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15 things home sewers can learn from industrial sewing

Today, we have a very special guest post from local sewing legend, Sharon Blair. Sharon runs Portland Sewing, where she and her faculty teach a wide range of classes including industrial techniques. I had the pleasure of meeting Sharon recently and asked her to fill us in on some tips home sewers can take away from industry practices. -Sarai

image: industrial sewing machine by kerem79

I like to sew. I call it my “Zen.” It relaxes me. But like everyone, I like to get done quickly and create a garment that fits and looks professionally made.

That’s what sewing with an industrial machine can do for you. They can sew faster. Industrial machines sew up to 6500 stitches per minute. A home sewing machine sews 250 to 1000. A knee lift keeps your hands free to work the fabric. The needle makes a crisp stitch for a clean finished look.

But there are many other techniques from the industry you can use to improve your sewing and the look of your garments without buying the machine. Here are fifteen:

  1. Change your seam allowances. Reduce seam allowances on enclosed seams to 1⁄4”. The 5/8” seam allowances on home sewing patterns are too bulky for collars, cuffs, plackets, facing and waistbands. Reducing saves time trimming, grading, notching and clipping the seams after sewing. It makes for a smoother look for your seams.
  2. Use 1/8” nips to mark your notches. Don’t waste time cutting diamond shapes. Nips are more accurate and less likely to fray or weaken the seam.
  3. Cut cleanly. Find the largest table in your house. Claim it for your cutting table. Invest in a rotary cutter and a rotary mat to fit the table.
  4. Cut your pattern to the cutting line. Press it flat.
  5. Don’t pin the pattern to the fabric. Instead, hold the pattern down on the fabric with weights.
  6. Block your work. Fit and alter your pattern. Collect everything you’ll need to sew the garment: Zippers, thread, buttons. Put these notions in a bag.
  7. Cut and mark pieces all at once. Fuse a piece of fabric large enough for all your interfaced pieces then cut those. Tie all the pieces together in a bundle with the pattern and bag of notions.
  8. Sew continuously. Butt pieces end to end and stitch from one seam to another. Cut them apart when you get to the pressing station.
  9. Sew as many seams as possible before pressing. Stop sewing only when you have to cross another seam that should be pressed open first.
  10. Perform similar operations at the same time and sew flat. Sew the details first. Set these aside. Then start assembling the garment. Complete as much as you can before joining side seams. Sewing in a tube is more time consuming than sewing flat.
  11. Sew buttonholes first and use them to mark the location for buttons. Cut buttonholes open with a punch instead of a seam ripper.
  12. Don’t pin. Pins slow you down, distort your seams and damage your needle. Instead use both hands to sew. Match the corners at the beginning and end of your seams then keep your raw edges matched as you sew.
  13. Press. Press all your seams open on woven garments before any other pressing or stitching over them. Use a steam iron. Even better, use a clapper to push the steam into the seam for a clean, flat look. Use a press cloth on the garment’s right side.
  14. For the final press, press the details first — collars, cuffs, and waistbands — then sleeves then the body. Press buttons from the wrong side. Let pressed areas cool before moving on to the next section.
  15. Build yourself a pressing station from a hunk of plywood covered with wool and muslin, if you have space. This is wider than an ironing board and will keep your garment from hanging over the edges while pressing.

There are so many other fun and interesting techniques to use when making a professional garment. To learn more, including how to sew with an industrial machine, sign up for one of our classes. Fall classes begin the week of Sept. 17 on portlandsewing.com

About Sharon:
Fashion entrepreneur, designer and writer Sharon Blair studied couture sewing in Paris. She has a bachelors and a masters and advanced studies in apparel. Her apparel life began more than 20 years ago in a custom clothing business. She now offers two lines of clothing: StudioSKB and SKPDX and oversees two others: A womenswear line called Wandering Muse and a menswear line called Chicago Harper.

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On , Rochelle New said: | luckylucille.com

“Don’t pin” – Boy that quote just made my day! The whole time I thought I was just lazy… well I guess I’m just more professional. Haha! I rarely use pins anymore. I’m so thrilled to hear that’s not a bad thing! Lots of great tips in here. Thanks so much for sharing, Sarai and Sharon!

