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Common fabric defects and its causes

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Common Defects of Fabrics during manufacturing process includes back fabric seam impression, birds eye, bowing, broken colour pattern, colour out, colour smears, crease mark, drop stitching, dye streak in printing, hole, jerk in, knots, mixed yarn, mottled, needle line, open reed, pin holes, press off etc.


Fabric defects can be a source of frustration for both manufacturers and consumers, impacting the quality and aesthetics of textiles. To minimize these issues, it is crucial for textile producers to maintain strict quality control measures throughout the production process, from yarn spinning to finishing. Likewise, consumers can help preserve the quality of their textiles by following care instructions and handling fabrics with care. By addressing and preventing common fabric defects, the textile industry can continue to provide high-quality products that meet the expectations of consumers worldwide.

Often inspectors are given the responsibility of inspecting finished garments without adequate training in fabric defects and their causes. The ultimate solution, of course, is to provide actual examples or photographs of both major and minor defects. This section provides a list of defects and explanations and simplifies the language and the judgments used in making visual fabric evaluations. The Quality Control Manager can provide this list to inspectors as a practical tool for achieving uniform inspection decisions.

Major and Minor Defects

The following definitions are central to fabric inspection:

Major Defects

A defect that, if conspicuous on the finished product, would cause the item to be a second. (A “second” is a garment with a conspicuous defect that affects the salability or serviceability of the item.

Minor Defects

A defect that would not cause the product to be termed a second either because of severity or location. When inspecting piece goods prior to cutting, it is necessary to rate questionable defects as a major, since the inspector will not know where the defect may occur on the item.

Fabric Defect Depictions

Fabric defect due to hole
Fabric defect due to the hole
Fabric defect due to stain
Fabric defect due to stain
Float defect in the fabric
Float defect in the fabric
Fabric weft yarn defect
Fabric weft yarn defect
Fabric warp yarn defect
Fabric warp yarn defect
Double pick defect in fabric
Double pick defect in the fabric
Double end defect in the fabric
Double end defect in the fabric
Insufficient weft density defect in fabric
Insufficient weft density defect in the fabric
Excessive weft density defect in fabric
Excessive weft density defect in the fabric
Fabric broken pick defect
Fabric broken pick defect
Broken end defect in fabric
Broken end defect in the fabric

Common Fabric Defects

The textile industry plays a significant role in our daily lives, providing us with an array of fabrics that make up our clothing, home textiles, and more. However, no manufacturing process is perfect, and fabric production is no exception. Fabric defects can occur at various stages of production, from weaving and knitting to dyeing and finishing. These defects can compromise the quality and appearance of textiles, leading to customer dissatisfaction and potentially affecting a brand’s reputation. In this article, we will delve into some of the most common fabric defects, their causes, and how to prevent them.

Knots and Slubs

Knots and slubs are irregularities in the yarn that can lead to noticeable imperfections in the fabric. Knots occur when two yarn ends are joined together during spinning or weaving. Slubs, on the other hand, are thicker sections of yarn that can create a lumpy appearance. These defects can be caused by issues with the spinning process or inconsistent yarn quality.

Prevention: Manufacturers can reduce knots and slubs by maintaining strict quality control during the yarn production phase. Using high-quality raw materials and advanced spinning technology can also help minimize these defects.


Pilling is the formation of small, fuzzy balls on the surface of fabric, typically caused by friction and abrasion during wear and washing. It’s a common issue with fabrics like cotton and wool. Pilling can make garments look worn out and old prematurely.

Prevention: To prevent pilling, manufacturers can use longer and finer fibers, better spinning techniques, and fabric finishes designed to reduce friction. Consumers can help by following care instructions, avoiding harsh detergents, and using fabric shavers to remove pills.

Stains and Discoloration

Stains and discolorations can occur during the dyeing or finishing processes. These defects can result from uneven dye distribution, chemical reactions, or contamination of the dye bath. Stains and discolorations are particularly problematic as they are highly visible.

Prevention: Manufacturers must closely monitor and control the dyeing and finishing processes to ensure uniform color distribution. Quality control measures, such as colorfastness testing, can also help identify potential issues before the fabric reaches consumers.

Snags and Runs

Snags and runs are common defects in fabrics like knits and delicate weaves. They occur when a yarn loop is pulled out of its original position, creating a visible line or hole in the fabric. Snags can happen during production, handling, or wear.

Prevention: Manufacturers can use stronger and more durable yarns to reduce the likelihood of snags and runs. Consumers can take precautions by avoiding sharp objects and rough surfaces when wearing or washing delicate fabrics.

Misprints and Pattern Misalignments

In printed fabrics, misprints and pattern misalignments can occur when the printing process is not precise. This defect results in a distorted or uneven pattern, which can be especially noticeable in garments and home textiles.

Prevention: Proper calibration of printing equipment, regular quality checks, and skilled operators can help prevent misprints and pattern misalignments. Manufacturers should also use high-quality printing inks and maintain consistency in the printing process.

