The Shop Rag Shirt


An unsung hero of sorts, the iconic red shop rag has existed for decades, traditionally serving a singular purpose: wipe, clean, and sop-up dirt, grease and grime. With its rugged, cotton fabric and Merrowed edge, the shop rag has a rich history filled with stories of a job well done.

In partnership with Merrow Manufacturing Co. and with the help of their MG-3DR machine, we proudly produce The Shop Rag Shirt. A first of its kind work-shirt, it gets better with age, stands as a commitment to a hands-on approach, and pays homage to the worker in all of us.



• Material: The fabric, called Osnaburg, is milled expressly for Godspeed Co. in North Carolina and owes its origins to Osnabrück, Germany, where the loosely woven cotton was first utilized for clothing for the lower classes as far back as the 16th century, giving the shop rag its utilitarian roots.

• Color: Early “Dirty Osnaburg” had imperfections due to the fact that scraps and thread off the factory floor were utilized in its make up. The best guess for first dying it red? Simply to give the fabric a more uniform look, and hide stains better.

• The Edge: Uniquely equipped to roll the material within the stitch, The MG-3DR machine was first commissioned to provide a durable finish edge for a “mechanics towel,” giving the 170 year-old Merrow Sewing Machine Company birthright to the rag we know today, and giving every shirt its signature accents.

• Production: All sewing is completed at Merrow Mfg, and takes place in their centuries-old factory in Fall River, MA.

•Buttoning It Up: The leather-backed, brass riveted fasteners come from the Waterbury Button Company, founded in 1812 in Waterbury, CT and proud supplier to the U.S. military since before the civil war.

Discover more about the story behind The Shop Rage Shirt in this Feature Article from Iron & Air Magazine.