While I have been doing a bit of sewing for myself I have been reflecting on the process of sewing and creating garments.
The process of planning can affect the outcome of your sewing project enormously and the Project Planner I created certainly helps me to prepare for any sewing projects I want to undertake.
But there are other things that can help you make the most of your sewing time and Batching is one.
Batching just means grouping a series of similar tasks together. This can save time and energy. Whether you are lucky enough to have a designated ‘Sewing Zone’ or even a specific sewing room, or if you have to clear away all your sewing paraphernalia at the end of each session, batching tasks can help you to organise your work and prevent missing out certain steps or pattern pieces.
It can also help get you into the Flow State. Without getting all geeky, the flow state is really just a totally focussed state of mind where you are completely absorbed in the task that’s occupying you. A bit like a state of meditation and to be honest that’s what I love about making and sewing stuff. It’s the total freeing of your mind of all extraneous thought apart from what you happen to be doing right now. And anything that can facilitate that gets my vote!
Once you’ve planned out what you want to sew I generally find it easier to cut several items out in one session. And I make sure that I cut EVERYTHING even down to the last bit of interfacing that I’m going to need for a specific project.
If you have planned out your sewing you will know exactly which fabrics you’re using and whether you need a contrast fabric, lining, interlining and interfacing too. I’m sure all of us have at some point suddenly remembered that we needed to apply interfacing to the back neck facing, or something similar, when we’ve reached that point in the order of work. I believe the technical term is a face-palm moment!
Each pattern, whether it’s from the Big Four or any indie pattern company, will always have a pattern inventory and a list of which pieces you’ll need for whichever version of the pattern you’re making. This is the Pattern Inventory for our Kate Dress.
If you need to make your own cutting list – if you are mixing different versions and want to add the collar of one version with the sleeves of another, you can add this list to your Project Planner and then tick them off once they are cut out.
Top Tip – Make a list and check it twice!
Once all the pieces are cut out I bag them up and label them so they are ready for when I can get back to them for the next stage.
Once all the pattern pieces are cut they need to have the pattern information transferred on to them – notches, balance marks, little dots…. They all have a purpose and will help you to match up the pattern pieces to sew your garment together accurately.
I have learnt, Dear Reader, through bitter, bitter experience that there are plenty of places to take a shortcut through the woods but this is most definitely not one of them!
Do spend time going through all the pattern pieces and marking them up accurately. It really will help your sewing go a lot more smoothly. Although it may seem more long-winded, the more preparation you can do beforehand, the easier the garment will be to make up. The method you choose is up to you – tailor’s tacks, fabric marker pen, chalk… whatever works for you.
Top Tip – Don’t use an air erasable pen and then go off on holiday. The marks will not be there when you get back – I know this to be true!
When I am creating a new pattern, before I start writing the instructions, we devise an Order of Work. This is just a bullet-pointed list of the order in which the different sewing processes take place to make up the garment. For example you would need to sew the shoulder and side seams of a bodice before you could set in the sleeve.
It helps to get a clear and logical sequence of sewing.
…most of the time instructions are written in a perfectly logical way – sew the bodice first, then the skirt, then the sleeves then the collar…..this is fine but it does mean that you will be up and down from your sewing machine pressing and sewing each stage and not necessarily making the most of the time you have.
But if we want to Batch sewing tasks to create a better flow to our sewing we can group similar processes together.
Look at the Order of Work for our Kate Dress
Everything is logically ordered but there are three separate incidents for sewing binding and neatening and pressing seams !!
So if we try and group the steps by the process involved it might look a bit like this…
The different tasks have been grouped by similar process – flat sewing, neatening, pressing… etc.
Then if we re-listed the Order of Work we could achieve a better flow and be more productive.
It has reduced the number of steps from 27 to 19 which means more time for sipping coffee and eating cake. It also means that you won’t be hopping up and down from sewing machine to ironing board and can do several jobs in one place before having to move work stations. And you don’t have to keep changing machine settings to sew different types of stitch.
Basically it all boils down to the fact that I think I am quite lazy so anything that can make my life simpler and more easy to manage I’m all for. You can use my Order of Work download if you want to try streamlining your own sewing. You can then use highlighters to group certain tasks or processes together and then re-write your Order of Work to make your sewing life easier.
Maybe you do this already without really realising it? Or maybe this is a lightbulb moment for you. Let me know how you streamline your own sewing.