So I’ve talked a bit about some tee-shirts I have and my obsession with them. Now let’s get down to some basics… How is a tee-shirt made? It has changed greatly over the years from traditionally handmade to mainly machines now. Here’s a quick breakdown of how they were made compared to today.
How it use to be…
Tee-shirts date back to early in the 1900s and they use to be made by hand. Fabric use to be cut by the use of scissors and hand stitched together also by hand (though this ultimately changed to the use of a sewing machine). A skilled shirt maker could make 30 plus shirts per day. Due to the nature of it being made by hand there were impurities in the shirt (missed stitches etc).
How they are made now…
There are two ways they are made now.
Some still do it by hand, but typically this is only done in third world countries in sweat shops and using poor material. You will know when you buy one of those shirts. They will fall apart after a week. Though they are cheap!
The second way is by machine. The main reasons this is done now instead of by hand is because it is cheaper, faster and with less defects (i.e. more consistent).
Making tee-shirts is a fairly simple and largely automated process. The two halves of the shirt are cut by machine from a roll of fabric (often cotton). The manufacturers machines then assemble and stitch the two halves together. The most commonly used seams for tee-shirts are narrow, superimposed seams, which are usually made by placing one piece of fabric onto another and lining up the seam edges. These seams are frequently stitched with an overedge stitch, which requires one needle thread from above and two looper threads below. This particular seam and stitch combination results in a flexible finished seam. For a very detailed look at how tee-shirts are made now have a look over here.
And while this makes tee-shirts more affordable for everyone, there is something special about having a one of a kind shirt, which comes when you have a handmade shirt. They are, however very rare. They are typically only associated with tailors for suits etc. I own a few different ones. They were expensive, but well worth it.
It think we will see a rebound in hand made shirts however as we all get sick of wearing the same things. We all want to be individuals and you can see that approach with the children of today. And ultimately children are the ones that drive the market.
There it is, a warts and all account of how they are made. But while I think it’s changed over the years for the worse, like Wartrol (the cure to fixing warts), I think we see more traditional methods used in the future and give us the joy of your very own unique shirt.
Hope you learned something today!