Tuesday, October 6, 2009

September Review: Fast Sewing for Dummies

I think that a better title for this post might be "Ideas for SLOW sewers to finish more garments without just sewing simple and easy things". That's not as catchy a title although it's more accurate. I don't consider myself a dummie - I just sew slowly. I have been pondering the question of how to complete more garments (so I can use the gorgeous fabric I have and buy more stuff). This month, with only two garments completed, may not be the best one to discuss this topic, but I have been pondering ways to complete more garments. I sew every chance I get in my life which is sometimes hectic. I doubt that I can create anymore actual sewing time unless I give up some others things that I enjoy.

Actually, I am okay with the two garments that I did finish this month. That number is appearing too frequently! My two sisters-in-law (more like sisters) visited for a week. I enjoyed seeing them a lot but it took away from sewing time. Also, this month I took Susan Khalje's Top 10 Couture Techniques Class from Pattern Review. It's a great course for taking sewing up a notch or two or more. I made a lot of samples. That's not a contradition to my desire for finishing more garments. I want to improve quality as well as quantity. Now, I don't think that is asking too much, right? There are a couple of the samples that I am so proud of that I took pictures. For the first time, I actually did bias sphagetti straps. Look at how narrow the little one is! I never could get them to turn before.

I've done narrow hems before and they looked well sewn. This sample actually took less time, is narrower (would work on chiffon!), and neater. I have a better feel for the difference between good sewing and fine sewing. This sample is the inside of the "garment" and done in contrasting thread so I could critique what I was doing

As for the finished garments this month, the jury is still out on what to do with the orange Ottobre top that I finished. I feel so much better about it after reading your positive comments. I'll try taking in the side seams and experiment with a belt. The final decision will be made next summer. The second garment is a skirt, Burda 08-09-110. I love the skirt but discovered that I have nothing to wear with it. I'm working on a blouse to take care of that. In the meantime, I'll do pictures with Dolly wearing it and do a blog post soon.

I am slowly (appropriate for my present sewing speed) getting to the subject of fast sewing. I wonder about people like Karen , Dawn , Shannon , and Carolyn (just to name a few) who produce so many garments, simple and elaborate, and all well made. I think that the bottom line is that they know what they are doing (duh!). I know that a lot of people sew faster when they have a deadline. For me, I can stay more focused if I have at least a week. Most of the time, just sewing fast for me is spelled WADDER. I may "step on the gas" sometimes, but usually I just plod along. I do keep track of my time and, for the most part, I am sewing about twice as fast as I did a year ago. I don't have to stop and think as much. After pondering the question of what works for me, I've determined that most of the helpful things are in the preparation. I hesitated about posting about this topic because most of things are in the category of "I should have known that". Well, I didn't and maybe someone else out in blogland doesn't know either. All of these ideas, so far, have come from someone else. I'll note their names if I can remember. At least, I'll have some reminders for myself. Here are are some of the things that have helped me:
1. Couture sewing is not always more time consuming. Some of the techniques can save time as well as producing quality garments. I won't be ignoring couture techniques just because I am not an advanced seamstress yet.
2. Reading a sewing book from cover to cover often reveals helpful ideas. I am amazed at the number of helpful ideas for a recent or current garment that I find. I tended to use my sewing books as references and will continue to do so. Now I also have a better idea of where to look.
3. I attached a pair of scissors to the thread stand next to my sewing machine. I often stopped to look for those scissors, but no more. I'm pretty good about keeping other sewing tool organized. I have thought about putting my seam ripper on a ribbon around my neck. I keep hoping I will not have to look for it as much (lol). BTW, I am becoming an expert at using my seam ripper and hope to move on to other skills!
4. I press fabric with a spitz bottle (for most fabrics), a dry iron, and with the selvage grain. This tip came from reading through David Coffin's shirt making book. I had been carefully straightening the grain of my fabric and then steaming the fabric out of shape. Cutting is much faster because I don't have to fiddle with the fabric to get it back on grain at the cutting table.
5. Use caution with a TNT pattern or a pattern similar to one I've made. Check the pattern measurements and/or think about how the pattern will sew in a particular fabric. A quick glance at the instructions can help avoid: I thought I knew how to sew this, but I just forgot.

That's all I can think of right now. I will keep a list for next month's review as I discover or think of things.

1 comment:

gwensews said...

I love this post. First of all, thank you for the review of the online class. I've been thinking about taking one, WHEN AND IF I GET THE TIME! Like you, I sew slowly, and I really don't have a lot of leisure time. I love to sew when I do find time. I should go back to work--I got more done then! Now that I'm retired, my life is crazy!