Tips for Sewing More, Better, Faster

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I spent a good portion of my time in 2017 changing how I sew. I had a baby, so sewing went from being a hobby to a necessity for my sanity and changing body. I read, researched and tried a great deal of things to help me sew more, better and faster. Read on if your 2018 sewing goals involve squeezing in more time to sew or squeezing out more, better makes in the time you already have.

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  1. Set up your sewing space in a common area. I went from having an entire sewing room, to just a corner in our living room, but honestly it’s way better. I can participate in general family life (ie. “watching” the hockey game with my husband) or sneak in five minutes or sewing while waiting for a pot to boil.
  2. Make mental images of each minute step of a project. I read a LOT about productivity and efficacy (not the same thing) a couple of years ago and this is the one thing that impacted my sewing the most. Much like professional athletes before the big game, visualizing exactly how you are going to approach a project ensures that you won’t skip a step or do something in the wrong order. 20170716_194016
  3. Read this book by the late Nancy Zieman. This lady has so many time-saving hacks.
  4. Time how long it takes you to do things. Once I started really paying attention to the clock, I realized that certain tasks didn’t take nearly as long as I thought they did. This made me much less prone to procrastinate things (like un-picking seams or making button-holes) and more likely to get started on something when I knew I only had 15 minutes.wp-image-224946885
  5. Make multiples. Each time you make a pattern, you get faster at it. Also, you only need to make one muslin, which definitely saves time. I always plan to make at least two (and usually, like, five) of any pattern I invest in.
  6. Batch sewing. This is like the more intense big brother of making multiples. Sew two or more of the same garment simultaneously. This works especially well for projects that include no top stitching so you can share thread.
  7. Commit to sewing every day. You can make a crazy amount of progress with just 20 minutes every day. Don’t wait until you have several hours to dedicate to sewing because you may never get it.
  8. Take sewing on the road. Why not bring a project to the beach and hand stitch the bias binding on a dress? This takes a little more planning, but is totally doable.
  9. Outsource the parts you hate. I got the PDF pattern for my Kelly Anorak printed at Staples because I absolutely dread cutting and pasting print-at-home patterns. It cost me a little, but it was SO worth it for my sanity.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Kira says:

    Please tell me how you printed your PDF at Staples? I tried to work through it online, but the sizing was always wonky. I HATE printing out and taping PDF patterns with an undying passion (especially with nosy cats and a nosy 7 month old lol), so that would be a total lifesaver!

    1. Samantha Schmidt says:

      Thank you so much for your comment! I realized that the link I posted was broken. I fixed it, but here it is again: https://couturious.org/2017/12/26/i-tried-it-large-printing-pdf-patterns/ Good luck!

    2. Donnalee says:

      I hate pdfs since I grew up with printed patterns and feel no urge to lurch backward into more stress just to get a pattern that is often not going to be 100% different from already-printed patterns. If they were the only patterns on earth, I would simply never use any. Everyone’s mileage may vary–

  2. Donnalee says:

    These are helpful tips. Thanks. I find that a dedicated sewing space also can be rather isolating if you are not trying to avoid cats or infants or something else and need closed doors, so the shared space makes more sense to me too.

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