Fabric Inspection – Are you performing a 4 point inspection?

Ask a soft goods manufacturer what do they do when they receive the fabric? You will be surprised how many will say we check the roll length and the usable width to ensure they received what they paid for. Yes, this is fair enough, but it is not the answer I am looking for, I want to know the quality level received is acceptable.

So, I rephrase the question, what do you do when the fabric is received to ensure the quality is acceptable and matches the approved development sample. The first reply will be we check the colour, there will probably only be 10-20% who will say we conduct an AQL four-point inspection on the fabric, there will also be a lot of blank face as to what a 4-point inspection entails.

This document has been put together as a guideline on what the inspection process needs to be, for each company and end market there will be a slight difference, this document is to serve as your entry guide to the 4-Point Inspection process.

Not part of the 4-Point Inspection is conducting shrinkage tests; it is important that the fabric is dimensionally stable after washing so do a shrinkage test on all fabric receipts. This must be managed by the technical team as it relates to the end product been able to meet specification and potential longer term challenges in laundering once the customer washes the product. Know your fabric shrinkage and how to manage it.

Fabric Inspection Guidelines

  1. All fabric is to be inspected by the soft goods factory no later than 24 hours from receipt and prior to cutting.
  1. The 4-Point system in this document is the standard for to be used for all fabric inspections.
  1. Any fabric defect will not be acceptable where the finished product’s appearance and function will be affected by the presence of these defects.
  1. Thick and thin slubby yarns are unacceptable unless the fabric was designed to have surface interest. Home-spun type fabrics, linen looks and silk noil all have inherent surface variations. These variations are acceptable with pre-approved.
  1. Offensive fabric odours within any roll /shipment are unacceptable.
  1. Fabric construction and weight must be checked on each batch during the course of the inspection process.
  1. Each fabric delivery must be testing using an agreed testing facility. As a condition of finished goods approval, the testing report must be approved ensuring all tested items are passed or approved.
  1. All fabric inspection must be completed in full, detailing the date, inspector, findings of each inspection, and final result.

Inspection Equipment

  1. The soft goods factory must ensure they have an operational fabric inspection machine in a clear and clean environment that is well lit, with all tools necessary to conduct the inspection.
  1. The fabric inspection machine must have variable speed control, overhead lighting (CWF or as otherwise specified bulbs) and a yardage counter. The machine must be clean with no excess oil and sharp edges to damage fabric. The bulbs and the yardage counter must be replaced regularly according to the instruction book of the machine.
  1. For all thin fabric inspection <125gsm, the underneath light source must be used.
  1. The speed of the inspection machine cannot be faster 25 yards per minute. For printed fabric the machine speed needs to be 15 yards per minute. For delicate fabric, the machine speed must be 10 yards per minute.

Quantity Inspection

  1. 100% of the delivery must be delivered to the soft goods factory to draw a viable inspection sample.
  2. 10% of all rolls from each dye lot of every delivery must be inspected random This should cover all colours and dye lots within a single delivery. If the results show a high fault rate, an additional 15% of rolls should be inspected. If they still fail, the shipment will be rejected. The following table will help inspectors to easily calculate the inspection quantity:
Shipment Lot Size Inspection Quantity
1-1000yds/ meters 1-100yds / meters
1,001-5,000yds /meters 100-500yds / meters
5,001-20,000yds / meters 500-2,000yds / meters
20,001-50,000yds / meters 2,000-5,000yds / meters
Over 50,000yds / meters 5,000yds / meters

Inspection procedure

  1. Check the packing list and the swing tickets. Make sure the bulk quantity, breakdown, and the packing method is exactly as requirement.
  1. Check the colour and dye lot
    1. All colours must be checked in the lightbox against approved sample, lightbox globes must be change after 100 hours or use or yearly. If the factory doesn’t have a lightbox, review the colour under natural light – preferably from a north-facing window. The colour difference between bulk and approved sample cannot be less than grade 4 against the grey scale or delta 1.0
    2. At the beginning of each roll, a 15cm full-width cutting (head-end) should be taken as a sample to review the colour shading. The inspector should attach a swing ticket to the roll and record: factory name, colour/print name, fabric type, batch/lot size, batch/lot number & date of receipt, date of fabric inspection and colour difference reading. The inspector then checks the samples the edge-edge dye lot. If colour variation is found, the dye lot cannot be accepted and must be recorded in the fabric inspection report. This fabric sample also can be used to establish a shade band as identified on next Figure F5-1.
    3. Edge and centre shading can be detected by sewing one strip of fabric in the same grain direction, as shown in figure F5-2 & 3. Fabric strips sewn together must be reviewed carefully for shade variation. If in doubt, more rolls from the same dye lot/print batch must be checked. If shading is found within the dye lot/print batch, then further checks on other batches and the rest of the delivery must be conducted before cutting to ensure defective/shaded rolls are isolated and not cut.

