Last week I took some time to put together a production schedule through the end of 2014. It’s organized by week and on basically has three categories; make, develop, and extra. Make is for the product I’m going to batch make, including fabric notes. Develop is for products I’m developing or improving. Extra is all the other stuff I need to do to keep my little shop running, packaging and banners for example. The idea of a production plan is ridiculously simple and basic, but this is the first time I’ve done it. I couldn’t be happier with the way it’s changed not only how I work, but how I feel about my work.
For the past year, I’ve been making it up as I go. That meant making a lot of choices and usually making them based on intuition rather than information. Selecting fabric by intuition works. Making production decisions by intuition is not fun. The worst part of it was that it was impossible to know when I’d done enough. Every time I crossed one thing of the list, something else filled the spot almost immediately. My non-system left me feeling nervous and frustrated. A market date sent me into a making frenzy, but I also spent a good bit of my sewing time looking around my workroom wondering where to start.
When it came to putting together my production plan, I set manageable goals. In my weekly schedule, there are only three to four hours of guaranteed daytime sewing time. The rest is full of kids, household, and the other shop work that needs to be done. I can sew in the evenings and on the weekends, but the first nine months of this endeavor taught me that working like that was bad for me, bad for my family, and not too much fun. I’m being realistic and with some luck, that will keep me happier and ultimately more productive.
The unexpected magic came when I realized that a production plan was a great tool for organizing a lot of aspects of my business that I’ve been struggling with. Knowing what’s going to be new in my workroom and Etsy shop every week means it’s easier to plan blog and Facebook posts to support those additions. Make this week, blog about next week. Make now to prepare for the Lindenmarket on November 30. I also have some idea of how my inventory will build over the next few weeks, which means I also have a better idea of what supplies I need to have. Planning down to the fabrics I’ll use means fewer last minute panics about KAM snap colors (ahem). One week in, I’m pretty excited about how useful my production plan is going to be.
All of this brings me to my latest batch of bibs! The fabric choice was inspired by friends who’ve just had a baby and gave him a lovely bird name. I got a bit emotional about it and decided to make a series of bibs in his honor. If you’re following me on Facebook, you know they are already in my shop here. They are a bright teal with dark purple birdies. Figuring out which fabric would best coordinate for the neutral was tough. Once I gave up on anything matchy-matchy, I found this lovely dark gray tan in my stash that lets those bright colors just pop! I’m very pleased with the results and hope you are, too!
June has arrived and it’s time for Etsy Lokaal. This month, Earth Apple Studio over 50 other Dutch Etsy shops are offering free (local) delivery. Here’s a gorgeous pinboard of some participating Etsy shops. So, why Etsylokaal? How can you take advantage of delivery or free shipping? Read on!
Last Monday, I put tags on a few bibs and key fobs to drop off at Studio Zipp. Studio Zipp is Wilma van Beek’s shop that she’s recently moved into a gorgeous location in downtown Nijmegen, Priemstraat 1. She fills it with unusual and beautiful creations, both hers and others’. I first met her when we needed to get our dining room chairs reupholstered. We spoke to a couple different people, but Wilma was the one with a modern vision and great skills to go with it. I was so flattered when we ran into each other as fellow stall holders at the Linden Market in March and she admired my work! One thing led to another and on Monday afternoon, I dropped of a few pieces for her shop. But there’s more.
I took some bag pictures last week to get ready for posting this bag on Etsy. It is my favorite bag. Well, it’s a new, lined and better version of my favorite bag, which I made in 2009 and still use every summer. It’s a soft, squishy pile now, but my favorite. It’s linen, a combination of new and a vintage British home furnishings fabric I found way back when and have been hoarding! Anya’s gotten some design adjustments for production. The pockets are properly put together and the handle is as well. Neither has raw edges. I miss the rough look, but this is a sturdier bag. The interfacings are different as well, so it has some body and the handle is sturdier. It’s really neat to see how much I’ve learned about construction techniques just over the past few months. This one will go up in my Etsy store in the next week or so. If you’re interested in buying it before then, email me, and we’ll work it out!
On the first day of spring, this is my other work in progress. Last year, we painstakingly dug out the garden in our new backyard. It was overflowing with weeds and flowers. Just about everything got moved, either replaced in the garden or moved to the front yard. Our goal was to make room for a whole lot of vegetables this summer. My inspiration for this year’s garden is coming from Alys Fowler’s book and BBC series, The Edible Garden. I watched the BBC series and needed to have the book, which is lovely.
We’ve kept a lot of the flowers from last year and planted some last year for some quick color as well. Right now, we’ve got borage, lungwort, and helleborus up in the shade and violets and grape hyacinth up in the sun. The tulips are coming in the front yard (so many!) and all of the perennials are coming back strong.
The veggie plan is to grow lots of variety and focus on plants that are going to grow a bit quickly and be pretty to look at. We’ll see this year what does well and what we like. Fowler recommends starting lots of young plants in modules and then planting them out as they mature and as space comes free in the garden. We don’t yet have much of a space problem, but we shall see what the season brings. It’s gorgeous gardening weather here just now with lots of warm sunny days and some rain coming, too.
In my modules right now are fennel, kohlrabi, basil, tiny tim tomatoes, chives, and some lettuce. I’ve got a couple more tomato plants that are older and in pots on the window sill. The cherry tomatoes were a big hit last summer and I’m hoping we will get plenty this year. Growing them from seed is a new challenge. Out in the garden we’re taking out plants that over-wintered and have started to flower with the warm weather, kale, cabbage, and brussel sprouts that never really took off. On the other hand, lettuce and kohlrabi that seemed to grow so slowly over the winter have started to really take off and just might give us an early spring crop. I’ve planted out peas in two varieties: Oregon Sugar Snap and Kelvedon Wonder. These are recommendations straight from The Edible Garden. I’m figuring that the climate in the UK is fairly similar to what we have here. I ordered my seeds and some supplies from Tuinwinkel Van der Wal and am quite pleased with them.
This week we’ve also been adding compost to the soil from our own compost pile. On Saturday, it’s National Compost Day (I’m not kidding) and we’ll pick up 40L of free compost from the city. If you live in the Netherlands, check “locaties 2014” menu to see where you can pick up some free compost! I’m planning to keep that aside to add as I plant or move plants through the season.
It’s exciting to have a garden season in front of us – can’t wait to start watching things grow!
This has been my busiest and most productive sewing week yet. I’ve been making inventory for the Feel Good Market on Sunday – that’s 12:00 – 18:00 on 16 March 2014 in Eindhoven. Last October I visited the Feel Good Market with a friend. It was during Dutch Design Week and there were lots of people, lots of energy, and lots of really good and interesting products to see. People were there with everything from artisan breads to greeting cards, to gorgeous scarves and vintage interior pieces. I knew it was a place I wanted to be and can hardly believe it is going to happen on Sunday.
Last week was Crocus Vacation here in Nijmegen. We had a week of lovely weather and a great four days in Belgium, two in Ghent followed by two in Brugge (Bruges). It was my first trip to both cities and one of our most balanced family trips in the sense that everyone got to do something they really wanted to do, we found lovely places to stay, we ate out, we ate in, and no one got pushed past their limits. The result – a lot of fun!
All hail the self-imposed deadline. My Etsy shop is now open. It took a lot of compromising with my own expectations (perfectionism – bah!) and learning to do things I never thought I’d figure out (paint.net not so bad), but I got there.