Tuesday 20 October 2015

Maximising My Sewing Time

Time to sew is precious. No matter what stage in your life, there's never enough time. And, the more I sew, the more I want to sew. So I need all the help I can get to cut corners. Not cutting corners as in sloppy sewing, but ideas to maximise the time I have to actually sew.

How to maximise your sewing productivity and find time to sew ~ Threading My Way

One time saver for me requires thinking ahead. If I have a pattern out for a current project, let's say a pair of shorts, will I be wanting to sew any more shorts in the near future? If the answer is yes, do them all at the same time.

How to maximise your sewing productivity and find time to sew ~ Threading My Way

If it's a PDF, it only needs to be traced once and there'll be no searching for pattern pieces at a later date. Cutting out several pairs of shorts, really doesn't take that much longer than cutting out one pair.

I was originally sewing for Evie & Flynn, but knew I'd be wanting to sew shorts for Dress A Girl Around the World at a later date.

Second thing that helps me save time, is having an extensive fabric stash. It's a luxury, I know, but having the fabric for nine extra pairs of shorts on hand, meant that I could quickly pull from my stash, without having to drive to the shops, or wait for an online purchase.

The majority of my fabrics have either been purchased when on sale, or online from overseas when the dollar is right. A few years ago I bought a lot of sale fabrics from overseas and at the time I saved considerable money compared to purchasing the same fabric in Australia. That's not the case now, with increased postal costs and the exchange rate.

I'm a little more selective when buying fabrics now, but it's still hard to resist a good bargain.

I have Sandra to thank for my third time saver. When I cut these shorts, I popped them into bags according to size and as Sandra says... kitted them up with everything needed to finish the project. In the case of the shorts, this was just elastic, but it was cut to size. I also scribbled the waist casing and hem measurements onto a piece of paper and popped that into each bag, saving me having to look up the pattern.

When I cut out zippered bags, they'll go into a ziplock bag, together with interfacing or wadding also cut to size. A zip and any embellishments are added as well.

Cutting is the part of sewing I least like, so I tend to do a whole lot in one night. Kitting up each project prevents things from becoming muddled, makes them easy to store and each project is ready to go when you are - no searching for notions. In fact, there's no need to leave your chair, for example - just to measure and cut a piece of elastic. Just grab the bag and you're good to go.

These nine pairs of shorts were not all sewn at the same time. They were sewn over the course of a couple of months, sometimes with great gaps in time. And that brings me to time saver number four. Some projects lend themselves to sewing a bit at a time.

As I was sewing other projects that required the same coloured thread, I would sometimes just sew some seams on the shorts. At another time when I was overlocking (serging), a different garment, I'd quickly overlock a few seams of the shorts.

When I got them out to finish off the other day, they were in various stages of completion. Because so much of them were already sewn, it wasn't a huge job to finish. The Sydney chapter of Dress A Girl Around the World is having a Christmas drive and that was my motivation to finish.

How to maximise your sewing productivity and find time to sew ~ Threading My Way

Although I save lots of time with the methods above, there is a fifth thing that would save me even more time than all four combined - GET OFF SOCIAL MEDIA & THE COMPUTER!!! There is simply no reason why I need to spend as much time as I do checking into my social media accounts. I am getting better, but there is definite room for improvement. 

I tend to use social media as a way of procrastinating when I'm about to tackle a new, or difficult part of a sewing project. And judging by the comments on my Why Do I Procrastinate When I Love to Sew post, I'm not alone - although none of you mentioned social media as a way of procrastinating. 

I've found a few articles showing how to find time to sew. I haven't yet read them in depth - just skimmed. It does seem however, that organisation is the key to gaining time...

If you have any ideas to help me maximise my sewing time, I'd love you to leave a comment.

... Pam

If you think others would benefit from reading this post, feel free to share on social media.


  1. Loved this article! I do a lot of these things as well, particularly making multiples of a pattern at one time and buying fabric from overseas when the dollar was weak. I also cut out patterns while doing something else, eg watching TV and I have taken to buying op shop garments, such as an adult top in pretty fabric and converting it to a dress for my 8 year old.

    1. I find it hard to just sit and watch TV. Cutting out is a great idea!

  2. You are so right, time is precious! There is always more to sew, and I never have enough time. And getting off the computer does help... I stayed away for a while because I was too busy and also had network problems, but that gave me time to do what I really wanted and needed to do. Also not checking the new fabrics or patterns was good for me. I do love checking out new things and getting inspired, but I tend to get over-influenced and they crowd my mind, making me think I must sew more. Since I do not have to sew 9 pairs of shorts, I am thinking of different approach though...I just want to focus on what I really want to sew and what my daughter wants me to sew. I want to take time to enjoy the design and the sewing process. I am hoping just focusing on what I really want will maximize my sewing time!

  3. Well done, Grasshopper - the art of kitting (The Art of Kitting? :D) is a huge timesaver :) I always have kits ready to sew, and kits that aren't quite complete yet because they need things added to them (batting, or ribbon, or special thread etc.). Whenever I have a few minutes I can grab a Ziploc and get cracking :D Sometimes we go to our sewing room and want to work on something, but can't make a decision - or we get bogged down by the fact that we have to do a certain amount of prep before we're ready to work - kits solve a lot of problems :D Do you do a trial run of new patterns before cutting out multiples? I tend to make multiples of projects that I enjoy, or that worked well, but it's usually after I've tried it at least once :D I also draft cardboard templates for most of my small stuff (not clothes) - it's easier to trace than to pin paper ;)

  4. Another valuable post, Pam! I do kit my sewing projects too. But not as much as organised as you are. Though I would love to hoard on more fabrics I really don't have that much of an organised sewing space at home. Currently since I don't sew many projects at a time, things are going good.

    But again this is a bookmarked post:) Thanks for sharing so much of your experiences!


  5. Yep - such a worthwhile cause and that's exactly what I did when I made over 300 dresses for them. My little sis and I cut out loads and put sets in plastic bags with all the bits and bobs needed to finish them. It took a while but was great fun and so many kind folks donated fabric for us. x Jo

  6. These are some great ideas! I haven't been sewing much lately, but things have been a little crazy around here. I have so many projects started so I really want to finish some things. I agree- staying offline would help! I know it would also help me to decrease my want to sew list because I see so many good ideas and want to try them!

  7. Some gorgeous fabrics there and some great advice too! Although getting too organised and production line is just not me - sadly! But elements of it I should definitely do more - keeping projects in bags for sure, and some things I do already think about - like thread colour and sewing a few different things before changing the thread, I don't know why when it really isn't that much of a chore to change it but I just hate changing thread! And although social media generally isn't a massive time eater for me, I can get sucked into spending too long on Pinterest if procrastinating about something - and then maybe a new idea will be born and I'll just have to go off down that tangent instead!

  8. And I thought I was weird, doing the cutting for a whole batch of (future) pants, zipbags and hats all at once! :) But it IS a huge time-saver, I agree! I hope you are doing great!

  9. Ah Young arme so right,
    but wait, I'm still at the computer :-(
    I have to admit that I like other blogs as inspiration for new ideas...
    I like your advise for cutting several pieces of one pattern at once. I should definitely do so!
    My tip when using overlock: just change the needle colour! Or use 4 different colours for the extra in the inside :-)
    Regards, Uli

    1. Oh, autocorrect...
      I meant: oh, you are so right...

  10. Thanks so much for these great pointers, Pam! I do not have a serger, but I would definitely love to have one. These shorts are all so cute!


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