Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mass Producing, The Handmade Way with Chain Piecing

I often get asked how I make so many things, to me it is simple but really has been years in the making to do things very efficiently. I am a quilter for my part and sewing I do for myself, so I use lots of techniques used by today's quilter.

Organized chaos, zippers and fabric stacks ready to become coin purses and cosmetic pouches

My most utilize technique is "chain piecing" or chain sewing, this is sewing components or steps one right after another, feeding through the machine without stopping or breaking the stitch. The result is the pieces will be strung together in a "chain", snip the pieces apart and do the next step.

I organized my tasks/sewing into two categories: color/thread, and by feet I use on my machine, which are quarter inch foot, zipper foot and walking foot. I prep many many steps or pieces and organize them by foot and thread.

Stacks waiting to be sewn, sorted by color

I can then sit at the machine for long stretches and sew a single task, in these pictures I was working on coin purses and cosmetic pouches, or task "zippers" I work then in color, today was dark, for black and most browns for construction I will just use black throughout, or if it dark on the outside, like a navy I will do these with the black.

Sewing, one right after another, forming a "chain" coming off the back of the sewing machine

I have before sitting at the machine done all the cutting for outside, lining and interfacing, pieces they have been ironed already at this point (see sewing gremlin post). I assemble one side of the coin purse for each item created, continuously sewing and adding the next item, the result is a "chain" of half installed zippers. I stack the mate on my lap, when I get to the end I snip, flip the stack so the last one sewn is first and matches the stack on my lap, then add the second side of the coin purse.

This is a long "chain" stretched out from the sewing machine

Once these are completed I switch to my 1/4 inch foot, pin each coin purse front to back, same pin arrangement for each so I have a consistent pattern to sewing and removing pins, this also saves time. I chain this step too, sewing each front to back, outer and lining. Then I trim excess fabric, lining over hang zipper and leave for my sewing gremlin to turn right side out. I then sew linings closed by color, in this case black, brown and monofilament or clear quilting thread. While the 1/4 foot is installed I can do additional tasks in this case tissue cozies, I mix these in with the coin purses.

This is a nifty tool from Fons and Porter, a seam ripper standing upright to cut through the threads between items, watch out poking up it is very sharp, I use this next to the machine, saves cutting with scissors which saves times and the hands.

Items pinned and ready to be sewn together

Almost done, turn right side out, sew closed

Another "chain" last step close

In the end I completed 7 cosmetic pouches, 5 mini coin purses, 3 coin purses and 7 tissue cozies. I estimated I spent about 1 hour 15 minutes at the machine sewing these items.

I do virtually all of my creations with this technique, looking for common colors or tasks and organization prior to sitting at the machine makes me the most productive. I often have dozens and dozens of items in various stages of construction, this allows for me to complete 10-40 or more pieces in a day.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails