What is Seamless Garment | Benefits and Application of Seamless Garment

What is Seamless Garment?
Seamless garment is a type of one-time forming clothes manufactured by seamless knitting machine. Seamless knitting technology creates one entire complete garment with minimal or no cutting or sewing process. For seamless garment knitting, the machines have the capability not only to create shaped knitting but also to make various knit designs in the complete garment. This innovative technology eliminates post labor work, which saves production time and cost. The seamless technology offers knitwear consumers more comfort and better fit by eliminating seams. In addition, the seamless garment knitting provides more consistent and homogeneous product quality. It also offers knit designers more creative knit possibilities. Three dimensional (3D) seamless knitting with its diverse capabilities can be applied to numerous products such as fashion, upholstery, automotive, aerospace, medical textiles etc.

seamless garment
Fig: Seamless garment

Seamless means no sewing, no seams, and no stitches. Concept of seamless garment is not new. The seamless technique dates back to the fourth and fifth centuries AD. It was then used in the production of socks in Egypt during the Coptic era. Seamless garments are primarily made from a combination of microfiber yarns, lycra, and cotton. It has wide range of applications including underwear, swimwear, control-wear, leisurewear, sleepwear, ready to wear, and active wear etc.

The seamless technique has revolutionized the garment sector, and it is now the new trend in fashion worldwide. At present time, seamless knitting technology is becoming very popular in western countries, as there are advantages to wearing a seamless garment. The seamless technique is relatively simple. The process evolved from cut-and-sew production to fully fashioned garments to seamless garments. It shortens the manufacturing process and reduces material wastage, offering greater comfort and better fit to the wearers. Seamless garments are like a second skin and are comfortable and make very elegant outer and underwear.

Common Seamless Garments / Products:

  1. Berets
  2. Half hose or socks
  3. Protective gloves
  4. Pantyhose
  5. Upper-body garments/apparel
  6. Upholstery
  7. Medical textiles

Advantages/Benefits of Seamless Garments:
Nowadays, consumers value fit and feel, and prefer clothing customized to their body figures. A seamless garment dresses a woman’s body like a second skin without squeezing or leaving uncomfortable marks and offers a better and more comfortable, snug fit by eliminating seams and stitches. Its unique set of appealing characteristics of silhouette provide unlimited design to create the 3D forms, with a light, natural, and soft touch, as well as a smooth and sleek body image.

Normal clothing vs Seamless clothing
Figure 2: Normal clothing vs Seamless clothing

The seamless technology shortens the manufacturing process and reduces material waste. It is capable of turning yarn into complete garments with welt in just a few minutes, with minimal intervention for cutting and sewing. It leads to substantial savings in cost and time, with higher productivity and a quicker response

Seamless garments have the following advantages compared to the garments having seams:

1. Improved aesthetic value and comfort:
As there are no seams in the garment, the appearance of a garment is enhanced. Also, there are no chances of seam puckering, mismatching of patterns, and fitting-related problems. The discomfort felt due to the seam is overcome in seamless garments. Seamless garments consist of limited buttons, hooks, zippers, or clasps to contend with and have superior comfort and smooth and sleek fit, which increases the ease of wearing for the wearer.

2. Cost saving:
As many processes like fabric inspection, storing, spreading, cutting, stitching, etc. are omitted in the seamless technique, there is high savings in labor cost, floor space, cost of machines, power, etc. Seamless garments take 30 – 40% less time to make than a cut-and sew version, minimizing the traditional labor-intensive step of cutting and sewing and thus saving cost and time

3. Waste reduction:
Fabric spreading and cutting and subsequent stitching operation is not there and ultimately no fabric wastage here. So there is saving of yarn and fabrics.

4. Lower lead-time:
As many processes are eliminated, the time required for the particular process is saved. There is no dependence on the fabric supplier or supplier of other stitching accessories.

5. Flexibility:
It provides flexibility to knit special features like incorporating moisture management properties in the garments using different types of yarns in their structure. It provides more creative possibilities for knitwear designers. Moreover, seamless technology is versatile in nature. Due to its versatility there are infinite opportunities in the market, both locally and internationally.

6. Quality and durability: Using seamless technology to make a garment eliminates the process of cutting and sewing steps. Due to the decreased number of steps involved in making the garment, the risk of defects and damages is also minimized.

The other advantages are more constant product quality, better trim-ability for finished edge lines, just-in time production, and mass customization.

