Despite detractors that call sewing a “dinosaur technology,” it remains one that defies extinction. In fact, with the rapid growth of UV, dye sublimation, and solvent printing on fabrics, sewing may be more vital than ever to the banner/display finishing process.
Newer technologies, such as hot air and RF welding, have proven capable of fusing PVCs and vinyls with great efficiency, but the explosion of fabric printing has revived the need for sewing equipment. Since fabric printing encompasses a range of fabric weights, the new challenge is finding the proper sewing equipment for the job.
The full range of vinyl end products from light to heavy can be handled with a single type of sewing machine. A compound feed (walking foot) machine can move easily from one vinyl sewing task to another with little or no adjustment.
Dye sublimation printing has spawned a thousand children, from heavy cotton/polyester blends of canvas to extremely light, sheer fabrics. This wide range of fabric choices presents new challenges to the finishing process. To handle this range, a sewing department would require three types of sewing machines. This may sound cost prohibitive, but all three machines combined cost less than a single self-propelled portable vinyl welder.
The required machines are:
Single needle lockstitch with compound feed (a walking foot machine). This covers vinyl sewing. It is typically used in the upholstery industry and can handle medium to heavy fabric printing. The compound feeding action of these machines moves fabric rapidly and efficiently; however, when the fabric is too light these machines produce puckering problems.
Single needle drop feed (bottom feed only). These are similar to home machines in that they move material by bottom feeding only. These types of machines are widely used in the clothing and tailoring industries and are capable of hemming and seaming a range of lighter fabrics.
Three-thread serger or overlock machine. This equipment trims the edges of fabric at the same time it provides a decorative and functional overlock stitch to prevent fraying. A useful application of the serger is trimming and overlock stitching the long vertical sides of an interior retail banner that has pole pockets at the top and bottom.
These three machines can handle nearly any fabric finishing project, giving your shop cost-effective versatility.
Terry Sheban is owner of Super Stitches, a commercial sewing shop in Youngstown, Ohio, www.super-stitches.com.