18 August 2008

The Show - Part 2

So, with my fabric order sorted out I proceeded to hack up what fabric I already had in stock. The way I dye means that each piece of fabric is cut to the final size first, then overlocked to stop it falling apart in the dyeing process, then dyed.

It's at times like these when you really start to refine your working processess. Normally when I'm working, time is not a huge issue. If it takes me a couple of minutes longer to cut the fabric, well it's not the end of the world. However when time is tight and you're going to be preforming the same operation over and over, you start to think of ways to make the process more efficient.

I started using my big fabric shears to cut up the fabric, measuring out lengths using my metre rule, these were cut from the bolt then cut in half again to make fat quarters. Then cut in half again and again if needed to get the smaller sizes, then back to the bolt for the next length. Using the scissors can be quick, if they're sharp you can cut a notch in the edge of the fabric and then starting a cut, you can run your scissors through the fabric relying on the sharpness of the edge to cut through the fabric for you. This technique probably has a name but I don't know it. The downside of this is that you can easily dogleg the cut, which can leave you with a piece of fabric that it much narrower/wider at one end than the other. To be accurate you need to cut properly all the way across, which is slow. So how to speed this process up?

Well I've recently had a go at patchwork, and so I had a large cutting mat (A0 size) and rotary cutter to hand. Using my rule, I measured out the length I was cutting on the mat (it's marked up with a grid in cms) and then simply lay the fabric out straight on the mat and used the rule to cut along with the rotary cutter. Much quicker! I also started cutting all the lengths off the bolt and stacking them up, then cutting them down to smaller size pieces afterwards. The benefits of using the rotary cutter were that I was getting nice straight edges and I could cut through several layers of fabric at once. So if I was cutting lots of smaller pieces I could simply start with a couple of lengths, cut them in half and stack the two halves on top of each other for the next cut.

In this way I quickly reduced my stocks of fabric to piles of neatly cut pieces waiting to be overlocked.

It's at this point I have to issue my hearfelt thanks to J K Rowling and Stephen Fry. The former for writing the Harry Potter books, and the latter for being such a fabulous reader and having created the audiobook versions. I should also thank the Nottinghamshire Library system for reducing their charges and making it free to borrow audiobooks, and only 25p to reserve them. Armed with all seven books to load onto my ipod I faced the task of overlocking with much less trepidation.

Using an overlocker to create garments is a tricky job requiring much concentration. Using an overlocker to serge the edges of rectangular bits of fabric, on the other hand, is a tedious, thankless task that requires the mental acuity and concentration of a gnat. So I plugged myself in to the world of Harry Potter and serged away for hours and hours each evening, gradually reducing the piles of fabric to nothing. These were then washed and stockpiled in the airing cupboard waiting to be dyed.

Then my fabric order from Zweigart arrived and there were 87 metres of uncut fabric sitting on my dining table.


1 comment:

Miss 376 said...

It'll all be worth it in the end