A few weeks ago, I took on my first paid sewing job. (Unless you count that time when I was eight and my best friend’s mom “hired” me to make a doll panel pillow for her little girl. Now that I think about it, the pay was better then.) It wasn’t much: piece work involving a lot of ribbons and a lot of buttons. A lot. Here’s what I learned about contract sewing:
1. It is not a great idea for one to take a job with a one-week deadline during the same week that one is having all of one’s wisdom teeth pulled.
2. All thread is not created equal. [Okay, so I already knew that. The woman for whom I was sewing, however, did not. My trusty little machine – which is not an embroidery machine – did not appreciate the machine embroidery thread with which I was asked to sew Velcro to ribbon. Fortunately, I had my own stash of good ol’ Coats & Clark All Purpose.]
3. Two plastic shank buttons cannot be sewn together without some measure of flexibility. [Also something I already knew, but that I had to explain.]
4. If it is not feasible to estimate the amount of time required to complete a piecework project, it is best to accept only a small job at first in order to determine if the wage is worth the amount of time spent.
Fortunately, I did have the foresight to adhere to #4. I accepted a project that could last no longer than one week. At the end of the week, I calculated my time – and it was a reasonable amount of time to spend on such a project – and found that the hourly wage ended up being one that would cause social reformers to demand justice. Ah, well, live and learn.
The positive result of the project is that it got me back to my sewing machine. Ahhh. Sewing really provides such a creative release for me. I enjoy stitching by hand, but that is usually a social activity for me, something I do while visiting with friends, listening to my children, talking with my husband. Sitting at my machine is not a social activity. I am focused on the fabric under my hands, on the even stitches appearing behind the needle, on the rhythmic hum that tells me everything is operating as it should. I get lost in it.
Show and tell coming soon. I think.