Presently, 95 percent of the show is directed toward the apparel industry. What is attractive to the drapery industry is the magnificent displays of sewing machines along with other equipment and supplies shared by both industries.
The international membership of SPESA includes sewing machine manufacturers and distributors. All the major brand names are members and all of these companies had large booths with lines of sewing machines, most of which were very highly specialized for apparel sewing.
Some of these apparel machines, however, can be converted for use in sewing draperies. For example, a button sewing machine is basically a spot tacker, and there is an attachment that is a bowl of buttons with a shoot that feeds them one at a time under the needle for sewing. The McKee Button Co. showed this attachment converted to handle rings for sewing on shades. To use it, you must fold the fabric and tack the ring right on the edge of the fold.
Not all of the companies that handle the button attachment are familiar with its conversion for rings, however. Also, not all of the sewing machine companies that sell the spot tacker are familiar with this attachment. In reality, you don't need the attachment to sew rings with a spot tacker, but it is more efficient.
Camatron is one company that takes existing machines and converts them to other uses; for example, a bar tacker is converted to sew pleats. It recommends having a pleat sewer and pleat spot tacker mounted on the same table so you can tack the pleat as soon as you sew it. It also will custom design machines to fit your specific needs.
The only real innovation I saw to standard sewing machines was at the B & G Lieberman booth. The company has its own brand of sewing machines called Liebersew that is more affordable than many of the better known brands. The best part is that it has a blindstitch machine with a dropstitch prevention device. How many times I could have used that on a difficult fabric!
Parts, Supplies and Notions
There were many distributors of sewing machines (new and used), sewing machine parts, irons, miscellaneous workroom equipment and notions at this year's show. The suppliers I visited and talked with were Piedmont Sewing Machine & Supply, Rio Grande International Corp., SouthStar, Sunbrand, and Universal Sewing Supply. All of these distributors had display cases showing a sampling of what they offer including rulers, scissors, various sewing machine feet and parts, various marking pencils, tagging guns, staplers, clamps and much more.
As a rule, a catalogue from one of these companies, if available, can be about two inches thick because each offers so much. However, Universal Sewing Supply gave away a very nice hard cover book about a half-inch thick with a wonderful collection of notions.
Blowers and Vacuums
The Rio Grande International booth had two different blowers for cleaning out sewing machines. If you have a serger, you know how dirty they can get inside. These blowers are very powerful and can blow out all that mess very quickly.
After seeing the blowers, I then found the Templex Inc. booth where it was showing a gun that is a combination vacuum and blower. What an asset to be able to vacuum out all the fuzz as well as oil inside a serger. It must be hooked up to an air compressor, but if you already have an air stapler that would be no problem. This gun is very new and is called the TBV-2001 "2-n-1" Vacuum Gun.
There were several companies showing irons and pressing equipment. Most were showing vacuum boards that not only suction the fabric to the table to hold it in place but quickly dry the fabric with steam. The three prominent brands were Hi-Steam, Naomoto offered by Apparel Machinery & Supply Co., and Sussman.
While all companies had gravity feed (bottle) irons and boiler irons, Naomoto had a new iron that really intrigued me. This iron had a much wider shoe with curved edges for easier gliding and was steam only! Any heat in the iron was generated by the steam coming from a boiler. The boiler also was special in that it was built so you could refill it without waiting for the pressure to come down. What a time saver! Another nice feature of the iron itself, was the lever under the handle to turn the steam on and off. This is much more comfortable for someone suffering carpal tunnel problems.
There were many very large spreading and cutting machines exhibited that the small workroom could not handle. Sunbrand was showing some of these. While talking with a representative from Tennessee Imports, a division of Sunbrand, I discovered they offer the Miniroller, a portable, fold-up inspection table with a light and inspection device. Unfortunately they did not have it with them at this show.
It really pays to talk to the vendors about your specific needs. You never know what they may have back home!
Spot removing is a challenge in any workroom and there were some companies specializing in spot removers. I saw a demonstration by Expert Products of its Expert Spot Remover. The rep actually marked his tie with a permanent sharpie pen and then completely removed the mark by spraying it with an aerosol can of Expert. For faster and more heavy duty use, it also is offered in a spray gun.
It makes good marketing sense for workrooms who service the retail market to attach their own personal labels to all their products. While most companies at this show could only sell in large volume, I was able to find Label Service, Inc. This company provides a very nice custom printed label and will do it in quantities of 1,000.
Many workrooms and designers are familiar with the Vary Form Curve Rule, which is an aluminum 24-inch curve for drawing smooth curves in patterns. Fairgate, its manufacturer, had a booth selling these as well as its newest product, the Fashion Form. This product is like a Vary Form except it is clear plastic and has a larger and more curved area, which I think would be better suited to window coverings.
I couldn't resist. I had to purchase one.
Many workrooms mount their top treatments with hook and loop on a tackstrip. Many times the bulk of all the layers can be seen from below. In the Velcro booth, I was shown a new ultra thin fastener for low profile/high shear applications that actually is stronger than the company's regular fastening tape.
With the hook and loop together, this new thin fastener measures only 1/16-inch thick. It is likely that most distributors may not stock this size because they are not aware of the need for it in our industry.
Walking the exhibit halls of the Bobbin World show can be quite stimulating. There is so much technology and innovation there. It is fascinating to watch actual production lines making various garments with highly specialized equipment.
However, the main benefit to the drapery workroom owner is being able to shop the various brands of sewing machines and/or irons and to bargain for special show prices. A second benefit is being able to find many sewing machine and parts suppliers. A third benefit is finding an occasional new product that would be an asset in the drapery industry.
The next Bobbin World show will be held in Orlando, FL, August 16 to 19, 2001. This big show will be held every three years.
If you contact any of the companies mentioned here for further information, please tell them how you heard about them. These companies should be encouraged to make themselves better known to the window covering industry. Their products certainly would be beneficial to us.
Kitty Stein, WCAA, is a 20-year veteran of the drapery workroom field, having owned and operated her own business for 18 years and having taught classes on window treatment construction. Until 1990, Stein and a partner owned a workroom with nine employees. She since has opened her own smaller workroom, Workroom Concepts, that has just one employee. She also does workroom consulting, seminar speaking and is the author of Order in the Workroom available through Draperies & Window Coverings.
A List of Resources
• Apparel Machinery & Supply Co.
Philadelphia, PA; (800) 523-3331,
• B & G Lieberman
Charlotte, NC; (800) 438-0346.
• Camatron Sewing Machine, Inc.,
Ridgefield, NJ; (201) 941-5116,
• Expert Products,
Moorpark, CA; (800) 225-6929.
• Fairgate Rule Co.,
Cold Spring, NY; (800) 431-2180.
• Hi-Steam European Finishing
Carlstadt, NJ; (888) 460-9292.
• Label Service, Inc.,
Charlotte, NC; (704) 377-4800,
• McKee Button Co.,
Muscatine, IA; (800) 553-9662,
• Piedmont Sewing Machine & Supply,
Charlotte, NC; (800) 438-4130,
• Rio Grande International. Corp.,
Miami, FL; (305) 716-9979,
• SouthStar Supply Co.,
Nashville, TN; (800) 288-6739,
Atlanta, GA; (800) 241-6800,
• Sussman Automatic Corp.,
Long Island City, NY;
• Templex Inc.,
Thomasville, NC; (800) 344-2725,
• Tennessee Imports Inc.,
Nashville, TN; (615) 242-7430,
• Universal Sewing Supply,
St. Louis, MO; (800) 325-3390,
• Velcro USA Inc.,
Manchester, NH; (800) 225-0180,