I set myself a challenge on Saturday: How much could I cut and sew in 2 hours? The answer was, quite a lot! I managed to finish leggings, two t-shirts, a scarf, and cut out two more projects. I posted about my progress on IG as I sewed, and a few people asked if I could give some tips on sewing faster… so here are my top tips!
Concord tee in adorable cactus fabric from L’Oiseau Fabrics!
1. Use a rotary blade I’m sure many of you already use a rotary blade and cutting mat, right? It’s so much faster than cutting with scissors! I don’t really use pattern weights, and I definitely don’t pin the pattern to the fabric. Just hold down the pattern and get cutting! (Bonus: Rotary blades are also better than scissors for those of us with repetitive stress injuries in our wrists!)
Also from L’Oiseau: this beautiful peacock fabric, sewn into a Comino Cap tee!
2. Use TNT patterns
For my #2hourchallenge, I used simple knit patterns like Espresso leggings and the Comino Cap that I’ve sewn at least 10 times before. That means I’ve got a good idea how much elastic to use, or how tight to make the neckbands… and I don’t have to worry about fitting along the way. Using TNTs also means you don’t have to worry about instructions, or checking the cutting layout.
3. Stop fussing with the fabric Aim to do things once, but don’t keep fussing. It’s easy to spend more time that you need to in folding and refolding the yardage, aligning seams, or unrolling curled edges. Likewise, why pin meticulously just to remove the pins seconds later as you sew? I use a single pin at the shoulder sleeve when attaching knit sleeves, and I use three pins on a neckband. That’s it!
Sweaterknit Espresso leggings, made with a drapey knit from the ends section at Fabricland.
4. Pedal to the metal Most of the sewing process is actually about prep – cutting, aligning, trimming, pressing – but when it’s time to sew, go fast!
5. Don’t overthink it!
This is the big one for me. I can dither over decisions about what to make, how to adjust it, and how best to construct it for far too long, and sometimes it stops me from sewing. Are you the same? What loved about the #2hourchallenge was that I cut into “precious” fabric without overthinking it, and because I sewed TNTs, I could count on the finished garment working out.
Infinity scarf, also made from sweaterknit from the Fabricland ends section. I love searching for hidden gems!
That said, sewing fast or being prolific is only worth pursuing if you enjoy it. I LOVE the feeling of whizzing through a seam, and being precise doesn’t bring me that same joy. Sewing is NOT a competition, and time spent sewing is worthwhile even if you only accomplish a few steps!
If you want to try out speed sewing, how about giving the #2hourchallenge a try? Johanna from @yellowdoormakes in Ottawa gave it a try yesterday, and whipped up a turtleneck, cardigan, leggings, and some kiddie underwear, plus cut out another project!
What tips do you have for sewing fast? Some people swear by chain piecing or batch sewing, but I’ve never found either saved me much time…How about you?