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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

We make holes in cushions!

Today, I'd like to tell you a little about our job today.  The sewers were all sewing a cushion set that consists of a seat that gets poly-filled and a back that gets a blown filling and a button on front and back.  Due to down season for cutting, Laurie and I got elected to this button job.  Laurie had to take scrap fabric to cut out the little button coverings, and then put them into a machine that magically mounts it on the button.  I got to attach the little buggers, and this is where everything got a tad complicated.

The shell itself is a 25X27 square, with a 4-inch wide band.  It has a 7-inch space left open at the bottom for the fill to be shot in.  When we cut these in mass quantities (as we had here, because these are for K-Mart retail orders going out in a few weeks), you have to use a drill and fabric bit to drill a hole in the exact center of each piece for the button.   With me so far?  Okay, now the fun stuff.

The fabric is a thick, dark maroon-ish with roses stitched in black.  It has been a rip-roaring delight to tell which direction is up on this stuff, but that's another story.  Now once upon a time, we had a "regular size" fabric bit, but then some big fat arse of a customer crushed a cushion beyond its weight limit and the button tore, leading them to bitch that the "hole was too big".  So now we use this tiny pin-prick of a bit that makes hard to see holes in the easiest of fabrics.  Combine tiny holes, dark fabrics, the fact that apparently cutting this fabric at depth (maybe 60 plies) makes the holes "heal themselves", and you know why my first words were "I hope there's not a RATE on this!"  To which my super said, "400 per hour" (jokingly).  The actual action is much like hooking a rug, even uses the same tool with the tip that lays back going in, folds back to grab the thread and go out.  But the very first one they grabbed to show me how to do it proved almost impossible to find the holes.  So we designed a pattern to put a mark where the hole should be.  And it worked pretty good.  But speed is not an option here.  Thousands were being made, and it took me from 7:30 to 4:30 to do 190.

So they gave me a lady to help do them, and asked me to show her what I was doing.  But, I protested, what I was doing was basically blind ass luck.  How do you explain that to a woman who speaks no English (and wasn't real sure what was going on when another lead explained it in Spanish)?  So we made another pattern, gave her a hook (which our super had to run to Wal-Mart and get, as we only had the one).  From noon to 4:30, she had somewhere between 20 and 40.

Then our super discovers we don't have enough plastic buttons- and of course waits until Laurie's used them up to find out.  So now Laurie gets to help by using the pattern to mark the spots where the holes MIGHT BE (and were about 60 % of the time, and within 3/4 inch another 30%, with 10% non-existent for all practical intents).  Which made things go much faster, except for the occasional time that Laurie managed to rub off the marker mark on the table before giving it to me.  And THIS is how we got to the point that Laurie and I got tomorrow off because of the used up buttons and the lack of any other semi-productive labor to foist on us.  In the meantime, the stuffers, finishers, and packers get 6 hours OT on Friday. Go figure.  And the sewers putting together all these loverly cushions get to come in 2 hours late tomorrow.  Scratching your head? Welcome to Arden Corporation, Quality products by any means possible.

On the way home, we were listening to my brand new (replacement copy) of ELO's Out Of The Blue.  This was the ONE album everybody in our group in high school  had, and it got played at most every occasion.  Which got me thinking, and then thinking again, and I've come up with a great (to me) idea.  This Friday's Time Machine will have a special "Top Ten songs of our high school parties" countdown, a countdown that may well apply to many people, but especially to groups like ours, which was basically what you got when you weeded out all the other cliques (including the geeks), and jocks, and we were what you were left with.  Be sure to tune in then (or maybe Thursday, if sitting around the house due to these ridiculous winter-like temperatures in wintertime bores me enough to act early).


  1. And I thought MY job was crazy!

    BTW, got your postcard. Thanks! :-)

  2. Seriously? I'll take cow poo over that! lol

  3. Cant help thinking how wonderful those cushions would look on my new couch..but making them must be mind numbing trying to fit those buttons.
    Thank you for giving us a little look into your work :)

  4. CWM:
    I've worked some crazy jobs that placed me in situations I could never imagine, but THAT one you mentioend is RIGHT up there in the top ONE...!
    I'm amazed you're not BLIND by now, trying to scope those buggers out to get them cut to fit.

    I used to encounter buttons that came "unstitched" from the back and then had to figure out how to REATTACH them through the fabric.
    (yeah, I like to tinker when possible...problem-solving is nice, and cheaper than taking it out to get repaired...MOST times)

    We have a family room couch with busted springs, and I can't locate a joint that carries the EXACT size replacement. The straps are all intact.
    (not to mention, replacing them is a study in TENSION and upper-arm STRENGTH...LOL)
    Used to have a LOT more of both in years past.
    Now, I only have the "tension"...ROFL!
    Hang in there.

    Looking forward to the time-machine HS ride.

    Stay safe.