles of fabrics are now ready to be stitched. Large garment manufacturers have their own sewing units other use to give the fabrics on contract to other contractors. Stitching in-house is preferable because one can maintain quality control during the processing. On the other hand if contractors are hired keeping eye on quality is difficult unless the contactor is one who precisely controls the process.
There are what is called sewing stations for sewing different parts of the cut pieces. In this workplace, there are many operators who perform a single operation. One operator may make only straight seams, while another may make sleeve insets. Yet another two operators can sew the waist seams, and make buttonholes. Various industrial sewing machines too have different types of stitches that they can make. These machines also have different configuration of the frame. Some machines work sequentially and feed their finished step directly into the next machine, while the gang machines have multiple machines performing the same operation supervised by a single operator. All these factors decide what parts of a garment can be sewn at that station. Finally, the sewn parts of the garment, such as sleeves or pant legs, are assembled together to give the final form to the clothing.
Open seams, wrong stitching techniques, non- matching threads, and missing stitches, improper creasing of the garment, erroneous thread tension and raw edges are some of the sewing defects which can affect the garment quality adversely. During processing the quality control section needs to check each prepared article against these defects.
· Pressing/ Finishing:
The next operations are those of finishing and/or decorating. Molding may be done to change the finished surface of the garment by applying pressure, heat, moisture, or certain other combination. Pressing, pleating and creasing are the basic molding processes. Creasing is mostly done before other finishing processes like that of stitching a cuff. Creasing is also done before decorating the garment with something like a pocket, appliqués, embroidered emblems etc.
Vertical and form presses is automated machines. Perform simple pressing operations, such as touching up wrinkles in knit shirts, around embroidery and snaps, and at difficult-to-reach places on garments.
· Final Inspection:
For the textile and apparel industry, product quality is calculated in terms of quality and standard of fibers, yarns, fabric construction, color fastness, designs and the final finished garments. Quality control in terms of garment manufacturing, pre-sales and posts sales service, delivery, pricing, etc are essential for any garment manufacturer, trader or exporter. Certain quality related problems, often seen in garment manufacturing like sewing, color, sizing, or garment defects should never be over looked.
Open seams, wrong stitching techniques, non- matching threads, missing stitches, improper creasing of the garment, erroneous thread tension and raw edges are some of the sewing defects which can affect the garment quality adversely.
Variation of color between the sample and the final garment, wrong color combinations and mismatching dyes should always be avoided.
Wrong gradation of sizes, difference in measurement of various parts of a garment like sleeves of XL size for body of L size garment can deteriorate the garments beyond repair.
Broken or defective buttons, snaps, stitches, different shades within the same garment, dropped stitches, exposed notches and raw edges, fabric defects, holes, faulty zippers, loose or hanging sewing threads, misaligned buttons and holes, missing buttons, needle cuts or chews, pulled or loose yarn, stains, unfinished buttonhole, short zippers, inappropriate trimmings etc. all can lead to the end of a brand name even before its establishment.
The finished garments are finally sorted on the basis of design and size and packed to send for distribution to the retail outlets.
Recent Developments in Garment Manufacturing
CAD and CAM are two technologies that have made prominent changes in the way garment manufacturing was done in previous eras. Today all large garment manufacturing companies have developed CAD/CAM system to do the process of garment manufacturing. CAD is an abbreviation for computer-aided design and CAM for computer-aided machine. CAD/CAM is computer software that controls the production of garments. In CAD the designer designs the garments by using any suitable software like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw etc and in CAM the cutters, sewers, graders and markers control the process of development.
The designer creates 2-D or 3-D model of design in CAD and CAM as a software numerically controls the machines that generates the production.
There are several advantages of CAD/CAM over manual method of designing and production of garments:
- The expense and time is reduced in a considerable manner when compared to the laborious manual work of designing.
- Designing can be done from anywhere as the designers are able to control the process from remote locations as well.
- The data can be easily stored, transmitted, and transported through computer files.
- Digital swatches can be saved on floppy disks, zip disks, CD-ROM or hard drive thus saving space. Moreover they can be easily organized for fast and easy retrieval.
- The designs can be easily customized and personalized as corrections and editing can be done at any time without significant delays or cost increases.
- The designers don't need to produce swatches all the time as they can now see how a particular fabric or garment looks in different colors and shapes on computer screen itself.