Sewing machines are an integral part of the workflow at most marine fabrication shops. But while fabricators may be careful about the machines they buy, and work to keep them operating properly, there are other aspects of the sewing operation that deserve attention.
Just the way a shop’s sewing workstations are set up can increase efficiency, says James Foster, owner of Heber Springs Marine Upholstery Inc., in Heber Springs, Ark. Foster leans toward sewing machines that have some versatility, but he says his shop works more efficiently when its machines are outfitted in specific ways.
“It seems to work better for us to have a machine specifically set up with, for instance, a welting foot, so you’re not constantly changing feet,” he explains. “I can understand why people would use one machine—they have ‘their’ station set up and they do several different things—but we have a machine for seating projects and a machine set up for canvas. We’ve just found the workflow goes better if you have a machine set up specifically for each use.”
Foster also says fabricators need to take the time and effort to set up a comfortable workstation, a lesson he learned watching his father suffer back problems from sewing. “You’ve got to have seating that promotes good posture,” says Foster. “And it should be easy to get in and out of the workstation.”
In addition, says Foster, it’s important for fabricators to make sure their workstation has proper lighting.