Saturday, February 1, 2014

Fast Fashion?

You know what I hate? That it takes me 3 hours (not including pre-treating my fabric) to get to the point that I can actually cut the fabric (something I don't love to do given that I have to do it - as with so much other sewing prep - on the floor).

I know I've bitched about this before but, since I'm not going to have a chance to make the Demi-Drape top by the time I go out for dinner tonight, I might as well do some writing...

How do you fast sewists accomplish this (in addition to your sewing) in 2ish hours?:
  • Ironing fussy fabric
  • Choosing thread and winding bobbins
  • Changing the thread on your serger and cover stitch machines
  • Changing the needle on your machine
  • Testing fabric swatches for stitch tension
  • Altering the pattern per your TNT (I know tons of you do this routinely. I do it for 2 items - any pants (I copy the TNT crotch depth and curve) and knit tops (I copy the TNT armscye and sleeve depth and curve)
  • Tracing the pattern - Oh yeah, I did this today and I LOATHE it. Way to waste an hour. I know, I know, if this first version of the top fucks up, who'll be laughing then. But honestly, if it fucks up, I may be to weary too ever try again. (Drama for effect due to weariness.)
  • Cutting the pattern out
  • Organizing the pattern pieces on top of the fussy fabric (just this takes 40 minutes)
  • Cutting the fabric
  • Marking the fabric
After this, I get to sew.

You can see how there's no instant gratification which, after the Janet Jacket, I seriously need.

I'm not joking - please fast sewists, tell me how you do it.

At any rate, the difference between the pattern armsyce and sleeve is actually more different than I initially thought (having just pasted my TNT sloper atop the pieces briefly the other day).

To wit:


Altered Back Piece

Altered Front Underlay

Altered Front Cowl

Altered Sleeve
See how much higher, than the pattern's, my TNT armsyces are. At least I think so - I am relying on math and past experience which is, really, so nerve-wracking.

And here are the cut, newly altered pieces:


To remind you, I did not reinvent the wheel here. I'm not actually creating muslins and refining the pattern to determine which alterations are required - well, at least not yet... Nonetheless, there are 3 hours gone.

Oh, and btw, by the time I baste the pieces, prior to serging, I estimate the arranging, cutting, marking and sewing will take a minimum of 3 more hours. If I'm lucky. Cuz I still don't understand exactly what the (non)instructions are instructing.

Thoughts or feelings?

32 comments:

  1. I have to say, I do cut corners - which certainly bites me in the ass sometimes but also a good deal of the time, is totally fine. I also don't generally work with fussy fabrics - mostly twills, cotton mixes, etc, so I'm sure that helps. I tissue fit all my patterns at this point based on Fit For Real People's guidance, which, again, can work out fine but I sometimes still end up tweaking things - nerve racking if you're working with your final fabric. A Fashionable Stitch also had some guidance on how to cut out fabric that helped speed things up for me, too. Not that I'm any expert but I'm with you on not having the patience for a lot of the prep.

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    1. You raise a really good point - the shortcuts work just fine much of the time, but when they don't - you end up spending more time than ever you would have! I'm going to check out Sunni's posts. I'm sure I read it but I just can't remember...

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  2. All I can say is, surrender to the slow. You can only speed things up so much; try to enjoy the process. Now I will return to my mountain top.

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    1. Peter - I LOVE this. Please never stop commenting :-)

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  3. I spread all this stuff out over several days. But I'm a very slow sewer - it only looks like I'm fast because I use just about all my free time (which is significant, having no job and no kids) to sew. So, one day I'll trace and cut out the pattern (yes, I trace EVERY pattern). Another day I'll prep my fabric. The next day I'll cut out and mark. And then finally, I will get to sew some other day or two or three.

    Doing it bit by bit allows me to feel like I do some sewing every day (even when no stitches are involved). It also helps me slow down. Believe it or not, I'm trying to make fewer FOs this year, because my closets are PACKED!

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    1. I'm glad to know you're slow at something! :-) But you do have a point - I try to break up the workload, as you do, but I have fewer hours I can dedicate to sewing overall. I wish you, um, luck in sewing fewer FOs this year :-)

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  4. Count me as someone who wonders the same thing!

    The biggest thing that helps me is I try to break down the process. I try to do pattern work one day and cutting, sample seams etc. the next day. I wash fabrics once when they come in the house and run them through a rinse spin and dry the day I'm going to use them to remove any wrinkles. While it's rinsing and drying I set up the machines and my cutting table.

    I try to avoid fabrics (knits) that need to be ironed. I've had them stretch slightly in the ironing process to then shrink back when washed which then equals a garment that's too small!

    I was at a sewing guild meeting and one of the women had three tops that she said she made in about six (yes 6!) hours. The worst part is that they weren't just a basic knit tee type top. I commented that I wouldn't even be able to make one of them in six hours!

    One of the biggest differences between her and I is mine look good inside and out while hers look great when she's wearing them but don't look at the inside!

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    1. I cannot believe that woman made 3 tops in 6 hours. But your point about things looking good inside and out is germane. I do try to make things look nice.

