|Karl Friedrich Gegauf inventor of the hemstitcher|
The beginnings of the present-day BERNINA International AG can be traced to Karl Friedrich Gegauf, who discovered his passion for technology as a child, and breaking with family tradition, decided to pursue an apprenticeship as a mechanic instead of studying medicine. After completing his apprenticeship he worked in the Baum embroidery machine factory in Rorschach, where his talent was recognized and encouraged. In 1890, Karl Friedrich Gegauf set up his own business in Steckborn, Switzerland, opening an embroidery and mechanical workshop for the manufacture of his own invention, a monogram embroidery machine. Together with his brother Georg, a salesman, Karl Friedrich ran the "Gebrüer Gegauf" (Bros. Gegauf) company. Through his involvement in the textile industry, he noticed how laborious it was to produce hemstitching, which until then could only be done manually. Consequently, in 1893 Karl Friedrich Gegauf invented the world's first hemstitch sewing machine, capable of sewing 100 stitches per minute.
In 1895 the Bros. Gegauf workshop was completely destroyed by fire, except for the prototype of the hemstitch sewing machine, which was the only thing that could be rescued. Undeterred, Karl Friedrich erected a new workshop in an old barn, where the focus was no longer on embroidery, but on the construction of the hemstitch sewing machine, which the company now also exported abroad. 70 people were employed in the serial production of the hemstitch sewing machine. The name Gegauf became so famous that from then on, the mechanical production of hemstitching, whether as embellishment for handkerchiefs, tablecloths or bedspreads, was commonly referred to as "gegaufing".