Imagine this: you’ve nailed the perfect sample, everything seems flawless – the fit, the fall, the feel. But then, after fitting, the seams start to unravel.
Sure, from a distance, it may look good enough. But when we’re talking about garment construction – good enough is not enough.
So, if you’re growing tired of getting customer complaints before you’ve even had your Monday morning coffee, or a freelance fashion designer and don’t want any manufacturing mishaps for your clients, let’s explore the most common garment construction defects and the best practices to prevent them during manufacturing.
In essence, good construction ensures that the final finished garment products are free from garment defects and meet strict quality standards. This includes everything from handling materials correctly to ensuring proper alignment during sewing operations.
A well-constructed piece doesn’t just look better – it lasts longer and functions more effectively too.
And in the competitive world of fashion where new brands keep popping left and right, maintaining commitment towards garments with high quality can propel customer satisfaction and boost brand reputation. You want to make customers happy that they are getting the bang for their $$$.
Now on to the culprits…
Here’s a quick list of the most common garment construction defects that you have to watch out for.
Let’s get to know them more deeply.
A personal pet peeve of mine – misaligned seams occur when the edges of different fabric panels fail to match up seamlessly, leading to uneven attachment.
Causes of misaligned seams: inaccuracies during cutting and sewing, poorly aligned panels, imprecise cutting, uneven stitching
Poorly finished edges are defects found on the inside of the garment, like rough or frayed fabric edges that are inadequately sewn – giving garments an unfinished and untidy look.
Causes of poorly finished edges: poor workmanship, not using proper seam finishing techniques, skipping edge stitching or serging
Sewing fabric pieces in the wrong order can lead to distorted proportions, unbalanced silhouettes, and unprofessional look – affecting the overall garment design. For example, finishing the bottom hem of a skirt before the side seams might result in the seam allowances peeking from below – resulting in an unpolished look.
Causes of incorrect order sewn: misinterpretation of pattern instructions, inadequate communication leading to sewing in the wrong sequence
This could be zippers that refuse to zip smoothly or buttons that pop open unexpectedly, compromising the functionality of the garment.
Causes of closure issues: poor material quality, incorrect attachment methods
One of the most common garment construction issues, puckering on clothing are defects found on seams that have a wrinkled or gathered fabric appearance – indicating tension inconsistencies during sewing.
Causes of puckering: incorrect thread tension, improper handling of fabric while stitching, mixing fabrics with differing properties, inadequate seam allowances, improper stitching techniques
One of the most difficult garment construction defects to spot – seam slippage occurs when fabric layers in a seam separate, creating gaps and weakening the garment’s construction. To check for seam slippage, you can gently pull on the seams and observe if the fabric begins to separate.
Causes of seam slippage: using loosely woven fabrics, mixing fabrics with differing properties, inadequate seam allowances, improper stitching techniques
Pro Tip: When you’re working with delicate fabrics like silk, satin, and chiffon, it’s crucial to be extra careful about this sneaky defect. In extreme cases, if changing the construction technique doesn’t do the trick, it might be worth considering switching to a different fabric altogether.
Open seams refer to stitches that break open, leaving gaps in the seam line and compromising the garment’s durability.
Causes of open seam: weak stitching, insufficient seam allowances, using unsuitable thread
Another common garment construction defect, roping hem occurs when the hem of a garment appears uneven or forms a wavy, rope-like appearance instead of lying flat.
One of the ways I spot whether a garment is cheap or not is through checking the hem’s appearance. I love a crisp hem!
Causes of roping hem: incorrect handling of fabric while hemming, inadequate pressing, incorrect hemming techniques
When it comes to preventing construction issues, the choice of fabric plays a huge role. Opt for fabrics that are of great quality and less likely to suffer from defects like seam slippage or puckering.
By selecting fabrics that inherently resist common construction hiccups, you’re already one step ahead.
And while you might not be handling the sewing machines yourself, you can undoubtedly influence the construction techniques used. Collaborate closely with your manufacturers to ensure they’re using suitable techniques for the fabric.
