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How to Sew Faster: Sewing TIPS and TOOLS for better sewing projects!

Updated: Jul 6

How ot sew faster

How to Sew More Efficiently: Tips and Tools for Better Sewing Projects


👋 I'm guessing you're here because you want to sew more efficiently so that you can actually finish your projects... Maybe you want to do them a little quicker, calmer, and even improve the quality along the way? I felt the same way! I've come up with a few ways to ease the process for us...


 

Pssst... before we dive in, you can catch this entire blog post in video format over on my YouTube channel!



Also, feel free to skip straight to the parts you want to read!


 

My Early Sewing Struggles

In my first few years of sewing, I was down on the ground trying to cut and piece together my fabric.... Spools of threads and bobbins were just rolling onto the floor, and all the pins I dropped were getting stabbed into my feet. My sewing machine constantly jammed, nesting all the thread together, and I even melted a dumb triangle into my parent's carpet with my iron. Basically, any project that got too frustrating or took longer than a day to complete, I would just shove it into the back corner of a closet, feeling a slurry of guilt, frustration, and failure.


Maybe you can unfortunately relate to this total chaos of a sewing project. Sewing your own clothes is complex—you’re turning a 2D object into a 3D object using machines, zippers, elastics, thread, and iron. You often need so much space just to spread out and get the project done. Sewing will always be complex, but there are tons of ways to reduce frustration or burnout mid-project by adopting little habits and tools that help things go smoother and quicker.


My Transition to Efficient Sewing

About three and a half years ago, I transitioned from sewing a couple of garments for myself every year to sewing a few garments every week for my customers at my small business, Charlie Darwin Textiles. But I'm still working with home sewing machines in a relatively small craft room, just like many of you.


You will learn how to be more efficient through trial and error over time, but with this post, I hope to speed up that process for you and make your journey toward efficiency... a little more efficient 😉.


 

Techniques to Sew More Efficiently

Let's start with some quick techniques that cost essentially $0 to try out, followed by some of my favorite tools that cost a bit but have had a huge impact on how quickly and accurately I can sew.


Tip #1: Spool All Your Bobbins at Once

I like to spool all my bobbins at the beginning of a sewing project. There have been many times where I'm mid-project, and the bobbin thread runs out, which can be a total buzzkill. Depending on the size of your typical project, try threading 2 to 3 bobbins all at once in the colors you need. (A thread holder is also a huge way to save time with tangled threads!)


Tip #2: Adjust Your Sewing Pattern by Height

Adjust your sewing pattern by height before sewing the whole garment. It saves time spent on tailoring later and makes the proportions more accurate. For precise calculations, try my height adjustment calculator!



Tip #3: Take Lots of Notes on the Pattern

Take notes on the pattern, noting the fit and any changes you make, along with the date. This step helps take the guesswork out of it if you return to the project later. The first time you make anything is always the hardest, but if you make changes or improvements and think you’ll remember them permanently, you're fooling yourself!! Taking notes has been a major game-changer for my sewing efficiency.


Tip #4: Keep Your Space Tidy (and sort scraps later)

Keep a box down by your feet at your cutting or ironing table to throw scraps into as you go. At the end, decide if there are good scraps to keep; otherwise, use the scraps for stuffing a cushion or upcycling later.


Tip #5: Label Your Sewing Machine

Save time looking back into your sewing machine manual by labeling your sewing machine with details you can't remember. Use a piece of transparent tape and a Sharpie.


Tip #6: Avoid the Dreaded Unthreaded Needle

To avoid your thread pulling out of the needle and getting sucked into the machine, get into the habit of pulling the thread down below and behind the presser foot before you start stitching.


Tip #7: Tape your buttons before sewing

Tape buttons in place on your garment before sewing them. We only have two hands, and attaching slippery buttons can be frustrating. Sew straight through the tape, and then peel the tape off once they're all sewn on.


 

Tools That Revolutionized My Sewing Efficiency

Some tools have revolutionized how quickly and efficiently I sew. Here are a few of them, ranging anywhere from a couple of dollars to a couple hundred dollars:


Tool #1: Bin Organizer

A bin organizer helps separate sewing projects so you can easily take breaks and keep them organized. Bonus tip: Use safety pins to keep smaller pieces together.










Tool #2: Iron That Doesn’t Turn Off Quickly

My CHI titanium iron turns off after 30 minutes of inaction, so I don’t have to wait for it to reheat after longer sewing steps.


Tool #3: Multi-Purpose Table & Electric Rotary Cutter

A table system that doubles as an ironing and cutting surface saves space and time, and reduces backaches. Plus, this one by Sullivan's folds up to tuck away when you need the room for something else (like guests, or other craft projects). You can purchase the gridded ironing pad separately, and it can be easily removed and washed. The key is that I also use an electric rotary cutter with it, which cuts through several layers of fabric at once and has a self-sharpening blade. It goes around curves very smoothly!

If I do want to use my regular rotary cutter, I just lay down a cutting mat. I have a small one and a giant one that is the exact size of the table.


Tool #4: Magnetic Pin Holder

Originally marketed for holding nails and screws, I use this magnetic wristband to keep all my pins near me. I wear it on my non-dominant wrist to grab pins with my dominant hand.


Tool #5: Bias Tape Maker

A bias tape maker provides precise folds in much less time.


Tool #6: Heavy-Duty Sewing Machine

My Singer Heavy Duty sewing machine is fast, durable, and affordable. It powers through all sorts of projects without issues! 10/10, highly recommend.


Tool #7: Serger/Overlock Machine

A serger or overlock machine drastically improves the speed of finishing seams and is critical for high-quality, durable garments, especially when working with linen (which frays a lot!). I recommend my Brother Lock 1034DX!


Tool #8: Multiple Pairs of Scissors

Have multiple pairs of scissors around: one pair by the ironing table, one at the sewing machine, and another for when the others get lost! I especially love having a pair of "snips" by my serger and sewing machine (these are a bit easier to quickly grip, than scissors!)





📢 Share Your Tips!

Thanks for sticking around for all 15 tips! These are just some of the ways I've improved my sewing efficiency, but I want to learn from you too. Let me know in the comments a technique or tool that has improved your sewing efficiency... or which of my tips you're most excited to try out!


 

🪡 Try out these tips on a Charlie Darwin sewing pattern!

If you'd like step-by-step guidance to finish a high-quality garment, check out my sewing patterns at Charlie Darwin Textiles. I’ve just released a new pattern, the GYPSY MOTH, a tiered maxi dress with a V neckline, shoulder, and underarm ties—perfect for summer and for trying out these efficiency tips.

 

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