Ooe-Yofukuten | Sewing Workshop

Hiro doing her thing.
Where Ooe-Yofukuten products are painstakingly constructed.

I had some preconceptions of Ooe Yofukuten before entering, one thing I hadn’t expected was to enter a living sewing museum tucked cozily into the countryside of Japan. This workshop is more akin to being a industrial era museum than a sewing workshop. In reality it is a little of both.

Hiro showing me a double-needle chain-sticher. Capable of sewing back pockets, front pockets and a few long seat seams.
Results of the Double Needle Machine.

Ryo and Hiro spent the morning and afternoon with me showing me around their workspace. Taking their time explaining what each machine does and how they work. They of course pointed out specifically the year each machine was built (most pre-1930). I would have to say as a person who loves old machines, especially old textile machines, I was in heaven.

Union Special with belt loop attachment
Gear-fed Double Needle Long Seam Stitcher. This can sew anything. For the hard stress point seams on the seat, and the long seams on the legs.
Seam stitcher: before and after

All my preconceptions had been entirely erased by mid-morning.

Chain stitching machine with "Top Secret" waistband attachment. Gear fed.

There is something very magical going on in this little workshop. The sound of servos and clutch motors purring, the elegant spinning of fine mechanisms, it all made a sort of window into the past. A living tribute to a time of simple items of high quality.

A very ancient thread stand that came with the long-arm stitcher.
Old Double Needle Union Special, Long arm. For sewing long seams

Ooe Yofuku, doesn’t make just jeans, but a wide assortment of hand made goods. Ranging from tissue cases, to jackets, and bags. Everything sewn on these musical gear-driven machines. Every piece made by two peoples’ hands. What they are really creating here are folk crafts.

The reliable single needle chain stitcher. When all else fails this is the back-up.
Hands-on

As we talked and shared bits of our own histories with each other we came to realize that each of us had found new in the old. Our inspirations and techniques from people long ago.

Wonder where this came from? Chain stitching for hems.

It isn’t only machines but also materials that make things special here. Denim painstakingly chosen for authenticity and color. If you are going to make a heritage product you have to keep things real. Using old machines is an integral part of this process, it shows the obsession for authenticity, and the importance to quality. The heritage of denim is locked in chain stitches and the history of these machines, customers can feel assured that what they are getting is a piece of restored history.

Semi-automatic button hole finisher.1970's German made machine. More like a orchestra of gears.
The best materials for the job

After we visited each workstation and once I understood completely how each product is produced, Ryo and Hiro showed me some of their trinkets, and past and current projects.

Ichinomiya wool blanket lined work coverall.
3 pairs of samples: color evolution
"B^UTTON"'s. Ooe Yofukuten's selections of custom rivets, buttons, and patches.
Back Patches
Fabric Chat. Reminiscent of old Japanese textile factory sample books. Charming...
A pair of jeans that have traded several hands, and took a trip around the world.
Signatures, and graffiti on the pockets of the traveler jeans.

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