handmade gifts


So far in my Holiday gift sewing series, I’ve talked about sewing for others without going crazy.  I also shared some great pajama patterns for everyone on your sewing list.  Today, I’m talking about why you should batch cut your gift sewing.

Why you should batch cut your gift sewing

Q: What is batch cutting, and why do I want to do it in the first place?

Batch cutting is cutting out literally a batch of the same project.  I suppose you could cut out several different projects.  Anytime you can cut out several projects at once, you stand to save yourself time later, so it’s all good! 

For my purposes, in making pajamas as my gift sewing project for my family this Christmas, I cut out all the different sizes that I needed.  The best batch cutting happens when you can cut the same pattern out in multiples.  

Whatever your project, cut it out as many times as needed for all the people on your list.

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Project deets from my Holiday Sewing project Planner.  

Is there anything I need to remember when I batch cut?

There’s two things you might want to consider before you batch cut your gift sewing:

If greater than 1, do not pass go, do not collect $200 before sewing yourself out of the basket!
  1.  Commit to sewing up your batch before you do other projects: this requires some discipline!  When you have stacks of cut projects, they can weight you down mentally.  And if you bag them up in any way for another day, you might forget about them entirely.  This can lead to the dreaded U.F.O. pile.  Unfinished objects are no fun to sew.  So that stack gets done A.S.A.P.!
  2. Make sure you’re organized:  Have all your pattern pieces ready to go, all your notions in one place, and enough space to contain all your batch cut efforts.
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Patterns all cut/traced and ready.  It’s go-time!!
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Easy steps to batch cut success

While it’s true that it takes a certain amount of time to cut 1 project, it often doesn’t take twice as long to cut a second version of the same thing.  Weird, I know!  Let’s break down how to batch your projects!

  • Have all your pattern pieces ready to go.  Set interfacing on your ironing board.
  • Set out your fabric on your table.  Lay out your pattern pieces, pin or weigh down pieces with weights.
  • Cut all your pieces.  Mark any pieces that need marks.  
  • Set any pieces that need interfacing on the ironing board in a pile.
  • Repeat cutting with the next fabric.  Add more to the interfacing pile.
  • Fuse all your pieces with interfacing at one time on the interfacing.  This will save you time of cutting out interfacing again, fusing it, then trimming it, and it doesn’t waste as much interfacing as you think.  
  • Trim away the extra interfacing around the pieces.
  • Set each project in one pile.  If it works for you, you can put them in a basket or a plastic bag, just make sure you’re not going to let that bag go into the black hole of forgetfulness!
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Bonus tips to make you a batch cutting wizard!

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Stack your pattern pieces the way you will sew them.  Put a pin in to remind yourself which seam you’re sewing first.  You can see here the fronts and backs are stacked right sides together at the shoulder.  Repeat for as many pieces as possible!

Okay this is super bonus advanced:  Consider cutting all your fabric out at the same time.  This will work best if you cut your pieces in one layer rather than on the fold.  Home sewing patterns are set up for us to cut on the fold, but flat cutting will be more accurate.  And you can only do this if you’re cutting 1 project that’s the same size.

  • Stack all the fabrics you need to cut. 
  • Take the time to line them up carefully.  Use your best judgment on how many thicknesses of fabric you can accurately cut through.  In industrial settings, they use giant saws, but at home, it’s just you and your trusty scissors/rotary blade.
  • Make sure you have enough room to flip over pieces when you’re flat cutting.
  • Weigh down your pieces with pattern weights/canned goods/rocks/anything heavy!
  • Use a rotary cutter if you can for the best accuracy and speed!
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Pattern weights + rotary cutter = lightning!

Kiss your brain!  You just saved yourself a bucket of time!

By now, you should have some good ideas on how the batch cutting process can save you some time.  We’ve talked about what batch cutting is, things you need to remember when you batch cut, easy steps to batch cutting success plus some more advanced batch cutting tips.

Do you batch cut your projects?  I’d love to know how batch cutting saves you time!

And don’t forget to pick up your free Holiday Sewing Project Planner.  These little worksheets will have you all planned up in short order for a relaxing batch of sewing for others!  Just click on the pic below to sign up for my newsletter and the planner will zoom its way to you!

batch cut

For sewists, we can feel the pressure to want to make handmade gifts for the people in our life.  We want to show off our mad sewing skills AND give something heartfelt to our loved ones.  Who doesn’t want to watch your child or your husband rip into a package and treasure it all the more because it was made just for them?  But sometimes the pressure of making all the things can get too much, especially this time of year when the calendar is already filled with so much activity.  Sewing should be fun, not stressful!  So let’s tackle how to make handmade gifts for the holidays without going crazy.

