Shirt Manufacturing Process

You are familiar with the shirt. Right? I don’t feel the need for an introduction to a shirt.

The question is - How shirts are made? 

In this article, you will learn about shirt manufacturing process.

A shirt can be made in a Tailoring Shop or in a Factory using industrial sewing machines. Wherever the shirt is made, major processes remain same. It starts with getting an order, followed by sourcing of materials, cutting fabrics, stitching shirt components, finishing and packing, and the process ends once an order is shipped.

Shirt manufacturing process is explained in both scenarios.

Order Receiving

Shirt making factories get orders from brands, international buyers or retails stores. Where tailoring shops get order directly from customers. If you consider export order manufacturing, there are many preproduction processes followed by factories. Like sampling of the shirt, fabric development (factories could not just buy fabric from the market, but they need to develop fabric as per customer requirement), lap dip approval, pre-production sampling, approval of fabric and trims, development of various trims etc. Factories get an order for multiple sizes (S, M, L, and XL) and with size wise order ratio.

Image via Flickr user Seoul Korea

Material Sourcing

Tailoring shop: Customers purchase fabric and give to tailor for making shirt for them. Other materials like sewing threads, buttons, fusible interlinings and sourced by shop owner. Formal packing is not necessary here, so no packing accessories are purchased.
In Factories: Factories normally makes hundreds of shirts for same fabric and same designs. They make shirts for export market or for domestic brands. Material requirement for the order is calculated and sourcing is done directly from mills and fabric suppliers. All materials are purchased by factory – woven fabrics, trims and accessories. Factory takes about one month to procure fabrics.

Material Inspection

Fabric and trims are checked by qualified checkers. Segregation of defective materials is done from good materials. The purpose is to get quality shirts after stitching and finishing. Factories use fabric checking machines to speed up checking process and make quality checking process more effective. Sometimes factories get fabrics with shade variation. They segregate different shades and make shade bands. Later cutting is done shade wise (lot wise). The purpose is to eliminate fabric shade variation in shirts.

Pattern Making

In a tailoring shop shirts are made according to wearer's measurement (Made to Measure). Each shirt is unique. So normally shirt patterns are not made in tailoring shop. Instead tailors (master) directly mark on the fabric and cut fabric.

In factories where hundreds of garments are made for same size and same measurement, pattern is essential. Sample shirts are made first to check that patterns are made correctly. As factory needs to make shirts for different sizes, pattern grading is done and patterns are made for all sizes. Pattern grading can be done using CAD system.

Cutting of Fabric and Fusing Material

Once fabric is sourced and pattern is ready to use, cutting of fabric is started. Fabric is laid on the flat table. Multiple layers (fabric plies) are cut together. Marking of outlines for shirt components are done by using paper patterns. After marking, fabric is cut using cutting machine.

Fabric is the major cost component in a garment. So, before cutting marker making is done wisely to increase fabric utilization. Marker making and cutting can be done using computer controlled machine.

For checks and stripes customers want checks and stripes should match in between shoulder and sleeve, left front and right front panels, even in side seams. To match checks, garment components need to cut accordingly.
Fusible interlinings are cut for collar and cuffs. Interlinings components are attached to collar and cuff components using fusing machine.

Shirt Stitching

Tailors or sewing operators make shirts using sewing machine(s). First, Shirt parts are made.

Parts making: Collar, Cuff, Pockets, Front part, and Sleeves are made separately. Main label (Brand labels) is attached inside back yoke or collar band during part preparation.

Assembly: Once different parts of a shirt are made, shirt parts are assembled. In assembly section, wash care label attached to side seam.
In industrial production shirts are made in sewing lines. In a tailoring shop, full shirt is made by one person. There are various options for setting a sewing line for shirt manufacturing with different line layout and production method. In assembly line instead of single piece, shirt are made bundle wise. And most interesting thing is that one operator only sews one operation. 40 to 45 tailors are involved making the complete shirt. Different types of sewing machines are used in a sewing line to make the shirt with consistency in quality and higher speed.

Also See: List of operations of a Full Sleeve Formal Shirt

Shirt Finishing 

In finishing stage, buttons are attached to collar, cuffs and in front placket. Button holing is done on these parts. Uncut thread tails are trimmed. Other finishing sub-processes include stain removing, alteration of defective shirts and pressing. In case washing of shirt is required, factories wash shirt to give desired hand feel and aesthetic look.

In tailoring shop shirt washing process does not exist. Still in tailoring shops button holing and button attaching operations are done by hand (cost of button holing and button attaching machine is not cost effective for tailoring shops).

Quality Inspection

Shirts are finished and ready to fold and pack. Before packing, shirts are checked to ensure that no defective shirts are sent to the customer. If a defective garment is found, alteration or repairing is done.

Shirt Packing

This is the last process for the manufacturers in shirt making. All shirts are folded nicely using cardboard, tissue paper, pins etc. Hangtag and Price tags are attached to the folded shirts. Folded shirts are packed into a polythene bag and then packed into a cardboard box. Packing of a shirt is done as per buyer's instruction.

Shipping of Shirts to Customer

Packed shirts are sent to customers. Retailers display shirts in their shop from where we buy our shirts. Shirt making process is complete here.

I hope you enjoyed this article. Help your friends to know the Shirt Making Process by sharing this article with them.

Prasanta Sarkar

Prasanta Sarkar is a textile engineer and a postgraduate in fashion technology from NIFT, New Delhi, India. He has authored 6 books in the field of garment manufacturing technology, garment business setup, and industrial engineering. He loves writing how-to guide articles in the fashion industry niche. He has been working in the apparel manufacturing industry since 2006. He has visited garment factories in many countries and implemented process improvement projects in numerous garment units in different continents including Asia, Europe, and South Africa. He is the founder and editor of the Online Clothing Study Blog.

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