Tips for quick sewing for maximum productivity and economy. I’ll be sharing how I sewed our Tio Trousers quickly but you can apply these tips to almost all garments!
When you join our VIP Community on Facebook, one of the questions that’s asked for membership is “What is your biggest sewing challenge”. Almost always, our members respond with: TIME.
So I thought we could design a prompt/challenge that would work with our season of weather and life: This month our VIP Community has been using their Tio Trouser sewing pattern to create quick and easy PJ trousers.
While sewing my Tio Trouser PJs this month I used a stop watch to get an accurate reading on the time I used so that I could encourage you; A little bit of cutting and sewing here and there still finishes a garment. That’s one of the things I love about sewing; Your work is not un-done by time.
So, here’s the results:
How Long My Tio Trouser PJs Took to Sew
Cutting out A4 paper pattern, sticking together and cutting out paper pattern pieces: 9:30sec.
Preparing the paper pattern is investment time as the pattern will be stored and reused, so next time I make more PJ’s (I already am), this time is not a factor. Therefore, I am not including it in the total, but wanted to share with you that it was under 10minutes anyway.
Laying out fabric and cutting out pattern pieces: 5:56sec
Sewing most of the garment: 23:27sec
Hemming garment: 2:15sec
Each of these 4 steps were done in different increments, between cutting out fabric while my kids ate their afternoon tea, to hemming while dinner cooked on the stove.
Total time: 31 minutes : 38 seconds per PJ pair
So, how did I do it? Read on for my tips and tricks.
You won’t find these tricks in our comprehensive tutorials as we value teaching accuracy and fail proof methods for all levels of sewing experience. If you’re feeling confident, go off-tutorial and give these a go (just don’t tell any sewing teachers I told you so, promise?)
One Thread Colour
For quick sewing and less time preparing to sew, always use one main thread colour unless you absolutely need a lovely matching thread.
I suggest using white, or even better, a sliiightly grey colour.
In my opinion, a slight grey will look more neutral than a solid white which can sometimes appear quite bright against fabric. Keep it loaded in your machine for quick sewing and only change out if you super need to.
No Pins or Pressing
You promised not to tell anyone I told you this, right?!
I’ll preface this one by saying I am a big advocate for pinning for accurate sewing. In fact, I often pin excessively.
But when the time comes for quick sewing: Align your side edges, hold firmly and go for it!
For these quick sew Tio Trousers the ONLY part I pinned was my centre crotch join when I was sewing the leg inseam.
Same goes for pressing.
Honestly, you’ll get a better finished garment if you press as you sew.
But, as these PJs are flannel and don’t need to have crisp edges and seam lines, I could get away with not pressing. I didn’t press a single seam here… and they’re fine.
Easy Waistband Method
I used the alternative waistband method included in the Tio Trousers (as recommended for thick fabrics), it’s also on our blog in this easy waistband finishing post.
Essentially, you finish the edge of the waist band and turn it down once (not twice). This means the edge is visible from the inside of the garment, but saves a lot of time pressing and pinning.
You’re compromising an enclosed seam for quick sewing.
One Turn Hems
Similar to the easy waistband method, only turning your hems under once and top stitching them down will require less (or none!) pressing, pins, and measuring.
I sewed my hems in a different time increment, and they only took 2:15seconds to complete.
Sometimes I think “hemming” can be a mental block – having to restart a process to finish.
But, be encouraged! They only take 2ish minutes to complete and then the garment can be worn and enjoyed!
I have always created our sewing patterns and tutorials without the need for specialist gear. Any Below the Kōwhai sewing pattern can be made on a standard sewing machine.
But, without a doubt, an overlocker makes for super quick sewing of seam edges.
They’re faster than a standard machine, and they complete a nice finished edge.
I sewed my regular seam lines of my Tio Trouser PJs on my standard machine, then used my overlocker that sits next to my machine to run the edge of the just-sewn seam line through it.
It is faster than zig zagging, but not necessary to complete any Below the Kōwhai sewing patterns.
Batch sewing is when you cut out multiple garments and sew them in stages together. For example, all of the legs, then all of the waist bands, and then all of the hems.
You can sew 2+ garments in this way, and it saves the need for swapping between stitch lengths, consulting tutorials etc.
Batch sewing works best when you use just one thread colour for all the garments. You can either 1) make peace with having different fabrics with the same thread, or 2) purposefully sew fabrics with “colour likeness” together, which isn’t always do-able from a home sewing for your family perspective, but may work for a small biz selling batched garments.
Personally, I love changing steps in sewing as it keeps things interesting. For that reason I don’t love batch sewing. But I’m including it here as I know it will suit many people and personalities.