Continuing from yesterday, training a sewing operator should be done methodically. This section detailed step by step instructions for how to convey information, correct mistakes and have the learner teach you. This approach was immediately reminiscent of the job training program set up by the war department in WW2, better known as TWI (Training Within Industry). I wrote about this before and included links to the public domain training manuals. As a refresher, TWI was the most efficient and wildly successful job training program the world has ever known and later, it was inarguably responsible for the “Japanese miracle” (Toyota still uses the system today). Through TWI, women who’d never held so much as a wrench, were trained to operate the industrial factories of America, replacing all the men who’d been shipped off to fight the war. I don’t intend to derail this topic but other than the inclusion of some industry specific terminology, the instruction methodology section on training sewing operators could have been pulled verbatim from the TWI manuals.
There are some step by step instructions on how to teach the operators about the machines, the parts and how to operate them. Again, I have no experience training new operators, only people who already sew well so it wouldn’t have occurred to me to go into this much detail. Much of the material looked ready made, something you could print off and give to people, allowing them to read it or look at the pictures while you went over it.
Then comes the fun part, the actual sewing skills training. You’ve probably seen sewing exercises like this before. You mark off sewing lines and have the operator trace them with the sewing machines. These don’t have to be done on fabric at the outset, paper is a better medium so you could enlarge and photocopy these sheets. You can also transfer these onto fabric by ironing the paper sheets if your output is toner based (laser or photocopy). The funniest thing about these are the footers which read “Sewing is Easy-Sewing is Profitable-Sewing is Fun” but then, I am ever easily amused.
These practice sheets are designed for different functions. Some are designed specifically to teach positioning tempo, rhythm, and fluidity. Detailed instructions on how to lead operators in the exercises are included. Once you’ve run through these exercises (eventually timing them so they can gauge their own improvement), you can have them repeat the exercises on fabrics. Once the operator has had a measure of success with these exercises, then training to specific jobs on fabric starts.
Exercise 1 (below), helps with:
- Accuracy in sewing straight lines
- Treadle (foot pedal) and braking control
- To overcome fear of the machine
Exercise 2 (below), reinforces the skills above and helps with:
- Coming to an accurate stop
- Manipulating the hand wheel
- Pivoting needle down (droping the needle at corners)
Exercise 3 (below), teaches:
- How to control the work and the machine when sewing curved turns such as scallops, round pockets, yokes and collar edges.
Exercise 4 (below), develops:
- Positioning skills
- Building speed
Exercise 5 (below), provides:
- More practice with positioning
- Practice sewing gentle curves
- Building speed
Exercise 6 is a doozy, reinforcing all of the above skills. I wonder what the timing of this piece would be with a good operator? We should have a contest.
In the next entry of this series, the training progresses to working with actual fabric samples, performing specific jobs like hemming and the like.
Full size scans of these sheets are in the forum.
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