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Quick Guide to Garment Quality

Clothing and Fashion lovers all over the world have a certain technique they have invented to look at the quality of what they are buying. Sometimes it is hard for a trained eye to buy products of lesser quality standards you have set for yourself. Not true?

The question is are you buying for an event, to look good for one night? Or are you looking to wear this piece over and over till it fades out like an old lizard? For me personally I prefer quality over quantity. Now some garments might give you the look you want, for now.. Till you wash it or hang it outside in the sun. Your garment, or beloved fashion item, might evolve from Cinderella ball gown to a bushman lappie in one week. Maybe not that drastic, but it might feel that way to you.

Here is a few tips as to what to look for when buying your beloved fashion item- (please keep in mind - this is how I look at things and with the guidance of amazing lecturers, whom I hope would have their say on my blog, I have developed my own guidelines)

Have a look at the care label. The quality of a garment is a great deal dependent on the characteristics and properties of the textile itself. This we will discuss at a later stage - The Properties and Characteristics of Textiles. If it is 100% pure cotton you know it will have the properties of cotton, being water absorbent and soft on the skin amongst other properties. The amount or percentage of polyester or other synthetics used will be an indication of how much stretch / elasticity the garment would have, depending of course on which angle the patterns were cut from the lay. There is a mass load of information on textiles and therefore I am going to discuss this more in depth later on.

The second aspect to look at is the colouring of the garment. Go to a light in the shop and look at the colouring of the garment you want to buy. Do the shades correspond from one part of the garment to the other? In many cases, overruns are created from two different kinds of shades in cloth in order to get rid of excess fabrics, which in turn lower the costing of buying more fabric too.

Put your hand behind the cloth and see how much you can see through it. A 190 gms fabric will obviously be of better quality than a 145 gms cloth count in the same fabric content. Clothing are becoming thinner and thinner to cut costs. But with that said, some high end synthetics are developed to give you certain performance aspects as required from let’s say a gym t-shirt.

Also have a look on the inside of the garment. Have these manufacturers gone the extra mile in ensuring the durability of the garment? Look at the seam allowance in the sides and under the arms of a t-shirt for instance. Have they overlocked it? Stitched it down? If not, odds are it will fray or unravel on those edges leaving holes in your seams.

Slightly pull the fabric panels away from each other, exposing the stitching. If you see lots of holes, the tension of the stitch was wrong which means the quality is not that great. And please do not go and tear apart half of the goods in the shop and blame it on bad construction. Be gentle and if it is not to your liking - simply walk away.

Look at the grain of the fabric used. Are they all in the same direction? Manufacturers in some cases cut the patterns from the lay in different angles in order to save costs on material. This will influence the fit of your garment either now or in time. Patterns are usually cut in the same general direction of the grain to give the garment uniform in fit and consistency in appearance. Unless cut at an angle to give it the garment some stretch / flexibility properties.

Do the patterns on the one panel match with the others? Do they go the same way or direction and match up where they are stitched together? The patterns in general should go the same direction and match at the seams to enhance the appearance of the garment. Of course it would look odd if you have mismatched panels. But once again - time and effort is money.

Also have a look into the amount of detail on the garment. Trimmings in the neckline or on the cuffs. Paneling of certain sections, ribbing on the neckline, how the hemline is finished off, amount of buttons and quality of button holes or stands. Have they cut off excess thread and neatened the finishing. All of these points make a difference in the costing of a garment, and is key to what target market manufacturers appeal to. Lower cost garments will have less trimmings and less effort in the finishes of the garment in order to bring affordable products to this market.

This is how I look at a garment before I buy anything. Feel free to comment below as to your experience and knowledge of clothing shopping.

Have a look at our corporate selection we offer to clients looking to brand their business in the Western Cape.

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