On , Sarai said: | colettepatterns.com

I use pins as little as possible. I’m perfecting my curve sewing sans pins and will report on that soon!

On , Paula said:

Rochelle – I was thinking the same thing! I always felt like I was ‘cheating’. Same with sewing all the seams I can at once before pressing or moving on. Now I feel like ‘haha, I was doing it right the whole time’. lol

Thanks for all the great tips, Sarai.

On , Sarah Jackson said: | facebook.com

Thanks you for great information, but my English is lil weak but i understand this

On , anon said:

I believe that using pins depends more on the fabric and how I feel I can work that day. If I feel a bit tired, I’ll use pins. If I’ve just had coffee and feel wired, I don’t use pins. I have a love/hate relationship with sleeves still, so I use pins there. I do make muslin patterns of course, but I still hate setting sleeves, so the pins help.

On , Ginger said: | gingermakes.wordpress.com

Love this post! Such great tips! Thanks for sharing! :)

On , Maria said: | sewingmystylemb.blogspot.com

When I worked in the Fashion Industry, I learned shortcuts to make my sewing faster, but I realized that the reason why I sew is because of the attention to detail I gave to each garment. So I agree with all of these points, I have seen them at the manufacturing level, but there is nothing like taking your time with each piece to make it truly special.

Thank you for sharing…

Maria

On , Sarai said: | colettepatterns.com

So true, Maria! On the other hand, if there are parts of sewing you like better than others, it can be satisfying to get the “boring” parts done quickly. For me, that’s usually cutting. But I totally agree that we should enjoy the process too!

On , Haylee said: | hayleeatkinson.blogspot.com

Completely agree. (With the exception of me working in the fashion industry. I’m definitely not cool enough to do that. haha) but in regards to the little details, that is what makes sewing for me. There is nothing like wearing a homemade shirt with impeccable seams and a perfectly straight bottom hem. Nonetheless, it is nice to know some of the little secrets when you’re trying to sew quickly so thanks for this article. I really enjoyed it, I just wish I was talented enough not to have to use a ton of pins!

On , Foster said: | fosterreviewsit.blogspot.com

Super informative! Thanks.

On , annaintechnicolor said: | annaintechnicolor.wordpress.com

Fabulous tips, thank you for sharing! And I’m tickled that some of these I do already, although I don’t know if I’m ready to give up pinning just yet. ;)

On , Spencer said: | 12ozbeehouse.com

My grandmother taught me not to use pin or use them sparinginly! I am so glad that was on this list! I always feel weird when I sew this way! Great tips. I am seriously hoping to buy an industral machine at some point in the future.

On , Sallie said: | sallieoh.blogspot.com

Wow! This was so informative and fun to read! I definitely hope I can remember to do some of these tips on my next project! I’d love to be a more efficient sewer (without sacrificing quality of course!)

On , jen said: | thefabledneedle.com

This is a helpful post but I have a question: how does one accurately cut out a piece when only using weights on a pattern printed on thin tissue paper? I don’t think I could cut out curves without pinning the pattern to the fabric unless the pattern is made of heavy paper.

Also, I don’t entirely agree with #12. Or, what I mean to say is: I think it depends on the seam. Similar to what I said above, I don’t see how one could accurately set in a sleeve without pinning, unless you baste it in first (but if the whole point is to save time, this does really save much).

I would love to get someone’s opinion on this as I loathe pinning! :)

On , noreen said:

I think that #12 goes along with #10 – sew flat. I am horrible at setting in sleeves, so I sew them in flat (before sewing the side seams) and then sew up the sides and through the sleeves whenever possible.

On , jen said: | thefabledneedle.com

OK, I see. I was taught not to do it that way because the sleeve might not hang correctly. But maybe that rule only applies to things like suit jackets and coats.

On , Angela said:

YOU CAN SEW SLEEVES IN FLAT??? I have been avoiding setting a sleeve because I watched some Threads magazine video about using a pencil eraser to stretch the bias out and shorten the sleeve fabric that is really too big for the hole it has to fit into… I was too frightened. Thank you for this idea!

