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In-process inspection in sewing involves the inspection of work from each operator with
a quality standard established to limit the amount of bad work permitted and a provision for
operators to re-inspect and repair entire bundles should this limit be exceeded. Theoretically, no
amount of bad work should be permitted. There are companies whose work is approaching
almost perfection! The decision on where to place inspection stations will be influenced by
various factors, such as the importance of operations, and controlling troublesome or key
operations. Since inspections can often be performed for two or more operations at the same
time, in-process inspection
can be established at various inspection points in sewing operations, as opposed to the inspector
literally selecting work at each operator's work station. First, a complete manufacturing process
chart should be made clearly identifying the production or manufacturing steps for each type of
garment made.
Then inspection points or stations should be carefully selected so that the operations to be
checked are neither covered by later operations, nor necessitate ripping good work to repair a
defect. Inspection stations should provide a uniform workload for each inspector and should
minimize the elapsed time between the completion of an operation and its inspection. Each
operator should be told what standard of work is acceptable and what is not. There should be a
written quality specification for each job in the manufacturing process. Whenever possible,
sketches of garment parts such as those shown in Figures 6 through 10 should be included,
illustrating how they are supposed to appear after completion. Dimensions and tolerances for
critical points must be included. Knowledge of the factors that create problems in a particular
operation helps determine the specific dimension or characteristic to be maintained. Each
inspector should be clearly told what to look for while inspecting various operations.
Quality characteristic:

Meeting of under-arm seams, single needle seam

Topstitching at corners must form a smooth sharp point, as shown above.

Quality characteristic : : Collar

Quality characteristic : Shirt pocket.

Quality characteristic :Collar and center pleat. Things to look for.
broken or skipped stitches, pucker or pleats, open seams, uniform
margin. minimum stitches per inch, 8

Quality characteristic: Buttonhole front. Things to look for :proper

spacing of buttonholes, completely cut button holes, skipped or broken
stitches, lapel folded at notches, proper match of pocket, uniform
margin, even triangles, distance from edge of front to pocket should
be 2 in 1/8 in

There is no standard amount of inspection that will provide the right balance between
quality and costs for all types of garments and production methods. It is advisable to plan on
having enough inspectors so that, on the average, every fourth bundle is inspected and no
operation ever goes longer than 4 hours without being inspected. The daily volume of garments
produced should decide the numbers of inspectors and not the number of operators. Studies have
shown that usually 15-20% of the operators in any one plant will cause 65 to 80% of the defects
[Zaruba 1973]. Most inspections at in-process check points can be performed rapidly without
sacrificing accuracy, and quite large units of inspection should be expected of inspectors each
day. However, although the workload of inspectors should be paced and they ought to be well
supervised, it is inadvisable that they be put on an incentive system. They must be allowed
enough time to inspect in greater detail when necessary and to carefully explain quality problems
to supervisors. As with all inspection activities, the thoroughness of inspection is more important
than the quantity inspected.
The selection of samples from a bundle must be at random. The number of samples
selected for inspection can be based on the acceptance sampling plans, ANSI/ASQC Z 1.4,
Sampling Procedures and Tables for Inspection by Attributes, discussed later in Section 2.3, or
on a system known in industry as "skip bundle sampling". In skip bundle sampling [Heiland
1959], a variable production is inspected, not a fixed portion. The extent of variability in the
average fraction of inspected- material -is, dependent on the process average of percent
defective: the higher the percent defective, the larger the proportion of production that must be
inspected. Inspection occurs at a minimum when the quality level being maintained is at or better
than the level desired by management.
When one goes through the literature on the in-process inspection of sewing operations,
the following skip bundle sampling plans come up time after time:
n = 12, c = 0, s = 4, m = 2
n = 30, c = 1, s = 4, m = 2
n = number of samples to be inspected from a bundle
c = acceptance number or number of defects allowed in n samples
s = Skip interval
m = clearance interval
The preceding sampling plan means that, for example, select a bundle at random at an
inspection point and at random inspect 12 pieces out of that bundle. If no defective piece is
found, accept that bundle and then inspect every fourth bundle. If one or more defective pieces
are- found, reject the bundle and return it to the operator through his or her supervisor. The
operator would then sort out the bundle and repair the defective pieces. These repaired pieces are
inspected and if acceptable, the bundle moves on to the next operation. Once a bundle is rejected,
every bundle from that operator is inspected from then on until two consecutive bundles from
that operator are found acceptable. From that point, every fourth bundle is inspected.
In the sampling plan with n = 30, instead of 12 pieces, 30 pieces at random from a bundle
are inspected, and if 2 or more defects are found then the bundle is rejected If only one defect is
found, the operator is simply asked to repair that piece and the bundle is accepted or passed.
When the sampling plan n = 30, c = 1, s= 4, and m = 2 is used, the worst quality that can
be permitted is, in the long run, about 3.7% defective. When the sampling plan n = 12, c = 0, a =
4, a = 2 is used, the worst quality that will be tolerated is about 4.5% defective. The bundle size
is 72 units in both cases [Heiland 1959]. Skip-lot sampling was devised by Dodge [Dodge
Here are possible sewing, seaming, and assembly defects [Lowe and Lowcoke 1975]:

