Friday, June 19, 2009

(wo)man vs the Machine

So, I want to tell you that I just adore my new industrial serger. I want to tell you that my 16 years of home serger use gave me a huge advantage and that I would sit down and know exactly what to do. I expected there to be nice knobs for adjusting the differential feed and stitch length. And that between my knowledge and the instruction manual, that we would be well on our way to a harmonious relationship.

Are you laughing yet? If you know anything about an industrial serger, I bet you are.

I bought my wonder new piece of machinery 2nd hand which means that I don't get the benefit of picking the phone up and calling my dealer everytime something goes wrong. That is a pretty big deal. But, the savings of buying (barely) used vs brand new was too great to pass up. So I have to muddle through this myself.

Yesterday, I achieved some level of success with actually using the machine and serging up my unpaper towels. I had previously been afraid that I could never manipulate the small fabric fast enough. After lots of trial and error, I started getting the hang of it. I slowed down at the corners and I appreciated the speed on the sides. That was an area on my home serger that I felt like I could braid my hair waiting for the serger to work down the 4 sides. (Not really but it felt like that.)

The industrial serger is FAST, way faster then I really need. I can only imagine going full blast if I were making curtains. I did run some fabric through at full speed and I ended up biting a hunk of the middle of the fabric into the seam. Whoops! I just couldn't arrange the fabric quick enough.

I had lots of mess-ups but I think I am almost at a point where I can let my home serger take a mini-vacation with the service shop.

Notable facts about an industrial serger.

There is no presser bar lever. I have 2 pedals, the left is the speed, the right lifts the presser foot. I have adapted fairly well and it's actually a nice change. I'm not as good controlling the speed with my left foot but it's not really an option to use my right foot on that pedal because it would be an akward twist of my body to access the serger.

The machine uses oil and a LOT of it. It took half a quart to fill it. When I serge fast, you can see oil bubbling up to the top of the machine under a little plastic bubble. It's kind of weird and cool.

It's a PAIN is the arse to thread. About 10 times harder then a home machine and tweezers are definately needed even when threading the needles. I can thread my home serger without tweezer if need be. It's probably a bit quicker with tweezers but half the time I don't know where they are, usually buried under fabric. I will HAVE to keep track of my tweezers...or maybe buy a few extra to keep floating around.

It's a teeny bit noisy. Is has a separate motor that is attached under the table. Oh, and yes...has to be attached to a table so it's not portable.

The instruction book is pretty useless. It's written in 4-5 languages and each section is lacking. The diagram for threading it is not clear enough and not big enough for me to be 100% sure. There is plenty of room for error!

Adjusting the stitch length and differential feed involves opening the machine up and pushing buttons that don't look like buttons or twisting knobs that don't look like they want to be unscrewed. Not exactly abundantly clear even when looking at the instuctions.

But, it IS faster. And I'm starting to warm up to it. It will help me be more productive. But, I expect that it will give me plenty of headaches until we become more accustomed to each other.

June Sales Stats (so far)
162 unique customers, mostly new but a few repeat buyers in there, too (thank you!)
221 sets of unbleached unpaper towels sold (5 packs and bakers' dozens) That's approx 2700 individual UPTs!!
3 'deluxe' sets of hand dyed unpaper towels
12 sets of flannel cloths
1 apron
96 packages shipped
71 to be shipped (to date)

Holy moly! Never, I and mean NEVER would I have dreamed that I would post stats like that. This month's sales mean that I was able to pay CASH for the industrial serger, CASH (OK, the debit kind) for all the other supplies that I need to run my business - like shipping supplies (polymailers, labels, tissue paper,) a large order from dharma for dyes and blanks, 16 spools of serger thread, 400 yards of fabric, an industrial iron and a new cutting tool. And if I weren't saving to become incorporated, I could pay the household back for the purchases that started my business. And one of these days, in the near future, I might even be able to pay myself for the bazillion hours a week I am pouring into this business. And that money will be mainly earmarked for debt and hopefully a bit of renovating of my studio.

Hurray! Dave Ramsey would be proud, I think. It feels WONDERFUL to be able to offer such a great product to my customers and to reap benefit that will directly impact the lives of our family.

1 comment:

Over Yonder said...

I'm JEALOUS! yet proud of you! :)