On , Dixie Ryall said:

I learned to sew the sleeves in flat doing children’s clothing…it is great!

On , Nancy said:

I’ve used the pencil eraser method for years. It is easy – almost no learning curve. However, I think it works best with 5/8″ seams. You need that fabric for the erasers to grip. I’ve tried it with 1/4″ seams and didn’t like it for those.

On , Laurel said:

When I studied theatrical costuming under “The World’s Fiercest” (and nicest) instructor, we were told to always sew sleeves flat,t hen stitch up the side seams. It makes a world of difference when trying to whip out 25 Knights of the Rountable costumes, or a dozen Tyrolean Villager outfits before opening night.

On , Sarai said: | colettepatterns.com

I was going to say what Noreen said regarding flat sewing. But I think it depends on the shape of your sleeve. Some are fine to sew flat, some not so much.

As for the pattern weights question, do you use a rotary cutter? I don’t have trouble cutting tissue patterns accurately using weights AND it lessens the tearing. But without a rotary, I would need to use weights, then trace the pattern before cutting to get an accurate cut. I’m definitely on team rotary!

On , jen said: | thefabledneedle.com

Thank you both. I guess it all depends on the sleeve and how to proceed should be assessed on a case by case basis!

Sarai, I’m just getting familiar with using a rotary cutter as I’m cutting out pieces for a quilt. But I find I’m a bit clumsy with it and will cut a crooked (curved, actually) line even when using a straight edge! Perhaps I rush things a bit and just need a little practice. ;)

On , Nancy said:

I think my cutting table isn’t as stable as it really ought to be which contributes to curved cut lines. Since I have no other options for the table right now, I compensate by cutting shorter lengths before readjusting my hand on the ruler & angling the cutter in toward the ruler ever so slightly (or not so slightly if I have a big stack of fabric.) It is still fast & way more accurate…which saves time later.

On , brenda said:

this was a while ago i see but id like to answer….ive worked in sewing factories, been self employed and worked as a pattern maker /designer……….i never use pins…….ever, and i weigh pattern pieces down, and if i was using a card pattern id draw around it with slivers of soap, too hard to cut around card as you need to be able to manuvore the scissors or cutter whereas if you draw around it you can totally remove the pattern. weighing down a paper pattern works just fine, and you can lift cut bits out of the way as you cut around curves, the weight holding the bulk in place……you only need one or two cans to hold a pattern down. the other helpful thing not mentioned is marking darts with a drill hole rather than tacking. i used a label gun to spear thru my marks, the kind that attach swing tags, if i wasnt going to sew straight away id fire the nylon tag holder right thru and leave to keep the mark from fading away while sitting (do you follow?) as for sleeves you just get a feel for fabrics and styles and just pull the garment body while relaxing the sleeve as you sew and it just fits together……this is because in a factory you may be sewing in 1000 sleeves in a day so you get the hang of it…………yeah not helpful is it. :)

On , Wanett said: | sownbrooklyn.com

The pressing station and cutting table tips really speak to me. I recently traced a pattern on my dining room table and felt a little stupid that I hadn’t always done it that way! lol
Thanks for the tips!

On , Melanie said: | petitejosette.blogpsot.com

The rotary cutter and board are definitely things I’d like to invest in…As far as space go, I usually trace stuff on the floor (= largest available flat space in my apartment), but I would love to have room for an actual sewing station.
The sewing as much as you can before pressing totally makes sense to me and I do it all the time. Same with the sewing flat. I don’t think I’d be able to not pin though. I think industrial machines are probably better set to avoid fabric shifting or sliding while my little pfaff probably wouldn’t be as good…Doesn’t matter cause I kind of enjoy pinning for some reason… Thanks for sharing !

On , Melanie said: | petitejosette.blogpsot.com

Speaking of not pinning, somebody had told me about a technique to sew sleeves without pinning, that involved using a pencil behind the presser foot to get the sleeve fabric going slower than the armhole fabric – thus acting as a gathering device while sewing happens…Anybody ever heard/tried that method?

