Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Results from the sewing productivity project

So because the disaster of my laptop breaking, I cannot do fancy charts showing how I spend my free time as part of Tilly’s sewing productivity project.  However I did make notes over the past two weeks and discovered a few things which I will now share:

I don’t use my evening free-time wisely.
I spend a lot of time cooking / washing up in the evenings, at least a hour on the days when I cook.  I think I need to cut down on the fancy meals during the week, because this is cutting in on my evening free time.  I also need to organise my evenings better as I do not utilise this time well.  I often sit on the sofa and put my feet up when I get in (just in time for neighbours or home and away) and then don’t get up till after 7-7.30.  Bad me!!

I don’t manage well with big overwhelming projects. 
My grey skirt has remained untouched basically because I need a good chunk of time (say 3-4 hours) to sit down an figure out where I got, what I need to do next and also how to attach the lining to the skirt at the zipper (see this post of details).  In the evening I am usually tired and need something I can pick up and put down quite easily.  Or at least I need to have a notebook where I write these things down and have everything ready to go when I next want to work on a bigger project.  [By the way a skirt may be a quickie project normally for most people but for me at the moment it’s a biggie!]

This leads onto the next point:

I need a dedicated sewing space! 
Currently everything is stashed behind our sofa and I use the dining table to sew on.  Having to faff around unpacking everything and set up my machine, re-pressing everything that has been sat stacked up behind the sofa, and rummaging around trying to find certain bits of equipment is a real pain in the posterior.  Likewise having to clear it all up afterwards, it just takes up too much time.  I need to be able to leave things mid-progress, and I need to be able to create a mess and leave it there.  It’s just how I roll. This is the space I plan to utilise, it’s part of a spare room we have in our flat.  Well it’s actually separate to our flat on the communal hallway but half of it is mine to use, lucky me.

As you can see the other half is used by my lovely man for man-things.  Any advice on how to create a cheap partition would be fab!

Anyway those were my major obstructers of productivity.  However there were some interesting positives I gleaned from this project.  They were the following:

I work a lot better with small manageable goals. 
I made the purses over a few evenings and gave myself a clear goal each time.  In this case they were, cut out all the pieces and iron on the interfacing in evening one, sew them up in evening two and lastly glue the frames on in evening three.  This was great as each task took 30 minutes to an hour to complete and it was easily manageable.  Breaking down projects into smaller chunks really works for me.

Deadlines / timetables are great (if you make them realistic).
I gave myself too many things to do by Easter and had to drop a couple just because I ran out of time.  However having a schedule to stick to gives me something to follow and keeps me focused, as I am [very] easily distracted.

Something else I really need to face up to is that I just don’t have as much free time as I’d like at the moment.  At least till the end of June after my accountancy course is over I just can’t churn out projects on a weekly basis like many of the other bloggers out there.  That’s not great news for my blog as I won’t have much to show over the next few months, but I will give myself a few smaller easier projects to keep things ticking over.  Plus I plan to do a little makeover series of posts on my sewing space, as I make it workable and pretty, so that’ll be nice.

So overall my plan for improved productivity is as follows:
Sort out my sewing space!!

Don’t try and do more than I can manage right now

Give myself a "realistic" schedule for the projects I choose to start

Break down all my projects into little chunks, and a have a list on which I can tick off each one when complete

Thanks to Tilly for this great idea.  I am enjoying reading everyone else’s findings and tips

Monday, 25 April 2011

Disaster and misery!!!

Argh my computer has died (I am typing this on my boyfriend's).  I switched it on the other day only fora nasty blue screen to appear showing a nasty mean message about parity errors or some such.  This means my half finished accountancy project, and my sewing productivity project spreadsheet are lost in it's depths until I can (hopefully) get it fixed.

I am not happy, now I don't know if I should re-write my project from the beginning or hold out until someone can check my laptop and see if it is fixable.  Also it means all the fancy graphs and pie charts I was going to make on my sewing productivity levels have gone the way of the dodo.

I am not happy.

Oh also I gave up on my embroidery christening gift.  It just wasn't working and I had no time to bash out another one.


On a happier note, I am planning to finish the top of my first quilt , my echino bag and that darned grey leafy skirt in the next week or so.

I've also decided to scrap making pyjama's and have a crack a a summer top or two.  Details to come.....

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Pretty purses

I finally completed something!!

They are both made from the same pattern, but when squaring the bottom corners I cut off more on the red one to give it a smaller squashier look.

Here's some inside views:

Both are a bit wonky, which is slightly annoying.  I've got the hang of the glueing now, but it is still a bit fiddly.  All in all a great little gift project, and I've cut the pattern onto cardboard now so I can cut all the bits out nice and easily with my rotary cutter when I make one of these again.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

The mysterious case of the disappearing 9, or Laura learns to Patchwork

So amongst other things I spent my weekend tidying my fabric stash:
Stash box!!
I also went to my first patchworking workshop.
Recognise 2 of these fabrics??
Inspired by the Narcoleptic in a Cupboard, who makes amazing quilts, I thought I'd have a go at this jolly pursuit myself.

