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kotmj

The suiting thread

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I showed one of the coatmakers last night my Chinese job ad. I asked him what would be a suitable salary. He gave a long-drawn-out indefinite answer. So I told him how much I was thinking of paying.

He then told me his son had learnt tailoring from him and I might want to consider him. (Even his wife used to make jackets and she always listens in when I'm talking to him.)

His son is a skinny pale guy who appears to be in his late teens or early twenties. You know how some people, when they enter a room, becomes the center of attention of the whole room. This guy is the opposite. Very dilute presence.

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Well you said it urself, some may have learned from their parents or somewhere else, or purely out of interest......so no harm testing them on their tailoring skills, no matter how little.

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Had a Korean customer come in just now. I told him I know of a few Korean tailors myself. Like Vanni, I said. Oh, he said, I know Vanni too---they are opposite my office in Seoul!

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A German sewing machine came up for sale. It's a model from the 1980's. It has no automation, i.e. no auto reverse stitching, no thread cutter. All it produces is a beautiful lockstitch, bottomfeed. Most of these machines were used in garment factories where they sew hundreds of garments a day in three work shifts. They are typically in pretty worn condition.

This one, however, seems to have been very lightly used by a seamstress working from home. It's pristine. Asking price is RM800, a steal.

I might send a lorry to go get it, sight unseen by me. Because I don't have the time to drive to Sri Kembangan to view it.

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I wonder though if I should just buy a top-of-the-line machine with all the modern features. RM3500 new. Very good value, actually.

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DSC01187.jpg?raw=1

Mine, all mine! A stock condition Pfaff in astonishingly good condition! This was from an era when all the parts were still made in Germany. Sewing with this is akin to shooting with a Leica M3 or driving a classic Mercedes.

DSC01184.jpg?raw=1

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The pictures above were shot through a Carl Zeiss Distagon 35/2, another marvel of German engineering.

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Sold rm55k just yesterday. Trying to recuperate from the intensity of yesterday.

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Looks like I'll be adding another part-timer to the team. Straight A's in SPM, straight A's in STPM, currently doing mechanical engineering at UM. Also, like me, a serious meditator.

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I was sounding out Coatmaker B how he feels about taking on an apprentice. I told him I'll pay the apprentice, and that he's to teach him how to sew jackets. He said, there's no point if they're dumb. I said I do not hire dumb people---I'm allergic to them myself! He said it's best if they have a foundation in sewing, like making pockets or trousers. I said it is unlikely for a young kid to know how to sew. The most we can expect is interest, not skill.

But he seems ok with the idea of teaching someone coatmaking. That's all I wanted to establish.

I've been looking at the market for rental bungalows in PJ and am just astounded at how feasible they are. Look at this beauty in Section 9, all yours for RM7500/month.

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Moving JTT into a bungalow like this is a lot more than just a change of venue. It entails the formalisation of JTT because soon after you move in, all the government agencies will descend upon you. This fundamentally increases the cost structure of JTT.

But it's such a nice concept, it's almost worth it. I mean, would you prefer to spend your working hours in a nice bungalow like that, or in a shoplot in a commercial square?

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Well, Max will be at home in the country. But I will make sure you get to spend time in the same enclosure with Roth the Schutzhund-trained Rottweiler who guards the bungalow.

The cat went feral. I still see it every now and then, but it no longer approaches humans. Many scars on its face from catfights.

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I remember telling a friend last year that, my gawd, revenues in 1Q17 is 50% higher than 4Q16. I thought, there's no way I can deliver all these garments. 

I had a look just now, and 1Q18 is 48% higher than 1Q17.

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The new part timer came for an interview today. I learn he's a final semester student who is mostly doing his final project. He is modelling the cranial bulge of infants when subjected to trauma to the head. The bulge results from the fact that the skulls of infants have not yet fused---when knocked on the head, the skull bulges outwards. Minimal lectures to attend. He'll be in the shop entire Wednesdays and Fridays.

The other part timer, the PhD, also from UM (she helped recruit the new part timer) continues as usual every Saturday and Sunday. Let's call her Part Timer A and the new guy Part Timer B.

I feel so relieved I have such smart people helping me. Nobody working in the shop has an IQ below 130 points. We have two mechanical engineers and one civil engineer. Cognitively gifted (except me).

Part Timer A wants to learn to sew Ambrosi-style pants. It's the primary reason I bought a sewing machine---so she could sew in the shop. We'll see if she succeeds.

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Well, it's bound to happen someday. While driving home a few days ago, I received a communication from a customer, who said he has paid the deposit.  I tried calling to mind the customer, but faced a blank. I could not attach a face to the name. I have no recollection of having met a person with this name. I tried recalling the order--- cloth, purpose for the suit, etc. --- but drew a blank. 

A few days later, I tried again to recall this guy. Complete blank. Who is he? Have I really met him? At night, I was mulling over this mystery alleged-customer. Then, 20 minutes later, suddenly it all came to me. I remember his face now, the reason for the suit, the cloth he picked and the whole background story. Whew.

I learnt two things from this episode. One, there is a limit to the number of customers a tailor can keep tabs on. Second, you never actually forget anything. It's just been stored in a poorly accessible part of the mind.

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I'm sure the Phd student can setup a proper filing system for you no?

Each customer has his own "account number" and also invoice number. 

 

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Recently, for his suit, a customer picked a cloth that I have stocked in the shop. It was only later that I discovered there wasn't enough of the cloth for his size. I discussed this little problem with one of the coatmakers, asking if he would cut both jacket and trousers at the same time to minimize scrap. Maybe we can just squeeze his suit into the available cloth. He said, he doesn't think it possible.

In the pictures above, you see me chalking both jacket and trousers onto the cloth in question. Unbelievably, they fit. When cut together, there is enough cloth.

I've always known that scrap is minimised when both jacket and trousers are cut together, but now I also know how much. I save about 10% in cloth cost.

It occurred to me this is quite a chunk of money per month, enough to offset a chunk of a person's salary.

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On 05/04/2018 at 9:10 AM, takashi said:

I'm sure the Phd student can setup a proper filing system for you no?

Each customer has his own "account number" and also invoice number. 

 

It's a lot more complex than that. It's superficially easy to devise a solution to a problem. I insist on "sweet" solutions---solutions I like to use.

For instance, out of the many note-taking apps out there, only one works for me.

All solutions need to be on my phone and in the cloud. And it needs to be intuitive. An account number for a customer is not: For me, the customer is Michael, not customer number M004.

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