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  5. Maybe I shouldn't even be commenting since nothing I do ever seems to fall into the "fast fashion" category; but I was just recently going over the same thing myself. It's the prep that takes up all the time. I've just spent an entire week of my already limited sewing time tracing, cutting and muslining my current project. Of course part of the time was spent trying to make up my mind which pattern to use. I just call myself a "slow sewer", but truth is, it's really all that time spent prepping that slows me down. I don't see any improvement in my very near future though.

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    1. It IS the prep. And I don't see how I'm going to get any faster either.

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  6. The only fast sewing I know of are tried and true tee shirts and dresses out of knits that are whipped out on the serger. There is no fit to do, tracing is done, serger just happens to have the right color threaded or the maker doesn't really care. That's fast sewing. Anything else just isn't and as far as I'm concerned that's fine. It's ok to not whip things out and to not try to compete with those who do. Work your own clock with caring skill and you'll have a wonderful garment. Who cares how long it took? No one looking at your beautifully made and fitted top will care about how long it took. They just know it looks good.

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    1. And what is it about sergers NEVER having the right colour thread in them?? Now that it's made and it fits, I thoroughly agree with everything you've said :-)

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  7. i wouldn't say i'm fast, but i break up my tasks. i spend most of my time on pattern prep and fabric cutting. if i'm in the mood, i'll do two at a time (prep two patterns, cut two, etc) that way i'm slightly more efficient. since my "cutting table" is really my dining room table, i can't always get to these tasks when i want, so when i do have a few hours i do as much as possible! the actual sewing is usually pretty fast, unless i have to check fit every two minutes. so yeah, embrace the process. i just don't believe people when they say they only spent 1 hour from choosing a size to finishing the hemming.

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    1. That's a smart idea - two at a time is something I rarely do but it saves time. And my dining room table used to be my cutting space, till I cut into it accidentally!

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  8. I can only sew quickly with something I have made before and therefore have already traced, altered etc.

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  9. hmmm... when you put it that way, i have no idea how i sew fast....

    but "slow is fast" is a good mantra on both intricate & mundane things. and an organized space. and of course the booze goes without saying.

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    1. I like your mantra! I have to say, I don't know why I'm so compelled to speed along. I mean, I have to store all of these things once I make them.

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  10. I always trace my patterns, even the PDF ones. I hate to assemble PDF patterns. Tracing patterns calm me down. It's a bit of a pre-sewing meditation for setting up my mind :-)
    I also use Burda copy paper for marking the fabric.

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    1. You trace the PDFs?!? Man, that's hardcore!

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  11. I am excruciatingly slow compared to many bloggers. Sometimes I mind because I want to have those clothes I've dreamed of, I want to post more blog posts, I really need a new pair of pants, but lately I've been surrendering to it more. I think a HUGE part of this for me is that I have a tracing/cutting table now and I don't get backaches every time I have to do those tasks.

    I do also group things, so I'll trace one or two patterns, cut out one or two garments, often work on two garments that coordinate (same thread) at the same time. It helps me feel like I'm making progress, even if no garments are finished for a couple or a few weeks.

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    1. I am very envious of your table! Very. And this assembly line approach is very smart. I should do more of it.

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  12. I'm with Bunny: the only fast sewing going on here is TNT knits on a serger, and even those can throw you monkey wrenches from time to time. You've seen my stash. I can buy at the speed of light, but sewing is the total opposite!

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    1. They can really backfire, can't they? And I'm getting the hang of the fabric shopping...

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  13. Great comments! I think perfectionist types are slower because everything we do must be "just so". While I don't believe that always leads to a better result, it does at least some of the time. I have much better peace of mind when I'm doing things "my way", so in a way I'm learning to embrace it! Like cutting knits on a double layer might be faster but I've decided to always cut mine single layer. It's just more relaxing, knowing it's all under control. Lol

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    1. It could be a facet of perfectionism. But I like to think I'm way to sloppy to be working with perfectionism :-) This pattern requires that you cut everything in a single layer and I'm liking it a lot too.

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  14. I don't have any tips about how to progress faster, because the steps you described take me ages as well! And I don't enjoy them! I enjoy the sewing, and sometimes I wish somebody else (a company) would offer precut fabrics :) Made to measure naturally! But I am glad to read that I am not the only one struggling.At the moment I am trying to do a little every day. I usually have an hour in the evening for myself. Then I try to prepare everything, so that I have a weekend of actual sewing ahead!

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    1. I have often thought about the pre-cut fabrics idea. But it wouldn't work, practically, if one needs alterations. And really, everyone does.

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  15. Some people just have super-steady hands, so they trace and cut in almost no time, and some people just have a lot of knowledge and intuition, which make positioning pattern pieces on fabric and alterations look effortless. And most of them are professionals.

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    1. Ha! I like to think all the fast ones are professionals! But some of these crazy bloggers out there seem VERY fast and they're not in the industry.

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  16. The only fast sewing I do is TNT tops and T-shirt dresses where no thinking is required because I've made it multiple times so I have the sequence all worked out. Everything else is slow. I trace patterns, make adjustments, then a muslin mock-up, more adjustments, then trace a new pattern (because I like my pattern pieces pretty), then fabric prep, and only then do I get to sew. Slow process but I spend at least an hour a day in the studio so it's all spread out.

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    1. I like my pattern pieces pretty too! But there's not enough time in the day, A!

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