Table of Contents
9. Zipper hangout
The rule of zippers: no matter how many zippers you have, you never have the right zipper! I used to dig for my zippers in a big box, until I got the idea to hang them up. Using a shower rod, I sort the zippers by color and pin several together with a safety pin. The safety pins then attach to a curtain ring. They’re their own wall decor and you don’t have to go treasure hunting for zippers in the heat of the moment.
10. Leave your favorite sewing books next to where you need them
It happens to everyone. You sew something in backwards or make another mistake and then you have to go searching for help. Your sewing time is interrupted. Nothing like prolonging that frustration by having to go on a quest for the answer. Forget that: stash a good reference book right next to your machine. Or if you run into fitting questions, keep your favorite fitting book right by your cutting space.
Back when me and my serger were becoming friends, I left the Singer Serger book (*affiliate link*) book under my serging station. When my lower looper inevitably unthreaded itself or my tension was driving me batty, I could open straight to the page with all the tension troubleshooting advice. I’ve used that page so many times that my book permanently opens right to it!
If you’re looking for more thoughts on organizing your sewing space for efficient sewing, be sure to watch my sewing room tour.
Cutting ideas to help you sew efficiently
Cutting out your projects is a jumbo step in your sewing. Do it right, and it’ll make construction easy. Let’s explore some best practices that’ll save your body from extra stress and get to the actual sewing faster.
11. Use a cutting table
I’m assuming that you have a table where you can cut out all your sewing projects. Having a dedicated cutting table will save your back and untold amounts of time when you’re working on your sewing projects. Plus, it’ll help you cut more accurately. Mine is an old dining table up on blocks so that it’s hip height. My husband built a custom top over the table out of melamine.
If you are short on space, pick up something collapsible like a card table. They don’t take up much space on the floor. When you store them upright, they take up no space at all.
12. Use a rotary cutter with a jumbo mat
If you’re into sewing efficiently, a rotary cutter is going to be your best friend. They can slice through multiple layers of fabric (and your finger if you’re not careful) at the speed of scary. To get the most out of your rotary cutter, buy the biggest cutting mat that fits your table. With a big mat, you won’t have to shift your fabric around to fit the mat. That’ll save you time and keep your cuts accurate without having to move the fabric. I use a 40″x72″ Megamat. Here is a similar one (*affiliate link*).
Also change your blades when they start getting dull. I buy my rotary blades in bulk(*affiliate link*). I find the generic blades to be sharp enough for me. They’re also a lot less expensive than the Olfa blades. It’ll be safer for you and you’ll get cleaner cuts with less effort for your hands.
13. Mark your scissors for use
This is a good tip for
training teaching your family which scissors not to use for nefarious crafting purposes. Take a piece of ribbon, and tie it around the handle of each of your scissors. You can color code them: Red =fabric, Green = paper.
If you’ve ever torn your best fabric scissors out of the hands of an unknowing significant other on his way to fix the garden hose, you need to do this pronto! It will definitely keep you sewing efficiently when you can always identify your best pair when it’s time to cut.
14. Always, always keep your scissors sharp
Finding time to take your scissors to get sharpened might seem like a waste of time. But, like rotary cutters, sharp scissors save your precious sewing time. Dull blades make your hands work double hard and leave icky jagged edges on your fabric.
If it’s tough to get to a fabric store where they have someone who sharpens scissors, see if you have alternatives close to you. I know there’s a farmer’s market near my house in the summer where the knife guy will happily sharpen my scissors. He does a great job too for very little money. He even knows the difference between fabric and paper cutting scissors!
In between visits to the scissors guy, a little hand sharpener can help keep blades in good shape. I permanently borrowed this one from my kitchen.
15. Use pattern weights
When you’re cutting out fabric, don’t pin your paper pattern pieces to the fabric. Pinning is slow work both in the doing and the taking out afterwards. Sewing efficiently does NOT start with pinning your pattern pieces. True, there’s some fiddly fabrics that need that extra attention, but you can cut out 98% of sewing projects with pattern weights instead.
You can use practically anything for pattern weights. Rocks, canned goods, jars–literally anything you have works. I love plain large washers from Home Depot. Mine are in stacks of 2, covered with scrap fabric and ribbon. When you’re ready to cut, lay out your pattern pieces down on your fabric. On top of each pattern piece, add a few pattern weights near the edges. Cutting this way is so so fast!!
16. Glue a measuring tape to your cutting table
Raise your hand if you’ve ever gone to cut fabric for a project and been short 1/2 yard. Ugh. The worst. Glue a measuring tape to the side of your cutting table. They do it at fabric stores, so you can do it too.
Use a standard measuring tape and the appropriate glue for your table surface. E-6000 worked well for my table. Hold up the fabric to the tape, and you can quickly gauge how much fabric you have available for a project before you start cutting.
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.