Fashion with sequins has always displayed elegance and style, a part of its allure is the way in which sequins are applied, with each one sewn on by hand, which also adds to the cost. But with advancements in technology, sequin application has become an automated process using specialized equipments. Now sequin attaching machines are available with the ability to attach sequins at a high speed of 1000 RPM, while being cost-effective. But the technology available today still has to reach that level where every design is possible with a machine.
Sakshi Yadav, MFTech from NIFT, Delhi and Professor Prabir Jana, Chairperson, Dept. of Fashion Technology, NIFT, Delhi analyse the operation of dart sewing and the technology involved at the basic and highest levels. put the spotlight on the various technologies that is available for attaching sequins “not by hand”.
Sequin attachment is done both with hands, usually called “adda work” and by sequin attaching machines. Though, it is quite difficult to differentiate between hand-sewn sequin and machine-sewn sequin but still garments with hand-sewn sequins are much more expensive. The biggest advantage with the hand-sewn sequin work is that any kind of pattern can be done, which is not always possible with machines. While considering the different levels of technology for evaluating return-on-investment, the hand sequin work is not considered here since it is a tedious work for which buyers and brands are ready to pay special price in the name of ‘hand work’. But for the masses it does not matter if the work is done by hand or machine. Most may even consider machine-finished sequin work a more quality product compared to a product having hand-sequin work.
Even within the machines there are different levels of technologies and solutions for sequin attaching operations, ranging from a single needle flatbed stitching machine to multi-head computer controlled sequin attachment machine, as an added functionality of multi-head embroidery machines.
ROI for basic and advanced level of technology
Basic Level of technology
|Chinese embroidery machine with 12 heads||Japanese embroidery machine with 18 heads|
|Advanced Level of technology||Advanced Level of technology|
|SAM value per design (500 sequins)*||2||1.4||1|
|Production (no. of designs) per day(shift of 8 hours)||240||4114.285714||8640|
|No. of months/year||12||12||12|
|Production per annum||74880||1283657.143||2695680|
|Production target (designs / day)||8640||8640||8640|
|CM price per operation (500 sequins)**||1.00||1.00||1.00|
|Cost output /annum||74880||1283657.143||2695680|
|No.of machines required||36||2.1||1|
|Salary per karigar/operator per month ***||5500||5500||5500|
|Salary per karigar/operator per annum||66000||66000||66000|
|Cost of one machine (with sequin attach device)||90000||800000||6150650|
|Cost of total machine||3240000||1600000||6150650|
|Depreciated value of machine after one year||2754000||1360000||5228053|
|CM price from total machine||2695680||2695680||2695680|
|ROI for the first year||11.60%||188.02%||50.30%|
|Payback period (in years)||10.14||0.63||2.34|
|* In basic level operator is running machine at 500 stitches per minute and at advanced level m/c is running at 700-1000 stitches per minute.|
|** Attaching one sequin require 2 stitches|
|*** Assuming salary equal for all levels|
|All the salaries/costs are in rupees|
A sequin device can be attached to a very basic single needle flatbed double chainstitch machine for attaching sequins. There is a control box provided in the machine which can be used to change the sequin size and skip timing (1 sequin every 1 stitch to 10 stitches), with the ability to handle three sizes of sequin that is 3 mm, 5 mm, 7 mm by changing the optional guide and pressure foot. Since it is manually operated sequin attaching device hence depends on skilled operators to position and manipulate materials under the needle.
The machines can run between 600-1200 RPM and are equipped with sequin feeding volume and skip timing setting panel, others may have a stepping motor for accurately cutting and carrying more sequins. The advanced versions within the basic-level technology machines have one more function – the outing function, which can make designs like flower and so on, along with the ability to add a sequin to a previously skipped position. Kansai Special LX 5801 SP is an example of double chainstitch sequin attaching machine, provided by Sunny Sales, Kolkata.
There are also lockstitch sequin attaching machine, which run at relatively slower speeds of 200 to 1200 SPM depending on the embroidery specifications. Fucen FC-8810 is an example of lockstitch sequin attaching machine. While attaching sequins by double chainstitch there is risk of unravelling during any thread break, lockstitch sewing is relatively secure even during thread cut during use of garment. Stitch length is between 3 mm to 5 mm.
In the basic level of technology the operator has to run the sewing machine, guide the fabric through needlepoint just like any other sewing operation. While individual sequin spacing in a line remain uniform, the spacing between two rows and accuracy of the motif depends on operator skill. A further advancement available under this category has been the incorporation of the dual sequin device in the sequin attaching machine, which is usually found in embroidery machine for attaching sequins. The machine has an option of working with a single sequin device, while keeping the other inactive. The Richpeace High Speed Dual Sequin Sewing Machine is an example of this.
Machines functioning with advanced technology are fully automated, hence deskilling the operator. Spacing between sequins and spacing between rows in a motif both are programmed in the machine. A multi-head sequin attachment machines where a computer disk or a punched-tape controls the stitching patterns and needle action, constitute the highest level of technology. All needle beds on a machine are controlled by the stitch pattern and operate or stop at the same time. With multi-head machines, garments are individually hooped and inserted horizontally under each head. Each head utilizes 1 to 6 needles with wide range of sequins from small to large sizes to various shapes like non-circular or eccentric type, in accordance with the design.
The advanced machines under this category have the capability of attaching four different sizes, shapes and colours of sequins using a dual sequin device which can stitch two kinds of sequins at high speeds as desired by sliding sequin supply unit to the right or left. It also eliminates the need of any pneumatic equipment as stable up/down motion can be achieved through the adoption of pulse motor and slide screw.
A few notable machines under this category are the Barudan sequin device, Tajima sequin device III & IV and the ZSK sequin devices T5, V6 & V7, with the maximum speed of 1000 stitches per minute, the machines are capable of working with sequin-sizes ranging from 2 to 22 mm. Barudan and Tajima offer a wide variety of sequin attaching machines with most of them equipped with a dual sequin device. The Barudan sequin device has only one sequin function code for feeding and sewing each sequin to the fabric, making it user-friendly and fast in operation. The Tajima sequin device III twin type has the ability to attach 4 different types of sequins in any pre-defined order, 2 sequins at a time and that too at the high speed of 800 RPM. Moreover with the adoption of a pulse motor and slide screw, stable up/down motion has been achieved thus eliminating the need for pneumatic equipment. The ZSK sequin device has optimized the lifting and/or lowering time to just 2 seconds by limiting the unnecessary travel while making the design. This makes use of spindle mechanism rather than pneumatics and synchronizes the rising/sinking process while being equipped with LEDs to indicate the current status of the machine i.e. working, interim or resting.
Unlike in hand sewing of sequins, at both technology levels sequins are attached from a semi-cut sequin roll. The skill requirement in advanced level is definitely lower than the basic level, as an operator using advanced level technology only has to monitor the running of the machine and attends in case of any machine stoppage.