The class I went to was a bit of mix, with some people bringing along an ongoing project to get advice and guidance, and there were a couple of beginners like me who just wanted to have a go at a bit of patchwork.  I picked out the disappearing 9 pattern for my quilt which looks quite complex but is actually quite easy.  The trickiest thing is cutting all those darn squares out to begin with (mine needed 36 squares!!).

You sew up the squares in rows of 3.  Then sew 3 rows of 3 together to form a block of 9 squares.  Then (and here's the clever bit) you cut down the middle of each block vertically then horizontally:
My high-tech diagram
That's as far as I managed to get in the 4 hour class, but after that you lay them out and sew them up again into rows of 4, then into the square of 16 (4x4).  I'm going to add a border and then get some batting and backing fabric together and go along another Sunday to quilt it all together.

After I got home I laid them out on the floor and played around with them to get them into a pattern I (just about) liked, so now I am numbering them and stacking them up to sew together another day.

This was the hardest bit, making sure no bits of the same fabric were touching!  If you are a serious perfectionist this will take you a looooong time!!!!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

More speed, less work! My time and motion study

I've signed up for Tilly's Sewing Productivity Project.  Basically we have to analyse how we spend our time and try and find ways to improve our sewing productivity. 

Doing a study on how I spend my time reminds me of this fab children’s TV show I watched as a child called Bertha.  It was about a factory machine called Bertha [hence the pic above], who (obviously) was alive and had her own personality.  She’d make different things every week, and was helped out by various other peeps in the factory and office.  Anyway in one episode the Foreman Mr Duncan decides to do a time and motion study on everyone, and struts around with a big clipboard observing everyone, and spent most of the episode shaking his head, tutting loudly then saying “too slow” or “more speed” and scribbling furiously on his clipboard. 

The moral of the episode was that sometimes it’s quality not quantity that counts when working, and that you have to enjoy the process, not just get things done as quickly as possible.  So although I want to measure how I spend my time, I’m also going to do a qualitative analysis (I know get me right, I used a big word!) on how well that time was spent. 

For example, maybe I spend a night watching a film with my fella, which initially may seem fairly unproductive.  But we both have a lot on work-wise and both have things on during the week, so sometimes relaxing together over a film and a bottle of wine now and again can be time well spent!  Equally if I spend 2 hours sewing one evening, but actually fuss about for 20 minutes because I can’t find my paper scissors or my water soluble fabric marker pen thingy or whatever, then that was time poorly spent.  Do you see?  I know one of my biggest issues is lack of a proper sewing space, and maybe if I see the time I actually spend faffing and setting up before / tidying up after sewing I will buck my ideas up and sort my sewing space plans out!!

Now for the boring bit; laying down some ground rules for the quantitative side of things:

Sleeping, working & time at college are all unavoidable time activities as in I have no choice in these activities.  However I will record those hours as I can control when I go to work (I’m on flexi time so can start as early as 8 or as late as 10, and can finish at any time between 4 and 6 as long as I get my 8 hours in it’s cool) and I can decide on the time I go to bed or get up in the morning.

Hooping (and travelling time to hoop class), cleaning, socialising, watching TV, sewing, embroidery, reading, cooking, project work, homework and so on fit in as free time activities as I do these through choice.  Homework and project work technically must be done, but once my course finishes this time will effectively become free again so I want to see how much more time it gives me.  Likewise I am starting to think I spend too much time cooking fancy meals during the week and need to start speeding things up and making simpler things on work nights so keeping a record of cooking time works for me (anything over half an hour is waaay to long I reckon).

I am breaking down my time into half hourly blocks, obviously total hours in a day are 24, so 48 blocks of time per day.  If I must I can always get picky and do 15 minutes on the odd occasion, but I want to avoid making myself actually include a “time and motion study” category in this thing, as recording every 15 minutes will just take too much time.

I will create a simple table to record time taken up by each activity in each day like below:
Exciting huh!  Then I can do a fancy pie chart to show how I spend my time each day.

Oh and in other news, I just received my custom labels in the post.


Saturday, 9 April 2011

Unsuprisingly Laura isn't posting about sewing

Yes well I have to confess my "Amazing plan of action" isn't actually working.  But I protest, it's not my fault!!  I mean how can you by rights sit indoors and study let alone sew when you have this outside your front door!

So I confess that this weekend, which was supposed to consist of one day studying and one day sewing, will now more than likely consist of  me and my fella sitting outdoors in the sun, perhaps some doing some hula hoping and maybe just maybe throwing in a bit of studying.  Unfortunately I am working to a deadline with my college project but the sewing can wait (at least a couple of weeks).  The only thing I must make soon is the purses, but I can do both of those in one evening.

