The other new tool that has come into my life, thanks to the recommendation of my very lovely studio neighbour, Simone of Femke Textiles, is a Lightning electric fabric cutter. This baby can cut super thick piles of fabric with ease. It's a bit heavy and will take some practice to get precise lines from but I love a new gadget so am looking forward to playing with it - hopefully it will make putting Freeform Patchwork Kits together much quicker!
Tuesday, 5 July 2016
Tools of the trade
Earlier this year my husband and I had a chat about possible ways to lighten my workload - I do everything myself: sourcing, ordering, designing, printing, heat setting, cutting, photographing, packaging. I've been contemplating jobs I can outsource and the possibility of hiring someone on a casual basis but finding the right person who I can trust with taking over some of my duties and fit into my rather all-over-the-place schedule seems like a big job in itself. So we moved onto tools that could help do some jobs faster at least. I heat set all of my fabric by hand, using a regular old iron. I tried an ironing press when I first started out but it wasn't wide enough for my fabric panels and I found it impossible to gauge which bits had been done sufficiently when heat setting larger pieces. I've had a few quite large orders for yardage this year and heat setting it all by hand just wasn't going to cut it (although I have done it many times in the past, it just takes soooooooo long). I started looking into heat tunnels that the professionals use (way too big and expensive, although there are some good secondhand deals around if you have the room, which I don't) and came across some flash dryers on eBay. They are basically big rectangles of radiant heat, getting up to 200˚C, that you can move over your fabric to dry the ink when printing repeats or, as I found, can heat set the water based inks in a mere 1-2 minutes flat.
So I just set a little timer on my phone and move the flash dryer along while I do other stuff around the studio - yay! After heat setting everything by hand for five years, this is pretty exciting.