Fabric Properties and Performance for Apparel Manufacturing

Selection of fabric for specific apparel production is very important. Because fabrics are designed for specific applications, a fabric manufactured for one purpose, may not be adaptable for another use. Besides, fabric quality influences not only the quality of the garment but also the ease with which a shell structure can be produced out with flat fabric. The specifications of fabrics for apparel manufacturing can be considered in terms of primary and secondary quality characteristics. The primary quality characteristics are static physical dimensions and secondary characteristics are the reactions of the fabric to an applied dynamic force. Fabric performance in relation to ‘better fitting to the human body’ is an essential requirement of clothing materials. Besides, fabric behaviour and characteristics play a vital role in the design and development of a functional garment. Different types of fabrics are used in different types of apparel. For example sportswear fabric and warm wear fabric are not similar.
Different fabric for apparel manufacturing
Fig: Different fabric for apparel manufacturing
Fabric properties and performance for garment manufacturing:
Major properties and performance of fabric are briefly described below:

Dimensional and physical properties:
Usually fabric dimensional parameters are determined as primary requirements for fabric selection; these include thread linear density, ends and picks per cm in woven fabric or courses and wales per cm in knitted fabric, areal density (fabric mass in g/m2), length and width, weave, fabric cover, and dimensional stability (to washing and dry cleaning). Other mandatory tests include color fastness to washing, dry cleaning, light, perspiration, and rubbing. The blend percentage of component fibers is determined for blended fabric. Sometimes flammability and the presence of certain hazardous chemicals are determined depending on the end-use and buyer’s requirement. Fabric thickness, fabric density, crimp in warp-and-weft yarn, and moisture regain value are determined for detailed characterization of fabric quality depending on the requirement. Bow and skewness measurement are carried out, particularly in the case of check and stripe design fabrics.

Mechanical and other miscellaneous properties:
The mechanical properties of apparel fabrics are important from the point of view of stresses applied to the fabrics in making-up as well as the physical changes in the fabric that result from application of forces in a garment during its use. Bending, tensile compression and shear properties are considered important from the point of view of garment making-up. These properties influence both sewability and the shape of the sewn fabrics. Other mechanical properties such as drape, tear strength, abrasion resistance, wrinkle and crease recovery, and pilling behavior of fabric are evaluated from a performance point of view. Some special properties are also evaluated, like bursting strength, elastic modulus, stretchability, drying speed, light reflectance, weather resistance, moth resistance, size content, resin content, oily and fatty matter, solvent extract, scouring loss, degumming loss, glossiness, color index, foreign matter, and nets. From a comfort point of view, water absorbency, air permeability, and thermal insulation are tested. Under eco-testing, pH values of extracted liquid, barium activity number, and free formaldehyde content are examined.

Fabric performance:
Mechanical properties such as tensile, bending, shear, compression, and surface properties are considered important in deciding the utility and mechanical comfort performance of a fabric. However, analysis of the tailoring process reveals that these properties are equally important in the making-up process of the garment. In the tailoring process, an initially flat fabric is converted into a three-dimensional (3D) garment. This conversion requires complex mechanical deformation of the fabric at very low loads. Formability, the ability of a fabric to be converted into a 3D shape to fit a 3D surface, is dependent on the above mechanical properties. At the same time, it is also dependent on the techniques of garment manufacture, particularly on the amount of overfeeding adopted in certain operations. 
 
The fabric must provide the following requirements demanded by a garment:
  1. Utility performance to provide the individual with adequate physiological protection.
  2. Comfort performance to ensure a sufficient degree of wearing comfort such as fitting to the human body.
  3. Aesthetic performance to improve the aesthetic appearance of the wearer, highlighting certain anatomical particulars and concealing other.
  4. Fabric performance for engineering of clothing manufacture as clothing material.
Conclusion:
Textile fabrics as clothing materials provide protection for the human body from injury to skin caused by mechanical contact with outer bodies and protection from cold or hot environments. In addition, high-quality fabrics must be comfortable for the human body mechanically and thermally and give a good aesthetic appearance.
 
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