Step by Step Guide to T-Shirt Manufacturing for Business

Are you interested in starting a T-shirt business? 

Whether it is a manufacturing business or planning for starting your own t-shirt brand, you need to learn the t-shirt manufacturing process. From designing a t-shirt to shipping the t-shirt to the retail store.

In this post, I will discuss t-shirt manufacturing step by step – from order receiving to manufacturing a t-shirt in mass production.

This post is completed in four parts

  1. Process flow for T-shirt making
  2. The step-by-step guide to t-shirt order processing
  3. T-shirt stitching process
  4. T-shirt finishing process

1. Process flow for T-shirt making

The manufacturing process of a t-shirt starts with designing a t-shirt, sourcing fabrics, and ends after selling the t-shirt to retailers. It is considered that the design part is completed at the buyer’s end. And as a manufacturer, you get an order of a given style. 

For such orders, order processing involves following the process flow.

T-shirt manufacturing process flow 

P.S. You can do garment sampling before starting the bulk production. 

Read this article to learn the importance of sampling.

PPS: Many buyers provide instructions for stitching in techpack. Follow those instructions for workmanship, printing, washing, and packing (if applicable).

2. Step-by-step guide for t-shirt order processing

Here are the steps to be followed for making t-shirts (from order receiving to shipment).
  • Once you receive the t-shirt sample with the order, analyze the garment and list down all detailing (construction, workmanship, seam, the fabric used, trims attached etc). Estimate consumption of fabric and trims per garment. 
  • Make a bill of materials (BOM) after receiving the order. Include all items in the BOM. 
  • Source Fabrics and trims as per requirement.
  • After receiving fabrics and trims, check for the quality and quantity of sourced items. Fabric and trims need to be checked as per specification (quality standards). For the confirmation of fabric properties, you might need to send a fabric sample to the testing labs. Test fabric shrinkage.
  • Develop patterns for the style. Pattern grading to be done for different sizes. Make a sample marker with actual garment patterns and find the average consumption of fabrics.
  • Make two/three sample garments and follow all processes to be followed in bulk production (e.g. washing and finishing). Check these samples after finishing. According to the checking report of the sample do corrections if needed. 
  • This process will stop you from making mistakes in patterns and shrinkage-related issues in fabrics. Just to be safe from losing fabric and also maintain the quality of the final product.
  • Start bulk process
  • Lay fabric on the table as per marker length. Cut multiple layers at a time to save time in cutting. You can even layer multiple colors together. Just keep in mind to check size ratio. 
  • Make a marker on the top layer. Cut fabric as per pattern. Cut quantity to be as per size ratio in the in order. You can cut some extra garments for the buffer. Like if some defective or rejected garment are made in the following processes.
  • Check cut panels randomly for fabric defects and cutting is done according to the pattern.
  • Make bundles of cutting (if required). Or you can feed complete layers to the sewing operator. 
  • Set a group of tailors for stitching garments. Define sequence of the operations to be followed by tailors. Sew garments maintaining stitching quality. 
  • Check stitching quality during sewing and at the end of sewing. Do correction of defective garment found in the line. Repair work (alteration and part changing job) can be done separately or by same tailors. 
  • Send stitched garment to the finishing section. Trim uncut threads. 
  • Remove stains before pressing garments with a steam iron (if stains are found in garments). If needed wash garments for cleaning and removing stains and get a wash effect. 
  • Press garments.
  • Fold garments. Attach hang tags and price tags to garments. Pack garments into poly bags. Pack garments according to customer requirements. 
  • You can check finished and packed garments randomly for quality assurance. 
  • Store packed garments for shipping to your buyers.
Note: In case you are making a t-shirt for your own brand, you have to design the t-shirt, prepare the techpack and you have to set quality standards. In that case, order processing would vary.

P.S. Your t-shirt design may have value addition like printing and embroidery design. So printing/embroidery process will be included based on the design and at what stage printing is to be done.
Most printing of t-shirts is done on t-shirt panels. I mean after cutting, garment panels are sent to the printing house for printing. After printing work cutting panels are sent to the stitching floor.

3. T-Shirt stitching process:

If you have not made a t-shirt earlier, you will be in a dilemma on how to start making the t-shirt. I know you will be hiring tailors for making t-shirts and your tailors know how to sew the complete t-shirt. However, I want you to learn how to make the t-shirt from fabric panels. I have listed the operation sequence to be followed in making a t-shirt. I have also mentioned the machine types to be selected for each operation.

