5 Sewing Shortcuts For The Lazy Sewist

sewing shortcuts

I wrote a draft post last summer about some bad sewing habits I use as shortcuts. Looking back at it now, I’m horrified by most of them (not finishing my seams?! What was I thinking?), but I thought I’d write about some sewing shortcuts I still employ that I think will make your life easier. There are many ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ways to sew and the hobby sewist can feel like they have to follow every rule in the book or the sewing gods will smite them down. Well, I want to give you an alternative. If sewing is your profession, or you enjoy doing everything perfectly then by all means follow the rules, but if you want to get the maximum fun out of your hobby without worrying about the rules then read on.

Hopefully I won’t be quite so horrified by them this time next year…


  1. Buy a select number of thread colours in bulk that will go with anything

There’s nothing worse than spending all night planning your next project and getting really excited about it, only to realise that you don’t have any matching thread. Honestly though, if your thread colour is a bit off, no-one is going to notice! My thread colours are navy, cream and red. I do basically all of my sewing in one of those colours. I don’t often sew with a pure black or white fabric and I find that black and white thread are too harsh against other colours. Navy and cream are a lot more mellow and look fine with most colours in my fabric stash except red. Take a look at your fabric stash and work out which colours will work for you to get maximum colour coverage.

  1. Save up your thread cutting and trimming

You have to be careful with this one, as the extra thread can get caught up and cause a nightmare of a bird’s nest, but if you carefully pull the excess thread to the back of the sewing machine and out of the way of the needle this can save a lot of time pulling the fabric out from under the foot and trimming individual threads. I especially employ this when I’m doing a series of buttonholes.

  1. Don’t make a muslin

Ok, hear me out with this one. I am totally on board with muslins, they help you understand your fitting needs and they mean you only ever make perfect stuff from your precious fabric stash. But you know what? I’m really impatient. Endless worries about it fitting absolutely perfectly only stop me from doing the bit I actually enjoy. Once I’ve made something I’ll analyse the fitting issues I’m having with it and refine in my next make, but I still get the fun of making/having a new garment to wear. That said, I do sometimes bother with a muslin, but I never want to feel like I HAVE to because that’s how it’s done. If you’re a sewist who likes to do everything by the book then by all means make a muslin every time, you’ll probably make a wonderfully tailored garment every time. But if you’re impatient and impulsive with your sewing like me, you might be better off without.

  1. Only change the bobbin thread when sewing basting/gathering stitches

Changing the bobbin is so much quicker than re-threading your whole machine. It means you can just cut the contrasting bobbin threads when removing the thread from your garment – it will be really obvious then which thread on the other side to pull. Be careful with this one, but I haven’t made a mistake with it yet (fingers crossed!).

  1. Don’t make a lining

You may have gathered by now that I’m quite lazy. I just want to wear that garment as soon as it comes out from under the machine foot, a cursory sweep of the iron and I’m good to go. However, sometimes you leave the lining out and then you put on your shiny new garment and it sticks to your tights like glue. We’ve all been through it. But there is a way to save these garments and it’s called an anti-static shift. Maybe I’m the last person in the world to have discovered this, but I thought slips were firmly for old ladies until Lisa at Sew Over It started going on about them on her vlog (which you should definitely binge-watch btw). So far I’ve only got a skirt slip (from Marks & Spencer), but I’m definitely in the market for a full length one because it will save me a lot of disappointing static issues in the future. And will stop me feeling guilty when I neglected to line something.

So there you go, those are mine, what are your sewing shortcuts? Do you think shortcuts are a bad habit, or a clever way to get the job done and keep yourself engaged?


