Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mise en place- cookin' up a stack of shades

I love all things food just about as much as I love all things fabric.  Long ago I had the opportunity to work as a prep cook in an upscale restaurant, where I learned about "mise en place"- which means "put in place", referring to the chef's set-up of ingredients and tools needed for the night's work.  Everything is in the exact same place, every night, so the chef can easily pick up whatever is needed with the least extraneous movement.

Now I use that concept with the workroom's sewing projects.  Here is my shade-making mise en place- this is NOT just some random scattering of tools and supplies- it's all carefully arranged for maximum efficiency.

At the top of the table I position everything I need.  I have actually four- no, five- pairs of utility scissors out: one at each corner of the shade, plus one good pair for fabric. 
In the center are items that I'll need to be able to reach from both sides of the shade.  Towards the back is a rack with ladder tape and lift cord.  Behind it is a lint roller, and transparent rulers.  There are straightedges everywhere, of every length.
On the shelves under the window are things I might need- extra ladder tapes, mesh cord shrouds, and lift cord in all the colors they make, all the various types of adhesive tapes, weight bar pocket tubing in two colors.
In the center of the table I keep a box of rings; a box with needles and thread in the colors I'll be using; a box with purple disappearing pens, pencils, a Sharpie, little snippy scissors, and some adhesive remover.  If I'm using a fusible for the side hems instead of sewing them, the fusible is there in the middle.  I keep a fabric stapler for use at the top of the shade; a tag gun as my "guilty pleasure" to tack the weight bar pocket where it can't be seen; I don't often need pins but there they are; and a roll of Rowley's weight bar pocket.  There's the weight bar I'll be using, already cut and waiting.
All the linings for the next batch of projects have been rough-cut and are off to the side, or hanging over the fabric rack, labelled. 
After the shade is laid out, tabled, lining(s) in place, side hems secured,  and ladder tapes run, I move things around a bit.
The rings move into the middle of the shade, with the threads, my favorite needle, and at least two pairs of scissors.  The weight bar is waiting at the bottom of the table, with the tag gun, ready for its turn in the production process.  The stapler sits on the top of the shade so I won't forget to secure all the ladder tapes.  The phone is always in the middle of the table so I can reach it from either side.

With a workload of about three dozen shades to get through, here is my other table, with another mise en place: stacked with lumber that's been cut and ripped and notched to size; brass weight bars cut and marked; and all the Rollease clutches ready and waiting.

There's another mise en place for stapling and stringing- as soon as that process starts for this batch of shades, I'll photograph that too.
Time to start cooking up some shades!

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