Do good fabric suppliers make errors?
Well, maybe you should ask yourself, "are fabric companies owned
and operated by humans?" Now ask yourself, "do
humans ever make mistakes?". I think that you will
agree that the answer is YES. Good fabric suppliers can certainly
In addition to experience & talent, one of the primary differences
between a good fabric supplier and a bad fabric supplier is that a good
fabric supplier will inform you when they notice a problem has taken
place. They will also work with you diligently to attempt to resolve
the situation. A bad textile supplier may try to hide the problem
which will lead to other problems down the road.
A key factor to becoming a successful fabric buyer is being able
to determine if a fabric supplier had made an "honest"
mistake or if the error was done intentionally. One example out
of many would be "shrinkage". Fabric shrinkage can occur
due to something that was done intentionally or something done in haste
Bad Factory: When buying knit fabric, the fabric mill can possibly
stretch the fabric so that the same production run can provide
more yardage of fabric (you would be paying by the yard or meter, so
the mill makes more money). Later you will most likely run
into shrinkage problems as the fabric reverts back to its pre-stretched
state (it may not fully revert, but you will most likely experience
shrinkage depending how much stretching the mill has done). This
shrinkage can occur to the fabric before you cut and sew which would
leave you with less fabric then you originally intended. This
may result in shortages when the garments are produced. Even worse
is fabric shrinkage "after" finished garments are completed
(most likely after washing). This will result in dissatisfied
consumers. That is clearly a problem if you want future business.
The bottom line is that a bad fabric supplier is capable of stretching
the fabric on purpose or possibly skipping certain finishing steps when
producing the fabric (skip steps to cut costs and save time).
If a fabric mill does this intentionally, while knowing that the fabric
will later have shrinkage problems, I think we can agree with considering
them a "bad mill".
Good Factory (with a mistake in judgment) : When buying knit
fabric, even a good fabric mill can have shrinkage problems. The
mill may have new workers or simply have errors made by experience workers.
Possibly the machine was set to an incorrect setting or the mill was
in a rush and did not allow the fabric enough time to settle.
In all honesty, there are several rather honest errors that can transpire
at a fabric mill. Although this causes huge problems for everyone
involved in the project, it is my feeling that a mill that has an honest
mistake is much more easily placed in the Good Factory category as opposed
to a factory that never makes errors, but causes problems on purpose.
Anyway, it is true that a good fabric supplier can make errors.
The trick is finding a supplier that will at "all times" take
responsibility for their errors. This may include financial responsibility
(paying to clean up the mess they have made) as well as taking
responsibility to make the needed corrections to assure that such
errors do not easily occur again in the future.
In addition to being honest, good fabric suppliers learn from their
Note: Above was an example of how fabric mills can accidentally cause
shrinkage as well as purposefully create problems. The "mills"
are used only as an example. Fabric distributors and fabric stores
also have their own tricks of the trade. Finding an honest supplier
Should you submit fabric to a testing lab?
In my opinion, testing is dependent on the quantity of fabric being
purchased. If you are buying directly from a textile factory,
my suggestion is to conduct independent testing. However, if you
are buying three yards of fabric from a clothing store to make your
daughter a pair of pants, why bother with testing. You can go
out and buy ten pairs of pants rather then pay for the testing of this
If you are shipping to a retailer in the United States, you must check
with them the testing requirements. Most major retailers "require"
testing. In addition, they have specific testing requirements.
Make sure that you are testing based on the exact criteria required
by your customer. It does not help you to test fabric, but use
a different testing standard then your buyer uses.