Sewing defects:
1. Needle damage as evidenced by holes, picked threads, ruptured threads or other
damage to the fabric; caused by wrong size or type of needle, blunt needle, needle
heat, or machine feeding difficulty.
2. Feed damage, particularly on thicker or sheer fabrics, or when machining over
transverse seams, from incorrect type of teeth, excessive pressure by foot,
improper alignment of feed and foot, damaged throat plate, excessive machine
3. Skipped stitches, from the hook irregularly failing to pick up the loop of thread
from a needle's eye owing to a number of causes.
4. Thread brakes, arising from too thick a thread for the needle, too thin a thread,
needle heat, operator working unrhythmically, or too tight tensions.
5. Broken stitches, arising from the wrong stitch type, too tight tensions, a badly
formed joint in the seam where the second line of stitch runs over the first and
cracks it, sharp feeds, and too great a pressure.
6. Seam grin, arising from too loose a tension or too large a stitch, or the use of the
wrong stitch type.
7. Seam pucker, because of incorrect handling by the operator, misaligned notches,
or tight thread tensions.
8. Pleated seams, an extreme form of 7, where operator failed to ease in fullness
9. Wrong stitch density. Too many give rise to jamming and rupture of fabric
threads; too few to grinning or weak seams.
10. Uneven stitch density Operator causes machine to snatch and does not allow
machine to control fabric.
11. Staggered stitch, from faulty feed motion, incorrect needle, and other machine
12. Improperly formed stitches, caused by bad tension, incorrectly adjusted timing, ill
fitting machine components.
13. Oil spots or stains.
Seaming Defects (usually caused by errors arising from the interaction of the operator
and machine in the handling of the garment):
1. Incorrect or uneven width of inlay, arising from bad handling by operator,
incorrectly set guide, incorrectly adjusted folder. In extreme cases, the seams burst
open, raw edges show, slippage of weave threads occurs, or notches are exposed.
2. Irregular or incorrect shape of sewing line (sometimes called runoffs) in top
stitching, arising from lack of or badly set guide, not following a mark, or
incorrect handling.
3. Insecure back stitching, because subsequent rows do not cover the first row of
4. Twisted seam leading to irregular puckering or the garment parts not hanging
correctly when worn; caused by improper alignment of fabric parts, mismatched
notches, and allowing one ply to creep against another.
5. Mismatched checks or stripes.
6. Mismatched seam, where transverse seams do not match (e.g., inside lea seams at
the fork of trousers).
7. Extraneous part caught in seam unrelated piece showing through the seam.
8. Reversed garment part, where part is sewn with face side opposite from
specification perhaps when the part cut for one side of garment is sewn in the
other, or when the whole garment is assembled inside out.
9. Blind stitching showing on the face side, or not securely caught on inside arising
from improperly adjusted bender.
10. Wrong seam or stitch type used.
11. Wrong shade of thread used.
Assembly Defects (perhaps caused by errors arising in marking and cutting, as well as
sewing operations in the sewing room, or a combination of these):
1. Finished components not correct to size or shape or not symmetrical.
2. Finished garment not to size, arising from incorrect patterns, inaccurate marking
or cutting, shrinking or stretching fabric, incorrect seam widths.
3. Parts, components, closures, or features omitted, caused by bad work flow,
wrongly printed work tickets, parts omitted in cutting, careless operator.
4. Components or features wrongly positioned or misaligned arising from incorrect
marking, or sewing not following the mark (e.g., pockets, bartacks, top stitching,
buttonholes, buttons, hooks and bars, hooks and eyes, zips).
5. Interlining incorrectly positioned, twisted, too full, too tight, cockling.
6. Lining too full, too tight, showing below the bottom of the garment, twisted,
incorrectly pleated and so on.
7. Garment parts cockling, pleated, twisted, showing bubbles and fullness; for
