This is the best list of simple tips and techniques to help you sew faster. All sewing levels can benefit from these ideas from beginner to advanced.
Sewing can be a slow process. It takes time to prepare a pattern, cut your fabric, assemble the pieces, sew them together, and add finishing touches. There are many ways to speed up these tasks so that you can finish your makes and move on to the next one.
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Life is moving quicker than ever, and time left for hobbies and crafts is limited. Use this list of practical ways to sew faster to get your projects done in a jiffy!
Take a Fabric Swatch Shopping
Get ready to sew a specific project by reading through the pattern and/or instructions. Make a list of everything you need to complete the project. If you already have a fabric in mind, cut a small piece of it to take to the store. Use it to match thread, zippers, lining, etc. It takes the guesswork out of choosing colors and shortens your time in the aisles.
Read The Directions
Staci of craftystaci.com encourages you to read ALL of the directions before starting anything! It is super frustrating to find that you did something wrong or are missing a supply halfway through a project. Read the full pattern and directions BEFORE making any moves or decisions.
Sew Two or More at a Time
If you love the pattern, cut out more than one at the same time. Go ahead and cut multiples of the interfacing, if required, as well. Then construct them all step by step. This saves a lot of time by not having to read the instructions in between each step for every piece.
Customize a Single Pattern
There is no shame in making the same pattern over and over again. It is easy to make it your own by using different fabric textures and designs. Consider lengthening a top or color blocking it with a variety of fabrics so it looks different every time.
Wear Small Scissors Around Your Neck
Half the battle of doing any project is keeping track of your tools. Add a ribbon or thin piece of fabric to your thread nippers or small scissors. Then hang them around your neck, so you always know where they are! This awesome tip came from Heather of heatherhandmade.com.
Stock Up on Sewing Supplies
Realizing you are out of a basic sewing supply during a project is the worst. Save time by stocking up so that you don’t have to make any last minutes runs to the craft store. Take advantage of sales and coupons while you can to buy these sewing essentials:
Purchase Interfacing in Bulk
Buying interfacing can be confusing. It is available in a myriad of weights, brands and even colors now. They are used for a variety of projects from clothes to handbags. You really only need three basic interfacing materials – light weight, medium weight and heavy weight. Buy each in a light color and dark color. Five yards of each is a good number to keep on hand. That way it is always available when you need it.
Also, when you find an interfacing you love, keep the instructions that come with it. Take part of the instructions to the store when it is time to buy more, and you can easily find its perfect match.
Invest in Quality Thread
Thread can break down and become brittle over time, especially if it was cheap to begin with. You may find yourself fighting to keep your machine threaded and at the proper tension with under performing thread. Investing in high quality thread on a regular basis (annually is recommended) will cut down on frustration and ensure your stitches stay together for a long time.
If you do a lot of top stitching, you may want to purchase thread in all the colors of the rainbow. Most projects will come out great with these basic colors though:
- Navy Blue
Get Out All Your Supplies
Having all the necessary supplies in your craft room in imperative to saving time, but you also need to get them out. Jennie Masterson of jenniemasterson.com gives this tip:
Cut Zippers to Size
Long zippers can be cut to any size. Buy long zippers in a variety of colors of keep on hand. Then you will always have a zipper available to match the size and color of any project. Don’t bother purchasing shorter zippers that will sit on your shelf waiting for the perfect project to come along.
Buy the Right Needles
Needles break all the time. It doesn’t matter what kind of machine you have or what kind of project you are sewing. Buy two kinds of needles and keep them on hand for all your sewing needs: Size 80 Universal; and Size 90 Stretch. Schmetz sewing machine needles are a favorite and affordable in large quantities. Changing the needle often to make sure it is sharp is a good way to avoid skipped stitches too.
The key to cutting accurately the first time is to use quality shears and a sharp rotary cutter. Dressmaker shears with a bent handle are best for cutting fabric. Rotary cutters in conjunction with a self healing cutting mat and acrylic ruler make cutting straight lines a breeze. They are particularly great for cutting quilt pieces.
Upgrade Your Sewing Machine
Basic models are great, You can make a lot of things with a basic sewing machine. However, if you have the hang of it and want to sew faster, it might be time to upgrade your machine. Newer or advanced models will have more features available to shave off time. Low quality machines tend to jam or have tension issues more often as well. Purchasing the best sewing machine you can afford will pay off in both time and money.
Start Sewing Without a Knot
Make quick work of hand sewing by beginning without a knot. Your stitches will stay in place if you follow this simple method by Damjana of Apple Green Cottage.
Know Right From Wrong
Fabric has a right side and a wrong side, but it isn’t always easy to decipher between the two. Take a moment to figure out which is which. Then make a small mark on the wrong side with a fabric pen or chalk. When it is time to start a project, you will save time by having the that information at a glance.