So I think I need to re-think my schedule.  I was banking on this weekend and next but I need to buck my ideas up during the week and start spending my evenings sewing and studying rather than lolling about on the sofa watching rubbish tele.

So apologies, I have no completed sewing projects, or embroidery or even any "in progress" pictures to show you this week.  Sorry to disappoint, don't be sad, but instead why don't you turn off your PC and go enjoy the sun, like I'm about to do!

Oh also, after my project is out the way I am thinking of joining in on Tilly's Sewing Productivity Project, so I can sit down and work out what I really do with my time, and how I can be more productive.  I must confess that I am acutely aware that I don't sew nearly as much as the rest of you sewing bloggers out there!

Happy weekend all. xx

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

General frustrations and bad embroidery

I am having a real grrrr humpf week this week.  I've got stress at work (end of the financial year drama), and more stress at home because my college project just won't get out of my head and onto paper.  I know what I want to say but just can't get my brain into essay/report writing mode so I'm sitting staring as a blank screen (well really out of the window), and it's driving me nuts.

Anyway I thought I'd get cracking on my embroidery project, as a way to de-stress plus it's a good pick up put down kinda thing to do.  Only the transfer went squiffy, the fabric I picked is too loose a weave and my stitches look clunky and fat, bleugh!

So I've decided to make it a practice version, so I can play around with stitches and stuff.  But I still feel like I've got the opposite of the Midas touch this week.  What about you?  Do you ever get times when whatever you do seems to go wrong?

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Purse prototype completed!

Well here it is folks a finished version of the purse I'm planning to make a couple of for birthday gifts.

This project involves some fiddly glueing so i wanted a dry-run before doing this for real.  Here's an inside view.

Note:  For some reason blogger is turning this pic on it's side.  I've tried about 10 times to get this thing the right way round and it's not playing ball, so you'll just have to tilt your head (or the computer screen) I'm afraid!

The purse pattern I used was created by the lovely Lisa Lam, whose book I own, and who I've now met in real life thanks to Craftaganza (and yes she is super lovely).  I also used her free purse making tutorial which is really handy.  Check out her shop's blog, as there's loads of free tutorials and stuff on there.

The type of frame I used means you glue the fabric into the frame.  This isn't too tricky but I did manage to get the glue everywhere, mainly because I was a bit impatient.  The instructions say you should wait 4-5 minutes after applying the glue to the frame before you attach the fabric.  The reason for this is the glue goes from gunky and messy to tacky and easy to handle.  But me being me wanted to crack on and so a gloopy mess was the result.  It's ok on the outside but the inside isn't great. 

Yukky gluey inside
But for a first attempt I am happy with the result and feel confident enough with the process to get on and make the real ones:

If anyone has any suggestions for how to get rid of the glue from fabric that'd be great!

Friday, 1 April 2011

Bags and purses a go go! Skirt less go go, more go-slow

Don’t you love getting packages in the mail? When I am ordering things online, I tend to try and order everything at the same time so all my parcels arrive within a few days of each other.  This is mainly because they don’t usually fit through our letterbox so need to be picked up at the post office, and it’s easier to do this in one go.  As a result I tend to get a stash of packages to open, which I love!

Following my updated crafting plan, I ordered the bits I need for my first few projects, which I couldn’t buy locally.  I have now just received the purse frames for my gifts purses plus the bag handles and beady trim for my Echino bag.  I have the lining fabric now too.  Thanks go to Jane for her suggestion of fabric colour.  I like the combo, don’t you?  Best get cracking now.
My grey skirt has taken a back seat just because I’ve decided it needs a lining but am a bit flummoxed as to how to do it as I’ve never lined anything before and the pattern is for an unlined skirt.  An old sewing book my Gran gave me says that for lining skirts, pleats in the main skirt fabric and lining should be done together as one piece (unlike darts which apparently should be done on the lining and main skirt separately), but I’m not sure if / how to attach the back bit of the lining to my zipper in the main skirt, as the rest of the lining will fall free from the bottom of the sewn pleat.  I’m thinking I might just baste it to the seam allowance on either side of the zip and see how that goes.  This is probably not making much sense and is hard to visualise, but if it works I’ll post a pic. 

Also if anyone has any advice on lining a skirt please let me know.  The pattern is McCalls 5803 and it’s a simple skirt with pleats that attaches to a straight waistband.  I’ve already sewn the back pieces together and inserted the zipper (which is not coming out for love nor money) and have sewn one half of the pockets to front piece’s sides and the other half of the pockets to to the back piece sides.  Oh yes I forgot to mention it has pockets, does that matter lining-wise?  Nothings attached to the waistband so I thought now was the time to get the lining sorted.

I have put aside a day this weekend to crafting, so hopefully I will have something completed to post here by next week.  Here's hoping!
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