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Copyright 2006 Cornell University. All rights reserved.


Quality Control

Even with extensive specifications, quality of fabrics is a critical issue that designers must monitor actively to insure that they receive what they bought. Textile manufacturers monitor fabric production as part of their own quality control systems. Apparel manufacturers may test sample yardage before making large purchase commitments and also conduct either whole cloth or statistical sampling inspections of textiles they receive. The small entrepreneurial firm must set up a system to carefully evaluate fabrics and trims as they are received. The process can be as simple as checking the order numbers and specifications, but the most thorough process includes a visual inspection of the fabric for defects and some basic testing for fabric content and performance.

If a firm does not have the necessary equipment and expertise, independent textile testing laboratories can be hired to perform tests on samples of textile, apparel, trim and other materials for a fee. The cost varies depending on the complexity of the test, the equipment required, and the time involved. Most labs will test for a wide variety of mechanical, chemical, and environmental performance factors using standard methods designed by organizations such as the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) and the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC). Both organizations have web sites explaining standards. Sample test methods for textile products are on the AATCC web site For a list of independent testing laboratories, see the ASTM web page The chart below has descriptions and contact information for independent labs located in or near New York state.

ACTS Testing Labs, Inc.
25 Anderson Road
Buffalo, NY 14225-4928
Phone: 716.897.3300
Fax: 716.897.0876

ACTS provides testing for quality assurance of textiles and finished goods for retailers and manufacturers.

ETC Laboratories
40 Ajax Road
Rochester, NY 14624
Phone: 716.328.7668
Fax: 716.328.7777

ETC Laboratories conducts physical, thermal, and environmental tests on apparel and textile products.

Denni McCann describes the quality problems her firm experienced that resulted in product recall to protect the integrity of the brand.

McCann photo
"Quality surprises those are the biggest disasters."

Denni McCann describes how Champion Jogbra corrected a quality problem by stitching elastic to prevent unraveling.


Before purchasing, you should know all the guarantees, warranties, and return policies. It is wise to ask vendors questions starting with, "What happens if.....?" The responses will vary from "it's your problem" to "if you don't like it, send it back for a full refund." You may not change your mind about the purchase, but at least you will understand the consequences.

If you have accepted fabric or trim that you find has a major quality problem, several recourse actions should be considered. First, if you have signed an agreement describing your recourse options, you can contact the materials vendor directly accordingly.

Mills photo
"One of the lessons we've learned is we haven't signed enough paper ever, in any business transaction."

Malia Mills describes some complications that arose in purchasing when she didn't complete a formal written agreement.



However, without such written documentation, you still should pursue some recourse with the vendor. If the results are not satisfactory, you can report the case to your local or regional Better Business Bureau or to the state Attorney General's Office. These organizations may be able to act as liaison between you and the vendor and mediate an arrangement agreeable to both of you. At the very least, the organizations can add the vendor to their list of businesses with recorded complaints.

1. What quality control checks should be standard procedure when receiving textile materials? Why?

2. Identify two recourse strategies to follow if you are unhappy with quality or you received the wrong product.




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