Buy one t-shirt as a sample or pick one t-shirt from your clothes before you read the following processes. Having one sample in hand you will understand quickly what I am saying here. A round-neck t-shirt has 5 components
  • Front panel
  • Back panel
  • 2 Sleeves 
  • Neck rib

List of operations involved in making t-shirt

In this section, I have explained how t-shirt components are assembled step by step.

#1. Shoulder Join: 
Join both shoulders using an overlock machine.

#2. Neck rib tuck: 
Join the ends of the rib using a lock stitch machine. Neck rib length should be cut as per neck circumference. (A different method can be used for neck rib. In the following figure, neck piping is done first. After attaching one shoulder, the neck is closed. )

#3. Neck rib join to neck: 
Fold the neck rib and attach it to the neck. While attaching the neck rib stretch both the neck and rib. Attach the neck rib using an overlock machine and top stitch using a lock stitch or chain stitch machine. Which machine to choose depends on the t-shirt design. (In the case of neck piping, it is done using a Flatlock machine).

#4. Label making: 
This process is optional. In case you have the source main label/care label in the roll form, cut it and keep it ready for the following process. Sometimes you may need to join more than one label together and later you will attach the label to the t-shirt. A single needle lock stitch machine is used for this operation.

#5. Back Neck Binding/Neck Tape: 
This operation is also an optional process. In quality t-shirts, you may show inside back neck overlock seam is hidden by binding. For binding, you need a binder (one kind of folder). A flat lock machine is used for binding.

Instead of binding with self-fabric, you can hide the back seam margin using twill tape. Use a single needle lock stitch machine to attach the tape to the back neck.

#6. Front neck T/S: Top stitch the front neck using 2 needles flat lock machine

#7. Back Neck T/S: Finish neck binding using a single needle lock stitch machine. While finishing the back neck tape/binding, attach the size label. Follow the instruction provided in the techpack for the position of the attaching size label.

#8. Sleeve Hem: Hem sleeve opening in the flat lock machine. (Alternatively, you do sleeve hemming after the underarm overlock).

#9. Sleeve attach: Attach both sleeves to the armhole. An overlock machine is used to attach the sleeve.

#10. Side seam with care label: Join side seams and underarm using an overlock machine. If you want to attach the wash care label, attach it left side of the garment, above 10 cm from the bottom hem.

#11. Sleeve Tacking: Tack the sleeve at the overlock stitch to secure the stitch. Use a single needle machine for this job.

#12. Bottom Hem: At last hem the t-shirt bottom using a 2-needle flat lock machine.

Sewing machine used in T-shirt making
The most common sewing machines used for making t-shirts are these.
  • Single needle lock stitch machine
  • Overlock machine 
  • Flatlock sewing machine (Cylinder bed and flat bed flat lock)
The step-by-step stitching operations (assembling the t-shirt) are shown in the following chart.

Stitching operations that are shown in the following infographic are based on a particular t-shirt sample (it may differ from the above steps).

Infographic: T-shirt sewing process

4. T-Shirt Finishing Process

After stitching the T-shirt you have to finish it and pack (if applicable) it prior to sending the t-shirts to a retail store. Quality of packing and presentation is as important as product quality. Following are the processes you need to do in the finishing process.
  • Thread trimming: Trim all thread tails and remove loose threads.
  • Quality checking: Check stitching quality. Follow the quality document for checking quality. In the finished garment fabric defects and stitching, defects should not be allowed.
  • Pressing / Ironing: Press all garments using a steam press. By pressing creases on the t-shirt is removed. 
  • Folding: Fold the t-shirt according to folding dimension. 
  • Tagging: Attach hang tags, and price tags using tag-gun. 
  • Packing: Pack individual t-shirts into poly bags. Or follow packing instructions from your buyer. See the following image for the packed t-shirt.
This way t-shirts are made in mass production. In case you need further information you can contact me through email. 

For a definitive guide on starting a t-shirt manufacturing business, read my book "Kick Start Your T-Shirt Business"

Kick Start Your T-shirt Business

Print book purchase links
Amazon (international purchase)
Flipkart (Purchase print book in India)
For eBook Purchase use this link

Article updated on: 24th April 2023
First publication date: 16th Feb 2016

0/Post a Comment/Comments