Sunday, October 10, 2010

Where've I been? In a sweatshop of my own making.

I haven't been able to post anything in a while, and it occured to me that perhaps one or two of you may wonder if perhaps I've perished and am now floating about on the other side of the veil.  Sometimes I wish I were, but not as yet....I've merely become a self-imposed hermit hunched over a Dickensian dimly lit sewing machine in my own little magical sweatshop of my own creation.  And I am completely, positively burned out.

Why, you ask?  Because though I appear to be made of human flesh, my atoms consist primarily of jute and rubber.  What I really am, is a doormat.  And while I am thought to possess a rather broad vocabulary for something one wipes their feet upon...there is one word I have not been able to master vocalizing:   "NO."

Lets just say I've been inundated with requests for large scale custom sewing projects over the last few months that have taken up literally every free moment of my time.  I work 60 hours a week in my 'day' job, so what precious little free time I have, I prefer to spend on my loved ones and my dollmaking.  But...there's that inability to say 'no' to friends and family that prevented this.  I know, I's my own fault.

I spoke with three costumers yesterday, and I find I am in good company.  Seems any one who has worked hard to master sewing skills is literally inundated by constant good natured  requests for favors.  And to keep their sanity, they've all had to learn not only to edit what they do, but also to firmly state the word "NO."  To family, friends and foes alike.  Specifically so that their family and friends do not become their foes.

I have come to the conclusion that in order for me to be able to live a remotely happy life, I need to start making some big changes.  My time is so very, very limited and precious, and I really don't get anything out of sewing slipcovers, pillowcases, sanitary napkin belts or custom clothing.   Slipcovers and gowns take up too much real estate in my 400 square foot cottage.  It's a pain to have to try to lay out fabric for these and crawl around on the floor pining pattern pieces to fabric.  Furthermore, I rarely get paid for these 'favors'.  Sure, there's the occasional treat to lunch or trinket in a lovely little bag.   And that's very sweet.  I do appreciate them.  But a much needed paycheck in a bad economy, these are not.

Most of these individual 'favors' each require about 45 man hours of labor on my part.  I need to think about my retirement and I will be on the streets in a few years if I continue to give up all my free time for free. I find it has become a burden I no longer wish to deal with.  It makes me cranky.  This causes residual crankiness on the part of my husband.  It's affecting my marriage.   At some point, something has to give. 

I realize that most if not all of my loved ones will still love me and  keep me around when I finally tell them the dreaded "no".  And anyone who disappears upon hearing it...well, I suppose they aren't worth keeping around anyway.

So, I'm condemning my sweatshop and closing it down.  No more sewing favors, no more freebies.  No more sewing services, period.  I just don't have time.  Unless, of course, I raised you from infancy.  I've raised six of these gals so I need to limit even them, cause that can add up to a lot of halloween costumes, prom dresses, wedding gowns and christening gowns.  I'm seriously banking on them only wanting designer gowns and taking their business to a showroom floor and not my front porch.  Seriously.  Thank goodness their ages are pretty evenly staggered.

What I want to do with my spare time now is focus on my dollmaking.  So that's what I'm going to do.  And I'm going to love every minute of it! 

By the way...Stampington has been gracious enough to include a bit of my older work in their new publication "Prims", the October 2010 edition.  Eh...I don't make dolls like the ones you'll see in this issue anymore, and truth be told, at this moment I am currently giving them each a new face!  But it's nice to be included among the company of the really great artists you'll see in this magazine!

They were sweet enough to ask for more submissions for their Spring 2011 issue, and since there's a fairly close deadline for that, I'm going to have to really hustle.  So...clearly I don't have time to make those pillowshams for my husband.  Sorry honey...I don't sew pillowshams anymore.


  1. Robin,

    Good for you! I loved reading this post. You've verbalized so many of the feelings many of us "sewing girls" seem burdened. Your rant and prose reminded me of Anne Hathaway's angst in "Becoming Jane". Brilliant! I hope you feel much better for it all! Blessings, Penni

  2. Wonderful! I'm so happy for you that you have learned the value of YOU! Your time, energy, and talents are worth protecting. As the saying goes, "you can't pour water from an empty pitcher." And in order to keep "your pitcher filled" you must learn to say "No."

    Congratulations! It's such a hard lesson to learn, especially women.

    Heaps of Hugs,

  3. OH, you made me laugh!!! Imagine this scenario....

    "Oh, you want me to make a slipcover? Hmmmm. Okay. That will take me 40 hours. In return, will you mow my lawn and take out my garbage for the next 40 weeks?"

    I think people have no idea how long some of these projects take. Or the physicality of them.

    Glad you're going to be setting some limits. :-)


  4. Sewing sanitary napkin belts sounds like a living hell! You'd be surprised how many will do an about face when asking you to sew for them if you just smile and "sure I can, my rate is 40 dollars an hour".

  5. THIRTY sanitary napkin belts (for incontinent dogs). In 15 different themed prints. Of course, I had to wash them, press them, cut out and then sew and line them and add velcro. This took a total of 10 hours. Got a hamburger out of it.

  6. Good for you for learning to say no. I also work full time, and I found that taking orders took all the fun out of creating my teddy bears, so now I just make what I want to make and hope others love them, too. Oh, goodness--THIRTY sanitary napkin belts for dogs? I'm so sorry. Looking forward to seeing your new dolls; I enjoyed seeing the ones in Prims. :o)

    ~Debora, New Avenue Crew

  7. I WAS wondering where you were!!! I miss your dolls. I've been looking through all of your photos on Maida to give myself a Robin Doll fix. I can't wait to get my copy of Prims. I hope that you're spending every free moment of time with your dollies and your family. People can buy great pillow shams at Target!

  8. Ditto.
    I saw your dolls the last time I was at Stampington with my sweet friend Beth, your's were far more beautiful than all the other entriesentries.
    I told Beth you have talent oosing from your pores....