In the modern era of juggling work, kids, and a million other things making your sewing time efficient is really important. Here are 21 time saving sewing tips to make the most of your precious time and to make your hobby or business more enjoyable and stress-free.
Did you know? ‘A stitch in time saves nine’ is a familiar quote, but not said by a seamstress! Benjamin Franklin recognized the value of time, but probably never used a needle and thread. ‘Time is money’ and ‘Do not squander time because it is the stuff life is made of’ were also penned by Benjamin Franklin.
Time Saving Sewing Tips
How can the avid seamstress save time? Here are some useful time saving sewing tips to try:
- SEW WITH YOUR MUM OR A FRIEND– Whenever I have a batch of sewing to do, my Mum comes and helps. We form a production line and she will do a lot of the jobs such as pressing, basting and preparing while I sit on the sewing machine. She is also an expert unpicker. If you don’t have your Mum living nearby then enlist a friend. Just make sure you have lots of coffee and snacks on hand for your helper. This is a nice bonding time for us as we hang out, eat and chat.
- ORGANIZE SUPPLIES – Be organized and get everything you need ready before you start a project. You will save time by not having to stop halfway through and rummage around your cupboards for missing supplies.
- HAVE AN ORGANIZED SEWING ROOM – Having an organized and dedicated sewing room saves so much time as you can always find the supplies you need. Best of all, if you do get interrupted, you can just walk away and shut the door and then come back to your project later.
- PREP FABRIC – Prepare your fabric beforehand including pre-washing and pressing fabric. To stop creases, hang or fold it ready to use.
- READ BEFORE YOU START – Read instructions carefully before you start sewing and be methodical. Read twice if you need to and if you don’t understand any of the instructions you can often email the pattern designer for clarification.
- CUT MULTIPLES – I often find that cutting fabric takes longer than sewing. Save time by cutting out more than one project at a time. Fold cut out pattern pieces and pack them away ready for the time you are going to sew. I separate projects by storing them in plastic zip-lock bags.
- PINNING FABRIC – Use pattern weights instead of pinning fabric to secure your pattern pieces while cutting. Pattern weights don’t need to be fancy bought items. Look through your kitchen cupboards for tins.
- PRACTICE SEWING WITHOUT PINS – Practice sewing up some straight forward seams and edges without pins by lining up the seam and guiding the fabric through the machine. Build confidence with practice before you try this approach. Not pinning all seams does save time for the experienced seamstress and I have to say that I rarely pin seams.
- INTERFACING TIPS – Block fuse interfacing and then cut out the pattern pieces. This means rough cutting out your fabric and interfacing and then fusing them together before cutting. This eliminates the need to cut separate pieces and then fuse together.
- SEW IN A LINE – Sew straightforward items in a chain and then cut the threads in between at the end. This works well for patchwork squares or repetitive pieces.
- PRESS MULTIPLES – It helps to bulk press if you are sewing a large number of the same things.
- EXTRA TOOLS – Have extra bobbins ready and waiting especially if you are sewing in white thread. There is nothing that slows you down more than having to stop and wind a bobbin, or even worse, stitching all the way around a hem only to realize the bobbin ran out a few inches from the beginning. (How to wind a bobbin)
- LIGHT TO SEW – Use good lighting in your sewing area. Good lighting will help you thread needles faster and result in less overall mistakes. If you have ever tried to unpick in poor lighting you know exactly what I mean. Black thread or fabric is absolutely impossible to sew in poor light.
- SEW BUTTONS BY MACHINE – If you have lots of buttons you can sew them by machine rather than hand. This saves an enormous amount of time and not to mention frustration.
- WORK NEATLY – Cut threads as you go and place them in a small container placed next to your machine. This will save cleaning up time and save the stray threads from tracking all over the house.
- SLOW AND STEADY – You can sum all this up with a ‘take it slow mantra’. If you rush your work to save time, you may end up making mistakes and wasting time. Unpicking is the biggest time-waster of all!
- KEEP PETS OUT – I say this half-jokingly but my cat is obsessed with my sewing machine. The minute I start sewing she jumps up and is grabbing threads and bobbins and gets cross when I try and move her out of the way. This is her favorite part of the week. If she gets her paw into my bobbin drawer I’ll end up with a tangled mess all around the room which takes ages to unravel.
- ATTACH SCISSORS and GLASSES – If you are like me and are continually losing scissors and reading glasses in your sewing room, then attach them to something. A cord attaching scissors or snips to your machine is useful and you can get cords to attach your reading glasses around your neck.
- SEW WHEN THE KIDS ARE ASLEEP – If you have young kids, make naptime your special sewing time. You will be more relaxed and things will go smoothly with minimal mistakes. (Thanks to Mandy from my facebook group for this suggestion)
- CHOOSE A PATTERN AT YOUR LEVEL – This was suggested by Heidi from my facebook group and makes total sense. When the pattern is at your level, you will comfortably read and sew all instructions making the process very enjoyable. Stretch yourself by just a small amount each time.
- SELECT QUALITY FABRIC – Another facebook group suggestion, this time by Simone – choose good fabric. Cheaper fabric that slips and puckers will take extra time in the long run as things don’t go as smoothly. This is especially important when you are sewing leotards using Lycra.
The White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, in one of his frantic moments said:
“The hurrier I go the behinder I get!”
Use the time saving sewing tips effectively, but at the same time, work with care, be organized, and keep on track.