Thoughts on bulk sewing and other things....

This week I have sewed all day, every day. On Friday morning as I sat down at my sewing machine, with a lovely clear blue sky at the window, my iPod playing favourite songs, a cup of tea on my desk and pattern pieces ready to sew I realised how very happy I felt. I have been making up orders of make-up bags, tissue holders and pin cushions. All things that don't require the stroky beard moments that I get when making something with applique pieces and I found the opportunity to have a week in front of the machine, rather than on the floor surrounded by strangely shaped scraps of material, to be completely restful.

I am never keen on the pattern cutting aspect, but I now tend to spend about five hours once a week in an evening cutting out pattern pieces to sew during the week, and this way it seems quicker and gets the boring bit out of the way. Whenever I have an order to make something, I find it hard not to feel compelled to make several more for my shop at the same time, and so gradually summer stock has built up without any real conscious effort (although none of it is yet photographed for my website as that is another job which feels slightly tiresome, so I'm waiting to do it all on one day).

The other good thing about sewing in bulk in this way is that where something has been unpicked and put right on the first item, the next is quicker to make as what I've learnt is able to put into practice straightaway with the next set of pattern pieces (and not forgotten, as would be in my usual way!). When a friend asked me to make her a make-up bag like this one, to give as a gift, my heart sank a little for zips scare me, particularly when I haven't put one in for a while. However, the following week she placed an order for two more, and with those I made another two for my shop...and finally I felt I knew exactly how the zip should be put in and completely confident about doing it. My sister, Laura, read here that to be completely proficient and successful at something one must have spent something approximating 10,000 hours practicing I still have 9,970 hours to go, but I'm feeling positive because I can already see the rightness in this and can only imagine how dreamy my zips are going to look at the end of this learning curve.

I, on the other hand, will look anything other than dreamy. I have realised that sewing is not good for general health. My sewing desk has always been in the same place and the small clock that I always glance at (for even at 10am I worry that time may have run away with me and that I might have missed picking the children up from school) has always been about 2 metres away across the room. Two years ago, I used to look up from my desk and would see the numbers on the clock perfectly. Now when I look up my eyes take a couple of seconds to focus before I can make out the figures on the clock. My mother says that this is because I am spending too much time staring without blinking at short range and that I must exercise my eyes by glancing out of the window every minute to give my eyes more opportunity to change between short and long distance focus. I am now doing this religiously - I have always had perfect eyesight and it terrifies me to feel this deteriorating by something so obviously measurable as the clock that I have always looked at.

And the two pictures of linings in this post? I use this range all the time. They are beautiful quality, have a low, subtle sheen to them, the colours are gorgeous and appear to change slightly depending on what angle you are looking at them from. And I have just learnt that they are no longer being imported into this country for what I can only assume are reasons of credit crunchery. Oh lawks...whatever next?! On a gravely serious side so many people are losing their jobs, but on a more superficial side, our high streets do seem to be being depleted of so many of the bits of loveliness that I'd previously always assumed would be available. It's a shock to find this happening and I feel distressed by the idea that potentially we could lose some of our favourite fabric houses, designers, or shops to this...arg...there's never been a time when it's so virtuous to spend large in this area! x


  1. Hello Florence. I was just printing out an order form when Bloglines notified me of your post - lovely! Your make up bags are beautiful. Such lovely things to have on a dressing table. I agree with you about zips, etc and find myself wincing when I have not done one for a while. I also so agree with you about the wonders of having stock built up and making a run of things. It speeds the process so much and makes me feel quite professional!
    Have a lovely weekend Florence xx

  2. I'm glad its not just me that suffers from 'forgetting to pick up the kids' paranoia! I really love the colours you use on your projects

  3. Hi Florence,
    great to hear that you have been busy and that you have cracked the zip thing... i think zips often cause panic but you are so right it is just practice. Seems like you have a good routine going with the evening prep... what a good idea. i shall think of you during the week too doing your eye exercises. Maybe i should have been doing them as i have recently just picked up my first pair of glasses and am still getting the hang of them.
    I once did forget to pick up the girls, both R and i were at home and were dozing... we had set the alarm but it did not go off... what a panic it was to be awoken by the school secretary!!
    if you have an alarm clock that works maybe you could set it for 30mins before pick up time... then you will need to worry less about clock watching.
    lots of love to you teacakes
    Ginny x

  4. I love that feeling of happiness I get from sitting at my sewing machine too ;-)

  5. I've recently moved into my 5th sewing spot in 40 months and although its a much smaller model than the last I dont miss the space as much as the window-so I envy you yours- we must have a room with a view it makes such a difference. And I know what you mean about relying on supplier I have a few that if they give up I'll have to too, or leave the country!
    P.S. love the ribbons your sister gave you any ideas where I can get some?

  6. A large sewing/knitting/craft shop,spread over two big floors, and which has beenin the town for decades,is going to close :(
    And th eart shop- which I thought would be safe because we have an art college here in COlchester, well it is looking a bit sparse, so I don't think they're taking in any new stock. I wonder what will happen. Every time I go into town another shop has gone. It's very scary.

    Anyway. I have really enjoyed reading your post.

    Re your eyesight, it's just because you're not blonking enough and not varying your focusing. I notice this if I am reading and then look up at the tv- it will be difficult to focus on the tv if I've been reading for some time.

    My eyes were ruined by computer use at work for years. I started in 1986, when we had horrible green screens with tiny writing! I dont know if modern PCs are as bad for your eyes, but it only took about 8 months and I noticed I could no longer see to the end of the office!

    You need to exercise your focal lens, which after all is a muscle! LIke any other, I guess, you 'use it or lose it'.
    What you need to do is look up at a distance now and then. This will mean you're changing the shape of the lens regularly and keeping it working.

    Also, when concentrating on close work you don't blink, this can cause eye strain as your eyes get dry.

    Look up now and then and look as far as you can down the garden! That should do it!



  7. Erm... I meant blinking, not blonking! LOL!!!

  8. I definitely agree on the bulk sewing. It's so much more satisfying to have a great big pile of already cut out items so you can just dive in to the stitching! I wish I could find a way to streamline the cutting time though as it seems to take an eternity!

  9. ummmmm.....I wish my evening had 5 hours in it. I often think of all the things I could do if I did not go to bed SO early!!

    Happy sewing!

  10. Hi Florence,

    I've arrived here via Sew, Mama, Sew and instantly felt a connection. I now have pretty much the same schedule as you do (I sew all day), except I don't have any children.

    Doesn't your back hurt at the end of the day? I feel I have to get a shorter chair so I sit up straight when I sew.

    You make lovely things! I'm so glad I've found your blog.

    Best wishes from Portugal,



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