Some of the potential benefits and advantages of seamless garment are as follows:

  1. Elimination of labor intensive cutting and sewing processes
  2. Smaller work space
  3. Saving in production time and cost
  4. Minimal yarn consumption
  5. Higher productivity
  6. Multi-gauge knitting
  7. Maximum freedom of body movement
  8. Inherent lightness and softness
  9. No bulky and irritating stitches/seams
  10. More consistent product quality
  11. Better trim ability for finished edge lines
  12. Better look, better fit and more comfort
  13. More creative possibilities for knitwear designers
  14. Quick-response production for size and pattern changes
  15. Easy to engineer garment features like comfort, fit, air permeability etc.
  16. Just-in time production
  17. Mass customization

Disadvantages of Seamless Garment:
Despite the advantages described above, seamless garments have also the following disadvantages:

1. There are technical limitations in the seamless technique to knit every garment type/shape currently produced by cutting and sewing. The main problem has been the fabric take down in keeping equal tension of each loop (i.e., stitch).

2. The machines used for manufacturing seamless garments are costlier, and more skilled operators are required.

3. A fault during knitting (particularly a hole or a barré) damages the whole garment.

4. Seamless garments are costlier as compared to seamed garments.

5. While lightweight, next-to-skin garments score advantage points for comfort, this is slightly less important for outerwear garments, where the seam can become a style/fashion feature.

6. Another problem is caused during alternate needle selection, which makes fabrics more open and less elastic than conventional fully fashioned garments. This problem occurs mainly in the welt or the cuff areas.

Applications of Seamless Garments:
Seamless garments are preferred by the wearer for their comfort, snug-fitting, durability, and aesthetic characteristics. In addition, seamless garments are cheaper and do not easily fail on waistband and side seams. Seamless technology has wider application in various areas such as upholstery, automotive and industrial, sports textiles, medical textiles, and intimate apparel apart from general apparel. Some of the major applications are discussed in the following section.

Upholstery:
The recent computerized knitting machines for seamless garment construction provide technically as well as aesthetically advanced design possibilities. Three-dimensional seamless seats in office chairs can be achieved easily using sophisticated computerized system. The fabrics possess stretch characteristics to follow contours of seat. Engineered design can help in increased knitwear performance involving various knit structures. This recent development in upholstery manufacturing using knits enhances appearance, better seat trimming while eliminating ridges.

Automotive and industrial textiles:
The design of automotive seat covers by the usage of predictive computer models not only provide comfort and durability, but also assist in the quick change in the design and knitted tube size. It adds on quality, provides ergonomic seat design and time saving. In industrial applications, fibers such as Kevlar offers seamless filament knit gloves and apparels which are lightweight, flexible, and comfortable for workers in electronics, food-handling, paint, plastics, and other high-precision industrial sectors, which require high levels of safety in addition to contaminant-free cleanliness.

Sports textiles:
Seamless knitting technologies are finding interesting applications in many types of sportswear, not only garments but also shoes. Sports apparel demand high-performing garments to enhance a consumer’s performance in addition to comfort. Seamless apparel construction focuses on supporting muscles and areas where it is needed the most. An engineered fit, micro massaging features and performance innovation, results with blending of various technical fibers and yarns, to achieve the requirements. The development of advanced second-skin textiles has led to renewed interest in seamless garment construction for sports applications. A diverse range of products such as hand gloves, hats, socks, sports underwear, and tees are some of the obvious applications.

Medical textiles:
There is a high demand for seamless products in the medical sector in various applications such as bandages, orthopedic supports, medical compression stockings, gloves, and many more. With the incorporation of high performance fiber combined with technical developments, it is possible to design these products with unique features which are comfortable in addition to their other desired features. Specialized aesthetics, feeling of wellness, additional functionality, and other desired properties have helped in quick recovery. The use of seamless products can lead to certain medical procedures delayed or even avoided.

Intimate apparel:
Modern seamless, circular knitting technology has evolved from hosiery manufacturing to sleek bodywear and performance active wear. It allows ready-to-wear three dimensional (3D) tubular garments to be created directly from yarns without any seams. This technology is applied to underwear, bodywear, outerwear, swimwear, homewear, sportswear, and sanitary garments knitted directly from yarns into a single garment.

Intimate apparel produced by seamless technique gives seam-free, easy-care, comfort and fit, and gives a feel similar to one’s second skin. Due to these, they are preferred for today’s lightweight intimate apparel. In order to meet the increased demand for seamless garment, companies such as Santoni, Shima Seiki have introduced various new machines for the production of under wear, swim wear, and sanitary garments.

References:

  1. Garment Manufacturing Technology Edited by Rajkishore Nayak and Rajiv Padhye
  2. Fundamentals and Advances in Knitting Technology by Sadhan C. Ray
  3. Advances in Women’s Intimate Apparel Technology Edited by Winnie Yu
  4. Textiles for Sportswear Edited by Roshan Shishoo
Image Courtesy: Chinafitnessclothing.com & Edited.com

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