With the holiday and craft show season coming, it’s time to share some tips with you to make your sewing faster and more efficient! Whenever I make anything, I like to batch sew, meaning making multiples at once in an assembly line style. This prevents me from taking forever on one single project and makes things move right along! Here are some tips to get you moving faster too!
When sewing multiple items at once, try to use patterns you have made once or twice. It means less checking into directions and knowing the construction of the item. I also like to make pattern pieces that are meant to be cut on the fold, into full pieces. It makes cutting out multiples way faster! Also, if you can, have your instructions on a laptop, tablet or printed nearby so if you have to refer to them, its quick and efficient!
My favourite pattern tip is print or trace your pattern pieces onto card-stock or template plastic. They will last so much longer AND you can easily cut around them with a rotary cutter. I used to swear by tracing and then cutting with my awesome scissors but let me tell you, your rotary cutter is your best friend! With practice, you can even cut beautiful curves with one!
When cutting multiples of the same item, it’s so much faster if you lay a few different fabrics on top of each other instead of cutting one at a time. This won’t work for directional prints but it does for everything else! Another cutting tip is to cut your interfacing at the same time you cut your fabric. Have the fusible side facing the wrong side of the fabric as you cut and that makes fusing even faster too!
Before you start any sewing, have all your supplies and notions prepared. Most importantly, if you add labels/logo tags to your bags, have those close by because nothing is worse than forgetting those in the end! I’ve mentioned it before but have your bobbins pre-wound and ready to go. What I will do is line up all the colour of thread and bobbins that I need so I am prepared without the search or need to stop and wind one! Know where your seam ripper is. When you don’t know is usually when you will need it the most! Always have extra machine needles on hand, just in case! Same goes for hardware, especially rivets! Have them close by so that they are ready when that step is needed! I like to organize mine into mini baggies and write the pattern name on them so I know what goes where!
I know we already covered having it prepared in supplies but my BIGGEST tip is to have 2-3 spools & bobbins ready of black and white/cream to use at all times. Whenever I am sewing a part of a bag that will NOT be seen, I will use black or white thread. There’s no need to waste the pretty stuff and these simple colours are usually cheaper for larger rolls. I always have multiples of them on hand especially for basting and making piping!
If you are confident with the patterns are using, sew similar tasks at the same time. Meaning, sew all zipper pocket outlines together or all straps together. It saves time and your brain actually performs better when it is doing similar tasks at one time rather than jumping all over the place. I do the same with top stitching. I lay all colours together that need to be stitched with the same thread and work my way through them. It saves a million bobbin/thread changes and goes so fast! Also, if my bobbin thread won’t be seen, I will often use black or white, again saving the pretty stuff!
If you are a quilter, you have likely heard this term before, but if not, you are going to want to pay attention! With chain piecing you are not cutting threads between sewing. So say for the Cleo Everyday Wallet, you have 2 sets of card pockets to topstitch, rather than stop and cut the thread after every line, continue onto the next piece and cut at the end. This not only saves time but SO MUCH THREAD! It stops you from having a million threads to snip and keeps you in the groove!
One of sewing’s most unsung heroes are your pinking shears. Many people believe they are just for clothing but let me tell you, they will save your curves on bags. Stop cutting a million notches when you make curved bags like the Roll With It Tote or Adventure Time Backpack and use those pinking shears instead! I promise you, that alone saves so much time! Invest in a good pair that can handle thick layers because some brands can be hard on your hands. Buy them in a store rather than online so you can really see how they feel!
Keep a little stack of post it notes or scrap paper, even masking tape, to add little notes to your projects as you go. If I am making a number of the same items is similar fabrics, I will add little notes so I know what lining pieces go to which exterior! There’s nothing worse than mixing that up and being confused in the end because it doesn’t look like what you pictured! Same goes for random measurements you need to keep track of. Write them on the scrap paper instead of referring to the pattern all the time!
Your Machine & Tools
Lastly, but most importantly, keep your machine oiled, serviced and running well. If you are having issues with anything, nothing will work out the way you want. Keep the bobbin casing free of lint (unlike the poor machine shown below!) and make sure you’re changing your needle regularly too! Same goes for rotary cutters. Replace that blade when things start getting dull and cutting will go much faster. When possible, get your scissors sharpened. It’s usually cheaper than a new pair and I know we all get attached to certain pairs 😉 Well maintained tools perform so much fast than things neglected!
I use all these tips on a regular basis, especially when I make batches of Cleo Everyday Wallets. That pattern has so many pieces so these processes speeds things right up! I hope these tips help you with your next sewing project. We’d love to hear what you think in the comments below or hop into the Andrie Designs Facebook Group and share with us a picture of your next batch sew!
The Little Bird Designs