Apparel Manufacturer, technical journal

Now that I introduced my friend Trish, I can tell you about the treasure trove she lent me. Until recently, the trade magazine of the operations side of the business was called Bobbin, published by Bobbin Blenheim.They sponsored the annual Bobbin Show, a show of legendary size drawing visitors internationally. Bobbin was acquired and went through some changes, one of which being that we don’t have our annual convention anymore. Many of us remember those days with sadness and fondness. Anyway, Bobbin was published for many years, early on the flavor was distinctly different from what we see in today’s trade magazines (today’s focus is software solutions). Much of the early material was pragmatic, operations related, mostly hands on practical advice. In 1989-90, Bobbin started a new publication called Apparel Manufacturer, A Technical Journal of Bobbin Magazine. Trish has some of these and she finally let me borrow them. These are pretty cool.

I haven’t been able to locate another source for these but according to the published circulation figures, there were at least 17,000 copies distributed. I include the photo above in the event you habituate used book stores so you can know what to look for. These are smallish (7″x10″), perfect bound paper backs.

The topics are of interest to those who operate manufacturing plants, the day to day concerns of how to get things done. Each issue featured articles under various categories, those being Preproduction and Design, Cutting Room, Sewing Room, Pressing and Finishing, Factory Management, and New Products. These included topics like how to train sewing operators, sizing problems, materials utilization (a four part series), how to set up piece rates and incentives, seam puckering, thread breakage, skipped stitches, testing garments, management for small to medium sized manufacturers, all kinds of stuff. You just don’t see this kind of stuff anywhere anymore (outside of what I publish on F-I). I compiled a table of contents (pdf) for download. If you find any topics of particular interest, I can provide excerpts as is appropriate. Ideally, these guidebooks would be reprinted but I can’t imagine how one would go about making that happen.

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  1. Alexzandra Caldwell Wenman says:

    I would love to know what they cover on the topics of;
    Evaluating the Pattern Grading Process Nov 89 34
    Marker Making and Spreading Modes May 90 26
    They’re two areas that I don’t know a ton about and usually feel like I’m fumbling through.

    Also, It’d be interesting to see what they have to say about these too.
    Thread Breakage June 90 42
    Skipped Stitches July 90 46

  2. Short run publishing has finally emerged. There are some online services that produce printed books with stronger bindings than I’ve ever seen before. One is Infinity Publishing ( and another is iUniverse ( Generally you send electronic files, but they will also help you figure out what to do if you only have hard-copy. I think you’d basically scan the pages as PDFs – you’d have to cut the bindings off a copy of the journal, but you’d evidently have student labor for the scanning, which would save money.

    The cycle time is very fast and you can order very short runs. There are a couple of people writing on lean who have chosen these companies for publishing. I’m certainly going to do mine that way, though there will probably be something much better in 2052 when I get mine done.

  3. Todd Hudson says:

    These are my top picks for now:
    Jeans Sizing: Problems and Recommendations Aug 89 18
    Evaluating the Pattern Grading Process Nov 89 34
    Methods of Shirt Production May 90 46

  4. Kathleen says:

    I’ve been corresponding with the editor and author of much of the material from these journals. I’m trying to convince him there’s still a need for this material. He is elderly, in his early 80’s. If he is to file to reclaim his copyrights, the time is now. I’m hoping to get more feedback, to convince him it’d be worth his effort. He also wrote four books, now long out of print.

    We lost the Rohr books forever. I’m hoping history won’t repeat itself now.

  5. J C Sprowls says:

    You just know everybody, Kathleen!

    I’m one of the interested parties. If you’re keeping a list of buyers, please add my name. If you need help with following up on this project, just let me know.

  6. Dalila says:

    Hmm. Here are some of my picks for interest:
    Using Pre-Employment Testing to Improve Profits Nov 89 52 – especially how that compares to the post a while back on people’s experiences.
    How to Train Sewing Machine Operators series
    Skipped Stitches and Thread Breakage
    Jeans Sizing: Problems and Recommendations Aug 89 18

  7. drew says:

    I would love to read technical journals on sewing/garment making. I’m a 27 year old male just getting serious about sewing technical outerwear/gear. I have a hard time relating to many sewing magazines. I’m not interested in quilting nor embroidery. I would read these journals in a heartbeat. It is exactly what I’m looking for.

    Where should I be looking for this type of “raw” information?

  8. Marie says:

    Kathleen: the following would be of the most interest to me…although I would like to read all the articles :)

    How to develop your own unquality costing analysis (feb 90)

    Quality- the key to profit (Jan 90)

    The hows and why of temporary piece rates (May 89)

    How to train sewing machine operators – parts 1-3
    (Feb-Mar 90)

    Methods of Shirt Production (May 90)

    Testing Garments for Cleaning and Serviceability (Sept 90)

  9. Kathleen Gaffey says:

    I would be interested in a copy of any issue, if it becomes available. I have started a very small ‘mfg’ company…ok it’s just me..
    But I love every aspect of the process, from anylyzing fit and design to patterning/drafting to construction, and love information even more.
    Thank you

  10. jinjer markley says:

    These sound interesting:

    Bringing anthropometric data into the 20th century nov.89 p.24

    three-dimensional thinking jan 90 p.8

    new developments in computer aided draping (mrrp? not exactly “new 17 years later…)) apr 90 p.12

    the entire comprehensive material utilization study—part 1 is may 89 p34

    modular manufacturing: sizzle or steak mar 90 p44

    thread breakage june 90 p42

    skipped stitches july 90 p46

    seam puckering sept 90 p14

    thanks for offering to summarize articles for us!

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