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ode to the union special 43200G

When we started, we had no money. So we bought old broken machines and taught ourselves how to fix them. We read manuals, talked to retired industry vets in the North Carolina Mountains, we took thigs apart and put them back together. And as we did all this, we fell in love with those older machines.

When we started, we had no money. So we bought old broken machines and taught ourselves how to fix them. We read manuals, talked to retired industry vets in the North Carolina Mountains, we took thigs apart and put them back together. And as we did all this, we fell in love with those older machines.

The machines were so well made we can still use them generations later. Each machine does something specific and singluar. Along with the other details and techniques we insist on, our collection of well-loved old machines makes our jeans look and feel like Raleigh Denim.

The Union Special 43200G chainstitch hemming machine is our favorite one.

Originally designed as a bag-sealing machine, the Union Special 43200G was adapted to hem jeans. For the first half of the 1900's, most jeans were hemmed with a "chain stitch" machine like this.

When the faster, more efficient "lock stitch" machines were introduced, Union Specials were cast aside. To our knowledge, there are only 40-50 working machines 'alive' today - and we have four of them.

THIS IS ROPING

Roping comes from the 45 degree angle of break-in that makes the hem look like a rope. It's become part of true denim DNA. Without it, jeans don' look right to us. And the crazy thing is this comes from a flaw in the Union Special that makes it create a slight twist.

Union Special no. 3 is the one we travel with. We built a table that fits perfectly in the back of our Honda Fit (in homage to the incredibly tight tolerances of the machine itself). If we're doing a trunk show near you, chances are, we will hem your jeans with this machine.

Details we love

1. Screws so tough they're Armageddon-proof

2. The fact that "43200G" is engraved into its individual parts

3. Thick metal plating that makes us think of WWII battleships and submarines

4. Most of all, the way it sounds (hear it in action)

Any jean you buy from us will be hemmed with a Union Special 43200G.

FYI, Union Special is still in business in Huntley, Illinois. Although they can no longer justify the costs to manufacture the 43200G, they remain "the oldest, largest and last remaining in the United States, producing 'Finest Quality' sewing machines and parts from casting to finished product all under one roof."