Choose Patterns with Fewer Pieces
Patterns with many patterns take longer to both cut and sew. Trim time from your project by choosing a pattern with fewer pieces. You can always further customize it with interesting fabric(s) and accessories.
Skip the Pins
Most patterns will have you pin pieces together. Use pins sparingly – just enough to hold the fabric in place. Sewing over pins with a sewing machine can damage the machine and usually breaks the needle. However, slowing or stopping to pull pins out while sewing can be time consuming. Keep pins to a minimum, and only use them when necessary.
Pleat with a Fork
Measuring to form pleats of the same size can take a lot of time. Grab a fork from the kitchen to speed up the process. The larger the fork, the larger pleats it will make.
With fabric under your sewing machine needle, slide the fork along the right edge so the two outer tines of the fork are on top of the fabric. The remaining tines should be under the fabric.
Then twist the fork until it is upside down, and slide it out of the fabric. Continue to sew the pleat in place. Forming pleats like this can be repeated for tighter pleats right next to each other or evenly spaced.
A Faster Way to Make Binding
Reduce the number of strips you need to cut when making binding with this tip. Lay about 1 yard of fabric flat. Then fold the selvage edge over to meet the raw edge, forming a triangle. This places the fold on the bias. Then use a rotary cutter, cutting mat, and acrylic ruler to cut off the folded edge.
Next fold the edge with the bias in half. Cut off the fold again, and your fabric is ready to be cut into binding strips. If making binding isn’t your cup of tea, save even more time by buying it.
Use a Fabric Turner
Many projects or patterns call for turning tubes of fabric right side out. You can do this by fastening a safety pin to one end and pulling it through the tube. However, it can be tedious and especially challenging for small straps.
Mark Button Holes and Snaps Later
Buttons and snaps can be tricky to line up exactly to meet their counterpart. The fastest way to get the right placement every time is to stitch the buttonholes or fasteners on one side of the garment first. Then line it up, and use a fabric pen or chalk to mark where the button or snap should be installed on the other piece.
Square Fabric Before Cutting
Fabric cut from the bolt, whether at the store or home, is rarely straight. Don’t waste time trying to make your piece of fabric work on a project if it isn’t straight. Use this Quick and Easy Method to Quickly Square Up Fabric Before Cutting.
Organize Your Space
Take a few moments to declutter and organize your space before beginning to sew. A cleans work space with all your supplies in order will simply your project and help you think more clearly.
Chain sewing is when you continuously sew multiple pattern pieces in a row, without cutting your thread in between. After feeding all your pieces through the sewing machine, use thread nippers to separate them. It definitely saves time, but you need to be super organized to pull this off. It is a great method for piecing quilts.
It may sound counter intuitive, but slowing down can make your projects go faster. Danielle of DIYDanielle.com has this advice:
Organize by Project
Here is a tip for people who like to have more than one project going at the same time: Organize with plastic storage bags. They come in several sizes perfect for holding everything you need for a single project including fabric and notions. When you get a few minutes to sew, just grab a bag and get to it!
Wash Your Fabric
Wash and dry your fabric immediately after purchasing it. The process will remove any unwanted chemicals used during manufacturing and shrink it if it is the type of fabric that shrinks. Press if necessary. Then neatly store the fabric in your craft space or project bag where it is easy to grab and sew.
Wind All the Bobbins
No one likes to run out of bobbin thread in the middle of a project. It takes quite a chunk of sewing time to stop and re-thread. Wind more bobbins that you think you need at one time to be safe. Better yet, wind several bobbins in basic colors and keep them on hand for easy access. You can also purchase full bobbins in bulk. Just be sure they are the right bobbins made for your sewing machine.
Move Your Ironing Board Closer to Your Sewing Machine
Professional looking sewing projects often involve quite a bit of pressing. This is especially true for quilting. Save time (and energy!) by moving your iron and ironing board as close as safely possible to your sewing machine.
Use the Right Foot
There are many, many presser feet available for every sewing machine. From straight stitches to double feeders to rufflers to button hole makers – they all have a role. Get to know which ones are most helpful in reducing the time to make projects you enjoy making. You might be surprised at how inexpensive they can be to purchase, even for a whole set like this one.
Keep the Manual
Lots of details go into building and using sewing machines. Keep you manual close by in case you have a question about the best way to go about something or need to troubleshoot. That is what it was made for. There is no shame in using it a reference. Looking up an answer can be a big time saver!
Skip the Stripes
Busy patterns with stripes, plaids or other designs can be tricky to match. Don’t waste time lining up fabric pieces by sticking with solids or fabric with a small, all over design.
Use Your Sewing Machine Features
Does your sewing machine have an automatic threader? How about an automatic cutter? Some machines even have a knee bar used to life the presser foot hands free. Learn how to use all the features available on your sewing machine so that it is most efficient.
Do you have a tip to add to the list? Please leave it in a comment below. Don’t forget to pin this post for future reference, and here are some more sewing tips and techniques you might be interested in.