Although shipping my Etsy sales has kept me busy, I really have no excuse for not being more productive with my craftmaking. Luckily I tend to do my work in large batches, so I still have plenty of merch for my site despite not working on any wallets since late November.
I try to work on my wallets “factory line” style. The first step is simply saving scraps from my tailoring gig for Self Edge. I usually collect 30-40 scraps a week from alterations, but less than one quarter of those are big enough for my crafts (5″ or more). After sorting out the usable pieces I then have to go through the process of seam ripping the cuffs and the seam on one side of the leg (where the selvage edges are).
That’s what I did today. It took me 8 hours to seam rip all of my scrap pieces and iron them flat. Doing work this way can get a bit tedious, so I like to watch movies as I do it (Stranger Than Fiction, The Kingdom, The King of Kong, and Last King Of Scotland). I ended up with 74 pieces of selvage denim scraps! That’s enough for 148 wallets in theory.
The next step down the “line” will be sorting my scraps into batches; coffee cozies (pieces 4″-5″), wallets (5″-6″), iPhone cases and other large accessories (+6″). In some cases I’ll also gather small batches of similar style jeans to make small runs of consistent wallet styles (ie SugarCane, Iron Heart). After sorting my batches, I’l start tracing my patterns (w/ sorting this should take 8 hours), then I’ll do all my cutting (another 8 hours?), and then sew all the pieces together to make the wallets (20 minutes each).
The factory line method may seem overwhelming at first. I mean after 3 days of work, I still won’t have made a single wallet. But using this method, I can average a wallet in 45 minutes or so, compared to an hour and a half each working individually.
To any other artists out there, I suggest that you re0evaluate your “products” and see if it isn’t possible to try a factory line style for them. After spending a day working on a single step, you’ll probably find that you understand the essential steps more and more. You’ll start to see what steps are necessary and how to improve your technique. Simplifying your work can often lead to more consistent and much faster results.