Co-op Work, La la la…

I’ve been working on co-op goodies for a few weeks now.  Actually, just a couple weeks – since the two rolls of OBV I initially received didn’t have the silky hand that I expect my fabrics to have and I had to wait to get replacement rolls from a new batch.   I initially felt a little uncertain about needing to return the rolls – the fabric wasn’t HORRIBLE and it was possible that no one would even notice but me (after all, I’m feeling up fabric all day long as part of my job description) but frankly, I’m used to a certain level of silky softness and it wouldn’t have felt right to send out goodies made with fabric that I felt was sub-par.  Even if I was the only one that would know. Thankfully my supplier has always had excellent CS and let me swap ASAP and I was so happy I did.  These new rolls have the kind of fabric people have come to expect from TB products: thick, squishy, silky softness!

So anyway, with the new rolls in I’ve been cutting and prepping and dyeing and sewing.  I’m “in the thick of things” as it were.  🙂  I was fortunate to get a quickie initial blanket off to a mama needing one ASAP for a birthday boy:

Toddler Blanket in 'Midnight' and 'Autumn' with name applique

Toddler Blanket in ‘Midnight’ and ‘Autumn’ with name applique.

And it arrived just in time!  🙂  But as this co-op ended up bigger than I anticipated, once one blanket is down it’s time to move on to the next.  Lots more to do!

"Limey Bloo" colorway in the dye tub.

“Limey Bloo” colorway in the dye tub.

Lots of dyed fabrics waiting for their turn at the sewing machine.

Lots of dyed fabrics waiting for their turn at the sewing machine.

With all the dyeing, I go through a lot of misc. supplies – of course the dyes and soda ash, Synathropol and fabric softener.  But other dye tools – squirt bottles, stirring sticks, face masks and rubber gloves all have a short shelf life.  Especially the rubber gloves.  I don’t know if it’s because I don’t keep my nails super-short or what, but I go through gloves like no one’s business.  And I find out that it’s time for a new pair like this:

Hmmmm... my skin isn't supposed to be that color.

Hmmmm… my skin isn’t supposed to be that color.

I think it’s all good being elbow deep in a tub of dye thanks to my trusty rubber gloves.  Then I rinse and take them off and lo and behold – smurf blue skin (or my personal favorite, mottled brown/green).  Nothing quite like being at the grocery store and having a shopper next to you cringe while you handle some broccoli into a bag with fungus-y looking fingers.

But when it happens, it’s usually because I am on a dyeing rampage.  There is a lot of insanely hot water those gloves have to put up with.  Along with hoisting, wringing, pushing and prodding heavy wet fabric – measuring, stirring and shaking bottles of dye.  I understand that they can’t last forever and this might help explain why:

HALF of a batch dye process.

HALF of a batch dye process.

Yes, that picture only encompasses HALF of the tubs of dyed fabric that were happening at that one time.  And this is an excellent example of what “batch dyeing” means.  In this co-op there were several orders of my “Limey Bloo” colorway.  So to save time and effort (and to make the washing process much easier since they’re all the same colorway), I dye them all at once.  That way I’m only focusing on mixing three colors (the blue, the green and the yellow) and the striping process is repeated over and over and over again – much easier to focus that way.

Of course, dyeing is only part of the process.  The first part is the cutting and prepping of the fabric.  The second is the dyeing.  The third is the applique (if necessary), the fourth is the sewing, the fifth is the picture taking and the sixth is the shipping.  THAT is the process – well, the abridged version.  Tonight I was working on Process Part Four:

Pretty finished edges.

Pretty finished edges.

I love me a clean, finished edge.  There are lots of blanket makers that don’t add any finishing seams to their blankets and that’s totally a personal choice.  Some people dislike extra seams and that’s okay.  But for me, the blanket/lovey/whatever just doesn’t seem like it’s really COMPLETE until that decorative edge gets added.  It’s my favorite part of the sewing – yes, because the piece is done and after all the work that goes into it, it’s a relief to be done! – but also because it’s just a pretty flourish that ties everything together so neatly.

One thing that I really like about my work is the little details.  Like, when I’m preparing my blankets for sewing, I like to make sure all my corners are proper 90 degree corners.  I like to make sure that when I turn my blankets inside out to topstitch, all the corners are properly turned out so they’re nice sharp corners.  I like to try and stop and start my topstitching so that they overlap just enough to thoroughly secure the sewing.  I really like to make sure all my tags are triple stitched:

Triple stitched tag.

Triple stitched tag.

I love my satin tags.  They are soft and pretty and they have my logo – what’s not to like?  But when sending out something that a baby or toddler can and will likely pull on or stick in their mouths, safety is key.  That’s why my tags are stitched to my blanket not once, not even twice, but three times.  That means that unless all three seams give way in some freak incident, or unless your baby happens to be a power lifter with a penchant for ripping phone books in half in their downtime, that tag is staying put and it’s just one less thing to worry about having in a crib during naptime or a carseat while out and about.

Anyway that’s it for me, for now.  Hubs has been abandoned this evening as I set to work on this co-op so I’d better go make sure I’m still in his good graces.  🙂  I hope to get in a post soon that goes over my applique process.  It’s lengthy (isn’t it all?) but it would be fun to demonstrate.  Maybe next time!

Until then,

Jenn

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2 responses to “Co-op Work, La la la…

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