Functions of the Cutting Department in a Garment Industry

In a garment factory, the cutting department plays an important role in quality product manufacturing. In a garment company, the cutting department is set up to cut the fabric and handle all kinds of activities related to garment pattern cutting to supplying work to the stitching floor. There is a wide range of apparel products made by garment units and different production systems are followed by different companies. So, the function of the cutting department in a typical garment unit would depend on various factors. In this post, we have covered functions of the cutting department in the garment industry covering all types of apparel products and production process. 

In a company that has a central cutting department and multiple production units, they might have different work flow in the cutting department. All the activities involved between fabric receiving from the fabric warehouse to sending the cutting to production floor, cutting department is responsible for those. Excluding outsourced activities like printing panels and embroidery work. 

Cutting room

Fabric spreading:

To cut the fabric according to the garment patterns, fabrics are layered on a flat table. The layer process is known as fabric spreading. Spreading can be done manually or by using an auto-spreading machine. 

In export manufacturing, garment units get bulk orders. So, they need to cut garments in volume for each size and color.  To speed up the cutting process, multiple layers of fabrics are spread on the table and are cut at the same time. The cutting department is responsible for spreading fabric as per the given cut order plan and marker.

Fabric relaxation:

For certain fabrics it is necessary to relax the fabric after spreading overnight on the flat table. This helps avoid unwanted shrinkage after stitching the garments and post wash result. Whether relaxation is required or not, that decision is taken care of based on fabric lab testing result. The fabric testing can be done by the fabric store (small factories) or the internal fabric testing lab can test the fabric shrinkage and dimensional stability. When fabric relaxation is needed, the cutting department needs to plan which table should be utilized for layering such fabrics. So that the regular cutting work does not have issue is table shortage for layering new the next order. 

The cutting department is responsible for giving enough time for relaxation of the fabric. Further to how much layer height should be allowed for the specific fabrics, they need to control that.  

Fabric consumption estimation for bulk orders:

It is important to know the fabric consumption per garment in the production run. The bulk production consumption may vary compared to the consumption taken during garment sample making. For a design that requires different types of fabrics and lining materials, the cutting department calculates consumption for all materials.

The cutting department uses the production marker and measures the actual weight or length of fabrics needed for making each garment for average size or by size wise consumption. Based on the bulk production consumption, production merchandiser takes a note of their material costing and fabric requirement. They check the sourced fabric is enough to cover the order quantity or need more fabric to source.  

Lay planning:

This task involved planning of how many layers they need to spread per lay. Further they need to plan how many totals lay they need cut based on the marker length and marker planning in an order.

Marker planning: 

The cutting department does marker planning for the order depending on size ratio and color ratio in an order. Sometimes marker planning is needed based on fabric shade grouping. Fabric spreading is done based on marker planning. The cutting department calculates the number of lay requirements of lay.  

Marker making: 

Nowadays is made using CAD system. Although it is an important task for cutting department to make the marker using paper pattern in case printed marker is not available.  This is a process of making an outline of garment patterns on the top layer after spreading.

Fabric cutting:

Fabric cutting as per garment pattern is an important process in the garment manufacturing process. After making the marker, garment patterns are cut and taken out from the layer. Various technologies are used for cutting fabric layers, such as straight knife cutting, band knife machine cutting and a computer-controlled automatic cutting machine. 

Depending on the need and technology availability, the cutting department needs to cut the fabric as block cutting, direct cutting, recutting, shaping and piping cutting.  

Block cutting – They do block cutting as needed for the styles.

Re-cutting pattern - Garment component re-cutting is done for replacement of defective garment components that are found after inspection. Re-cutting requests also come from the production lines for damaged components. Recutting defective garment panel comes from stitching line.

Shaping cut panel – Shaping of garment parts are done for block panels. The cutting department needs to cut blocks for the printing and embroidery processes. After receiving garment panels from the printer or embroiderer, these panels are shaped as the final pattern.

Cutting piping (tapes):

For some styles piping (bias tape) is needed for neck finishing and other operations. The cutting team need to cut the piping as per required with and volume. The piping tape can be cut using piping cutting machine or cutting tape after layering on the table. 

Manual layering of individual garment components:

Some fabric design needs more care and attention before cutting the garment components. After block cutting, individual fabric layer is stacked on the table.  For example, where an operator needs to match printed stripes in the side seam of the garments and other positions, layering is one by ply using pin table. 

Drilling and Notch marking:

Whie cutting using straight knife or band knife, cutting person add cut mark for notch. The notch mark (cutting) is added in the cut components to assist sewing operator in identifying correct position of stitching or folding or dart position. 

For the operator drill mark is needed on the cut component. That task is performed on the cutting tables after cutting the block. This process reduces the work of individual ply marking.  

Sorting garment panels:

After cutting fabric in garment parts, cut blocks are moved from the cutting table to the sorting and bundling table. Cutting blocks are sorted by garment size and color. The sorting process helps avoid mixing of different sizes and different layers in bundling process.    

Ply numbering (Layer numbering):

Ply numbering is a common practice in mass garment manufacturing. In the stage, workers number each garment component and each layer with layer number that include size and other sequence number. Each fabric play is numbered using stickers or by stamping. 

Bundling of cut parts:

They convert the whole stack of the cutting components into small bundles. This process is called bundling. Bundle making is essential for handing garment components in the production line. Bundling also helps in inventory counting and storing cuttings. They match all the garment components from the layer. 