On , Penelope Else said: | penelopeelse.com

I’ve often read that professional machinists routinely use this cramming method to sew a longer piece to a shorter one. I haven’t tried it yet, but I think it would come easily with practice.

On , lunefantasy said: | lunefantasy.wordpress.com

Very interesting post
Don’t pin !

On , Nyssa Jayne said: | shoesandblues.com

I learned industrial sewing techniques when I did an elective course in high school — those machines are insane, they make home machines look so pokey and over-complicated!

ten years later (!!!) and i think i am still working on combining the best of industrial techniques and home techniques. i find that “production-lining” (technical term used in my apartment) parts of the sewing process saves time, but some of the other tips, like not-pinning, don’t save me any time if i have to re-do a seam as a result.

On , mariacollege said:

These tips are great! Thank you for sharing!!!

On , MadeByMeg said: | megmadethis.blogspot.com

And here I thought I was being lazy by not using pins and not pressing things til I had to!

On , StephC said: | 3hourspast.com

Great post! Will you be building some of these things into future Colette patterns to help streamline the construction process for the person at home?

On , bec clarke said:

Wonderful, thank you so much.

On , LLBB said:

Fantastic post; thanks!!

On , Yizz said:

I too thought I was just too lazy to pin and get up and press! And eversince I started sewing at the age of 14 I have cut out on the floor as it was the only available place.

On , Jo said: | jo-sews-etc.blogspot.be

Great tips, thank you!

Just last night I finally took the bull by the horns and experimented with no-pin sewing bias tape around a very curved edge. I was astonished to find that it was so much easier, as well as faster! (The sewing itself was slower, but having cut out a step, overall it was quicker). And now this – I think I’m suddenly a no pin sewist!

Really good idea to do buttonholes holes first too, I had never thought of that. I get terrible vertigo about doing buttonholes in a finished garment in case I mess them up and destroy all that work. No more!

On , Kim said: | punkmik.wordpress.com

I am glad reading this. I do a lot of those things anyway to save time and space. i sew in our mini living room, and always need to set everything up for pressing and sewing and cutting and as it all happens in the same place I do as many seams as I can before pressing for example. i have often skipped pins but do still need them a bit. I would love to do an internship in an industrial sewing place. sounds exciting but hard work too!

On , francesca said:

Great post! Our dining room table is my cutting out space – it’s an 8 seater, but I’d still lvoe something bigger…. I was taught by my aunt to do the continuous seams thing and I have always waited to press until I couldn’t wait any longer. I used to pin patterns to my fabric but learnt from you, Sarai, to use weights – I sometimes chalk round them, and sometimes cut right away. Large cutting mats are impossible to find here so I am a shears person but I still manage to cut ok. I am printing this pout to keep in my sewing room….
One great tip I picked up from sunni (afashionablestitch) is to put together a skirt portion of a dress first so it can hang for longer than a night whilst you sew the rest of teh garment. Such a great idea!

On , Annie said:

Great Post, but what’s a 1/8″ Nip? Probably lost in translation. I think the “don’t pin” is ok if your sewing machine is on a flat bed and the fabirc is stable but if your machine sits on a table and the fabric is slippy then pinning is probably necessary – though I prefer to baste (tack) its as quick as pinning without the problem of needle clash. I also like my 5/8″ seams that i can trim as it allows for room to manoever and I am normally in no particular rush. Sew buttonholes first is a gem

On , Lucy said:

I think by 1/8″ nip, they just mean that, rather than cutting out the little triangle on the pattern, you just make a single quick little snip in the middle of the triangle to mark the notch. I’ve always done that anyway – I never saw the point of cutting out the whole notch, and it’s way easier to match it up when it’s just a single snip.

Pinning, well, I try not to do too much. Not for straight lines, anyway. But something like a dart or princess seam? I can’t imagine trying to match those without pins!

On , Richard said: | snuggs.me.uk

hiya
What the location notching comment means is you should go buy a pattern notcher tool, it is like a plier tool that cuts a simple notch in the fabric. I sew boat covers and upholstery and we use them for location marks.
http://www.materialconcepts.com/images/45n-pattern-notcher.jpg

BTW we use sand bags to hold patterns down and quite a lot of double sided sticky tape to hold seams before sewing, not ordinary tape but sailmakers basting tape which is mega sticky.

