Sewing Contractors: Advanced Home Economics

by Breana Cronk, IQS Editor

Today, most high school curricula focus on the math, reading, history, science and writing skills of every student. Just a few generations ago, this was not the case. Sure several of the students still retained this focus, but nearly half, particularly the female half, learned more ‘practical’ skills such as cooking, sewing and home decoration. Though many schools still offer such courses, to both male and female students, they have largely been dropped from the core curriculum. While equality is most definitely progress, one thing that has not progressed is the sewing skills of much of the next generation of young people. The amount of sewing done in the home or by the local seamstress or tailor has declined along with the roster for home economics and etiquette courses. Virtually every store bought textile, from tote bags to skirts to tablecloths, is produced not by the grandmother hidden in the back room, but by sewing contractors.

Photo courtesy of Jonco Industries, Inc.

The word ‘contractor’ may be intimidating to those who need only small run products, but sewing contractors are simply companies which provide sewing services to meet the needs of a specific client or target audience. Contract sewing is actually very personal for many businesses. More than just stitch fabric together, commercial sewing companies work with clients to ensure that goods are produced to client specifications and in the most economic and efficient way possible. Even small companies, similar to a local seamstress, often provide assistance with design, engineering, prototyping, fabrication and even packaging of sewn items. Contract sewing is not just a corporate matter; it is a conversation between the consumer and the engineers, designers and even the computerized sewing machines. This dialogue is the key to successful sewing contracts.

Photo courtesy of Custom Faberkin, Inc.

While the hand stitching learned in home economics is sometimes still preferred by small or custom sewing firms, industrial sewing machines have greatly improved the capabilities and turnaround time for sewn products. A dress that would have taken days to sew by hand can now be mass produced in a matter of hours with computerized precision. Computer driven machines allow mass quantities of uniform products to be made with little manual work beyond entering a pattern into the database. This makes mass production of uniform products possible, even when thick and cumbersome fabrics are used. Complex designs are likewise made easy with the correct computer system.

Photo courtesy of Jonco Industries, Inc.

Although the cooking and sewing skills of the current high school student may pale in comparison to students of the 1950’s, sewing is still a booming industry that has reached far beyond the chain stitch of home economics classes. Contractors using computerized machines allow the fast and easy production of uniform and custom products. Umbrellas, clothing, protective covers, courier bags, cushions, flags, labels and tarps are just a few of the myriad possibilities produced by sewing contractors on a regular basis that are encountered on a daily basis. While the individual skill for sewing may be lacking in our youth, the technology and ability of sewing contractors more than compensates.

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