CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Programmable sewing machines created a good deal of interest at the recent Bobbin show in Atlanta. And machine vendors weren’t surprised, as the units directly address the shortage of skilled operators affecting domestic apparel makers.
One development that garnered considerable attention was the T-shirt sleeve insertion machine offered by Jet Sew, a machine developed in cooperation with the Textile/Clothing Technology Corp. (TC2).
An earlier version of the machine was shown at the 1993 Bobbin Show, but had some difficulties during the exhibition and was later scrapped. “This is a wholly different machine than we had last year,” said Tom Hannigan, Jet Sew technician. “The machine we had last year gave us a new direction. We looked at what we had and decided to take a little different approach. So, this is the first prototype of the new machine.”
Hannigan said the automated sleeve-setter, which aligns the sleeve to the shirt body automatically, takes away a lot of the operator skill usually required in a manual operation.
Considerable interest was expressed in the “J” stitching programmable tacker shown by Brother International. “We had a fair amount of interest in it, and we plan to place machines in several key plants after the show,” said Charlie Peart, director of sales. The programmable stitcher was designed to topstitch the front flies of dress and work pants, as well as jeans.
But the real “hit of the show” for Brother was the eyelet buttonhole machine, DH4-980. “That really caught some people by surprise,” said Peart. “It’s a fully programmable electronic machine. And because of the price we offered it at the show, I think a lot of people are going to move from the mechanical machines to this programmable version.”
At AMF Reece, the big attention-getter was the full-fell seamer, developed in cooperation with TC2, according to Scott Fullerton, products manager. The full-fell seamer, which was being hawked as a problem-solver for “one of the most difficult jobs in a jeans factory,” blends sophisticated mechanical, optical and data processing systems into one compact package, which uses a Union Special sewing head.
Fullerton said the seamer would reduce workmen’s compensation claims by dramatically diminishing the physical strain placed on operators.
Consolidated Sewing Machine Corp. (Consew) showed 12 new machines catering to apparel industry.
“The company used to be into everything, and for some reason over the last couple of years, it has basically let the apparel industry slide by,” pointed out Herb Friedman, engineer. “Now we’re looking to jump back in.”
Friedman noted that Consew introduced its new dual-head lapel-padding machine, BSA-20. “The design and use of two heads allows the production of uniform and natural rolled lapel-padding automatically and simultaneously on both the right and left lapels,” he said.
Other new machines introduced by Consew included two machines for attaching waistbands, a low-end, high-speed lockstitch machine and two blindstitch machines.
Friedman said Consew’s new two-needle, lockstitch, feed-off-the-arm machine for sewing pants legs was getting strong interest. “As far as I know, it’s the only one around,” he added.
Union Special Corp. was putting a new emphasis on sewing machines for fleece. “This year is the first time that we’ve gotten into fleece,” said John Eggerding, general manager for automated systems. “We’ve always been into T-shirts, and now we’re showing four automated machines specifically for fleece. We’ve never really done anything in fleece, in automation at least. This is really our first shot at it.”
Union Special made some improvements to its automatic bottom hemmer. “We’ve redesigned the electronics, beefed up the guidance system motors to handle more speed. The sewing speed has been increased from 5,500 to 6,500 rpm,” said Eggerding.
Drawing attention at Rimoldi was the UR30-331/B automatic unit for safety-stitch assembly operations on pants. “It sews the straights and goes right into the curves, automatically seaming the pants panels and then stacking them as well,” said Anthony Pallotta, company representative.
“Another brand-new machine for us this year is the URF3-123/A-00 unit for serging light, medium and heavy fabrics. It also does curve stitching.”

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