On , Shmaemy said: | awonderfullyjarringcontrast.wordpress.com

Yup, like Lucy said it really is easier to make a small snip instead of cutting notches. I like to make one snip for a single notch & a double snip for a double notch. So easy!

I learned to ditch the pins when I was taking my sewing technique classes in college. That was a bit of a shock for all of us students at first but it got really easy really fast! I do still have to pin certain fabrics like velvet (and I have to pin them to death!). :-p So many great tips here!

On , Erika said:

Yeah. Basting is better than pinning. Skip pinning, but if your sewing skills aren’t up to easing/gathering while you seam, baste. Doesn’t take longer than pinning, makes the sewing calmer, and the results more beautiful.

On , Amanda said: | bimbleandpimble.blogspot.com

This is a really helpful post- thank you! I love the idea of a pressing station… Now to findthe room…

On , colleen said:

Wow. The not making 5/8 seams really got to me. Really? I can do that?

On , Michele Q. said: | micheleq.net

Yes but if the pattern you are using is sized for 5/8 ” seams you will have to trim 3/8″ from the pattern or the sizing will be wrong.

On , Jenny said: | jennysews2.blogspot.com

Great tips ~ I also printed to hang in my sewing room. I use a small rotary cutter to give me more control around the curves and I take my time with it to ensure accuracy. I also find that I prefer basting to pinning. When I baste, I can get a better idea of how the garment will fall. It might take a little extra time removing the thread but for me that’s okay.

On , Wendy said: | thimblenest.blogspot.com

Really appreciate all these great tips; I also am printing out a copy to keep beside my sewing machine. Thanks!

On , Dixie Ryall said:

I would love to see someone’s picture of their pressing station. I have the muslin….what do you pad it with?

On , thezenofmaking said: | thezenofmaking.com

I had no idea that industrial machines could reach those speeds. That definitely makes me feel better about how long it takes me to sew a new skirt!

On , Penelope Else said: | penelopeelse.com

Re the no-pin sewing: I line up the start of the fabric and put it under the needle (ready for the first stitch) – it makes it much easier to organise and line up the fabric for the rest of the seam line.

On , marie-elena baker said:

GREAT and interesting information! I love to read anything connected with sewing!! thank you !

On , irene said:

Love #7,, that is definately a tip I will use !

On , Shmaemy said: | awonderfullyjarringcontrast.wordpress.com

Love #15. We used these in college sewing technique class for blocking & pressing (along with the pressing ham, sleeve roll, etc.). Great stuff!

On , Alecia @ Chicken Scratch NY said: | chickenscratchny.com

Great Tips! I work for a sewing company and you hit the nail on the head! We use rotary knives to cut, you can do more layers faster but they are really expensive so I tend to take all my cutting to work with me!

On , Kristen said:

Yes, yes, yes! I work in the fashion industry and have found incorporating industry standard techniques into my home sewing makes everything easier. Of course, most of my habits such as not using pins or pressing only when necessary were born out of sheer laziness more than anything else.

On , Liz – Easysticher said: | easystitcher.blogspot.co.uk

Interesting read. However what drew me to read it was a glance at the photo it looked like metal faces of grass hoppers oh odd the way my mind works

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On , Lori said: | etsy.com

Wow! I never thought to set in the sleeves and then sew the side seams! I will absolutely try that on my next dress!

On , Candace said:

Thanks for sharing the tips. Sewing runs in the family.I learned all these tips from different people.But my biggest experience was owning my own tailor shop! It would be good to teach the people how to sew while there in school. Yes I learned a lot in school.

On , Mandi said:

I pin as little as possible myself. It can be difficult to make sure you’re on track strictly by finger-feel when you’re easing curves – I recently bought some little clips from Clover that are fantastic for this purpose. They are like tiny little clothespins or little binder clips, and hold tiny thicknesses very well.

On , Donna said:

I usually only pin at the beginning/end/notches – on some seams (like shoulders) only once or twice depending on fabric. I don’t trust myself to keep it aligned (or keep gathers even) w/out the pins. And I mostly pin the bias tape to keep it open. I am somewhat afraid of my rotary cutter still (and only have a 1′ square mat). I only use it w/ a ruler, and even then don’t always get an accurate line.

