I’ve been a big fan of making multiples of any pattern for a long time, so it seemed a natural next step to sew multiple iterations of a garment in one big batch. I made my Bicycle and Kitty Cat Lindens simultaneously and then the Short Sleeved Polka Dot and Sunburst Lindens together. I also made the Cream and Gold Check and Sleeveless Chambray Archers at the same time. While I am definitely a fan of batching, I feel it only works in specific situations. Keep reading for my newly acquired wisdom on sewing multiple copies of a garment at once.
Pros of batching:
- Saving time: I estimate you can save up to 50 per cent of the time you normally spend sewing an individual garment. Most of this time is gained in not having to re-figure out a step and in trips to the ironing board.
- Less prep-time: You only need to clear the space you use for cutting (because, seriously, who has an empty cutting table at their disposal constantly!?) once instead of twice. You also only need to read the instructions on each step once.
- Learning better: I have better internalized how to sew a stand-up collar twice in a row than doing it once and then again, much later, when sewing a second garment.
- You get two (or more!) finished garments when you’re done: You trick yourself into thinking you’re only making one thing, but at the end, you get two!
Cons of batching:
- Repeating mistakes: If you did something wrong, you did it wrong twice 😦
- No chance to perfect fit: One of my favourite parts of making multiples of a pattern is getting to tweak the fit by eighths of an inch each time. When making versions two and three of a garment side by side, you don’t get to making changes in between.
- Limited thread colours: When making my two Archers, I was able to change the serger thread halfway through serging all of the flat pieces, but you can’t easily change thread on your regular machine between steps when sewing.
If you’re thinking of trying batching out for yourself, here are some suggestions for picking the right projects.
Sam’s tips for batching:
- Perfect the fit first: Make sure you are super confident in your pattern. Make multiple muslins first if you have to. The last thing anyone needs are three, near-identical pieces with the same fit problem.
- Share fabric: When I made my two Lindens, they both had elements out of black jersey, so I simply cut doubles of some parts (or, in the case of the sleeves, quadruples!). For the Archers, I used the cream and gold for the contrasting parts of the chambray.
- Pick similar colours: If I was to make the chambray Archer on its own, I’d have used a blue-grey thread, but since I was making it side by side with the cream Archer, I used an off-white thread. This only worked because the dots were the same cream.
- Opt for knits (or at least items with minimal top-stitching): You can get away with not matching your thread for a lot knit projects as you tend to finish with bands and cuffs and don’t see the thread anyway. My navy blue and sunburst Lindens are not remotely the same colour, but were serged with white and you can’t even tell on the outside. If you are sewing with a woven, pick patterns with minimal top-stitching to hide off-colour thread.