The best (sewing machine) site on the internet

Many web sites that serve the production needs of the apparel industry are awful. It’s not something most of us complain about as we’ve become accustomed to being grateful that they have a site at all when untold others still don’t. Until recently, the site amenities of the largest supplier in the industry was limited to pushing a button to make a globe spin or shoot off fireworks; the height of web site programming circa 1993.

I’ve been meaning to tell you about the Merrow website for a long time. This is the best example of what any industrial products website should be like as any I’ve ever seen. The landing page is friendly and accessible as you can see below.

Merrow manufactures industrial sewing machines; the only ones still made in the United States. If you’ve heard the term “merrowing” or merrow stitching, the speaker is usually referring to an overlock or serge stitching. Joseph Merrow was the inventor of the overlock sewing machine. Merrow had an interesting life; the family’s business was producing knit fabrics. When the family’s mill burnt to the ground in a gunpowder incident (Merrow’s dad had a gunpowder patent), Joseph went on to develop crochet sewing machines. Talk about making lemonade out of lemons.

Today, Merrow is owned by Joseph Merrow’s two great great nephews Owen and Charlie Merrow (Joseph never married or had children). They are also, coincidentally enough, great grandsons of Lena Bryant who is better known as Lane Bryant. I suppose with a family history of innovation, it’s not surprising their site is so great. By the way, the company is really tiny with only 26 employees. The owners are also quite young, in their early to mid thirties. I can only imagine their youth is one reason the site is literally designed with today’s entrepreneurs in mind. In addition to the multi-faceted site with podcasts and videos, they have a ning forum, blog and they even twitter! I’ve never been wild about ning forums, they’re pretty but not as functional as other options but all in all, I’m not about to argue about it since no one else does anything approaching this magnitude of accessibility.

With most suppliers sites, you really have to wade through cryptic menu options to find out anything, or even to discover whether the information is to be had at all. Or what you even need, or what the thing does. For example, have you ever tried to find a sewing machine manual on a supplier’s site? It is the biggest headache ever but not so on Merrow’s site. Here’s a screen capture from their site with instructions on how to locate a manual:

I hope you enjoy learning about overlock sewing machines on their site as I have (maybe you’ll even buy one). I haven’t gone through but a tiny portion of the material because I keep getting side tracked with just how well all of the features are so nicely and intuitively done. The cut to the chase summary is if you ever have a question about overlock machines, Merrow should be your stop. All sites should be this nicely done.

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  1. Leslie Hanes says:

    You have a way of sidetracking me. I’ve spent about an hour looking through their site!
    I love that they show examples of products done with their stitching. My problem with industrials is that no one really ever tells you what machine”out there” does what, or shows comprehensive examples. I know there are things I make that could be done much easier with a machine that I don’t even realize exists!
    I was astounded when I visited my first sewing factory… I thought I was doing well because I had a coverstitch, an overlock, a zigzag, and some straight stitch!! I now feel like the village idiot because I still don’t know what to even ask for! This site is really helpful…now if Kansai, Juki, and the rest can do half as much we would all want to buy their machines! Nothing like leaving the consumer in the dark!



  2. Mary Lombard says:

    Oh hooray for Merrow! I love this machine, and techies, please spell it with and E and not an A, its not a bone filler. It’s so true, most industrial machine sites are archaic. The stitch samples are awesome, I’m forwarding this site to the designers!

  3. I suppose we should begin by asking — what can we do better?

    In many respects we viewed the website as a project to address a variety of issues we saw as problems in the industry.

    I’m certain that we’ve addressed some, for instance; finding information that should have been simple was hard — like what needle do i need — or what does that machine do?

    Owen and I are comfortable with the concept that if we can’t explain what something does, or why it should be used then we have no business discussing it — and certainly not selling it —

    But everyone here agrees that this is a starting point– hopefully beginning a dialogue — as is happening here.

    So i’ll ask a very non-rhetorical question — what can we do better?


    — and thank you for the write up! –

  4. Renee says:

    If only this level of detail were available for multi-needle chainstitch and other machinery, it would have made my life a whole lot easier for a few months. As it is I ended up learning from machinery dealers and sewing contractors, by asking some embarrassingly stupid questions.

    I am so not above asking stupid questions to get at the information I need.

  5. Penny says:

    They make the best purl edge machine on the market! Their machinery runs effortlessly and is always easy to operate and thread. Their machines are wonderful. Thanks for this post, it was interesting to find out about their history.

  6. Eric Busboom says:

    I’d like to call attention to Charlie’s comment: in addition to the excellent website, staying abreast of blog postings about their company and commenting on them is a sure sign they understand the Internet, in a way that very few companies in the Apparel industry do.

    Thanks Charlie! I’ll definitely be using your site, and your comments, as an example to clients about how to use the Web for business.


  7. Dara says:

    I love Merrow, but they are almost impossible to order parts from. They have this great website, and it’s almost impossible to PAY them for your parts. Thankfully their sales reps will take your money, but I once wasted an entire month trying to get a new plate when a 10 minute call Charlotte solved my problem. But otherwise, I mean the quality on these things in incredible. I would fight off rabid dogs for one of these machines. Barehanded with only my teeth.

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