Attaching bundle label (ticket):

After bundling the attach a small label mentioning the content of the bundle. The bundle label normally includes information such as – style number, lay number, Ply sequences, Size and color, garment quantity in the bundle. They tie the label with the bundle. The label is normally printed or manually written in the pre-formatted paper template.

Storing of cut components:

This is a big task for cutting department of storing cuttings. As per the cut plan and cutting table capacity they keep cutting fabrics and store them on the racks and trolleys until demand comes stitching lines. They store bundles until those handed over to the sewing floor and take care of cuttings from dust disposal on the cuttings.  They also store garment cuttings in polybags. 

Bundle storage

Cutting of lining and fusing material:

Other than cutting fabrics, they need to cut fusing material and lining.  Some factories that use quilted fabric, cutting of quilt also done by cutting department.

Fusing of garment components:

For some garment designs, fusing of some garment component is needed prior to stitching. Like collar fusing for formal shirts. Normally, the cutting department is given responsibility for fusing machines and fusing production.  They take care of fusing quality as well. After fusing they store those fused component and match each fused components with the main garment components and bundles. Then they store fused items with the cutting inventory. 

Fusing in garment components is done to stiffen parts of a garment. If needed, fusing is done at the cutting section (e.g. fusing of the collar and cuff components of formal shirts).

Inspection of cut panel (Random inspection):

The cutting department is responsible for maintaining cutting quality and standard in certain parameters. For this reason, cutting components are checked randomly by quality checkers. If defective components are found, they replace those defective parts. Checking is done for pattern shapes, cutting quality in terms of edge finishing, and cutting accuracy, fabric defects such as cut mark, holes, stains.  Inspector also checks the detailing, such as drill mark, notch marks are done on the right place. For some pattern where printed pattern matching is required, they check that. 

Sorting of printed and embroidery panels:

As per order requirements, printing and embroidery is done on cut panels. They need to sort panel size-wise after receiving printed and embroidered panels. 

Distribution of cuttings to production lines:

As per the demand from stitching floor and production lines, cutting team, keeps the cuttings ready. Sometimes they may need to send different components of the same garment in different processes. They are responsible for distribution of right cuttings to the lines for the order and production loading plan. They keep records of all transactions of handing over cuttings to the stitching department and other departments. 

Maintenance of cutting room equipment:

The cutting department is equipped with cutting equipment, cutting storage, and cutting tables. Factories with latest technology, used auto spreader and auto cutters (CNC cutter).  The cutting department takes care of maintenance of cutting room equipment. They coordinate machine maintenance team when needed for machine breakdown. The replacement of cutting blades and other sharp equipment.   

Inspection of printing work:

Like they take of cutting quality, they check the components after printing and embroidery work. This task is given to the cutting department because they receive panel from these processes. They need to match those components with the main garment component.  

Keeping record of In and out of materials:

They need to prepare log of daily fabric receiving, layer reporting, cutting report, bundling report and issue/receiving details. 

Cutting report making:

They make daily cutting production report and. Other than cutting room production by purchase order, style, color, they make reports for fabric receiving, and issue of cutting to the next processes. They make reports for end-bits and end losses. They need to prepare fabric utilization report after completion of cutting for an order. They make cutting room inventory reports and weekly cutting planning. 

Entering cutting related information to an ERP system: 

Companies that use ERP system enter all the transaction of material in the ERP system. The cutting department needs to keep the cutting status updated by order. So, they enter cutting related information into the ERP system.  

Cutting rejection report:

They keep records for cutting rejections. They record the reason for cutting rejections.

Sorting Trim and Accessories for cutting: 

This activity is not common. But some companies that follow sending garment cuttings and all required trims together to the stitching line, this is also an important function for them. They need to identify garment color and size and assort all the required trims like sewing thread, size label, main label in a trolley as per garment quantity by color and by size.  

Heat transfer printing:

This is not the main task of the cutting department. But in some factories as there are no specific departments for printing, the cutting department takes responsibility of doing heat transfer print of main label when needed. For heat transfer printing, they use a heat transfer machine.  After printing the specific garment component, they match the component with the other garment component by the layer number and keep ready for sending to the stitching floor.

Marking on cut components: 

For some garment components, it is necessary to mark certain positions for sewing and folding operations. The marking activity can be performed in the cutting room if it is needed for preparatory operations. For high fashion garments, the beaded and hand embroidered panels are cut one by one. Before cutting, the outline of the garment component marking is done using chalk.   There are other uses for making need in the cutting department. 

Khaka making (Making embroidery outlines on the panels using tracing paper): 

For hand embroidery, fabric panels are traced using tracing paper. This process is called Khaka making.  Companies those make high fashion garments, their cutting department takes care of khaka making tasks.

Barcode printing / RFID Tag preparation / Coupon Printing:

Garment factories that use the production and WIP tracking system, they need to attach barcode coupons or RFID tags to the bundles. The printing of barcodes, RFID tag preparation and label or coupon printing task is taken care of by the cutting department. 


In conclusion, the cutting department takes care of all the activities related to garment parts cutting, organizing the cutting department, handling storage and movement of cut goods. Thei activities may vary widely depending on the factory size, work volume and product categories. All the employees who work in the cutting room, including cutting personnel, bundling girls, data entry operators should be skilled operators. In case you need to write an article on cutting room processes, you can include the above points.

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