[edited 12/5/14] Industrial sewing machine attachments are doo-hickeys you attach to an industrial sewing machine in order to render professional seam effects and finishes. By way of explanation, here’s an example from a previous entry on F-I:
…Carol’s been asking for pictures of a folder that’d be used on an industrial machine to form this seam. Atlanta Attachment Company is the place to go for that sort of thing. New York Sewing Machines is the other major supplier (their catalog is very quaint and vintage, quite lovely). Oh, and I should mention that while “folder” and “binder” are not necessarily the same thing, we often use the terms interchangeably (even suppliers do). For example, these attachments are known as binders rather than folders but ATT’s file name for the photo I snagged is folder-199-E. I don’t know why we worry so much about you not knowing the names of things if we can’t figure it out ourselves. [At right] are two photos (courtesy of Atlanta Attachment). The first is a schematic of the seam and the second is the binder.
I meant to follow up on this because the ATT site has process charts for given products. By that I mean that they’ve taken a product, listed each seam in a table, and cross referenced the given attachment (binder or folder) that forms that seam. If you have my book, see pages 125-132 (Production Sewing 101, Sewing Organization and Sewing Theory). The charts look something like the forms I provided on pgs 138-9 but their’s lists the given folders used for that seam process. Here’s an excerpt that I modified from the site:
One caveat; they didn’t list the seams according to sewing order (!). I think they need to re-do that. I don’t know who designed these forms but I doubt it was a production person. I think a production person would have instinctively listed the seams according to sewing order.
They have charts for all different kinds of products. I recommend starting from this page to select the product type most similar to yours. Once you get the attachment number, there are three things you can do (I recommend you do the third). First you can see if it’s listed on the Automatic Workstations page. This means you need an expensive piece of equipment -a whole workstation- rather than something you screw onto the needle bar or throat plate. If it’s not on that page (hopefully not), you can try looking it up on the Attachments page. Another place to look is the manual attachments page (aka “folders”).
Recently the site was overhauled and each attachment on each page is a hyperlink to get more information including pictures and pictographs. They have not yet hyperlinked all of the attachments and folders from the process pages (illustrated with the shirt above). As far as apparel sites go, this one is not bad at all. Oh, and speaking of attachment web sites, New York Sewing Machine now has their catalog online (pdf, 272 pgs) but you can also get one on CD by calling 800-225-2852 or 212-532-2163.
On a related note, if you’re diffident about industrial sewing machines, you might want to start with Industrial sewing machines followed by part two, the latter was written by Gigi Louis. Gigi learned about industrials the hard way; she started out as a home sewer so she really understands equipment from the perspective of a newcomer.