Improving fabric use in clothing production

Improving fabric use in clothing production
© guitou60, #96946408, 2018, source:
Textile and clothing
Low cost
Resource savings: Raw material:
Annual saving depends on numerous factors but results in cost savings of reduced materials
Resource savings: Waste:
Reduced waste disposal costs
Payback time:
Payback time depends on a number of factors including the cost of materials and extent of marker efficiency improvements
Premises and operation areas:
Production processes
Size of company:
Micro (less than 10), Small (less than 50), Medium (less than 250), Large (more than 250)
Advancement in applying resource efficiency measures:
What is in it for you:
Save on material costs and reduce waste generated during fabric cutting
Descriptive information:

Fabric utilisation depends directly on marker efficiency. Markers are usually paper consumables showing the outlines of the pattern for making cutting and making clothes. CAD design tools are usually used to calculate how best to arrange the pattern components on the fabric layer but in small-scale operations manual marker-based methods are commonplace.

How does it work?

There are several ways to improve fabric use:

  • Employee training – computer-aided design: Whether manual or computerised, material utilisation depends on the knowledge, experience and will of those developing the cutting plan. In (preferred) computerised systems, a highly trained operator can customise the generic commercial software to meet the specific requirements of their cutting equipment and man-power. Their competency in using the software to optimise fabric consumption under different design tolerances and ratios of garment size quantities, or with strict requirements for grain direction of the material determines, to an extent, how and how much fabric is used.
  • Cutting room – best practice: Enable the cutting room to change the product design to improve fabric utilisation as long as it does not affect the quality of the finished product. Examples of opportunities in this process include:

    • Rounding corners, which can improve how many parts are packed in an area

    • Reducing sewing allowances

    • Rotating parts of the pattern where the direction of the fabric grain is not important

    • Reducing the overall dimensions. If the tolerance is +/- 0.5 cm, work to the lower end of that tolerance range. [1]

  • Fabric grouping: A way of optimising fabric utilisation if the rolls differ in:

    • Shade (determine what variation in colour is acceptable customers to avoid rejects and group acceptable rolls together) [2]

    • Width (if rolls are not grouped by width then the smallest roll in the batch determines the width of the marker; using a smaller than necessary marker on a roll of fabric reduces material needed) [3]

    • Shrinkage (knitted and denim fabrics are especially prone to shrinkage; developing markers dependent on shrinkage characteristics of grouped lots of fabric is time-consuming but could reduce rejects and improve fabric utilisation) [4]

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