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by Abigail Van Buren

Many Hands Touch Clothes Before They're Sold

DEAR ABBY: On March 14 you printed a question from "Jim in New Jersey" who asked if brand-new clothing should be washed before wearing. Having worked in a shirt factory for years, let me tell you how many hands handle the shirt before it goes into that neat little bag.

1. Someone spreads the fabric and lays the pattern.

2. The cutter cuts it.

3. Someone else ties the different parts together.

4. Another person takes the parts to the sewing people.

5. One sewer attaches the pocket to the front.

6. Another sews the yoke to the back.

7. Another sews that back to the front.

8. Another sews in the sleeves.

9. Another sews the side seams.

10. Still another hems the bottom.

11. Another adds the collar.

12. Another sews on the cuffs (if long-sleeved).

13. Someone else sews on the buttons.

14. Another reinforces the buttonholes.

15. An inspector examines the garment for loose threads.

16. An auditor gives it a final check.

17. And finally, someone folds the shirt and puts it into that nice, clean-looking bag.

Don't even ask how many times it may have fallen on the floor -- or if we washed our hands. Abby, I never wear anything until I wash it! -- JOANN IN MISSISSIPPI

DEAR JOANN: And neither will I. Thank you!

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