Recommended Procedure for Shade Variation Checking

Fabric Inspection  - Are you performing a 4 point inspection

Figure F5-1-Example of edge to edge shading variation check

Cut a 15cm full-width strip from fabric, mark the numbers from 1 to 5 on the fabric as in the figure below, then cut the fabric along the broken line.


Figure F5-2 Side-to-Centre and Side-to-Side Shade Variation Check

Sew all 5 pieces together in the order shown in the figure below, you can then easily identify any dye lot variation in the fabric width.


Figure F5-3 Side-to-Centre and Side-to-Side Shade Variation Check

  1. The usable width of the fabric must be taken from the area between the selvedge. Fabric width must be checked a minimum of three times during the inspection of a roll (beginning, middle and end of the roll).
  1. The fabric length written on the piece ticket must be checked against actual length of the roll. Any significant variations must be recorded on the inspection report.
  1. All defect points must be recorded on the inspection report. In addition, all defects must be marked on the right selvedge of the fabric piece using a sticker.
  1. Fabric weight must be checked and recorded on the inspection report.
  1. The inspector must check the hand feel at least 3 times. Once for roll head, once in the middle of the roll and once at the end of roll.

The Inspection Standard

4-point system is an inspection method used for the visual checking of fabric quality. Faults are scored with penalty points of 1, 2, 3 and 4 according to the size and significance of the defects.

Size of Defects Assigned Points
3” (8cm) or less 1
Over 3” (8cm) but not over 6”(16cm) 2
Over 6” (15cm) but not over 9”(23cm) 3
Over 9”(23cm) 4


  1. Normally applies for woven and knitted fabric inspection. For some special fabrics, it may be that standard is inappropriate – depending on the nature of the fabric. Assign no more than 4 points to any one linear yard of fabric, regardless of the number or size of the detected individual defects.
  2. Assign 4 points to each linear yard in which a continuous running defect exceeds 9 inches.
  3. Assign 4 points to each full width defect.
  4. All holes, regardless of size will be penalized 4 points.

Definition of continual defects:

  1. If found continual defects length over 6 yards in 100 yards, then reject the roll.
  2. Normally it is caused from an uneven warp yarn count. The direction of the defects is parallel with the fabric edge. Usually the length of the defects is very long.

Definition of full width defects:

  1. “Full-width defects” means the defects which cross full width of fabric, such as spin/stop marks, pulled yarn and foreign colour yarn, etc. All of these are accounted as 4 points.
  2. If 4 full width defects are found within 100 yards of fabric, the roll should be rejected.
  3. If the weaving density/weaving strength is different from edge to edge, or the fabric has been rippled or creased, and as a result the fabric cannot evenly spread out, then the quality level of the roll should be marked as a “fail”.

Fabric width:

  1. The QC must check the fabric width 3 times for each roll. If the fabric width is close to the minimum width or it varies widely, the QC must check more rolls.
  2. The fabric width should be measured from one edge needle hole to the opposite edge needle hole. Actual fabric widths of less than requirements are unacceptable. The tolerance of fabric width is plus or minus 3%.

Dye lot:

  1. The acceptable standard of a fabric dye lot must include batch, edge-middle and head-end dye lots. Must also be 4 grade against grey scale.
  2. The QC must review dye lot in the lightbox with corrected light source and judge it against a greyscale card.

Roll length:

  1. Any roll length of less than 27 yards is unacceptable, unless specified by the customer.
  2. Any roll length of over 200 yards is unacceptable, unless the specified by the customer.
  3. If the roll length shortage is over 1%, record on the report.
  4. If all inspected roll lengths show average shortage of over 2%, hold the shipment and report to the Manager.

