Saturday, March 7, 2015

Are you right handed or left handed? Or ambidextrous?

Left handed people make up 10% of the population, but, frankly, it seems like society has forgotten about them. Right-handed gadgets, awkwardly designed desks, cooking tools that fit comfortably in your right hand (now that’s just wrong!).
What causes someone to become a southpaw? Scientists aren’t exactly sure, but research points to a complex collaboration between genes and environment. While no exact set of “leftie genes” have been discovered, people who dominantly use their left hands do have more left-handed family members. And researchers have found different brain wirings in righties vs. lefties.

Read more facts about left-handed people here.

Also, left handed people are more likely to go into the arts. I am curious if sewing and quilting considered to be art?

Here is an interesting set of questions to determine which hand is dominant.

We all, of course, know in which hand we hold a pen, but how far does this bias extend throughout your body? Are you left-eared? Left eyed? Here is a simple test you can apply to yourself.
  1. Imagine the centre of your back is itching. Which hand do you scratch it with?
  2. Interlock your fingers. Which thumb is uppermost?
  3. Imagine you are applauding. Start clapping your hands. Which hand is uppermost?
  4. Wink at an imaginary friend straight in front of you. Which eye does the winking?
  5. Put your hands behind your back, one holding the other. Which hand is doing the holding?
  6. Someone in front of you is shouting but you cannot hear the words. Cup your ear to hear better. Which ear do you cup?
  7. Count to three on your fingers, using the forefinger of the other hand. Which forefinger do you use?
  8. Tilt your head over on to one shoulder. Which shoulder does it touch?
  9. Fixate a small distant object with your eyes and point directly at it with your forefinger. Now close one eye. Now change eyes. Which eye was open when the fingertip remained in line with the small object? (When the other eye, the non-dominant one, is open and the dominant eye is closed, the finger will appear to move to one side of the object.)
  10. Fold your arms. Which forearm is uppermost?
If you have always considered yourself to be right or left-handed you will probably now have discovered that your body is less than total in its devotion to its favored side. If you are right-handed the chances are that you were not able to be 'right' 10 times.

Do you know that some roller cutters are designed for both, left and right handed? Compare these two cutters: left one is designed only for right-handed, but yellow one has two buttons. Your choice!

Can you see the difference it these two wooden pressers? They are also designed for left or right handed. 

You can find this roller cutter in my store here and wooden iron here.

Are sewing machines designed for the left handed?

Are sewing machines designed for the left handed?

Posted by Kathleen Fasanella on May 6, 2013 at 10:46 am / Sewing / Trackback
right_hand_sewing_machineI had no idea that sewing machines favor left-handed people. Did you? Quite a few people do, I guess I was late to the party.  One explanation is that the inventors of the modern sewing machine, namely Elias Howe and Isaac Singer, were both left handed but this is disputed by Rex Pulker*, inventor of a right handed sewing machine. His explanation is a bit difficult for me to follow (a matter of writing style?) but the claims that machines were originally optimized for right handers -there was a crank on the wheel on the right side- but once technology improved and the crank was no longer needed, machine design did not follow suit and reverse the buttons and what not to lie to the left.
To be sure, modern day home machines have evolved to be more right-hander friendly. Many have a front loading bobbin, the needle is threaded front to back, and the foot lifter is often on the right side. But it is with industrial machines that I have doubts with the idea that machines were originally designed for right handers but failed to evolve. With industrial machines, bobbins nearly always load from the left, needles must be threaded from the left,  foot changes only unscrew from the left, and lastly, the default pedal installation is left of the needle, so minimally, one could think there is some ambiguity. Then again, it is possible that this design is another case of form following function with the conclusion being that left handers should find industrial machines easier to use than most other handed technologies.

