My mom was a factory sewer. I don’t remember how many dresses she would sew a day but she only got paid $2/dress so it had to be a lot of dresses. Keep in mind this was the 80’s so wages were different and she only did a portion of the sewing. Another person did the cutting, another person did the serging, another clipped thread, etc. Regardless, she cranked out lots of dresses in a day. In factory sewing they did things that minimized waste in terms of time and material. The following are a few tricks that I picked up from factory sewing that I apply to home sewing.
As I mentioned in my previous post on Dual Duty Tools my mom doesn’t own pins. At the speed of which she sewed she didn’t have the time stop and take out pins. Her machines can sew a yard in a split second, so pins would be very dangerous if her needle hit it. She used clip marks to match up the pieces. This can be done with home sewing patterns also if they have proper notches, which ours do.
Also with matching prints, pins work against you because of the uneven feeding to the top and bottom layer of fabrics with many home sewing machines. I sewed this striped fabric as the machine feeds it. Notice how at the top the stripes match perfectly.
Towards the bottom the stripes are off.
The bottom layer feeds faster than the top on my machine because the dog feed. To get the stripes to match, I put a little tension on the bottom layer so that it’s a bit more forward/towards you. When it gets to the needle it hits right on.
How much more the bottom layer needs to be forward depends on the fabric and the machine. It takes a little testing to figure it out but it’s much faster than all that pinning, basting and unpicking.
Not sure what the exact term is but I call this continuous sewing. What I mean is that in factory sewing you end one seam and start another with the other previous pieces is still attached to the thread.
Here you’re getting a sneak peak of our upcoming pattern release. In the pic, see how I’m ending one flounce and then starting another. Many sewers stop at each piece, pull the piece off and cut the thread. This wastes a lot of time and thread. You can’t always do this in home sewing because you’re not sewing a lot of the same seam but there are still plenty of opportunities to utilize this tip.
In sewing corners like collar points, cuffs, plackets etc crossing the seams instead of pivoting is more efficient and accurate. Here is the pivot scenario. You sew down one side. You get slow down as you get to the turn. You put your needle down, lift your pressure foot, rotate the piece. If you’re past the pivot point you have to unpick a bit and start again. If you’re not quite there, you sew another stitch, ½ stitch or whatever random amount you need. Put your needle down, lift your pressure foot, rotate. Rinse, repeat. If you sew straight across and then sew the other way your corners are always in the right spot.
No one need to produce quantities like a factory, but there are times that sewing multiples make sense. When I’m sewing pants I’ll sew the same pair in 2 different leg lengths at a time. Like long pants and capris or shorts. The cutting, thread color, machine settings and construction order are the same. You can then use your continuous sewing and sew pockets, pockets, pockets, pockets then inseam, inseam. You get the idea. It’s not glamorous but it’s fast.
I hope you enjoyed the efficient sewing tips and get more done in less time. Who couldn’t use some more time in their day?