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Topics - Rich

Pages: 1 2 [3]
General Discussion / Bobbin sensor
« on: September 23, 2011, 10:07:15 AM »
This was mentioned briefly in a prior post, but I'd like to ask the question by itself here.
Is there something that can be done to a walking foot, vertical axis bobbin machine to alert the operator when the bobbin thread is about to, or has just run out?

General Discussion / Who repairs your sewing machine?
« on: September 18, 2011, 09:16:09 PM »
Many years ago, I had a sewing machine repair guy repair and adjust my Singer 111w and later, my Juki LU563 machines. But due more to the down time than the cost, (I'd either have to wait for a repair person to come to the shop, or bring it to a repair shop and then wait for them to get to it) I began to read up on machine adjustments and started doing them myself. Come to think of it, I remember attending a Juki one day workshop where basic repairs and adjustments were taught. Although doing the work myself meant taking time away from my regular shop work, I was able to get the machine back in service in hours rather than days and that meant being able to produce work with it sooner. These days, I feel pretty confident about making most repairs and adjustments on both my Juki's (LU563 and 1508n) so that if something stops working I can get it back in service that day, or if it's just acting up, I can postpone the adjustment until a day when I have more time.
How about you? Has neccesity forced you to learn a side skill like me? Or are you fortunate to have an expert who gets the job done for you when you need it?

I got this in an email yesterday and thought it was a very appropriate statement on how we seem to have to make something into a cause nowadays when a couple of generations ago it was just the way things were done.

The Green Thing

 In the line at the store, the cashier told an older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment. 

The woman apologized to him and explained, "We didn't have the green thing back in my day."

The clerk responded, "That's our problem today.  Your generation did not care enough to save our environment."

He was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over.  So they really were recycled.

But we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throw-away kind.  We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry the clothes.  Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that old lady is right; we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana.


In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us.


When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.


Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power.  We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she's right; we didn't have the green thing back then.


We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water.

We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service.

We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances.  And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?

Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smartass young person.

The Green Thing

The Business Of Upholstery / Hourly rate
« on: June 27, 2011, 01:35:05 PM »
I just read through the responses to a post on what to charge for travel and I noticed one thing missing-no one mentioned what THEY charge per hour.
I cannot make a profit in my business charging any less than $100.00/hr, but I saw one post in particular where they said that another business (might have been a plumber) charges $65.00/hr.
I was wondering if anyone could tell me how their business could charge less than what I find I have to charge and still make a profit? Is it by somehow having extremely low rent? (mine's not high) By working out of your garage? By cutting back on insurance or maybe by having none at all? (I won't go for that one though). Or something I haven't thought of?

The Business Of Upholstery / Expenses-when do i start making a profit?
« on: April 25, 2011, 07:59:26 AM »
Here's a link to those who are concerned about how their expenses affect their bottom line. It's an excel spreadsheet that enables you to, by plugging in your own numbers, arrive at a break-even point, that point at which all of your overhead expenses are paid and you can start seeing the fruits of you labor :)
When you get to the page, scroll down to "Free Excel templates" and click on "Profit volume-cost analysis template".
The most difficult part, I found, was identifying the fixed costs and the variable costs, but once you have correct numbers to work with, you can play with different scenarios to see how your bottom line might be affected by changing your expenses or the price you charge.

General Discussion / Cutting lengths of velcro
« on: March 25, 2011, 09:53:11 AM »
Does anyone ever have a need to cut 1" wide velcro (or webbing) in multiple pieces of the same length? How have you done it? I am making covers that are held in place with velcro and I need to pre-cut both hook and loop velcro to sew to the covers. When many of these pieces need to be cut, it gets tedious measuring and cutting and keeping them in order for use (they're notorious for wanting to mate with one another you know). Any ideas?

General Discussion / Scam?
« on: February 24, 2011, 09:14:54 PM »
Odd phone call I got yesterday. The woman who called said she was an operator for the hearing impaired and would translate a call from a potential customer. The customer wanted a price on "Kitchen couches" I said I didn't know what was meant by that and gave my email address for them to send a picture. Then, they wanted my address so they could deliver them by a third party who would pay the entire amount of $3500.00 (their price, I didn't name one). They then went on to explain that the customer was in the hospital with some serious sounding illnesses (so why are they concerned with having reupholstery work done at this time, I wondered?) and that they would be giving me a credit card for that amount and a delivery person would need to get half of that back from me when they delivered. (Big red flags going up now) I told them they were getting ahead of themselves and the operator said "they hung up". This, after I was on the line with them for about ten minutes waiting for the translation. Next time it's, "sorry, don't have the time right now, call some other time"

The Business Of Upholstery / Small jobs
« on: December 16, 2010, 07:03:09 PM »
Once in a while, someone will come in to the shop with a small job, one that requires about 20-30 minutes work. It's not too small to give away as a goodwill gift, but not large enough to charge an hour's worth of labor either. Or is it? What do you generally charge for this type of job, The first hour? or something less?

