Danielle reminds me to tell you the story of Roy. Roy makes jeans. Very nice ones; I love his workmanship. There’s nothing I can tell you about Roy that you can’t read on his site except to say he’s a good source of inspiration. He taught himself to sew respectably well within four months. Roy’s background is in metal fabrication. Somehow, I’m not surprised. I’ve said to pretend your pattern pieces are sheet metal many times. If you can fabricate those to match, you can sew anything.
I like his shop -which you can see in the videos on his site. It may look messy to you but it’s cleaner than a lot of places. I like that he has nice tools and is using proper materials; the genuine stuff. Everything from (real) pattern paper, hooks, spreader to machines. Even his jury rigged, safety-pinned on ironing board cover is the real deal. You could learn a lot about what materials and equipment to have on hand by watching his videos. If you’re handy, you could do it very inexpensively. None of it was purchased new; it’s mature technology and very low cost. Well, except for maybe the tables if you can’t get them local.
More than anything, I like to watch his handling of materials as he feeds them through the machines. No one would say his handling is better than a line stitcher with 20 years experience but he has a knack for it. An ear too. In the second video on his site (youtube permalink), he pulls a bobbin before it bleeds out because he can hear the rattle (around min 5:15). I’m curious, can you hear your bobbin rattling before it runs out? I would never have thought to mention it.
At around minute 2:00, he begins flat felling the center back seam on a pair of jeans. Watch how his handling of the pieces changes once he approaches the yoke seam. At the outset, he’s overlaying the pieces. Going over the yoke seam to the end point, he’s curling the top layer of the seam. Perhaps you wouldn’t know it but that seam can be even more challenging without a slight pattern adjustment (that isn’t mentioned in any of the drafting books).
I have a sourcing question: Around minute 4:20, he’s pressing. See that orange material covering the board? I want some of that. You can see he has it pinned haphazardly but that’s the best stuff. I don’t know what it’s called so I can’t buy any. It’s one of those things I never thought to ask about on the job. Most plants keep at least a bolt of it around and use it for everything from iron board covers to machine covers.
The only thing I don’t envy about his machines is that the ones I saw in operation don’t have automatic thread trimmers. Once you have those, it’s a tough sell to go back.