Patch Manufacture
THE LAST SCHIFFLI

 

 

The Last Working Schiffli Machine in England

 
   
VISIT USAFPATCHES.COM FOR A FULL LIST OF EMBROIDERY TERMS
       
 
Many moons ago when I left school, which was in 1965 I became involved in the textile trade as an embroidery draughtsman working for the local firm of A.W. HEWETSON which was a large Silk manufacturer in Macclesfield.  Macclesfield at this time was heavily involved in the silk trade but over the years this diminished as manufacturing in the Far East became a lot cheaper.
 
We made Badges in various forms, like hand made in Gold / Silver Wire to high numbers required for schools , Universities , Clubs and the Military  made on Schiffli and Zang  mulithead machines
My career in Textiles also covers serving my time as a Jacquard Card Cutter with Brockelurst & Whiston in the weaving trade, also in Macclesfield.
       
 

HAND MANUFACTURED

 STEP A STEP B STEP C STEP D
After a colour image has been approved by the customer the badge design is drawn on to tracing paper The lines of the design are perforated with small holes This paper is then placed onto the cloth and a coloured ink or paint rubbed on the surface which penetrates the perforations and leaves the outline of the design on the cloth. A threaded Needle is then  passed through the cloth from the Back (thread is tied off on the back)  to the Front then back to the Back from the Front-(no spool thread on back of patch) which makes the back of the patch look similar to the front.  The dots are only a guide.

 FINISHED PATCH SHOWING BOTH FRONT ( LEFT) AND BACK (RIGHT)
   
 

 

Hand / Machine     free machine embroidery
The badge design is drawn on to tracing paper and the lines of the design are perforated with small holes
This paper is then placed onto the cloth and a white ink or paint rubbed on the surface which penetrates the perforations and leaves the outline of the design on the cloth.
 
The hand embroidery machine is one where simple zig zag stitches are used to embroider patterns on cloth. The embroidery from this type of machine is known as a free machine embroidery design, and because of the limited features offered by the machine itself, require a lot of expertise to make. You are required to use an ordinary embroidery hoop on your cloth and manoeuvre it in order to create patterns and designs with your embroidery.
The only other thing that you can manipulate is the density and size of your zig zag stitches.
       

 

MACHINE TO LOOK LIKE HAND EMBROIDERY
       
1828 - Josue Heilmann of Mulhouse France    
 
 

Josué Heilmann of Mulhouse in France invented the earliest “hand-embroidery machine” in 1828, and it had the capacity of four traditional embroiderers working by hand. It is important to realise that this was 18 years before Elias Howe patented the first functional sewing machine in 1846, and it was the 1850s before Isaac Singer produced the first commercially viable sewing machine.

 Embroidery made on the hand-embroidery machine was more even and consistent than traditional hand made embroidery and the quality was unsurpassed.

 

The Heilmann embroidery machine consisted of a frame to hold the fabric ( D ), a needle assembly ( A & B) and a handle to work the needle (C ).

It was operated by moving the fabric to meet the needle, which had a point at each end and an eye in the middle ( C ). A small clamp on each side of the fabric controlled the needle. The needle was held in one clamp ( A), pushed into the fabric  ( D ), picked up by the opposite clamp ( B ) and drawn through.

 

STEP 1 STEP 2 STEP 3
The frame holding the fabric (D) was moved and the needle passed back. The process allowed stitching in any direction, and continued until the pattern was complete.
     
     
By about 1850, Franz Vogler from St Gallen in Switzerland had improved the machine  The first embroidery factory was established in 1854 and 120 of the improved machines were installed. The Heilmann machine continued to be developed and, by about 1870, it incorporated multiple needles to carry different coloured threads and was fitted with a pantograph to replicate the design. At this time, 14 companies were making hand-embroidery machines in the St Gallen region.
     
 

 

 

 

Sewing Machines Computer Card Controlled
The design has to be converted into a digital image and a couple of basic parameters defined, like size, type and number of stitches etc. The pre programmed designs from the computer can then be loaded on to the machine, which will transfer it to the fabric in no time at all.

