Just using one or two of these suggestions may help shave chunks off the time it takes you to complete a
project. So don’t feel you have to try every single one of these ideas in order to cut your sewing time.
Tip #1 for Sewing Fast
People interrupt us. Or the phone rings. Before we know it, an hour has flown by. Or noise from the t.v. or
stereo interferes with our concentration. Then we make mistakes that take time to correct. Therefore, try
leaving the t.v. and stereo off when you sew and letting the answering machine pick up. And can you steal
some time for yourself when you’re not likely to be interrupted? Perhaps early in the morning or late at
Tip #2 for Sewing Fast
Have a place for every tool. For instance, have a place on the wall for hanging your guide sheet, scissors,
and tape measure. Keep all of those itty, bitty tools like presser feet and bobbins in plastic, sectioned
trays. Keep larger tools and interfacings in drawers.
And put your tools back when you’re finished with them so you can easily find them again.Tip #3 for Sewing Fast
This is so much better than having everything thrown in a sewing basket that you have to rummage
through every time you need a tool.
Keep your tools in good, working order.
Keep your scissors sharp. Use sharp pins and seam rippers. Keep your sewing machine well maintained and
use a new machine needle for every project.
Tip #4 for Sewing Fast
Tip #5 for Sewing Fast
Keep your work area is well lit.
Constantly having to squint to see what you’re doing slows you down. Plus, the better you can see your
work, the less likely you are to make mistakes – such as accidentally clipping into a seam or sewing crooked
Designate an area in your home just for sewing.
I know this may be impractical for some. But if you can swing it, the time saving benefits can be great.
When you have a separate sewing space, you don’t spend time setting up your sewing machine, cutting
board, and ironing board every time you want to sew. And you don’t spend time putting everything back
when you’re done.
You can also more easily fit sewing into those smaller pockets of time we all have – ten minutes here to pin
an item together, fifteen minutes there to stitch a seam.
As an alternative to a separate sewing room, can you steal a corner of a room that can be hidden with a
folding screen or curtain? Can you convert a closet to a sewing space you can close the doors on when
you’re done for the day?
Tip #6 for Sewing Fast
Tip #7 for Sewing Fast
Do all your prep work before starting your project.
Make sure you have all the notions you need to complete your project – buttons, zippers, thread, etc. Make
sure you have the interfacings and linings you need.
Preshrink your fabrics, interfacings, linings, and notions.
Set up your ironing board and get all your tools out (unless, of course, you have a separate sewing space
where everything is already set up).
Make an item you’ve made before.
You’re already familiar with the steps involved in the construction. Therefore, the skirt that took you ten
hours to make the first time may only take you six hours this time. And when you make it a third time, it
may take only four hours.
Also, all of your pattern pieces have already been cut from the tissue. And you’ve already made the
necessary alterations to the pieces.
If you fear ending up with a “boring” wardrobe this way (having six of the “same” skirt or blouse in your
closet), choose different fabric colors, prints, and textures. Another fabric can make a design look
completely different – and no one will notice it’s the same basic garment.
Tip #8 for Sewing Fast
Tip #9 for Sewing Fast
Make a variation of an item you’ve made before. For instance, make a skirt you’ve made before, but in a
different length. Or make the short sleeve version of a blouse you’ve made before.
Make several of the same item at the same time. This allows you to do similar steps in an assembly line
Therefore, if you’re making three of the same shirt, sew all the side seams at once, sew all three collars in
The one extra step you may need to take is re-threading your machine with a different thread for each
item. But in spite of this extra step, you’ll still likely save time.
Tip #10 for Sewing Fast
Choose a simple pattern with few design details.
You’ll have fewer pattern markings to transfer, less sewing and pressing to do, and fewer potential
mistakes to make.
- Garment designs without pockets, linings, or pleats.
- A pant or a skirt design without a waistband or a design with an elastic waist.
- A skirt design without a vent.
- A shirt or blouse design with a one-piece back (no back yoke to attach), short-sleeves (no cuffs to
make), or with a one-piece collar (no separate band to sew).
- A jacket design with a shawl collar instead of a notched collar. Or a choose a design with no collar at
Look for patterns labeled Easy, Fast, Quick, or 2 hour.
And remember, “few design details” doesn’t have to mean “boring.” Choose interesting fabrics. And
remember, “simple” can often look sophisticated – as in the Basic Black Dress.
Tip #11 for Sewing Fast
Choose a looser-fitting design.
You’ll spend little or no time fitting or tailoring – or sewing shaping seams like darts and princess seams.
Tip #12 for Sewing Fast
Tip #13 for Sewing Fast
Avoid fabrics that need the pattern pieces laid out a special way, such as stripes, plaids, one-way prints,
and napped fabrics.
Solid colors and random patterns are good choices.
Stay away from fabrics that are difficult to work with or need special handling, such as silks, sheers, slippery
satins, fabrics that ravel easily, napped fabrics like velvet, or very heavyweight fabrics.
Tip #14 for Sewing Fast
Lay your fabric out with the right sides together.
Your pattern pieces will have the right sides already together, saving yourself the step of placing them right
sides together before stitching them.
Tip #15 for Sewing Fast
Tip #16 for Sewing Fast
Use a rotary cutter for cutting out your fabric pieces. And use weights instead of pins. (Use rotary cutters
with care because they’re very sharp. And make sure to use a special mat underneath when cutting.)
Do “like” tasks at one time in an assembly-line manner.
It takes time to “shift gears.” To sew a seam, get up to press it, apply interfacing to your next fabric piece,
- Pin as many fabric pieces together as you can before sewing seams
- Sew as many seams together as you can before sections need to be joined
- Do as much pressing as you can at once
- Apply as much interfacing as you can to your fabric pieces at once
- Do as much trimming and clipping of seam allowances as you can at once
Tip # 17 for Sewing Fast
This will likely mean going out of order from the pattern instructions. If you’re a beginning sewer, you may
feel more comfortable trying this once you gain more experience.
If you’re really confident, don’t pin fabric sections together before sewing. Just place the fabric pieces
together, then stitch. You may want to limit this technique to shorter seams you have more control over.
Tip #18 for Sewing Fast
Tip #19 for Sewing Fast
Before you start to sew a seam, grasp the thread tails from the upper and bobbin threads. Hold them back
and out of the way for your first couple of stitches.
This is a good preventative measure to keep your sewing machine from jamming – something that takes
time to fix.
Tip #20 for Sewing Fast
Put “pedal to the metal” when sewing.
In other words, actually sew fast – especially when sewing long, straight seams. Continue to take your time
around corners and curves.
Tip #21 for Sewing Fast
Use pinking shears to finish the raw edges of your seam allowances instead of a more time consuming
method. And trim your seam allowances before pressing them open. This way, you’ll be cutting both edges
Or if you’re fabric isn’t prone to raveling, leave your seam allowances unfinished.
And last, but not least, practice!
The more you do something, the better and the faster you get at it. And soon you’ll be able to whip
something up in no time!
|Sewing Information, Advice, How-to
Sew Fast: 21 Tips to Help Speed Up Your Sewing