I have always sewn the button holes first – I never would have though to do it the other way. And #s 7, 9 and 14 have just come naturally (except for tying them together – I just folded them into a neat pile w/ the thread/zipper/card(s) of buttons on top).

As a kid I would sew 1/4″ seams (right on the edge of the presser foot) to get a little more ease! I also prefer to cut my “notches” as sticking-out triangles. (Makes it easy to add a bit of ease on the fly, lol)

Sewing for others (workstudy in college and volunteering at another college theater costume shop after) has also opened up my eyes a bit. The value of really good fabric shears. Following pattern instructions all the way to the end, even if you don’t completely understand. A waist-high muslin covered table is pure awesomeness for many reasons (ironing, cutting, laying everything out flat, etc.), even if a bit hard to get loose threads off when there is no vacuum, lol. I also learned to use (briefly) the industrial machine at the second place. After that the speed of the serger was nothing!

I have bad knees (and wrists and ankles, and my back’s not so good either, lol) so cutting out on the floor was never a good option. But when my only table was a drop leaf that measured 18″ by 36″ there wasn’t really another. When I bought a bigger bed (early apartments could only fit a twin!), I used my fold-out cardboard cutting mat on the bed – much better! Now I put my same mat on my pub height kitchen table (which is ~ 40″ square).

The best new thing here for me is to iron on the interfacing before cutting. Makes too much sense. Not sure how well it will work w/ the way I like to conserve fabric, but will give it a try.

On , CB said:

Someone may have already posted a comment about this below, but I just wanted to note that you can cut a rough outline of the pattern piece from your interfacing, place that hunk of interfacing on the fabric, fuse and *then* cut your piece(s) out. No need to apply interfacing to more fabric than you need to. (Just be sure you have the fusible web facing up when you’re cutting it, or you’ll need to cut another mirror image…ask me how I know…)

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On , Delilah said:

To NO-PIN sew trousers together sew each leg up separately as in
-place pant front and pant backs (right sides) together matching the inside leg seam. Sew the inside leg seam.
-now sew the outside leg seam
-now you have one leg of your trousers
-sew the other leg the same way and you should have two separate legs
-turn one leg right side out and insert it into the other leg – matching the centre fronts and centre backs and the inside leg seam
-you cannot sew this the wrong way because the crotch seams will not match
-you should have a tube with a scoop (which is the crotch seam)
now stitch your crotch seam together and turn right side out –
*NB. if you have pockets or anything else on the trousers make sure you have done those first
*NB. this is not recommended for trousers with a fly zip
*NB. read these instructions twice… lol.

On , ctb said:

Was taught sample room sewing on industrial machines & worked for a manufacturer as well. I only pin the notches on straight seams, but on more intricate seams, I will pin, then hand-baste – esp. when joining a shirred edge to a straight 1, or making a set-in sleeve. Results are really worth the extra effort

I do use pins when cutting(mainly coz that’s what I have), but not very many & I have a notching punch that I use to make notches on pieces, rather than snipping – I snip center fronts & backs on edges. Not sure what a punch is to cut buttonholes w/? I use tiny embroidery scissors for that.

Another pro technique I was taught was ‘ripping back’ to take out mistakes, rather than using a seam ripper, you just pull back on the thread & rip it off , going from 1 side to the other – of course this works best w/ standard thread on standard to sturdy fabrics.

Was taught to use 1/2″ seam allowances on my own patterns…

On , Jennifer O. said:

Some of these tips are also things that one can (and I have) learn from quilting – 1/4″ seam allowance, rotary cutting, mats, pressing, to pin or not, chain piecing, etc. I love it when my sewing interests cross over!

On , Karen said: | jadenomadtravelwear.com

A buttonhole punch is a metal tool that makes a cut in fabric of a specific length. So you have to have one punch for one buttonhole size. I use one, and it helps make my button holes look clean.

I also love using no pins, and I never pin anything, even sleeves.

Great tips Sharon, thanks!