Does it really matter these days? For industrial machine operators, I’d say it wouldn’t because we’re accustomed to it. However, being more aware about handedness explains some problems I’ve had in training people to sew on industrials.
Typically, someone who has only sewn on a home machine will position themselves to the right of the needle path -I could never figure that out, I have to direct them to sit directly in front of the needle (I sit to the left of it). Handling of the materials is another, larger problem. For the most part, neophytes only use their left hand as a clamp of sorts, to hold down the material, directing the material in the seam path with their right hand so the work never feeds neatly without unnecessary attention paid to the task. With industrial machines,  dexterity of the left hand is very important because it should lead in feeding the materials and lining pieces together. It’s an interesting problem to consider if you’re gravitating to an industrial or training new users on them. Do you have any ideas or tips as to training?
*Rex Pulker is also left handed.

The history of the domestic sewing machine

During the early years of industrialisation, manufacturers created an amazing array of products to satisfy the needs of international consumers, including the sewing machine.
These products were made with the bulk of consumers in mind, who were naturally right-handed.  The sewing machine was no different.  The earliest known models of sewing machines were operated manually by rotation of a hand crank.  Early sewing machines were provided with the hand crank on the right hand side of the machine because the majority of people have greater strength in their right arm, by virtue of being right handed.  This meant that all other operational functions were placed to the left.  The majority of functions needing dexterity are placed on the left and are therefore easier for the left-handed operator.  The right-hander is forced to adapt to the various functions of the machine. 
Any demonstration using the existing configuration clearly shows that the actions of setting up, use, and maintenance of a sewing machine are more ably achieved by the left hander due to the fact that most of the user operations are on the left of the operator.
When the use of the hand crank was dispensed with, then the consideration that was given to right-handers when originally designing the drive system, should have been applied to all other functions.  This was not done because the industry was young and establishing itself internationally.  The cost of reversing the configuration would have been prohibitive, as large cast iron moulds were used in the manufacturing process.  However, there is no evidence that reversing the configuration was ever considered.
Following years produced an amazing number of design and operational benefits to improve the scope and performance of a sewing machine.  But despite the fact that sewing machines have progressed from these early versions to utilise other means of operating the machine such as foot operated treadles and subsequently the electronically driven food control, the configuration of the sewing machine as designed to accommodate the hand crank for the right hand has remained virtually unchanged.
Consequently, after 160 years the bias of the sewing machine suits the left-handed operator, rather than the majority of users who are right-handed.  For the right-handed user the existing configuration of the sewing machine is simply back-to-front.  It therefore makes ergonomic, operational and profitable sense, to reverse the existing configuration and produce a choice of designs to cater for both the left and right-handed user.

Rex Pulker’s Invention
The domestic sewing machine for the right-handed user
Due to an artefact of its evolution, the domestic sewing machine has ended up being optimised for left-handed users.  Pulker’s invention is the adaptation of the domestic sewing machine for use by right-handed sewers.
Rex Pulker’s aim is to license the commercialisation rights of this invention to sewing machine manufacturers in countries where Patents have been Granted
  • Australia (Granted Pat. No.: 204238888)
  • UK (Granted Pat No.: GB 2417731)
  • The People's Republic of China (Granted Pat No.: ZL 200480013471.0)
  • India (Granted Indian Patent No.: 257337)
These countries are the major centres for manufacture and use of domestic sewing machines.  The global domestic sewing machine market is worth several $Billion annually.
Rex Pulker began to investigate the opportunity for developing and commercialising a solution for a right-handed domestic sewing machine in 2002.  Given Pulker’s background of 40 years in the sewing machine industry, over 20 years as Australia’s leading Independent retailer as Associated Appliance Company, was able to carry out a thorough assessment through the following:
  • Find out through extensive industry contacts and research whether a right-handed sewing machine had been developed in the past;
  • From knowledge of how the sewing machine works, how operators become skilled in it, and its manufacturing process, select the optimal solution for a right-handed machine;
  • Evaluate the opportunity to protect the solution through a patent;
The resulting solution is Rex Pulker’s invention, which is a method for adapting the conventional design of the sewing machine into an orientation intended for right-handed sewers.  The method works by configuring a sewing machine that is a mirror image of the conventional design.