I found a book called Sewing Machine Operator’s Training Handbook published in 1972, edited and compiled by Manuel Gaetan. Although it’s a short little book and a fast read, it covers everything from recruiting, interviewing, pre-employment testing and training sewing operators. It is also, as they say, a blast from the past. For example, the section on interviewing (complete with sample application) is illegal these days. One’s marital status and number of progeny are no one’s business.
The section on pre-employment dexterity and alignment testing is interesting. It would never occur to me to check for this because I’d hire someone who already sewed on the basis of a work sample they’d brought in. I’d forgotten about the traditional dexterity board (photo below) that was popularly used in the industry early on. It provides the added benefit of checking whether an operator is color blind. I’ve posted other specific exercises that only require a deck of cards in the forum. I never would have thought of these simple strategies to judge one’s ability to sort (singularly, bi-manually), align and stack. If you don’t think those skills are important, it could be you don’t know that approximately 60% of “sewing” time is really processing and handling, not sewing at all.
An intelligence test is recommended. I can see this going over real well these days considering many operators don’t speak English. Times have certainly changed from when this book was written. Here’s an example:
The instructions say “any candidate who misses more than one question should be scrutinized rather closely”. In this case, that would be me. Question 10 doesn’t form a patterned sequence and being ditzy ADHD, I missed listing a “1” for the missing numbers in question 9, and then some of the answers were incomplete and open to debate from the testy neurologically challenged contingent (moi again). Minimally, one certainly needs to be able to read well to pass this test; they’d probably never have to do that much reading again on the job again. As I always say, operators tend to be learning disabled and many aren’t very educated. This does not mean they aren’t smart! I have seen more unwarranted deprecation of human intelligence in sewing lines than anywhere else.
Then the last one is a mental concentration test guaranteed to make you go blind or dizzy. The directions for this read: In each line are pairs of adjoining figures which add up to ten. Find them and underline them.
Now that I’m done having fun -I promise- with the shortcomings of the text, I’ll write more tomorrow about training a new stitcher. Related: I’m hoping this book can be made available as an ebook. Anyone interested?
Training sewing machine operators pt 1
Training sewing machine operators pt 2
Training sewing machine operators pt 3
Training the green sewing operator
Comments from the sewing trainee
Training new sewing operator pt.3