Monday, January 26, 2015

War Company surcoats

Sometimes projects take on a life of their own in crazy ways. A number of years back, I ran a sewing day to assembly line surcoats for the Bryn Gwlad War Company. We finished off a decent number of surcoats (maybe 6 or 7?) with a team of five people. That kind of efficiency is possible with a well-run assembly line because you have lots of unskilled labor doing the time consuming things like ironing and cutting. This leaves your skilled sewing folks to do their work.  

 So.... it became clear recently that we needed another batch of surcoats and I volunteered to host and run the assembly line. I decided that this time I would teach a few people how to run one of these things so that we could replicate institutional memory. ISO compliance maybe? Anyway, as I started putting together checklists and spreadsheets, this thing kept getting bigger. It turned out that we really, really needed surcoats.

With two deputies, we hosted 24 people over two days of non-stop work.  People showed up and worked hard.  I took deep breaths and trusted my skilled labor and leaned heavily on my deputies and a couple of other logistics helpers.  There were 6 ironing boards, 2 sergers, and 6 sewing machines in action, along with lots of people tracing designs and cutting pieces. The charts and checklists appear to be working.

  Progress after day 2

This is twenty surcoats in progress on a hanging rack. They are labeled and filed according to their position in the pipeline. It's like a cross between filing cabinet and a wardrobe. This sewing day turned into a weekend worth of baronial barn raising. We had two days of madness and accomplished a ridiculous amount of work.

  Queued pieces

 The surcoats are all appliqued, so there are a lot of pieces. We have yellow halberds on black stripes that go on one side and black stars that go on the other side. The picture above is our piles of cut applique pieces in progress. These are all pieces that are waiting to go on surcoats next weekend.

Next weekend, we should have surcoats coming out the assembly line finished, so more pictures to come.  For now, my logistics team will spend the week trying to figure out how to most efficiently keep the line moving as we roll along.  Also, we will be appliqueing a lot of halberds.....

4 comments:

M. Schreffler said...

Great job!

Helene said...

Thanks! I have a great team!

Alena said...

This is so inspiring, horay for checklists!

Helene said...

Thanks! The checklists were totally the way to go. We ended up using a wall chart (like they use in classrooms) for tracking each surcoat, since the pile was so big :)