Glossary of Defects

Defect Cause Severity
Skewed or Bias Condition where filling yarns are not square with wrap yarns on woven fabrics or where courses are not square with wale lines on knits. Major or Minor
Back Fabric Seam Impression Backing fabric is often used to cushion fabric being printed. If there is a joining seam in the backing fabric, an impression will result on printed fabric. Major
Barre Occurs in circular knit. Caused by mixing yarn on feed into the machine. Fabric will appear to have horizontal streaks. Usually Major
Birds Eye Birds eye often caused by unintentional tucking from malfunctioning needle. Usually two small distorted stitches caused side by side. Major or Minor depending on severity
Burl Mark When a slub or extra piece of yarn is woven into the fabric, it is often removed by a “burling tool.”This will usually leave an open place in the fabric. Major
Bowing Usually caused by finishing. Woven filling yarns lie in an arc across fabric width. It is critical on stripes or patterns and not as critical on solid color fabrics. Major or Minor
Broken Color Pattern Usually caused by colored yarn out of place on the frame. Major
Color Out Color out is the result of color running low in a reservoir on the printing machine. Major
Color Smears Color Smears are the result of color being smeared during printing. Major or Minor
Crease Mark Differs from crease streak in that streak will probably appear for an entire roll. Crease mark appears when creases are caused by fabric folds in the finishing process. Often discoloration is a problem. Major
Crease Streak Occurs in tubular knits. Results from creased fabric passing through squeeze rollers in dyeing process.Depending on the product. Usually Major
Drop Stitching Drop stitching results from malfunctioning needle or jack appearing as holes or missing stitches. Major
Dropped Pick Caused by the filling insertion mechanism on a shuttleless loom not holding the filling yarn,causing the filling yarn to be woven without tension. The filling yarn appears as “kinky”.There will also be areas of “end out”. Major
Drawbacks Caused by excessive loom tension gradually applied by some abnormal restriction. When the restriction is removed the excess slack is woven into the fabric. Usually the ends are broken Major
Dye Streak in Printing Results from a damaged doctor blade or a blade not cleaned properly. Usually a long streak until the operator notices the problem. Major
End out Caused by yarn breaking and loom continuing to run with the missing end.MajorJerk-in Caused by an extra piece of filling yarn being jerked part way into the fabric by the shuttle. The defect will appear at the selvage. Usually Major
Hole Holes in fabrics are usually caused by the broken needle. Major
Jerk In Jerk Ins is caused by an extra piece of filling yarn being jerked part way into the fabric by the shuttle. The defect will appear at the selvage. Major or Minor
Knots Knots are caused by tying spools of yarn together. Usually Minor
Missing Yarn Occurs in circular knit. Caused by one end of yarn missing from feed and machine continuing to run. Major
Mixed Filling Caused by bobbin of lightweight yarn or different fiber blend used in filling. Will appear as a distinct shade change. Major
Mixed Yarn Mixed yarn is a different fiber blend used on the warp frame, resulting in a streak in the fabric. Usually Major
Mottled Mottles occurs when colors applied unevenly during printing. Major or Minor
Needle Line Needle Line is caused by bent needle forming distorted stitches in a vertical line. Major or Minor
Open Reed Open reed are the results from a bent reed wire causing warp ends to be held apart, exposing the filling yarn. Major
Pin Holes Pin holes along selvage caused by pins holding fabric while it processes through tender frame.
Major> if pin holes extend into the body of fabric far enough to be visible in the finished product
Press Off Press Off occurs when all or some of the needles on circular knitting fail to function. Fabric either falls off the machine or design is completely disrupted or destroyed. Major
Printing Machine Stop Mark Dye or ink smudged along the width of fabric as a result of the printing machine stopping.
Print Out of Repair Caused by print rollers not being synchronized properly. This results in various colors of the design not being printed in the proper position.
Puckered Selvage Usually caused by selvage being stretched in finishing or by uneven wetting out in sanforization process. Major
Runner Runner is a caused by the broken needle. The runner will appear as a vertical line. Most machines have a stopping device to stop the machine when a needle breaks. Major or Minor
Sanforize Pucker Usually caused by defective spray heads resulting in uneven wetting out of Sanforize. Fabric will appear wavy or pucker when spread on cutting table. It is difficult to detect while inspecting on inspection machine with fabric under roller tension. Major or Minor
Scrimp Scrip is the result of fabric being folded or creased when passing through tender frames. Major
Skewing Skewing refers to a condition where filling yarns are not square with warp yarns on woven fabrics or where courses are not square with wale lines on knits. It happens when the fabric shrinks more perpendicular to the twill line than along the twill line.
Slub Slub refers to thick or heavy places in the yarn or flying waste yarn getting into yarn feeds during the spinning process. Slub and other inconsistencies are common in fabrics produced on vintage shuttle looms. Major or Minor
Smash Small caused by a number of ruptured warp ends that has been repaired Major
Soiled Filling Soiled filling is dirty oily looking spots on the warp or filling yarns, or on packaged-dye yarn. Can be Major or Minor
Stop Mark Stop mark occurs when the loom is stopped, the yarn elongates under tension. When the loom starts again, the slack is woven into the fabric. Can be major or Minor
Straying End Straying End is caused when an end of yarn breaks and the loose end strays and is knit irregularly into another area.
Thin Place Thin Place is often caused by the filling yarn breaking and the loom continuing to run until the operator notices the problem. Major
Water Spots Water spots are usually caused by wet fabric being allowed to remain too long before drying, Color migrates leaving blotchy spots. Major
Pilling Pilling refers to the forming of little-matted balls on the surface of knitted fabrics. Pilling occurs when soft yarn rubs against itself, resulting in tangled fibers and produces an uneven and worn look.


  1. Omar Gamez says

    Very complete information on fabric defects for apparel, as a beginner appreciate all the knowledge!!

  2. Daughn Spahn says

    Having a problem with the fabric we order from another vendor.
    Rolls are approximately 45x10x15cm and packed a meter high in pallets.
    The rolls in the middle are often damp, moisture laden, and must be spoiled resulting in great waste and numerous problems for manufacture.
    Any idea as to the cause?
    The rolls on the outside of the pallets are fine, no moisture problems.

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    As per 4 point ASQC inspection system defects may again classify as

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