How to make handmade gifts for the holidays without going crazy

First, we’ll dive into helping you define your why when it comes to creating handmade gifts.  Next, I’ll share some strategies that will help you identify projects that make great handmade gifts.  Last, I’ll show you how to organize all your goods for a successful gift sewing experience.

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Why do you want to make handmade gifts?

Before we start talking about what projects that make awesome handmade gifts, let’s define your why.  Why do you want to make handmade gifts in the first place?

Do you feel like you have to sew all the things?  Do you feel like buying something seems impersonal vs. making something?  Does it feel like because you have this skill of sewing, you’re a bad sewist if you don’t make at least 1 thing for all the people on your list?  Friend, you might be setting yourself up for stress if you believe these things.  But…

Do you love sewing for others?  Want to be able to show your love for your family and friends through your sewing?  Is there lots of fabric in your stash ready + an easy project that you can sew up quickly for gifts?  Good!  Those are all great reasons to make handmade gifts.  Which ones to choose???

Choose an easy, fast, repeatable project

What projects are good choices for handmade gifts?  Things that don’t take a lot of resources and are easily repeatable can make wonderful handmade gifts.  If you can cut out 10 and make it in a couple hours, you’ll be well on your way to being able to love your family and friends without a lot of headache.

Here’s a whole list of easy video tutorials I put together last year for quick and easy projects for handmade gifts.

Small projects like bags, scarves, mittens, or hats take very little fabric and can all be made in just a few minutes.  If you’re looking for a slightly bigger project, pajamas are a wonderful option.  Sewists of all levels can easily tackle pajama bottoms for anyone.  Pajamas get an extra vote because virtually every pattern company under the sun has an easy pajama pattern.

Use the same pattern

Once you’ve found some projects that you might be interested in, do yourself a solid and use the same pattern for your gift sewing adventures.  It might seem boring to do so, but once you’ve made up a project in multiple fabrics, each one will look totally unique.  And shoot, if you want to use the same fabric, that could be cool too.  Everybody loves a good matchy matchy pic of your family!

Patterns that come in multiple sizes are perfect for this kind of thing.  A pattern that’ll work for every single person on your list is pure gold.  It’ll save you time of searching through your stash or looking online for that perfect pattern for every member of your family.  Don’t forget the power of the one-size fits all pattern too!

handmade gifts
Some of my favorite pj patterns–they have been loved through nearly every size!

So you’ve identified your project, you’ve found the perfect pattern that’s going to serve all your needs.  Next, how do you prepare for the best, non-stressful sewing session?

Clean your sewing space

Ok, cleaning your sewing space isn’t fun to do, but a clean work area will really help clear your mind for a round of stress-free sewing.  You’re going to have a hard time making all of your handmade gifts in a cluttered room.  If cleaning the whole room is going to be too much, just clear out a small area that can be totally uncluttered and dedicated only to your project.  You’ll be amazed at how much a little organization can help!

Check out my sewing room tour.  You’ll walk away with some great thoughts on organization. 

Identify and prep your fabric

Determine which fabric you’re going to use.  Will you be using the same fabric?  Did you buy enough to cover all your needs?  I know certain fabrics like flannel come in obnoxiously and seemingly ever-shrinking narrow widths, so I have to constantly remind myself to buy extra!  What if you’re using stash fabric?  Will this be a scrap-happy project?

Whatever fabric you choose, wash and dry all of it.  If you’re using scraps from another project that you’ve saved, set them all out in a work area and double check to make sure your pattern pieces will fit.

Do you need any special notions like zippers, interfacing, bias tape, or buttons?  Gather all those things out and set them in a pile with each fabric.

Sew with love

Mommy made dress + squishy face =the best

Finally, don’t forget to sew with love.  Remember who you’ll be making things for, and the affection you want to share with those people.  With these things in mind, your work will become a joy and not just one more thing on your list!

So we’ve looked at defining why you want to make handmade gifts, what projects make awesome handmade gifts, and how you can begin to set yourself up for a stress-free gift sewing session.  Stay tuned next week when I’ll be sharing some awesome pajama patterns that are perfect for handmade gifts!

Until then, you can sign up for my newsletter and get a free Holiday Sewing Project Planner.  It’ll help you organize your thoughts and get you going in no time!  Just click on the image below to join my newsletter, and you’ll have happy mail from me in no time!