10 Tips for Better and Faster Sewing
More Productive Sewing and More Fun
Is sewing a slow, laborious process for you? Perhaps you've been sewing for years exactly like your home economics teacher taught you, but are ready to learn how the professionals sew. How about ten tips to help you produce at high speed without sacrificing quality? In fact, these tips may improve the quality of your sewing.
Enjoy more finished projects and fewer UFOs (UnFinished Objects) by using these ten simple sewing shortcuts.
Tips for Patterns and Cutting
- Simplify your sewing patterns. Replace facings with self-fabric bias binding. It's quicker to cut some bias strips from your fashion fabric than to pin, cut, mark, sew press, and edge-finish armhole and neckline facings. Also consider making a lined bodice, which is faster to sew than a bodice with facings.
- Use pattern weights instead of pins when cutting. I lay out my pattern on the top layer, and use whatever I can find on a nearby desk for weights. As long as your fabric is not slippery and your shears are very sharp, you can cut multiple layers accurately. Another speed technique is to use a cardboard cutting board and stick pins straight through the fabric and into the board like thumbtacks.
- Cut plain rectangular pieces without a tissue pattern. Use a T-square and tailor's chalk to mark any pieces that are simple recangles, such as tie belts, curtains, or skirt panels. There is no need to pin the tissue to the fabric. Just measure the pattern piece and draw the lines on the fabric.
- Keep patterns in self-sealing plastic bags. Waste less time folding and unfolding patterns by storing them in clear gallon bags after opening the envelope. Keep the envelope and pattern together with fewer folds and wrinkles. Add to the bag any helpful notes for the next time you use it.
Tips for Organizing
- Bundle Projects Like a Professional. Lay notions, matching threads, special presser feet, and correct needles on top of your cut project. Roll everything up or place everything in a bag or drawer. Group these project bundles by color or by needle type so you can sit and finish a batch of similar tasks together.
- Organize your sewing tools. Professional sewing workrooms have a designated place for everything. Threads are on a pegboard so available colors are easy to see. Buttons and zippers are purchased in bulk and kept in convenient drawers. The little drawer by the machine is not cluttered; it contains only the most essential presser feet, extra needles, a magnetic pincushion, sharp shears and thread snips.
- Press as you go. Pausing to press properly actually saves time in the end--because your seams will look better and you won't have to rip and resew. 4-H taught me that the ironing board is just as important as the sewing machine. Set up the pressing area whenever you sew so you aren't tempted to skip pressing.
Tips for Sewing
Group similar projects for improved speed and accuracy. Sewing goes faster when you are not constantly switching presser feet or adjusting thread tension. Do all your denim sewing, then switch over for lighter fabrics. Collect hand sewing in a basket and do it all together while watching television.
Specialize by concentrating on your favorite types of sewing. The jack-of-all-trades is not as fast as the specialist. If you do mostly home decorating, invest in the heavy-duty tools needed for heavier fabrics. If you love to make fancy dresses, get a ruffler attachment, stabilizers, and whatever else helps you quickly deal with batiste, lace, and ruffles.
Make faster ruffles by zig-zagging over crochet cotton instead of using two lines of basting. Lay a long piece of crochet cotton parallel to the raw edge about 3/8 inch from the edge. Feed the fabric and the string under the presser foot so the string is directly in the path of the needle if a straight stitch is sewn. Set the machine for a wide enough zig-zag stitch that the needle will swing over the gathering string, encasing the string. Be sure the stitches will all be inside the seam allowance. This takes the place of the two rows of basting recommended by most pattern instructions.To gather, pin one end of the string to the ruffle to make sure it will not be pulled out of its zig-zag casing when pulled. Grasp the other end of the string and pull until the ruffle is gathered to the correct length. Secure the loose end of crochet cotton with another pin. Sew the ruffle to the garment, keeping the gathering string free. Remove the cotton by unpinning the ends and pulling out. The zig-zag stitches remain in the seam allowance.