Easter Arielle Skirt

arielle skirt

Hello everyone, how are you? I’ve got another project to show you already! I told you I got more done once the light came back 😉Easter ArielleThis, my friends, is my second Arielle skirt. I was besotted with this pattern when I made my Autumn Arielle – in wool it was perfect for the winter, but I needed one to take me through spring. And what better fabric than this squee-worthy chicks and eggs quilting cotton? I ordered it for Easter last year and it arrived a bit late, so I never got round to using it. I’m glad I’ve managed to make it into something this year!Easter ArielleHaving found the waist a bit too big on my last Arielle skirt, despite having graded in a size, I graded in another size at the waist for this one and I think it looks a lot better. I didn’t need to do any hacking with the button placement to get it to sit right. I would say that this is an oddity of my own body rather than a problem with the pattern.Easter ArielleThis time I didn’t line the skirt, which I probably should have done because it stuck to my tights quite a bit the first time I wore it. However, I’ve just been wearing a slip under it and it looks fine, so no harm done.Easter ArielleI hope you like the pictures. Our plan was to get some reflections in the edge of the water, but it turned into me wading out to get the right angle. The things I do for you! I think they turned out quite cool in the end though. Easter Arielle Easter ArielleEaster ArielleEaster Arielle Easter Arielle Easter ArielleOh, and here’s me saying Hi to the lovely Tilly at the Knitting and Stitching show this weekend! The eagle-eyed amongst you may have spotted that I wore this skirt to show her, I hope she liked it!TillyKnittingStitchingI had a great time at the show and I think I was very restrained, only coming away with one piece of fabric, some buttons and a pair of dressmaking shears. Also had great fun at the workshop for hand-sewn hexagonal patchwork. The teacher was fab (she said my stitching was ‘perfection’ 😀 ) and I came away with a great skill that will be really fun to do in front of the tv. I can imagine making it into some bags or cushion covers, or maybe I need to get fully stuck into the art of quilting? Hmm…

Cosy Margot Pyjamas

margot pyjamas

Hello hello, how are you? I’ve been feeling very full of energy and enthusiasm lately, so I’ve been busily sewing away. The return of sunlight always sees me come out of my grumpy hibernation and return to a hive of activity :)

I had this plan in the pipeline for a while, but it wasn’t until the Winter set in here in the UK that I finally got around to it. I had just helped my friend Emma make her very first garment from my copy of Tilly’s Margot pyjamas and the weather suddenly turned really cold. Anyone who knows me will tell you how highly I prioritise cosiness, so I immediately whipped out this gorgeous sweatshirt material, which has a lovely fleecy finish on the inside and put my own pjs together in a couple of days. In fact, I had to get my mum off the phone so I could finish them in time for bed 😉

Cosy Margot

The sweatshirt fabric I used is a jersey fabric, but has only a little stretch to it. I bought it in a shop in Brighton, in the north laines, not sure what it was called, but they had a really nice selection of drool-worthy fabric and I’ll definitely be heading back. I found it listed on Guthrie&Ghani as well (sadly out of stock at the moment).

Margot pyjamas are designed for lightweight woven fabrics, so I used one size down to account for the negative ease in the fabric. This made it the perfect cosy size for cold nights (and evenings, mornings, any other time I’m not going to leave the house and can get away with wearing them).

The fabric is quite heavy, which means that the legs at the bottom are quite weighty. If I were to make it again I would probably taper them in a little to reduce bulk. In fact, that would be an easy alteration to make if I find that this is too irritating.

Cosy Margot

Cosy Margot

One last alteration I made to the pattern was to use elastic instead of a drawstring. I would always prefer to have a bit of give to my pyjama waistbands. This was no more complicated than feeding elastic through the waistband rather than a ribbon and sewing the two ends together before closing up the channel. I have included the buttonholes for a drawstring if I want to add one for decoration later, though. I could imagine a woven cream ribbon looking quite nice.

Cosy Margot

Cosy Margot

All in all, margot pyjamas are a perfect pattern for beginners or for when you want a quick project that will have few fitting issues. I think it works really well with a jersey fabric as long as you go down a size, so this could certainly be an intro to sewing with knits if you’re feeling daunted by them.

This weekend is the Knitting and Stitching show in London, which I have tickets for! Hooray! is anyone else going? I am quite worried about the state my bank balance will be in by the time I go home, but I’m looking forward to being in a wonderland of crafts and crafters.