On , Vivian said:

I’ve been sewing well over 30 yrs. now and have used the pinless method for most of it. Industrial is the way to go if you can afford them. One trick I use is to turn the ironing board around backwards and do 95% of my pressing on the larger end. Sleeve boards, pressing rolls, hams and lots of press clothes are all part of my room. Yes, my room and have always had one and that has been essential when purchasing any home. Thanks for sharing your info.

On , Kiva said: | farmsteadlady.wordpress.com

Great post! Will you consider doing a post on the different industrial machines available for those that may be considering them?

On , Toni said:

My 14 year old daughter is beginning to sew her own designs. The other day, I heard what sounded like duct tape being pulled off a roll. When I asked her about it, she said she doesn’t like to pin so was duct taping it instead!! I guess I need to spend more time with her teaching her how to sew without either.

On , Phyllis said: | coudremode.com

Kiva a new industrial machine runs about $1500 but like vintage home machines they are available used; they turn up on Craiglists all the time and average about $500. I sew on a 1928 Wilcox & Gibbs industrial. With an industrial machine the first consideration is space because the machine (called the “head”) is built into the stand and the table top is 50 inches x 20 inches so they must be permanently set up.

On , Nancy said:

I started sewing for real when I was 11. By the time I got to Home Ec 3 years later, I would argue with the teacher over the “right” way to do things. I always ask myself 2 questions, in this order, regarding pinning & (especially) basting: 1) will it give me a better looking result? If the answer is yes, no need for question #2. 2) Will it save time in the long run?

On , Ingrid from Amsterdam said: | desprookjeskamer.nl

Thanks!….Great tips for the parts i could translate. It took some time to learn 1/4 = 6 mm in European size but i really also want to know the sentence below and the translation programs do not help. :

Use 1/8” nips ?? to mark your notches. Don’t waste time cutting diamond shapes. Nips are more accurate and less likely to fray or weaken the seam.

Greetings Ingrid

On , Ada said:

The diamond shapes it is referring to are called notches here in the US. They look like a little ^ sticking out from the side of the fabric when you cut your pattern pieces. They are often used to properly align seams that follow a curve or where fabric must be gathered/ruffled to meet properly. In order to use time efficiently, make a shallow, 1/8″ (~3mm) cut perpendicular to the pattern edge instead of taking the time to cut the little ^ shape into the edge.

Was that helpful?

On , Carol said:

How do you find out about classes to learn better sewing techniques? I don’t want to make a career out of it, I just want to make better looking/fitting garments for myself. Every now and then I see articles like this talking about industrial techniques, or special tailoring techniques and I really would like to learn more.

On , StarryMcGee said:

Like you, I wanted to learn how to make garments for myself but wasn’t interested in spending a ton of money auditing degree-seeking classes. After spending a considerable amount of time researching where best to take sewing classes, I found that Portland Sewing offered the best “bang for your buck” as they offer a variety of classes and techniques (i.e. draping, pattern making, basic garment construction, leather working, bodice construction, creating a pattern from your favorite garment, etc.). Best of luck!

On , Mel Maj said: | lemjam.blogspot.com

I have an Consew industrial machine and love it. Your tips & hints are skills used in mass-production factory sewing, awesome for time-saving and to give a more polished finish. Thanks for refreshing my memory, great post :)

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On , Ada said:

I haven’t visited the site in months, but StumbleUpon’d this entry tonight. Really great tips. What strikes me most about them, though, is how many I’ve already incorporated into my own sewing not as something learned from a tip, but rather as just the way it is since that’s how my mother taught me. I wonder if it has anything to do with great-gran having been a professional seamstress and passing on the knowledge as she taught her kids and grandkids to sew? I’ll have to ask when I go home for the holidays this year!

On , KIMBERLEIGH said:

I LOVE THESE TIPS !!! TY I ALSO PREFER FRENCH SEAMS …..CUZ IT MAKES SEAMS SOOOO MUHC STRONGER AND YU DONT HAVE TO CUT !!!

