Of all the different methods used to hold or bind fabric together, sewing with Velcro is one of the most versatile and interesting ways. Velcro does have a different sounding name; however, it has become an essential item in garment production and is used with sewing machines of all kinds, including the Juki DX5. As an essential part of any collection of sewing machine accessories, Velcro can be used in endless ways. Yet what many may not realize is that the idea for this rather unique product actually came from nature.
What Is Velcro?
Velcro is the trade name for a hook and loop fastener product that was developed in 1941 by Swiss engineer George de Mestral. Hook and loop fasteners are composed of two parts: a strip of binding made of flexible "hooks" and another strip made of softer, fuzzier loops. When pressed together, the hooks attach to the loops, binding the two strips together. The strips can then be easily pulled apart to release the bond, usually with a ripping sound when separated. Velcro is made in various strengths, based on the length and stiffness of the hooks and the depth of the loops.
A Unique Idea From Nature
The idea behind this hook and loop fastening came to de Mestral after a walk in the woods. He observed how cockleburs were stuck to both his clothing and his dog’s fur and stayed there until physically pulled off. The idea intrigued him so much that he investigated further, examining the cockleburs under a microscope to learn more about how they worked. He realized the spines on the burs were actually composed of tiny hooks that latched onto other things. Inspired, de Mestral began working on a binding method that could utilize this same idea.
The Invention of Hook and Loop Binding
Although de Mestral quickly came up with the idea for his hook and loop fastener, it was some time before anyone took the idea very seriously. Even the major names in the French textile industry initially ignored his design. Only after finding a weaver willing to help him develop his idea was de Mestral able to create his product. It still took much trial and error to find the right materials to use in the project. Cotton was not durable enough and there were problems with other fabrics. After eventually trying the idea with nylon fabric, de Mestral was able to create the first hook and loop binding, then develop the manufacturing process.
The Velcro Name
Originally patented in 1955 as hook and loop fastening, de Mestral continued to develop his product as interest began to increase. He named the product "Velcro," which is a combination of the French words "velours" meaning velvet and "crochet" meaning loop. In 1961, a new patent was granted for the improved product, along with the name. De Mestral began mass-producing his product, which quickly gained recognition, especially after NASA began using it on their space suits.
Velcro is technically a company name held by Velcro Industries; however, many people refer to any hook and loop fastener product as "velcro." The product has become incredibly popular due to its many uses and can be found in nearly any box of sewing machine accessories as a result. Hook and loop binding, like Velcro, is easily sewn using most sewing machines, including the Juki DX5. Velcro is a great option for projects where buttons or zippers are not as functional or desirable.