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…
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!).
- 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?