Machine Talk from our denim atelier #02 – Union Special 35800

Machine Talk from our denim atelier #02 – Union Special 35800

Hi there! I am Union Special 35800, a brown, vintage dual needle chainstitch machine, and therefore a resident of the denim atelier of Grivec Bros. As you probably know, Grivec Bros takes craftsmanship very seriously. Since I am a crucial part of this, we - as the Grivec Bros team - figured it was about time that I introduced myself to you. Take a cup of coffee, sit down and listen to the exciting story of my life in the Grivec Bros atelier in Chevremont.

Are you wondering where my story begins? Well, it all started in 1964, the year that I was born. I am American, just like many fellow machines. When I was still a young kid (a very intelligent wonder kid), I traveled around the world to assist denim ateliers in different countries. I have set foot on multiple continents. A few years ago, however, this fun (but also exhausting) travel journey came to an end. I was sent to the Netherlands on a long-term mission: I was going to assist a denim atelier somewhere, permanently they said. So, like an immigrant, I traveled to the Netherlands by boat. At that time, I didn’t know yet whom I was going to assist. Shortly after my arrival in the Netherlands, I found out that I was going to be a part of the denim atelier of Grivec Bros in Chevremont. So exciting! I felt at home from the very first moment that I arrived at this atelier. Living the Dutch dream.

Oh wait, you don’t even know yet what my job is. I was appointed to be the dual needle chainstitch machine of the Grivec Bros atelier, since making stitches is my specialty. To be more specific, I am responsible for the seat seam and the yoke, the part at the back of your jeans with a V-shape. I am called a dual needle chainstitch machine, since I create two stitches side by side that also interlock with each other. There are three generations of dual chainstitch machines, and I belong to the second generation. Also, I have a seam distance of 6.4 mm, whereas most other dual chainstitch machines have a seam distance of 7.2 mm. Indeed, I am very rare (I love to say this), which also makes it a challenge whenever something is wrong with me and the brothers need to fix me. Lucky for them, I don’t give them many headaches. Once the Grivecs have adjusted me correctly, I will do my work very smoothly without any intervention from them.

Since I refuse to work full-time as an old man, I mostly work three days a week. These days are not fixed. I simply must be ready whenever the brothers Grivec need me to do my job. This arrangement works fine for me. My little brother, a dual chainstitch machine of the third generation who is 20 years younger than me, also works at the atelier. The brothers hired him too because they prefer two different colors of thread for the seat seam and the yoke, and it is the worst to constantly change the threads I work with. Therefore, you can really say that my brother and I complement each other.

Just like everyone else in the atelier, I think I am allowed to say that I am unique and that my work is specific – I might even say that I am the superior one here. That is because I am an off-the-arm machine. Simply said, other sewing machines are placed on a work table, whereas I have my own sort of foot, on which I can stand. This makes my appearance very impressive, and I am the largest machine in the atelier. At the same time, my appearance does not make it very comfortable for the person that is controlling me to do his job. That is, this person sews away from me and sits with my back against his shoulder, which makes for an uncomfortable seating position. Roger even describes it as sitting behind a machine gun. The result is that they often leave the atelier with back pain and walk a bit crookedly. I am not sorry, however, because I deliver excellent work, which is my pride. They should consider it as “no pain no gain”.

What also makes me unique, is that you need quite some experience before you can work with me. And with some experience, I mean that it can take up to 8 months until you’ll learn how to master me, as the complicated creature that I am. Sure, after one week you’ll also be able to work with me. I do not appreciate this, however, and I will make it very difficult for you by ruining most of the jeans that you try to create with me. Indeed, if you really want to profit from my skills and run production with me, I simply ask you to take some time to get the hang of me. It is not really about being the best sewer, but about mastering the technique that you need to co-work with me. Thus, I believe you can say that I come with a manual and that I am not the easiest to work with here in the atelier. Perhaps paradoxically, but this also makes everyone in the atelier respect me.

I think my colleague Reece #101 already told you that Roger and Marcel prefer vintage sewing machines. That is also the main reason that I still work in the atelier. I am quite old, not controlled by computers, and imperfect, because I stitch every pair of jeans a tiny bit differently. But hey, perfectly imperfect! Another compliment that I often get is that I make a warm rattling sound. In the atelier, people consider it as a stand-alone sound that stands out among all the other machines, which totally fits my character.

So, that’s me! I really enjoyed introducing myself as the marvelous creature that I am. Rumor says that another colleague will follow me in the introduction round of the residents of the Grivec Bros atelier. So, be prepared for another exciting life story!

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