Training sewing machine operators pt 3

After the operators have done each of the previous six exercises (part two) for 45 minutes apiece with a discussion in between as rest stops, you’ve killed a day when you recall you started that morning with an orientation (part one). The second training session (assuming these are day long), you do another instructional lecture going into more detail about needles and thread. Using fabric samples, you show them proper seam formation, how to identify defects, whether the bobbin or top thread needs adjusting and how to do it. There are several pages of this stuff, all useful but too detailed to post it here.

After the above, the practical sewing exercises begin of which there are three more at the intermediate level (7-9) and four more at an advanced level (10-13) making for a total of thirteen exercises. None of these last exercises are illustrated, written instructions only. Today I’ll brief you the intermediate lessons. The last entry in the series will detail the advanced lessons.

Exercise 7, Sewing Hems:
Using 1/4″ checked fabric (or what is described as “lined pattern fabric” but I don’t know what that means), the objectives are to fold and sew hems of 3/4″. Oddly, the text mentions this measure is equivalent to being the width of one’s right toe (mine is 1.25″). I do not understand the instructions so I’ll transcribe them directly.

The trainee picks up the piece at left hand side, makes a 1/4″ fold, then another 1/4″ fold and postions to needle. She then sews an edge stitch, the complete length of the cloth.

This doesn’t form a 3/4″ hem so I remain confused. The instruction continues:

The purpose of having the checked cloth is to determine the squareness of the fold, which will be easily seen by how the cloth pattern line falls in relation to the folded edge and the sewing line. Also between the seam and the edge of the fold, any distortions due to excessive machine pressure, or too great a tension put on the cloth by the operator, will show by the pattern lines being slightly angled rather than falling squarely on themselves.

Give the operator ten to twelve pieces, measuring 3″ X 6″. The book says to save materials by having the operator notch the piece at the sewing line and tear away the finished hem, using the same piece to sew another hem (repeat two or three times). I think the efficacy of that strategy would be limited to fabrics that don’t distort on a torn edge otherwise, sewing the subsequent hem would be made inordinately difficult. In total, they’d be sewing 20-36 hems. The book then says to time the operator on six pieces and mark it on her record.

Exercise 8, Long Double Fold Hemming:
This exercise introduces handling larger parts. Using the same fabric as before, supply work pieces measuring 14″ X 6″. Repeat the exercises as explained above.

Exercise 9, Bias Cut Hemming:
The term bias is used to describe fabric cut off-grain, not literal bias (45 degree angle). Again, as I don’t understand the instructions in their entirety, I transcribe directly. Using 6″ X 6″ off-grain pieces

…have the trainee make an irregular first fold which will cause the first folded edge to fall perfectly on pattern line, and then make another fold which would be a true 1/4″ fold. Although this is a fairly difficult technique, the attempt here is at familiarization of the trainee with more difficult situations and an introduction of the concept of variables in measurements that must come out perfect.It should be pointed out to the trainee that there is an additional problem here as to whether the part has been cut slightly larger or smaller than standard and whether she is to make her first fold based on the longer end or the shorter end. If it is based on the shorter measurement it will mean double folding the longer side to finish squarely.

After these intermediate lessons have been mastered, training proceeds with advanced methods more typical of garment construction problems.

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

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  1. Esther says:

    I find it curious that the training does not utilize hem folder attachments on the machine. On my first day of training in a factory, I practiced hemming with a machine set-up with an attachment. Anyone who has sewn hems in an entire bundle by simply turning the fabric over by hand would severely over-stress their hands and wrists.

  2. Trish says:

    I wonder if Exercise 7 meant to state, turn 1/4″ for the clean finish and then 1/2″ for the hem… hmmm…. the fragile nature of human communication is showing through, LOL!!!

  3. Trish says:

    Esther says, “I find it curious that the training does not utilize hem folder attachments on the machine.”

    Esther, perhaps the testing does not include work on things like folder attachments because such an attachment “deskills” the operation. The company may want to look first at the dexterity, etc, of the worker, even if the worker will later do a deskilled operation.

    Also, the book was written thirty years ago and some of the attachments have only appeared in the last twenty years.

    Just some thoughts, ’cause, of course, I have no idea, LOL!!

  4. graham crackers says:

    Esther, I have to say that I’ve seen factories full of people doing manual turns for days on end. Days…

    That 1/4″ thing is weird.

  5. jinjer markley says:

    on the hem mystery:

    Here’s my guess:
    They don’t mean that the finished hem is 3/4″, the finished hem is 1/4″ (a.k.a. the width of the right toe of the presser foot on the sewing machine). 3/4″ is the amount of fabric that is contained in the hem, including the fabric on the face of teh garment.

    Just as an aside, in the drapery workroom where I work part-time, this is how side hems are measured. The hem is considered separate. I.e., you calculate the width of the drapery, and *then* add 6″ to either side for 2″ side hems (2” being the finished width of teh side hem). This adds 2″ to either side of the drapery’s finished width. Of course, in drapery, a little bit more width is always welcome.

  6. Marianne says:

    I worked in a sewing factory for years, so I know a fair bit about sewing. I seem to be having difficulty with doinga 3/16″ rolled hem around curves. What – if anything- am i doing wrong?
    Also how do I get paid for sewing from home when I live in Canada & work with a USA company?

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