What is Fabric Grouping?

In bulk garment production, RMG factories purchase fabrics in volume. Garment factories purchase finished fabrics as per style requirement. Total fabrics for an order (style) come in many rolls as each fabric roll can contain up to certain fabric length. Secondly, the wet processing of fabrics, like dyeing and finishing, are done batch-wise as per machine capacity. As a result, there is a possibility of having shade variation between two different fabric batches. Other fabric qualities (physical properties) like fabric shrinkage, GSM and fabric width may vary batch to batch (roll to roll) due to wet processing, and weaving process. 

This article will cover the following topics
  1. What is fabric grouping?
  2. Why fabric grouping is necessary? 
  3. Thumb rules for fabric grouping 

What is fabric grouping?

When you order bulk fabrics, you get fabrics in many rolls of various length, in different shades, in different shrinkage level and different widths. For better utilization of fabric and cutting room performance, factories segregate fabrics and group them according to the variable parameters.

The process of segregating fabric rolls and grouping them based on similar fabric specifications and physical properties is known as fabric grouping. Grouping is done for maximising fabric utilization and minimizing cutting time.
Fabric store in a garment factory

Why fabric grouping is necessary?

Here are a few reasons for grouping fabrics
  • To understand and assess fabric quality sourced from different suppliers.
  • To know how many different groups or batches there in the whole fabric are. Cutting plan and marker plan can be done according to fabric grouping.
  • To minimize fabric waste during the cutting process
  • To improve marker efficiency and reduce cutting time by order.
  • To avoid shade variation in garments
When there is shrinkage variation between rolls, a factory can control it by knowing fabric properties and cutting fabric rolls separately. 

Also Read: 9 Tips to Save Fabric in The Cutting Room

Thumb rules for fabric grouping

Here we are talking about the grouping of fabrics purchased for the same order. For making a style, you may need single fabric or maybe more than one types of fabrics. Following are the primary parameter based on which fabric groping is done. We can say these are thumb rule for fabric grouping.

1. Group fabric by colour and shade
As you know, a garment with different shade is not the first quality product. It is considered a defective garment if shade variation is found in a garment. Therefore, to avoid mixing of garment components of different shade, fabrics are segregated shade wise.

Shade band is prepared prior to cutting. Sometimes, the shade of the fabric goes out of tolerance of colour matching. In such cases, the factory needs to take approval from buyer whether all shade bands are okay for cutting. Buyer may reject fabric shade which falls out of tolerance.

2. Group by fabric shrinkage
Fabric shrinkage can’t be avoided for all fabrics, specially knitted fabrics. IF you cut fabric without considering the fabric shrinkage, garment measurements will be out of specs. If you know fabric shrinkage% of a fabric roll, you can add the shrinkage in the garment pattern and cut the fabric according. This will result in expected measurement after washing of the garments.

You can’t add the same shrinkage to the pattern for all fabric lots (roll) as shrinkage may very roll to roll. If you pre-set fabric shrinkage and made zero-zero shrinkage, then no need of grouping for different fabric shrinkage level.

3.Group fabric by fabric width

As mentioned above, you may receive fabric rolls of various widths for the same style. So, the cut-able width of the fabrics will vary as well. If you cut fabrics of different cuttable widths in the same layer, and prepare the marker as per minimum fabric width, you are wasting fabrics (edge loss). You can utilize extra fabric in the width by creating a different marker for different fabric widths. This would give better fabric yield and reduced fabric consumption per garment.

This is the reason you must do the fabric group according to the fabric width as well.

Factory concerns

These thumb rules are good and can be applied to any size of garment factories. But for this, you may need additional manpower. Secondly, you must know how to utilize the segregated and grouped rolls. If you can't make a separate marker for separate groups, there is no use of grouping. A factory should not waste unnecessary time in grouping of fabric.

Most cases, there might be many possibilities of combination as you get varied width, shades and shrinkages. Manually it would be a difficult task for grouping it correctly and using the grouped fabrics for cutting when you will be production pressure. A cut plan software would be helpful for such a scenario.

Reduce fabric waste. Save fabrics. Increase your margin.

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