Mass production can be simple, but there are some things you need to take into consideration before you start to take advantage of mass production techniques.
Mass production techniques are doing one step of a project to all of the items before moving on to the next step and then doing that step to all of the projects before moving on again. Take the time to analyze the project before you begin. If the project is new to you, make a “prototype” so that you can analyze the steps and break the project down.
Mass Production Steps
For this article let’s pick a simple project such as Keep Cool Neck Scarves. Let’s pretend you want to make two dozen of them to donate to your fire department or a crew of construction workers or for a school field trip to keep everyone cool and comfortable. Before you start:
- Choose a similar fabric for all of the scarves. Similar does not mean that all of them need to be identical. Similar fabric mans that could use the same color thread, the same type of sewing machine needle and the same temperature iron for all of the fabrics.
- Set up your sewing machine(s) and other equipment such as an iron and ironing board.
Get started by doing all of the cutting at once. Cut out all of the scarves at one time. Factories use saws that will cut through huge stacks of fabric. You do not have to invest in that kid equipment to cut out multiple items at a time:
- Choose rotary cutting tools or large dressmaker shears for cutting.
- Stack your fabric only as thick as your cutting tools will cut through easily. Too thick can ruin shears and cause inaccurate cutting.
- Align the selvages and keep the grain straight on each layer.
- Keep each layer smooth and wrinkle-free (even if it means taking the time to iron the fabric).
Break down the steps to your project. For the Keep Cool Neck Scarves, the directions are broken down into steps that work well:
- After they are all cut out, you would finish the edges of all of them.
- Then you would prepare to seam them all
- Next, you would seam them all.
- Then turn all of them right side out at one time.
- Now you would take the pile and sew one end on all of them
- Next, you would add the crystals to all of them.
- Finally, you would close the second end on all of them.
- Trim all of your threads if you haven't as you did the sewing and fold them, so they are ready to be distributed.
Pinning is not usually done in factories. Don't eliminate all pinning, but it is possible to sew seams without pinning the entire seam. Focus your pinning efforts on dots, notches and aligning the ends of a seam. Learn to work the edges of the fabric as you sew to keep the edges aligned.
This type of sewing works very well with a group. Set up various workstations for each of the “workers.” When our county 4H group made these scarves for soldiers, we had a yardstick taped to a table top at one station for the “prepare to seam” step. We had two people at the “turn right side out” station. Working with a group makes the project seem to appear at the end of the assembly line magically.
Even personalized items can be mass produced. Let’s look at making Insulating Soda Can or Juice Box Wrap. If you have machine embroidery possibilities, you could make them all out of the same fabric, but machine embroiders a design or name on each one before you start sewing them. Machine embroidery would be one of the steps.
Even if it seems overwhelming the first time you attempt mass production sewing, give it a try again. It’s a great way to accomplish a lot in a short period of time.