I have always made things.
Right from the time I could draw, paint and simply just CREATE my everyday has been filled with making.
However when I started making for my little Etsy shop I had no idea about making for a shop. First of all, would people like the things I made? I knew I loved my headbands and also the matchy matchy handbags and skirts I was making at the time. But would other people appreciate my crazy , colourful and co-ordinated style? I really wasn’t sure. Don’t get me wrong I had full confidence in myself and cray cray ideas but I honestly didn’t know if my style would be appreciated by others.
So, I started small and made everything to order. Every single thing.v I would cut and sew the chosen fabric to order, cut and sew the linings to order, run the bobbin to order (depending on the colour cotton I needed!) I even went as far as to make my own packaging and hand cut business cards. Yes, every single part of the process was made to order and with lots of love and care.
The problem was when you are working in time blocks (sewing at any available time possible even if it is just for 30 minutes) and are the only person making, searching and ordering new supplies, doing admin, marketing, packing orders and dashing off to do the post run this is not always so practical. Sure it is fine when you are first starting out but I soon realised it would be far better to ‘Production Line Sew’.
Production line sewing is actually quite a lot of fun. For me it doesn’t take any of the enjoyment out of sewing and I don’t believe it makes anything seem any less ‘handmade with love’. It makes me feel organised and it is wonderful when I can see how much fabric I have cut up or linings I have made. It also makes the ironing easier as I can iron everything at once rather than in bits and pieces.
I come from a hospitality industry background so production lines are second nature to me. I remember organising 100 dessert plates. Each one would have a pretty swirl of raspberry sauce; 100 swirls completed in a row. Then the cake would be placed on the plates; 100 in a row. Then a big dollop of whipped cream carefully scooped into a pretty round ball; yep you guessed it 100 in a row! I think this previous experience really helped me adapt to production lines in my own making process.
In order to adapt a mini production line to your work schedule you will need to look at your process and write down the steps needed to make your items.
I usually spend a day cutting linings (in my available time blocks of course) and then a day of sewing those linings. This is followed by another day or two cutting new headbands… which is then followed by an evening of ironing. I haven’t even completed a headband yet, let alone turn it inside out and top stitch! But at least I am nearly ready to finish those headbands.
I do sometimes put aside some fabric for made to order items and special requests. I often get asked for specific lengths so some fabrics I do leave out of my mini production line.
Also if a fabric doesn’t seem to be as popular I might only make a small quantity to start and make to order the rest. However majority of headbands are popped into my little mini production line! I am not a sweat shop. I am one person making everything by hand. Every item is still made with love, just in a more organised manner.
It may feel that you are achieving very little at first as nothing is made immediately which you might be used to but the hard work pays off once you see what you have made in advance.
Try to apply some of these production line techniques to your chosen craft.
It will help you make the most efficient use of your precious crafting time.