Every now and then, I pick up some little thing I have lying around and take a good look at it. Literally everything I pick up indicates it was made in China. For instance, this doll shirt (the white one in the photos) which I picked up on ebay for around $2.00. Brand new, made in China. It's perfect. Look at the top stitching. It amazes me. Its perfection.
And then I begin to think, how on earth do they do it? I have heard that their cost of living is much lower than ours and therefore, they can be paid pennies for top rate performance crafting like this which is then turned around and sold to other countries at a profit for them that still seems like pennies to us.
China makes *everything*. I cannot turn over any object in my house and find an indication of origin anywhere other than China. I'm sure that, the people who make things factor all their costs into the final price of the item. Someone had to design the item, if there was R&D involved, that is factored in, distribution, shipping costs, all that gets added up and then divided up over the number of items produced and a price per item is computed.
I have also heard that the life of a Chinese factory worker is nightmarish. But then again, most jobs I've had were nightmarish too. But now that I've taken an interest in learning to make things myself, I find myself wondering more and more about life for a factory worker in China. Yes, work sucks. But you've got to admit, they probably learn to make things really really well. Do they then acquire skills that would make some of us Instructables users envious? I would think so. Do they find it at all fun? Do they get to do different things. Painting faces on plastic ducks this week. Sewing itty bitty shirts for a doll the next? I wonder about it.
I'm sure it's all top secret, how they produce all the toys and electronics and fun things we love to consume. Still, I think it would be interesting to just visit the Guangzhou district of China or a similar place and just see what its like. Maybe Instructables could have this as a contest prize. Just an idle thought.
I wish I had a better understanding of macroeconomics. I wonder if somewhere on the internet, there is a gigantic information graphic that shows the real "food" chain, the supply chain of the entire world. Who buys what from whom and who sells what to whom. And how does this flow of money keep everyone housed and happy? Where is the money flowing to? Well, we know that a great percentage of it goes into the pockets of CEOs, rather like modern day Pharoahs. Why do we allow that? That's another question I have. We are so much like ants. Hooray for our super cool CEO, look he's on the cover of a magazine this month, isn't he cute. Let's give him a golden parachute containing multiple millions of dollars while we all lose our jobs.
Then my thoughts turn to the subject of open sourcing, crowd sourcing and outsourcing. Of which, I am, sitting here before you, just another happy participant. I love learning to make things. And I love finding free things on the internet. So it only makes sense that if I can go out and find a bunch of free software, and free patterns and free this and free that on the internet, it's only fair that I share with you for free the various tidbits and things I've learned in hopes that it would better you, or society or someone. But I am only one of a vast host of new workers, turkers, I guess you'd say, doing it all for free. Where is this all heading? If people like me, and you, will do work simply for recognition or points or tshirts or whatever it is. I suppose it ultimately devalues the efforts of people who are trying to do it for a living. But, me stopping, or someone else stopping isn't going to change it. Someone else will step up and do it, just to see if they can and share their results. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, I just truly wonder how the economy will work in the future. That's all.
At times I pause and count on my fingers the number of businesses and fields of work that are becoming rapidly obsolete. Anything that required printing on paper: books, libraries, newspapers, phone books, paper things supported by paper advertisements. Anything that can be reproduced convincingly by electrons: movies, music. And soon to come: anything that can be printed on a 3d printer at home. I truly wonder where is this all going to go. If we can all manufacture our own stuff, what is left then that we cannot? Utilities: electricity, water, sewer, internet, gas for the car, house. Groceries, staples. 3d printing will bring manufacturing back to our shores, they say, because it won't rely on expensive human labor so much. So, maybe it will all balance out, it usually does.
I want to see if I can make a tiny little blouse anywhere near as good as this one from China I picked up. So, better get on with it then...
Step 1: materials
free online pattern for the "classic" blouse: http://m-sewing.com/patterns-catalog/women/blouses/classic-blouse.html
I modified this pattern slightly because at doll scale, the little collar is too hard to sew as there's no realistic seam allowance as is. My modified version is attached. Print it out on 81/2"x11" paper.
a small amount of material. Try to find something that doesn't fray much. Silky blouse-type fabrics tend to fray like crazy, so if you want to use that, get some sort of fray stopping solution.
fray block: smelly stuff that you paint onto the fabric which cuts down on its tendency to unravel as you're working on it. However, it makes the material stiffer, and therefore it won't drape the same way it did before, so that's a reason to avoid it, besides the headache it will give you if you smell the vapours for too long.