I have an extensive and a bit random background in sewing. I have an undergraduate degree in Fashion Design, a Master’s degree in Costume Design. I’ve worked in the film industry on costume projects and developed my own fashion line. I’ve taught fashion design students at the college level. In many of these settings, I’ve patterned and sewn large projects including working with latex for TV and huge hoop skirts and petticoats for custom debutante dresses. While I know a whole lot about sewing… there's an endless world of things to learn and I’m always learning more.
When I first started working on designing my own clothing collection and began working with manufacturers to produce products, I quickly learned the extreme differences between home sewing and factory sewing. We all know clothing made in factories can be made incredibly quickly but many home sewers ask “How can a skirt that takes me days to make, take a factory just minutes...and how can I speed up my own sewing?”.
While many of the ways that factories can speed up their production has to do with special, single use machinery (bar tack machines, 5 thread overlock machines, buttonhole machines, etc.) we can copy their techniques in many ways at home in order to cut time off our projects and become more efficient. In small ways we can mimic the industry. Here are some tried and true tips for speeding up your sewing projects.
Cut with a rotary cutter rather than sheers
Pinning and cutting is time consuming and tedious. I recommend buying a custom cutting mat for your work table from a company like Cutting-mats.net. The cutting mat will allow you to use your entire table as a cutting surface as well as protect the surface from pins and wear during your work time.
Sew without using pins
I still use pins for tricky areas like waistbands and areas with lots of ease, but large side seams and straight areas can easily be sewn without pins. Start by pinning the garment at the beginning and at the end. Leave the middle unpinned and match the seam allowances up as you go.
Don’t clip between pieces
When you’re sewing several pieces at once, don’t clip your threads after each piece. Keep sewing in a “chain” and clip threads when you go over to your ironing board to press.
Don’t overdo it on backstitching
It only takes a couple stitches to secure a piece. Aim for two backstitches and then move along. You’re likely to cross with another seam or add a hem which will reinforce your stitches.
I hope these tips were helpful! I’ll plan to share more again in the future.