Slowing Down

As a business owner and parent to two wonderful but demanding kids, my time is constantly in demand. As a result I’m all about short cuts and time saving techniques.

When sewing with friendly fabrics and familiar patterns I tend to just ‘place and go’ without pins or clips. With thousands of sewing hours behind me I can manipulate the fabric as I go and whip up a t-shirt or pair of leggings in about 15 minutes.

(Something important to note: If you are not as far along your sewing journey then you should not expect to sew at this speed! When I had only completed a handful of sewing hours a simple garment could easily take me all day! This isn’t a race or competition between people, it’s about recognising your own experience.)

There are times however, where I force myself to slow right down and take all the extra steps available to create a perfect garment. If I’m sewing for a photoshoot then I need every detail to be absolutely spot on. If I’m using precious fabric then I always take those extra steps to maximise my chance of getting a really great finish.

If you’re a beginner, or perhaps more experienced but trying out a new technique or tricky fabric then you can take the same steps to slow down and give yourself the best chance of success. These steps are not you ‘failing to do it quicker’, they are you ‘succeeding in making sensible choices’.

Jack’s T-Shirt here is the Jacky V. A colour blocked tee would usually take me about 30 minutes. This one took 3 hours. I could have cut and sewn at speed and it would *probably* have been ok but this fabric is special and *probably* wasn’t good enough.

1. I took longer cutting because I wanted to make sure the pattern pieces were lined up perfectly with the print. I used my quilting ruler to help make sure everything was straight.

2. I used a dressmaker’s pen to draw the seam allowance on the colour blocked line. This helped me to make sure I stitched in exactly the right place.

3. I hand basted each of the key points on the colour blocking and slowly pinned the rest. I hand baste so rarely that hunting for a hand sewing needle took longer than the actual sewing… You should hand baste anytime you’re feeling unsure about a seam – maybe when using slippy fabric or inserting a zip. Yes, hand sewing takes time, but remember that it’s still quicker than sewing it badly with a machine and having to unpick and go again!

4. I took ALL the extra, recommended steps in the Jacky V instructions – I sewed a line of stay stitching around the neckline and hand basted the neckband in place. Additionally, I marked the centre of my V on the reverse of my garment fabric with a pen to help me see where my line of stitching should pivot. I took every step SLOWLY and checked how it looked before moving on.

5. I actually measured, pressed and pinned my hems! I generally just fold and sew and it looks ‘fine’ but I wanted ‘perfect’.

All of these extra steps took time. I probably would have skipped some if I were making PJs or play clothes, but I was using special fabric and sewing for a photoshoot. All the above steps are recommended if you’re a beginner or if you’re trying a new skill. Budget some extra time for your project, slow down and set yourself up for success.