 

In some computerized machines, you can also put embroidery cards, which will determine the pattern of your embroidery and the type of stitches. These patterns can include complex designs, faces, logos and cartoon characters along with the usual floral's and paisleys that are generally embroidered.

 

Here 10 machines are in line, and all controlled by the computer card . Spool thread on back consistent in length. and design usually embroidery on to a patch of cloth held in a hoop and locked into position on a  moveable bed.
Above a picture of a 10 Multihead machine  Above the cloth held in a holding frame
 

 

Schiffli Machine
The development of machine embroidery did not take place until the 1800's. Joshua Heilmann from Mulhouse worked on the design of a hand embroidery machine. which although he did not sell many, it revolutionized the embroidery industry. Heilmann's invention was quickly followed by the "shuttle embroidery" and the "chain stitch embroidery" methods.

The beginnings of shuttle embroidery dates back to the 1860's when Isaak Groebli, from St. Gallen, Switzerland, was inspired by the work produced on the sewing machine.

Around the 1870's there were fourteen companies manufacturing embroidery machines in Switzerland manufacturing hand loom embroidery machines. Today there are four companies manufacturing Schiffli embroidery machines.

Isaak Groebli of Switzerland invented the first practical Schiffli Embroidery machine. This machine was based on the principals introduced by the newly invented sewing machine. Groebli's machine utilized the combination of a continuously threaded needle and shuttle containing a bobbin of thread. The shuttle itself looked similar to the hull of a sailboat. "Schiffli" means "little boat" in the Swiss dialect of the German language, so his machine came to be known as a Schiffli machine.

 

The Schiffli Machine can be controlled by a pantograph arm placed at the end of the machine where an operator follows the design drawing. Pressing a button on the arm to operate the needles or Card Controlled via a paper

tape, punched like the roll for a player piano is mechanically "read" by a machine that directs hundreds of needles on a loom simultaneously

  In Both cases the Cloth is attached to a frame which moves, with the needles being in a fixed position.

 

SEE THE LAST SCHIFFLI MACHINE IN ACTION

 

The process begins with a sketch of the design (a) and this is enlarged six times the size of the finished product on 1 inch graph paper, with every stitch actually drawn in by hand ( b). The gap between each stitch is constant depending on what thickness of thread is to be used. The pantograph arm point  is placed at position "a" and the needle button pressed.  The Pantograph arm is then moved to position "b" and the button presed again. (one stitch made)  Then on to "C"- press, then "D" and so on.

 

Designing and drawing the badge also entailed deciding the best way around the design.  What order the design parts were to be completed in. How to reduce the number of thread changes. Number of stitches, all these could add to the cost of the badge.
(a) (b) Go to the LAST SCHIFFLI  MACHINE TO SEE THIS IN ACTION
 
The Machine operator traces every indicated stitch line with a metal stylus, pressing a button at the start of a stitch to activate the needles. The needles penetrate the cloth throwing a loop and the spool thread on the back of the machine passes through the loop holding the tread.

He then moves the arm to the other end of the stitch and presses again, again the thread throws a loop and the spool tread passes through.

This leaves the characteristic thread on the front and a usually White spool thread on the back linking the two ends together. The spool thread ( lockstitch) on back of patch consistent in length and tautness. Each movement of the Pantograph arm moves the whole frame in which the cloth is fixed.

 

 
The needles are in a fixed position and only move back and forth.


 
Computer Card Schiffli machines are based on the Jacquard method of a punched card to control the frame and needles.

Badges can be stitched in a variety of forms , from basic stitching to 100%  Full stitching.   This of course is more expensive as more thread is being used.  Also different coloured backgrounds can be used .

 

e.g..  A quartered shield    With 2 quarters Red / 2 Black, background -  These Red quarters can be solid stitching or a different coloured cloth applied.  This applying of cloth is Call Appliqué.   The cloth is held in place and a series of stitches applied to hold it in place . The cloth is then cut to shape close to the stitches. When the shield is complete these stitches are covered.  Very Labour intensive. High cost of Badge.
 
Tel: 01625 615056     Fax: 01625 613452 Email: enquiries@spurcroft.co.uk
Spurcroft Ltd, Waterside Mill, Lower Bank Street, Macclesfield, Cheshire. SK11 7HL

 

 

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