Readymade Garment Manufacturing - an Overview

When we go for shopping clothes in the local market or in malls, we find garment shops are everywhere. Shops are filled with thousands of garment pieces with variety of product categories and product designs. Readymade garments are made in garment factories in different parts of our country. Even many readymade garments are imported from other countries like China and Bangladesh. Most of the branded garments are made in industrial production environment. Have you ever questioned yourself how these garments are made?
garment factory

Let me share the steps and explain it how our garments are made in factories. Industrial production system is followed in manufacturing readymade garments. I will show you all the processes involved in industrial production of readymade garments from the point when fabrics are sourced at the factory to retail-ready garments are shipped to the retailers.

Garment sampling and product development

Sampling is making the proto type of the final garment. A designer first makes the garment design on paper. And at the development stage design concept is converted into garment using fabric and trims. Brands spend lot of time and resources on product development. They also work on developing fabrics, if they wish to use a new kind fabric for their designs. Different types of samples are made for different purposes. Samples made by a factory may include proto sample, size set sample, salesman sample and pre-production sample etc. Garment fitting, measurements, construction and raw materials are checked in multiple levels to ensure brands will get the desired product in bulk production. For domestic brands, they design their own product and get it manufactured. Prior to bulk production, a trial run is done with 50-100 pieces of a design.

Also read: Garment manufacturing process flow chart

Garment pattern making

When we buy readymade garments we choose the garment that fits better to our body. A garment is made by joining various garment components together. Like a shirt has parts like collar, cuff, sleeve, front panels, back panel, back yoke and front plackets. Do you know that a full sleeve shirt is made of about 20+ different components? All garment components are cut from fabric sheet. To get correct garment fitting, all garment parts are cut following the specific dimension (measurements). For this we need garment patterns. Factories make garment patterns manually as well as by CAD software. Using CAD system, pattern making, pattern grading is done efficiently. A trained pattern master (technical person) is employed for pattern making.

Sourcing of fabrics, trims and packing accessories

You might know that fabric is the primary raw material for making garments. To make a garment we need various kinds of trims too depending on garment design. Common trims are like stitching threads, buttons, zippers, twill tape, laces, hook, snap buttons etc. Factory sources fabrics and all other items from the local market or from the buyer nominated suppliers. Prior to use these items, factory checks quantity and quality of the items. Checking of raw materials is done to ensure that only quality materials are used in the following process. This ensures to get quality garments at the end of garment production.

Cutting garment parts

As mentioned above, to make a garment factory cuts fabrics into garment parts. In mass garment production numbers of garments are made for the same design and same size. Multiple fabric plies are cut together after layering fabrics on the cutting table. After fabric layering, marker is made manually on the top ply using pattern paper or CAD generated maker sheet is laid on the top layer. A trained cutter cuts fabric following pattern outlines by means of cutting equipment. It may be a straight knife cutting machine, or a round knife cutting machine or automatic cutting machine. Cutting process involves various sub-processes, like fabric relaxation, layering, marker making, cutting, re-cutting, shorting and bundling, numbering of plies etc. Cut components are checked prior to sending the garment to next process.

Printing and Embroidery

You might have seen printed designs or/and embroidery designs on your clothes. Printing and embroidery work are value added but optional process. All designs may not have print and embroider work. Printing or Embroidery is only done if customer asked for it. Printing on garments is done either on full length fabric or on garment panels after cutting garment components. There is number of printing method and printing techniques for printing fabrics and garments. Even printing is done after making the complete garment. In case factory doesn’t have in-house print / embroidery machines this process is outsourced.

Garment Stitching

You might have seen tailors to stitch garments in a tailoring shop. They normally use 2-3 types of sewing machines and one person makes the whole garment. In industrial production things are different.

Cut components are taken into sewing section. Garments are stitched in assembly lines. Large numbers of stitching machines are installed in multiple sewing lines in the stitching floor. Stitching operators stitch garment parts together and assemble garments. One operator sews only one or couple of operations. Hence numbers of operators are involved in completing the stitching of a garment.

