Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Thwarted efficiency

There are some advantages to a family member who sells patchwork fabric.

I know that for some it is hard to envisage disadvantages in this situation but imagine fabric stash multiplied many times over (the phrase "fabric everywhere" in a literal sense!) and then there's also the temptation...sigh...

Anyway, I came home from a recent visit to my parents armed with a selection of new fabrics to add to my growing collection of fat quarters...

...some new designs and some pieces with minor flaws that I can cut around but couldn't be sold (these donations are a definite advantage of the situation). 

Then I went through all my fabric and realised just how much I have...

...so after a small promise, to myself (and my other half!) that I would use some of the hoard to actually make some bears, I set to work.

I wanted to experiment with a more efficient system of working. I thought about the time it takes to work progressively through the stages of bear making. I thought about the time wasted getting equipment out and putting it away multiple times.

So I decided to try to work conveyor belt style.

I chose a few fabrics, got the ironing board out and ironed them, then started pinning the pattern pieces in place. Then I cut the pieces out, removed the pins and started on another piece of fabric. I repeated this until I had the pieces cut for nine bears. 

By this time, I was thoroughly sick of standing at the ironing board and my fingers hurt from pushing pins through card and fabric. Plus it took AGES! I always forget how long this stage takes!

So I moved on and started getting the pieces ready to sew. I matched and pinned the pieces ready for the first round of sewing. It was a lot of pieces. So many that I ran out of pins.

Time to get the sewing machine out. Hooray! And to my astonishment, I was finished in an hour and a half! Having done all the preparation work, all I had to do was sit and sew. It was amazing!

Then it was time for the second round of pinning and sewing - completed in another hour. I began to think that perhaps this conveyor belt thing had its merits after all.

And then I hit a snag. 

I wonder if you can guess? If you've read my bear posts before then you might be able to....

... let me give you a clue. What are my least favourite parts to work on? 

You've got it - foot-pads! 

I had left myself with eighteen foot pads to sew.

By hand.

Plus the noses (although the rest of the head can be done on the machine, I always sew the nose part of the head gusset into place by hand for better shaping). Nine noses.

So I turned and stuffed the completed bodies and arms instead.

And then the excuses started. 

"Well I don't have enough buttons to make nine bears anyway"

So I ordered some buttons and waited for them to arrive.

And finally I realised I didn't really have an excuse any more. So I gritted my teeth and, grumbling and complaining, I forced myself to get on with making just one of the bears. I sewed the nose (which I grudgingly have to admit took about 15 minutes!) and then used the machine for the rest of the head. 

Then I pinned the first foot pad and started to sew.  About half an hour later, I moved onto the second leg. And then that too was completed. 

I had been procrastinating for two weeks over a job that took me less than an hour and a half to complete! 

And would have been much quicker if I hadn't been fighting myself the whole way!

Sometimes I am my own worst enemy!

Anyway, I could now get on with the fun part: turning, stuffing, closing seams, jointing and adding eyes, nose and ears. 

The bits that create and cement character. 

The tasks that bring the bear to life.

And here he is...

Am I pleased? With the bear - a definite yes.

With myself? Sigh - one day I will learn that the things I put off are generally not that epic. That I allow them to appear bigger than they really are so that I can pretend that I don't have time. That I always feel far better when I get on with something than when I leave tasks hanging over me. 

So much for efficiency! I have completed one bear in three weeks. Oh well.

Who's next?


I would have said that I don't have enough eyes for another bear but my wonderful mum has taken that excuse away by finding some amazing vintage boot buttons at a French craft show this weekend (you can see the photo on her blog) so all I have to do is wait for them to arrive! So exciting!

I think I'll go with this bear next: the head is already done.

What part of projects do you procrastinate over the most? Have you ever been surprised by the time a long-put-off-project actually took to complete?


  1. I have been nodding my head, in agreement, the entire time I read you post. I totally understand having too much fabric. I'm almost embarassed to allow anyone to see how much I actually have stashed away. The bear is lovely and so (sew) will be the others, when completed!

  2. Always do the bits you like least, first. Then you get it over with and can end with the enjoyable bits so that you finish on a positive


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