Our How It’s Made series gives you a “behind the ‘seams’” look at everything that goes into making the life-saving clothing you wear every day: from fiber, to yarn, to fabric, to finished garment, and the science that imparts flame resistance along the way – all with videos and commentary from industry experts.
Now that we’ve seen how arc-rated and flame resistant (AR / FR) fibers are generated, then spun yarn and woven into fabric, and how arc and flame resistance are imparted along the way, you may be wondering: how is fabric made into the finished garment I’m wearing today?
The process at first may sound simple, but in reality can take up to six months to complete, and involves multiple steps from several contributors. Scott Margolin, Tyndale’s Vice President of Technical and resident industry expert, walks us through the steps:
The manufacturing process for finished arc-rated and flame resistant clothing (known as “AR / FR clothing” or simply “FRC”) begins with product design and patternmaking.
The product design process is critical in creating garments that not only protect workers, but look and feel good too. To develop a garment that provides the protection levels necessary, it’s important that the correct fabric is chosen. Choosing the correct fabric for other garment qualities also depends on a variety of variables such as weight, drape, texture, and more.
Once the fabric is picked out, the patternmaking process begins. Tyndale’s on-site high-tech patternmaking software and equipment – by Gerber – ensures Tyndale has complete control over the fit, style, and sizing of our garment patterns. Critically, this maximizes quality while minimizing room for error and fabric waste – also helping to control garment cost.
Next, it’s time for the garment components to be cut from the fabric. Garment patterns are printed on giant sheets of paper, then laid atop dozens of layers of fabric in advance of cutting. Before any part of a garment is actually cut, each bolt of fabrics is rolled out, “rests” for at least 24 hours and is visually inspected for any defects or imperfections. Once the fabric has passed the inspection and is cut, the garment pieces are bundled and head to the sewing stations.
While you’re probably aware that FR clothing has an arc rating, CAT Level, and information on testing standards printed on the labels, there is also labeling that denotes the exact roll of fabric the shirt was made from. So, on a shirt’s journey throughout the manufacturing process, information like the garment’s size and fabric lot must be maintained accurately, and accounted for before the start of the next step.
After labeling is complete, the garment really starts to come together. For example, an AR / FR shirt gains collars, cuffs, hems, pockets, plackets are sewn on, seams are joined, and buttons and button holes are added. Quality-driven finishing steps are taken, too, like reinforcing buttons, cover-stitching, seam-by-seam inspection, and more. As soon as there’s assurance that the shirt meets our quality standards, it is tagged and scheduled for delivery to Tyndale’s distribution centers.
Want to learn more about how finished garments are tested? Don’t miss our How it’s Tested series.
All said and done, there are over 30 individual processes involved in the cut and sew operation, and about 7-8 different individuals have a hand in creating the finished product. Most importantly, each and every contributor to the manufacturing process is committed to producing a quality protective garment that ensures workers come home to their families safely.
Now that you’ve seen how garments are made, it’s time to build your clothing program.