General Discussion / Feeling underappreciated? Read this
« on: November 04, 2010, 08:53:20 PM »
World reknown violinist Joshua Bell's performance at a Washington D.C. Metro station a few years ago.
From Wikipedia:
In a curious experiment initiated by Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten, Bell donned a baseball cap and played as an incognito street busker at the Metro subway station L'Enfant Plaza in Washington, D.C. on January 12, 2007. The experiment was videotaped on hidden camera; among 1,097 people who passed by, only seven stopped to listen to him, and only one recognized him. For his nearly 45-minute performance, Bell collected $32.17 from 27 passersby (excluding $20 from the passerby who recognized him).[6] Weingarten won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing for his article on the experiment.[10][11]

Here's a link to an article by the columnist who started the whole thing:

This got me thinking, this experiment may have more to do with our fast-paced society not having the time to stop and smell the roses, but it also shows the importance of presentation. I think it's pretty much a fact that how you present a product or service has as much or more to do with what you can ask for it as the quality of the product itself. This has implications for we who sometimes struggle to get what we think we deserve for the skill we possess and the time we put into our work. Well presented, a customer may very well pay a good bit more for a product or service than if it is perceived as "just another....whatever". What do you think?

The Business Of Upholstery / Have you ever tracked your productive hours?
« on: October 19, 2010, 07:19:01 AM »
I'm basically a one person operation, although my wife is here 3days/week part days to do the billing, ordering etc. Since I do all of the production work, it's not that hard to track my time as long as I remember to log in and out of the customer jobs. I've done this as a study for weeklong periods over the years and it seems to come up about the same. For a 50 hour week, my productive time comes out to be around 25 hrs. or 50%. That means that my labor rate has to cover the other 50% and then some to make a profit. Has anyone else tracked their time?

The Business Of Upholstery / Storage charges for furniture?
« on: September 08, 2010, 08:07:55 AM »
Does anyone assess storage charges for furniture left at their shop when the customer is holding up the work process, or just not picking it up when finished? If so, how much?

General Discussion / Hand tied springs
« on: August 23, 2010, 12:31:40 PM »
I don't do much in the way of living room furniture, so I tend to cringe whenever I feel the need to take in a chair or sofa that needs to have the coil springs retied.
Every time I look at one of these, I say to myself "there has to be an easier way that will produce the same results". The main aspect of this operation that I can't understand is the attachment of the coils. I see that the bottoms are fastened to the bottom webbing by either Klinch-it fasteners or heavy thread. But the tops are held in place by an elaborate, time consuming web of tying twine. I wonder why so much time is invested in lacing tying twine in and around each spring, knotting where needed and tacking the ends to the frame when the bottoms are simply secured to the webbing? Is there a difference in the force exerted at the top as opposed to the bottom of the spring? Couldn't the tops be secured to a pre-made lattice of heavy fabric or webbing that would be then tacked to the frame? It seems to me (maybe I'm wrong) that the technique of hand tying dates back to a time when labor was much cheaper than today and the tradition has held due to status (Featuring eight-way hand tied springs!!) or maybe a blind adherance to "old world craftmanship", or maybe just a lack of any other way to do it.
Am I onto something, or just way off base?

The Business Of Upholstery / Know any upholstery games?
« on: June 17, 2010, 08:47:49 PM »
Recently, our town office has gotten together with local businesses in my town to organize a business and professional organization to get the word out about what each of us does. Among other things, we will be participating in a local event called Heritage Days. This is an annual event that features old time tractors, farm demonstrations, games for kids, historical exhibits etc. We have been discussing activities that the local businesses could offer, maybe games for kids to promote awareness of our businesses. So, I'm trying to think of what my upholstery shop could do to participate. So far, foam dodgeball and a spring toss are about all I've come up with. Anyone have any creative ideas?

The Business Of Upholstery / Another way of looking at pricing
« on: September 29, 2007, 08:44:12 PM »
I just finished a book written on pricing methods. The book is "The Art of Pricing" by Rafi Mohammed. The author builds a strong case for a pricing method I've used for years, but goes much further by breaking it down into the many strategies he feels (and gives real-life examples for) will enable anyone in any business to reap more profits.
The basic theory is that every service or product should be priced to reflect what the customer's percived value of it is and that since different customers place different values on the same product, each should be paying according to how they value the product or service.
Has anyone read this book? If not, I would recommend it and would enjoy participating in a discussion on it. Maybe there are other books you've read on the subject, but I think value pricing could provide a new angle on the pricing game and prove helpful for anyone in the reupholstery business.

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