On , Sharon Blair said: | portlandsewing.com

Hi guys — Thanks for all the great feedback. All I can say is if you’re still having qualms about sewing without pins — particularly when joining sleeve caps to the armscye — you have to take a class. It’s powerfully liberating. You’ll learn to how crimp your caps. And we’ll show you how to clip, drill and sew your darts so quickly. Plus how to give a professional press. Oh yeah, and how to build a press mat. It’s the right way to live and so much fun to know these inside secrets. Cheers — Sharon

On , Sherry said: | superexhausted.com

I sew professional and I have also work with factories. I use every tip you said. I have not used pins since I was 16 because of using a serger. The pressing table cant live with out it. I built min with complete back board to hold all my scissors and folder for patterns. Plus a a hook for a lint brush. great post!

On , Cheryl said: | mylifecrafted.blogspot.com

My daughter and I were going to a sewing class, her to learn, me for the socialising. I was showing her how to cut out a pattern, just nicking at each placement notch. The leader of the class pulled me up in front of everyone, telling me I was doing it wrong, that I was supposed to cut around each triangle. Umm I don’t think so.
I am a home sewer but was taught using industrial methods and machines, I do use very tip you said. I’ve seen instructions telling to pin and then tack, what a waste of time. Both do have their place but not in everyday sewing.

On , Natasha E said:

Dis dis disagree on the rotary cutters. They don’t use them in the garment industry they really don’t. Not the ones home users have access too. If your not completely tracing off your pattern onto the fabric and cutting through your pattern then it’s likely your cutting slices off it in a few uneven distribution. Plus it’s an expensive setup

When I was at FIDM we used the most wonderful lightweight Japanese scissors. Once I got those I didn’t even think about rotary cutters again. Better results less effort safer fingers.

http://fashion-incubator.com/archive/rotary_cutters_a_guaranteed_argument/

On , CB said:

I’ve read Kathleen’s post about rotary cutters and agree – you’re asking for trouble using them in a manufacturing environment, because you’re bound to cut a bit more of your pattern away every time you use them. But if you’re making a one-off item (not planning to re-use the pattern tissue), it’s faster (IMHO) to use weights + rotary cutter instead of pins/shears in many instances.

On , AliceNielson said:

These are some great starter tips. I really like the ‘sew constantly’ tip. Not only in the method idea, (known as chain-stitching in quilting) but also the idea of keep sewing. A little every day is better and more productive than a hot and heavy weekend of sewing. It keeps the fingers and mind sharp. Also the idea of keep it together; not just a project but try to put all sewing tools in one place, like a cabinet or something.

Years ago the mind blowing fact the fabric is flat changed my way of sewing. Its’ a ‘duh’ idea, but really, fabric is flat, we sew, drape, and cut a curve to mimic curves to fit. All fabrics behave differently, but every single one was created flat.

On , CreativeGrammie said: | creativegrammie.com

Love all these tips, i’ll be sure to give them a try. I just wish i could find an industrial machine with some of the features as the home sewing machine.

On , CreativeGrammie said: | creativegrammie.com

Love all these tips, i’ll be sure to give them a try. I just wish i could find an industrial machine with some of the features as the home sewing machine.
Thanks for sharing the wonderful information with us.

On , Mike said:

Thanks for the tips. So helpful. One question: “Cut buttonholes open with a punch ….” Are there particular punches (sizes, brands) you might recommend?

On , Alicia said: | keygroceryandquilts.com

What about pre-shrinking the interfacing before ironing to fabric? I’m more quilter than garment maker but a tell-tale sign of “home-made” is bubbly interfaced sections.

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On , Arleen said:

Do you have industrial sew classes this year
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Arleen

On , Connie said:

I use an old, hammered wood table for cutting. I like being able to do whatever I want without concern about damage. I use bed risers to make it a more comfortable height. My cardboard cutting board spreads out any size I need at the time.

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I don’t understand the reason why I am unable to join it. Is there anyone else getting the same RSS issues? Anyone who knows the solution can you kindly respond? Thanks!!

On , reshma ingle said:

I have wanted home work without investment please give me the work . i interested tailoring work

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On , Judy said:

What is a “clapper”? You used the term when you talked about pressing seams. Thank you for your informative and useful article.p

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