For example, if seam slippage is a concern, inquire about using reinforcing stitches or using stronger seam constructions like flat felled seams.
Pro Tip: Quick trips to clothing stores of brands known for top-notch quality is a great way to learn different types of construction methods. I can vouch for this first hand – as I did this a lot when I was just starting out. And yes, I might have snapped a few reference pics when the salesperson wasn’t looking! 👀
Speaking of construction techniques – make sure to clearly include all these details and other necessary information in your tech pack.
Specify the appropriate fabric type, seam construction, and details like adding reinforcement stitches. For example, if you are designing a t-shirt and want to add topstitching reinforcement to the neckline, include “with ⅛” SNTS (single needle topstitch)” on your tech pack call-out.
With a well-prepared tech pack, you can address potential construction issues before they even arise.
If you need help in this department, I got you! Check out my Step-by-step Tech Pack Guide (with free templates).
The beauty of having a sample-making process is that you can catch these pesky defects first hand.
Upon receiving the sample, carefully check the garment’s seams, edges, and closures from inside out. Don’t be afraid to pull on the seams to check for seam slippage and open seams. Be mindful and extra vigilant of sneaky garment defects that can potentially ruin the design you worked so hard for.
If you still don’t feel confident about the construction quality of your garment samples, go ahead and request additional prototypes using different techniques or fabric variations, then evaluate their performance once again.
Trust me on this one, you don’t want to just ask your manufacturer to change the construction method on a garment with seam slippage and call it a day – only for it to still have the same issue post production. I mean it!
Identifying garment defects is just the first step in troubleshooting – you must know how to communicate them clearly to your manufacturers. Although a lot of these defects can actually be mitigated by simply using correct material handling techniques, flagging garment defects is crucial to give your manufacturers a heads up.
Your documentation should paint a clear picture, including which part of the garment has defects, what type of defect, and include ways to mitigate it if possible.
For example, for a garment with misaligned underarm seams, you can send a zoomed in photo, mark the defect, and add a description like “ensure proper alignment of seams when attaching the sleeve.”
Vendors aren’t just suppliers; they’re your partners in creating high-quality garments. Maintain regular chats with them to ensure they get every tiny detail about your requirements – making sure there are no misunderstandings.
Talk with your sample makers, pattern makers, and even sewing operators. These people are on the frontline, making sure that your design comes to life based on your requirements. Trust me, these people know the ins and outs of garment manufacturing, and you can learn a ton from them!
Additionally, make sure to document important comments and revisions in your tech packs and sample evaluation forms. By doing this, you can keep track of all the issues in a more organized manner, without having to go back and forth.
In these instances, conducting quality control practices can act as your shield in making sure no defect goes unchecked.
In the garment industry, there are several possible check points for implementing QC measures namely – pre-production quality check, in-line quality control, and post production inspection. Depending on the size of the project and budget, you may deploy one or a few of these quality control measures.
Before manufacturing begins, ensure that the fabric, threads, and initial stitching meet high standards. Additionally, make sure that your manufacturers are ensuring proper machine maintenance on their equipment.
These steps set the foundation to prevent issues in the later stages of production.
During the manufacturing process, your QC team can oversee each step to maintain consistent quality. They check for any discrepancies and ensure that your standards are upheld throughout production.
Once manufacturing is complete, a final review takes place. Every detail, from seams to stitches, is checked to identify any imperfections before the garments are ready to hit the market.
Avoiding garment construction defects can set your fashion brand apart from a sea of contenders in the apparel industry.
Now that you’ve finished this article, you’re equipped with a toolbox of common issues to avoid and inspection techniques to detect and troubleshoot these issues.
If you are keen on learning other common defects on garments that should be avoided during production, head over to my guides on Common Fabric Defects and Common Stitching Defects. Of course, I’ve also included tips on how to mitigate them!
So, the next time you encounter another pesky garment defect, remember – it’s not the end of the world!
Take control of the issue by following the techniques I taught you and elevate the quality of your final garment products.
I know you got this!