How to achieve outstanding garment production quality in seven steps

Garment production is an involved process with various steps, each more important than the last. Over a rich 200-year history, garment production has evolved into a streamlined, organized process. Before the advent of industrial garment manufacturing, all clothing was custom-made, typically hand-sewn at home or by a tailor. In fact, ready-made clothing was unheard of in the United States until the late 19th century, when manufacturers began taking a one-size-fits-all approach to styles and sizing. As garment production has matured, manufacturers have expanded their offerings to include a wide range of styles and sizes.

The Industrial Revolution catapulted countries from relying on traditional industries like agriculture to taking advantage of large-scale and efficient manufacturing systems set up in factories, and paving the way for garment production as we know it today. But have you ever wondered what your clothing goes through before it lands in your wardrobe? Read on to find out.

Step 1: Relaxing and pre-shrinking to prepare fabrics for production

Garment manufacturing is the transformation of raw materials into finished, wearable clothing. Materials received by factories are transported into storage before fabric relaxing begins. Fabric relaxing is a vital first step, but why do we need it?

As fabric is under continuous tension throughout the production process, unrolling and relaxing fabric before weaving or cutting allows it to naturally contract, reducing the risk of shrinkage during washing (link to How Garment Manufacturers Relax Pre-Shrunk Fabrics). Unrolled and relaxed fabrics are left to settle for 12 to 48 hours before being moved to the next stage. More and more factories are opting for fabric relaxing machines to aid in fabric relaxation. These machines cut the relaxation time in half, allowing factories to focus on taking more bulk-quantity orders.

Pre-shrinking also forms an important part of the fabric preparation process. In this stage, factories deliberately shrink fabric to prevent further natural shrinkage later on. Shrinking to avoid shrinking may seem counterintuitive, but it works. Fabric shrinkage is normal and, thankfully, expected during garment production, as heat produced by wet processing reduces tension, causing polymers to shrink. If factories know how much fabric will shrink, they can implement ways to prevent it. That’s where pre-shrinking comes in.

As with anything, there is the risk of taking things a little too far. Over-shrinking is a common problem during pre-shrinking, and factories must implement exact parameters to avoid fabric wastage. Luckily, we now have shrinking machines, which use steam to aid the pre-shrinking process at variable temperatures. Shrinking machines put fabric on the right path for the rest of the production process, allowing for more accurate cutting and shaping later on.

Step 2: Laying out fabrics for cutting

After fabric relaxation and pre-shrinking comes spreading. During the spreading process, fabric is laid out in layers onto a long, flat surface in preparation for cutting (Link: What is a Fabric Spreading Machine?), and is manually checked for wrinkles and creases. It sounds easy enough, but without the spreading process, fabric cannot be cut into precise shapes, leading to wonky cuts and fabric wastage.

Manual spreading is an exhausting process that requires high levels of manpower. To speed up production and enhance efficiency, many factories turn to fabric spreading machines. These machines automate the spreading process by placing fabric layers onto a cutting table at a rate of approximately 295 feet per minute. This drastically increases production efficiency, speeding up a process that costs workers time better spent elsewhere.

Step 3: Shaping the fabric pieces

The cutting process is key to the quality of finished goods (Link: What is a Fabric Cutting Machine?). Since fabric must be cut to the exact specifications of garment designers, factories need their cutting process to be careful and precise to get the job done. The importance of a robust spreading process is seen at this stage of production, as wrinkly or incorrectly spread fabric causes inaccurate cutting and fabric wastage. Mistakes made here are impossible to rectify, so faulty cutting is bound to hurt factories financially and jeopardize their reputation.

To reduce the risk of human error, workers place a pattern on top of fabric layers to mark the desired design before a fabric cutting machine cuts fabric into shape. Fabric cutting machines cut large amounts of material at once—a result that is impossible to achieve manually. Fabric cutting machines increase accuracy and ensure consistency, which can only mean one thing: outstanding-quality finished goods.

Step 4: Stitching the garments together

Sewing takes place after fabric is cut according to the customer’s specifications, with workers stitching pieces of fabric together to make the finished garment. Details such as buttonholes are also sewn into fabric at this stage. Sewing is completed either manually or with a sewing machine and each finished piece is passed down the sewing line until garments are complete. High-quality sewing skills are crucial, as without them, factories run the risk of having their entire order rejected by the client.

Whether sewing is done by hand or with a machine, it’s a labor-intensive process that requires intense concentration. There are pros and cons to each method: hand-stitching is careful but slow, whereas machine-sewing is fast but imprecise. Whichever method is used, workers must recognize the importance of their work, as any imperfections during this stage can have massive implications for the final order.

Step 5: Ironing and pressing use steam to shape clothing

Once sewing is complete, finished garments are taken to be ironed and pressed into shape. It‘s during this process that the pieces finally come to look like the clothing we see in our wardrobes. Workers use industrial irons that pump out steam to manipulate the garments before they are cooled and dried. There are various machines available to assist this process, such as steam irons and ironing tables, depending on the type of garment being handled.

Step 6: Fabric dyeing and design printing add finishing touches to garments

After garments are fully stitched together, manufacturers must add finishing touches to achieve their products’ final in-store look. The first part of this stage of production is fabric dyeing, in which garments are dyed to their final color. After that comes design printing, where garments are given logos, graphics, or patterns. For this process, one commonly used method is heat transfer printing, in which machines are used to print patterns onto clothing (Link: How to Decorate and Bond Fabrics Using Heat Transfer and Seamless Machines). Heat transfer printing works by putting images on garments and stamping them into place using a pre-heated heat transfer machine. The stable heat source ensures a level of accuracy that is unobtainable by manual printing.

Step 7: Quality control checks ensure garments are fit for purpose before packaging and shipment

The final stage of the garment production process involves quality control checks and packaging. Although quality control checks take place throughout the production process, final checks are vital to ensure finished garments are up to scratch (Link: The Importance of Quality Control in Textile Production). Visual inspections are essential but unreliable, as variables such as poor lighting make it difficult to spot subtle flaws. For this reason, many factories conduct additional quality control checks using machines that scan items for metal debris and broken needles. Advanced quality inspection machines can even detect flaws after goods have been packaged, using product barcodes to scope out defective items.


Garment production is a complex process in which each step is essential preparation for the next. The first step, fabric relaxing and pre-shrinking, prepares fabrics for use in garments, while the second step, fabric spreading, prepares fabrics for accurate cutting. Cutting in turn readies fabrics to be sewn together into garments. After sewing, the ironing and pressing process shapes garments so that they can take on colors and designs through fabric dyeing and design printing. The final step, quality control and packaging, prepares finished garments to hit the market. There’s an OSHIMA machine for every step of garment production, contact us today to learn how our product line can helps you run an integrated, streamlined factory that provides clients with top-quality goods.