Fabric Joints:

  1. The fabric batch should not be joined more than twice per 100 yards. Any fabric joint will be considered a 4-point defect.
  2. For denim, allow 3 joins per 100 yards.

Skew weft:

  • Maximum Bow/Skew tolerance is as per below:
  1. Solid colour: 4% of total width
  2. Printed: 3% of total width
  3. Yarn dyed checks or strips: 5% of total width
  4. For denim: Fabric weight over 10oz: 2% of total width. Fabric weight less 10oz: 3% of total width

Acceptable quality level:

Fabrics type is divided into five different groups.  Each group uses a different point standard defining the pass / fail rating.

Fabric Group Classifications

Group One


All Synthetics – Polyester/Nylon/Acetate
Basic Denim (Open End Spun) = 12 oz. sq. yard 12 oz.
Dress Shirting = 50/1 50
Filament Rayons
Worsted Spun
Group Two Basic Denim (Ring Spun) = 12oz sq. yard
Basic knitted fabrics
Lightweight Denims 4oz – 8oz sq. yard
Middleweight Denims 9oz-12oz sq. yard
Poplin/Oxford/Gingham Shirting= 32/1,50/1
Spun Rayons
Twills 4oz – 8oz sq. yard
Spun Wool
Group Three All Specialty Fabrics (Jacquard/Seersucker/Dobby)
Chambray / Indigo Yarn Dyed
Coated Fabric (wax/oil/polyurethane type coating on the face side)
Plain Weave Fabric – Cotton/Synthetics/Blends
Silk Fabrics (except Indian silk and Dupioni)
Specialty Knitted Fabrics
Stretch Denim / Corduroy / Velvet
Group Four Linen
Indian Silk
Group Five Dupioni
Indian “Madras”(Hand Dyed-Power/Hand Loom )
Patch work

AQL – Acceptable Quality Level Group – Point Roll / Shipment

Imperial Individual Roll  Shipment
Group One 15 points/100sq.yds  12points/100sq.yds
Group Two 20 points/100sq,yds  16points/100sq.yds
Group Three 25 points/100sq,yds  20points/100sq,yds
Group Four 40 points/100sq,yds  32points/100sq,yds
Group Five 50 points/100sq,yds  40points/100sq,yds

Sum up all the points of each roll, and record the total points on the report.

Using the following formula to calculate the fault points per 100 square yards for each roll of fabric.

                          Actual points counted X 3600                                                = points/100sq.Yds

Actual Roll Length (yards) × Actual Fabric Width (inches)

Use the following formula to calculate the number of faults per 100 square yards for the entire shipment.

                         Total points counted X 3600                                                   = points/100sq. Yds

Total inspected Length (yards) × Actual Fabric Width (inches)

Qualification of the delivery is approved by the number of points been less than the number of points indiscated in AQL – Aceeptable Quality Level Table – Group 1 to 5.

ID Global Concepts has been involved in quality management of fabric, accessories, and apparel for many years. We can add value to your operation either through consultancy or management contract to ensure your business has the best practice quality systems that are the right fit for your business and meets your value expectations.

Below are the retailer’s ID Global Concepts have delivered quality apparel and accessories to over the last ten years;

Macy’s, Urban, Sears, Marks & Spencer, Myer, Kmart US & Kmart Australia, Dunnes Stores, Debenhams Monsoon Accessorize, Asos, Witchery, Brown Sugar, RM Williams, Coles, Chloe, John Lewis, Disney, Next, Firetrap, Lonsdale, Postie, ASDA, Harris Scarf, River Island, Tesco, Woolworths, Walmart, Glassons, Babies’R’Us, New Look, Target US & Australia, Primark, David Jones, Best & Less, Sophie, Yakka, Top Shop, BHS, Burlington, BigW, Oasis, JayJays, Blue Illusion, Driza-Bone, Just Jeans, Volcom, House of Fraser, Pumpkin Patch, Suzanne Grae, Pelaco, Laura Ashley, Sportsgirl, Ted Baker, Truetex, TableEight, French Connection

If you would like to learn more or wish to discuss other supply chain opportunities, please email us at info@idgc.co.

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