This will be no surprise to many of you but perhaps my experience will be useful for those who haven’t taken the plunge of in house production. If you need to catch up, previous entries are pt.1, pt.2 and pt.3.
With respect to how your shop is set up, there’s a critical difference between sewing one-offs vs analyzing your set up for potentially making a bunch of a given item. There’s problems I’ll put up with for a one off but I won’t do it for a quantity. In spite of having what many would consider an optimal shop, here are some problems I would have with my project if I made any quantities.
My table is not high enough for proper cutting. We’ve never gotten around to getting car jacks and long pieces of lumber to raise this 20 foot section of table to the proper height. It will be a lot of hassle to do it and we’ll have to buy some more jacks for something we won’t need to do often. Maybe we could rent them? My back is killing me.
I sewed both 4213/4214 on my Adler -which I love- but it’s not a long term solution for either velvet or leather. Digressing to the status of the former leather style, I have a walking foot in my garage that I have to move over here and clean it up. I don’t know about you but I hate fiddling with new-to-me machines (this was a donation, older machine but it works great). The Adler doesn’t like velvet either. Does any machine? I suspect I will need to acquire a needle feed machine for velvet. The Juki DLN-9010 seems highly rated. Does anyone have a better suggestion? I tell you, through out the process of sewing these protos I kept asking myself why I liked to sew. Do I? I began to wonder about that. I had to hand baste the lining to the bag opening before I could sew it officially. I didn’t seem to have the same problem sewing velvet to velvet although there was a bit of creep. I use to sew a lot of velvet, how did I do that? Oh right. I did it on the home machine with a walking foot.
The black velvet 4214 takes a whole lot of nail heads. I don’t have a kick press or the dies to apply them. On the prototype, I set all of these by hand. This means poking it through the fabric and turning back each of the four legs by hand with a pair of jeweler’s pliers. In the normal course of affairs, you’d do two things. First is to produce the prototype and solicit orders. At the same time, you source the machine you’d need to do this cost effectively. I’ve been meaning to buy one of these forever but I never have. On the plus side, I’d be able to attach nail heads to leather.
As it is, product price really can’t be determined until you actually have the machine but you do the best you can. I estimate applying all these nail heads (around 250) will be about 30 minutes as compared to hours and hours by hand because I’ve used a kick press plenty of times. Anyway, when you source the machine, you have to inquire as to turn around on delivery so you can estimate delivery date of the goods. I have a friend who sells these and I found another source (linked above). My friend can probably get me a better price but then he’s farther so shipping will cost more and transit time will be longer. Ordering from Hiker would affect delivery in a week, don’t know how long for my friend. The second thing to source are the dies to apply them. Usually you get dies from the folks who made the nail heads. I bought these nail heads at auction but I know who makes an identical product. I can’t get a delivery time on dies because they’re still closed for the Independence Day holiday. Lastly, you have to estimate the costs of replenishment. I’d have to buy an awfully huge box of these to get a decent wholesale price but I did find a retail source that are rather pricey ($6.99 per gross X 2 gross per unit) but will do in a pinch. In short, in spite of this being velvet rather than lamb, this bag could actually cost more once embellishments and labor are factored into the equation.
Apparently I cannot run my boiler iron, air conditioner and Adler all at the same time. Frankly, I’m a bit miffed about the latter. Olga (my landlady)’s ex-husband (Martin) supposedly set up the Adler on it’s own circuit. She is not going to be pleased when I tell her the circuit trips. I think Martin does work for Olga in trade for child support or something. None of us can imagine why she ever married him but Eric (my husband) teases her, saying he knows why she married him but that requires hand gestures I can’t print and should have had the good taste to omit from mentioning. But I digress. The process I’ve sacrificed in the interests of electrical, leasing and ex-spousal harmony is pressing. The fastest but only short term solution is moving my pressing station to the opposite side of the shop. It’s only about 50 feet away but it’s not a straight path. I have to circumvent my desk, plotter and shipping station and move the microwave oven on the table somewhere else because it’s hogging the space. That also means installing another outlet. Moving the pressing station also means I’ll have to be neater. Most horizontal surfaces in here -including the floor- are used to store “stuff”. ~sigh~ I think my only solution is a really good fire.
With all the lights in here, I can’t believe I still don’t have enough but I don’t. Lights over the table are fine. It’s the sewing area that needs more lighting. The ceiling in here is a bit dicey so I hate poking anything through the panels.
It’s one thing to have a shop set up to do prototypes you only have to wing once (which is all I usually do), versus setting up to do longer runs. If you’re thinking of doing this, in the course of sewing prototypes, you should write down any things that bother you because those will become major annoyances later. For example, I’ve already sacrificed pressing. I have to turn off the air conditioner to do it meaning I’ll only do it early in the day. Once you figure out what needs to be done or purchased, you have to calculate the costs, space requirements and the time in which to do it. I realize not everyone is fortunate enough to have the resources and space to make this happen. The point is, even with money, space and time, this is still a hassle. If I apply myself, I should be able to get the shop reconfigured in two weeks which would include machine delivery time and labor on weekends. I also don’t look forward to shuffling things around in here. There’s still two big ifs. One is for Martin to fix my electrical service but we could do that ourselves if we had to but then that would be three weeks out. The second unknown is what sort of machine to sew the velvet, buy it, another to apply nail heads and at this point, I’m thinking I’d love a new walking foot with all the electronic gadgetry. There’s time needed to arrange for delivery and to set it up. There’s also some equipment I’m interested in for yet another style, one with fringe. I’m submitting a quote for a custom die today. Who knows what that will cost? Looking at this the worst way possible, this is all equipment I have wanted and could use but never got around to doing it because of all the work involved. Not having this set up has certainly limited the sort of work I do even within my own specialty. I think another reason for reticence is getting it all set up and then not doing anything with it.
Then last of all is thread, another thing I don’t have. Where am I going to buy that? I normally only need to find things for designers in quantity, not onesies and twosies for myself. I sew most everything in either taupe, blue or red thread. And then I’ll need a better way to store it than throwing it in a box like I do now. It’s not even a box anymore, the bottom fell out. Luckily for me, the box was in the laundry cart when I tried to lift it out so now the laundry cart is full of ugly too-heavy thread that my Adler doesn’t like that I don’t have the heart to throw away. The laundry cart is next to a big box of separating zippers that I also can’t get rid of. I tell you, I need a good fire. As is becoming increasingly redundant, inventory can strangle you and having the storage in which to put it only encourages you to do your worst. And in my case, that’s pretty bad. I know I can FreeCycle it but the local group seems to be comprised of opportunists who just want whatever they can sell at a garage sale. I even have a good serger I don’t need anymore that I tried to give to a not for profit sewing co-op but they don’t return phone calls. It seems that all I do is complain and complain which is strange because I’m a naturally cheerful optimistic person (I am, really).