example, collar in relation to the undercollar or the neck, sleeve in relation to the
armhole, pockets, tapes, zips, pads in relation to the shoulder.
8. Garment parts shaded owing to being mixed after cutting.
9. Parts in one-way fabrics in wrong direction, usually only small parts, such as
10. Mismatched trimming.
Here is a listing of some quality/workmanship standards in general (Courtesy: The
William Carter Company). A company may come up with it's own standards.
Open seams: No open or raw seams allowed except on hems where up to 5/8" allowed.
Skipped stitches: No skips allowed on chain stitch or raveling stitch unless skip will be
covered by a subsequent operation. Two or fewer skips allowed on lock stitch provided skips are
non-consecutive. More than two skips are allowed on lock stitch provided seam will be covered
by subsequent operation. Skips on decorative top-stitching allowed on non-raveling seams if not
obvious on the face of the garment.
Cracked stitches : All seams must withstand stress reasonably expected in wearing
without breaking stitches.
Stitches/Inch: All operations must meet SPI (stitches per inch) requirement designated in
the product specification and/or standard speed and stitch chart.
Uneven seams : Leg, sleeve cuff, or other seams designed to meet evenly must match by
3/8" or less. Front opening panels must be no more than 1/4" from meeting evenly. Intermediate
operations may have a larger tolerances provided measurement, appearance, or subsequent
operations are not affected by failing to meet evenly tolerance.
Crooked, Puckered, Curled, Pleated seams : Finished garment appearance or
serviceability must not be adversely affected.
Needle and Feed cuts : No feed cuts allowed unless cut will be cut off or completely
covered by a subsequent operation. One needle cut allowed provided no hole or run develops
when subjected to normal wearing stress. Two or more allowed if meets run or hole criteria and
only one needle cut appears in finished seam. (Exception: Holes by gripper or embroidery).
Unclipped threads and Long ends : On intermediate operations (i.e. those operations
which will be seamed over or covered by a subsequent operation) threads will be specified on In-
Process Quality Specifications for that operation.
Automatic operations such as buttonhole or batrack, 3/8" allowed unless thread
contrast with garment and creates poor appearance.
Finished seams 3/8" allowable if texturized polyester thread is used.
Otherwise none allowed on outside if contrasting and visible to the consumer.
Allowed on outside if matching thread is used and tail is less than 1/4".
Raw edge, untrimmed: No raw edge allowed on outside finished seams. No raw edge
inside wider than 1/4".
Turn ends: Defect on finished seam if appearance or secureness is affected.
Labels: Defect if crooked, missing, incorrect, insecurely attached, or seriously puckered.
Stitching not to cover logo in any manner.
Snaps, Fasteners: Missing, loose or misaligned. Stud must match socket within 1/4".
Greater tolerance allowed only if appearance is not seriously affected.
Buttons: Loose, damaged, missing, or misaligned to button hole 3/8". Button must
easily button through buttonholes.
Elastic: Exposed : No more than three needle cut elastomers allowed.
Measurements: Must not exceed tolerance specified on individual. In -process
specifications. (Allowance must be made for seam off and stitch margins on subsequent
Mends or Repairs: Defective if mend or repair will adversely affect garment appearance
or fit. Lock stitch repair must overlap a minimum of three stitches starting and finishing.
Obvious double stitching on exposed seams not allowed. Lock stitch repair on chain stitch
allowed provided stitch lines and SPI coincide and purpose of chain stitch is not affected (i.e.
Stripe: On stripe matched seams, stripes must match 1/4".
Hems: Defective if excessively curled, puckered, pleated, or excessive bite.
Pockets, Motifs, Heat seal, Appliques, Embroidery, Sublistatic print, Screen print,
Zippers, Collars: Poorly attached, position incorrect, incomplete, zipper inoperative.