How do I spot shoddy garments BEFORE I buy them?
November 2, 2006 7:25 PM   Subscribe

Clothes Shopping Advice: I did it again. I bought what I thought was a quality knit top on sale and the damn thing is now "twisting" on me. Are there any tips or tricks to spotting whether a piece of clothing is well-made before you buy it?

The garment in question is basically a V-neck T-shirt, with a few buttons at the base of the V. It looked great when I tried it on - very flattering, in fact - but now that I've washed it, the left body seam is twisting to the front and the right one to the back. I've had this happen before to a pair of cheap track pants, and my understanding (with my limited sewing knowledge) is that it's a result of not cutting the fabric properly with respect to the grain. The shirt wouldn't be so bad except for the buttons in the front, because as they twist off center it makes it so obvious. I'm pretty much writing this one off, but is there any way to avoid this in the future? Or is it just a matter of knowing that a $15 shirt is always going to be a gamble? (And it's basically unfixable, right?)
posted by web-goddess to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
posted by smackfu at 7:47 PM on November 2, 2006

Could it have been the way you dried it? I find that sometimes tumble-drying can do this to the best made shirts. Also, if you hang them out, hanging them so that the seams are not straight down either side can do that too.
posted by cholly at 9:27 PM on November 2, 2006

Nah, I don't think it's the way I dried it, cholly. It's not a question of the seam being crooked; the whole tube of the body is twisting in a spiral.

This may be answering my own question, but I just stumbled across this site through further Googling. The author suggests checking to see whether the vertical ribs in the knit are perpendicular to the hem. This shirt is pretty fine though and it's hard to tell. It doesn't look like it's perpendicular all the way around though. Maybe that's the magic thing to look out for.
posted by web-goddess at 9:40 PM on November 2, 2006

Correct-- the fabric was cut off-grain. Basically one part of the top was cut on the bias, the other on grain, or who knows. This happens all the time unfortunately, and you almost always end up with twisting. I mostly see these kind of errors in discount stores, such as Targert or Kmart.

Like you said, sometimes it's not noticeable until you wash the garment. My mother has a good eye and has a lot of experience wiht sewing. She bought a cute pair of those Levi's they sell in Target, washed them, and now they are twisting on one leg. It makes them unwearable as you know. She brought them back.

You are right--inspect the rib of the knit in question. All knits have a rib. Some are hard to see, like single-knit jerseys and polysester jerseys, but they do have a rib. Another thing to do is always try on the top, hold it up on the hanger in the shop, and inspect the seams and the fabric. If you see a diaganol rib or ripply seams that should be your cue, unless the entire garment is cut on the bias. Which some skirts and dresses are--even tops, but the seams should always be smooth.

My advice would be to buy knit tops at places like the Gap, J-Crew, or nicer department stores. From what I have seen, these places usually have a higher quality standard. I would be very curious to hear where you purchased this top.
posted by LoriFLA at 5:28 AM on November 3, 2006 [3 favorites]

Unfortunately there are *no* Gaps in Australia! :(

I got the shirt at Cotton On at World Square on George Street in Sydney. I've gotten a few other tops from them before and most have been great. I guess I just have to decide if it's an acceptable risk (and try harder to recognize the crappy ones).
posted by web-goddess at 7:49 PM on November 3, 2006

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