Just stitching garment parts are not enough. All garments must be defect free. To ensure stitching quality factory involves quality checkers to check the stitched garments in the line and end of the line. All defective garments are repaired in the line prior to sending garment to the next process.

Just for your information - different types of industrial sewing machines are used in industrial production. Lockstitch, overlock, flat lock, chain stitch, profile stitch, bar tacking, button attaching and button holing machines are to name some of the industrial sewing machines. Now-a-days various technologies are used for joining garment components (making seam). To learn more about garment manufacturing, you can refer to this blog.

Garment washing

Being a customer we would never buy a soiled or stained garment. Brands know this. So factory takes care of garment presentation and finishing. Factory cleans all oil stains, pencil/chalk marks, dust by spotting or washing. Garment washing is done to remove dirt and dust from the garments. Washing of whole lot is done only if buyer needs washing for their orders. More than just cleaning of garments, washing is also done to give washed look to the finished garments, to improve softness and hand feel. For jeans and sweaters garment washing is must. Industrial washing machines are used for bulk garment washing.

Finishing of stitched garments

A stitched garment comes with lot of loose threads, long thread tails, numbering stickers, various kinds of stitching defects, raw material defects and handling defects. In finishing section thread trimming, sticker removing and spot removing are done. All garments are thoroughly checked to ensure product quality. Measurements of the garment are checked to ensure that garment specifications are strictly followed by factory and correct size label is stitched to each garments. All defective garments are repaired. Garments are pressed using steam iron to remove creases and wrinkles. After finishing garments get a new and fresh look.

Garment folding and packing

Nicely pressed garments are folded in a specific dimension. All garment accessories and tags like hang tags and price tags are attached to each garment. Folded garments are then packed into poly bags. Packing is done for individual garments or multiple garments are packed into a poly bag. Barcode stickers are attached to the price tags. Then garments are packed into a bigger carton.

Garment Inspection and quality assurance:

We have learned that garments are checked at stitching and finishing stages. At this stage finished and folded garments are audited for quality assurance of the products. Factory follows certain quality standard, and inspection procedure to audit the packed garments.

Let’s take an example of an export order. In export orders, packed cartons are audited internally prior to handing over shipment to buyer quality inspection representative for final shipment inspection. Buyer representative inspects shipment using certain AQL standard. AQL means Acceptable Quality Level. Auditor prepares shipment inspection report. Based on inspection result auditor (inspector) decides whether to pass or fail the shipment. Passed shipment is sent to dispatch section. In case shipment failed, garments are rechecked and repaired.

Shipment delivery

Passed shipments are sent to buyers/retailers. For domestic order finished garments are sent to retailers’ warehouse or directly to the distribution centers. Thus our favorite clothes reach to retails stores.

It is a long journey of garments before they are put on display in a store. Since raw material purchase to reaching to retails shop may takes 30-100 days.

This was an overview of readymade garment manufacturing. What you have just read is the primary processes of garment making. In between these processes there are many other processes involved depending on the product designs. Every brand follows a different set of procedures to manufacture their designs. Also each product type demands a different set of processes, material handling and finishing. Same product can be made with different set of machines and equipment. Every process and all variations of the same process can’t be covered in a single article. Keep reading more books and articles on readymade garment manufacturing to learn more.

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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  2. Hi...very nice article.
    I want to ask if cotton pants are washed before stitching? The pants might shrink after 1st wash and so before stitching are they washed?

    1. Hi thanks for reading this post. For pre-shrink the fabric it is essential for washing fabrics before cutting. In knitted garment manufacturing, washing cut panels is common practice. This way garment makers control shrinkage in the garment. For woven fabric (called as cotton fabric), normally pre-washing is not done. Woven fabrics are normally wet-processed during fabric dyeing, so shrinkage is reduced in wet processing. Still factories check woven fabric shrinkage percentage before cutting. factories try to adjust the fabric shrinkage in the pattern to avoid pre-washing.

      Normally, cotton fabrics (Woven fabrics) for pants are not washed before stitching.

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