streamlining production

| indie biz

etsy shop help

now that your craft room is organized and your creativity is nourished, let’s talk about some tips on how to streamline your production and be most effective at your craft!

stream line your handmade production

vintage samsonite suitcase

sometimes i find myself walking from one end of the room to another to gather different supplies, not being able to find something, or just taking a haphazard approach to my craft production.  instead, i want to try to envision my process as a big production factory and figure out which things they would streamline.  would they cut out all the appliques in one sitting? outsource an item that would save me money?  hire extra hands?

stream line your handmade  production

4 corning pyrex cups

first, figure out your craft from the inside out.  the first time i make something, it usually takes me forever and i make numerous mistakes.  but, by the 10th one i’ve made, i’ve usually figured out better approaches to take, how to save on materials, and in what order i should do the steps.  it’s not until you really learn your craft that you’ll be able to start streamlining it.

stream line your handmade production

fabric moth ornaments

crafting in batches. if you’re making one item at a time, break it down to see what the quickest method to make it will be.  can you do 3 steps in one area of your room before you move to the next?  if you’re making 10 (or 100) at a time, it will most likely save you time to set up a production line and work on all 10 items at once.

stream line your handmade production

club chair

time yourself. grab a clock and time the different approaches you take to production over the next week or so.  which method saved you the most time?

stream line your handmade production

mason jar votive

organize, organize, organize! think through your materials and supplies and keep them in sequential steps throughout your room, or have them all conveniently located in one place.

stream line your handmade production

bubbly basil wobbly bowls

get help. do you find yourself using most of your time printing postage and packaging goods? cleaning your room?  consider hiring help for tasks that take away from your production (and creativity).  here’s a great article by megan aumen on how hiring can boost your sales.

stream line your handmade production

a  day at the museum

minimize. are you making every part of your product, when in fact you could outsource some parts to save yourself time and money?  even something as simple as business cards are worth consideration for outsourcing if handcrafting them is taking up too much of your time.

stream line your handmade production


set goals. once you’ve determined your most efficient production method, set quotas for yourself.  it will help you stay on task, focused and extra-efficient.

how do you remain most efficient?


  • These are excellent tips! I’ve used them all at one point or another (including the outsourcing – I use this for all my business materials like business cards, thank you notes, etc. – SUCH a time saver).

    I also wait till the end of the day to package and prep for shipping. This way, if I have multiple orders, I can do them all at once and print all the labels at once.

  • great tip brandi! thanks for sharing! :)

  • Excellent tips here! Thank you for including a photo of my fabric moths. I make them as a brooch or as an ornament, with the wings being in slightly different positions on each of these. I make a bunch of bodies, and a bunch of wings, then sew the wings to the bodies when they are ordered. This saves some time and still allows me to ship quickly.
    Also, getting help for certain tasks is essential for me. I had a graphic artist create a logo and business card and a printer friend is printing them up. My teenage children can prepare envelopes (I doulbe check before sealing), model for photos, and help take videos. Next project for a professional: website design!

  • henry ford would be proud! ive been fortunate enough where my regular job’s success depended on constant streamlining. in fact its a thought process that never stops really. i get caught up in the details sometimes and have to pull back and keep the bigger picture in focus, but production works best when working on the project as a whole and not the details. getting to the point though where it might be wise to start some more outsourcing on some things i enjoy doing for the sake of the bigger project. we have our business cards printed at the local copy place but we make our own tea stained and 2 color silkscreened shipping tags. they look awesome but there is alot of work that goes into it. usually do them in batches of 300-500 so the setup time goes along ways.

    thanks for sharing your insight and using our pic too!
    victor and vera vague

  • Fabulous post. (and gorgeous blog by the way) I have a hard time working ‘assembly line’ style. I find the artist in me gets bored doing the same thing all day, so I try to work 1/2 day on one etsy store and 1/2 day on the other. Keeps me fresh, if not inefficient! ha

  • I will keep this in mind when I start making a project for my shop I have willing to do for some time.

    (Thank you for including my Pyrex cups)

  • I really enjoyed this article and will keep these suggestions in mind as I craft my way along this fall. I have definitely found that working in large batches is the most productive way to go.

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