Why You Should Be Batch Sewing
Have you ever heard of batch sewing? I fought it hard when people suggested it to me in the past but now I've changed my mind. It can make sewing multiple items go by so quickly!
So what is batch sewing? It's the streamlined process of sewing multiple garments at once. I find it particularly useful when sewing multiple of the same item or sewing capsules. You complete each step for multiple garments before moving on. This makes the process more efficient and saves time.
Now batch sewing has it's place and time. I don't always batch sew as there's many times that taking my time on just one project is best. Quite honestly, I only batch sew a few times a year. This kids capsule I made last year was a great example of when batch sewing was helpful. One downside can be if you stop partway through the process, you can gain a large UFO (un-finished object) pile.
This week I purged my closet and decided I wanted to add more tanks with shelf bras to my wardrobe. I wear the few I have all the time in the summer so batch sewing 4 simultaneously sounded like a great idea, hence the need for batch sewing! I'm using my tried and true tank pattern, the Love Notions Summer Basics. The Summer Basics pattern got an update last year which included adding the shelf bra pattern pieces. I was on the Love Notions blog with different fabric combinations I used which you can read here.
If you are reading this post before May 10, 2021 then the Summer Basics is currently 40% off as part of the Love Notions site wide sale. Run and grab this great pattern! Not only is there the tank version I'm making here, there's also a knee and maxi length dress option in sizes XS-5X. Both the plain and shelf bra options also include full bust pattern pieces as well.
Steps to Batch Sew
Here's a general step process that I've come to follow. It may differ depending on what steps your garments have or your own preferences. You will do each step for every item you are making before moving onto the next step.
- Pattern prep (if you have a projector, just load them all on your computer)
Tips for Batch Sewing
Open the tutorial and pattern pieces for all the items you will be working before starting. If you are using a projector, I go through and prep each projector file by unselecting the layers I won't need to use.
When selecting your fabrics, be conscious of the thread colors you'll need to use. Since efficiency is key, the less you need to switch thread on your machines, the faster your process will be. For this set of Summer Basics tanks, I selected all fabrics that worked with the white thread I already had in my serger and coverstitch.
For fabrics, I'm using all fabrics from Mily Mae Fabrics. My main fabrics will be black and white rib knit, striped triblend, variegated rib knit and wide lush rib knit. For the shelf bras, I'm either using the same fabric as the main or Cotton Lycra.
While cutting, I start prepping for the construction stage by clipping my shoulder seams, bands and cuffs RST as I go. This gives me an idea of what I need to do first during construction and saves time with this step later on.
During the cutting process, have a bag or bin for each item you will be constructing. Label this container with the pattern and size so if you have questions later (or forgot to cut a piece), you can reference that. I re-use large ziplock bags but I've seen some interesting ideas from others such as these Dollar Tree bins or a hanging plastic over the door holder.
When sewing, sort garments by thread color first. Then you are able to construct using one color thread before moving to the next.
For construction, do all the operations with one machine before moving on. For instance with these tanks, I serged the shoulder seams, side seams and bindings. Then I attached the binding on the serger before setting the garment aside and finished the same process for the others. Next, I finished the binding on my coverstitch for all the garments.
If possible, complete the same steps on subsequent items. For these Summer Basics tanks, two I constructed with binding and two with a burrito roll lined bodice. I worked on the binding tanks first before moving onto the burrito method tanks. This keeps the instructions fresh in my mind so I don't have to reference them when I changed garments.
Don't be afraid to do a hack even when you are trying to be more efficient. This burrito method hack is done by omitting the bands which saves time cutting the pieces and finishing the binding. From trial in the past, I know that I prefer to take a larger seam allowance at the shoulder seam to raise the neckline just a smidge with this method. I usually take an additional 1/2" seam allowance there on both the main bodice and shelf bra. Instead I stitched the neckline of the bodice and shelf bra RST with 1/4" seam allowance then finished the armsyce with the burrito roll method. I'll work on a video for this method as it's one I use often to enclose bodice seams.
One word of caution... if you haven't made a pattern before, batch sewing it may not be the best option. If there's a fit issue or something you'd like to adjust on the pattern, you can't do that if you batch cut. I'd recommend always making a muslin of a pattern prior to batch sewing a garment. When adding my elastic to the shelf bra, I cut one length of elastic to check the fit. Then I cut the remaining 3 elastic pieces after I confirmed it was the length and fit I preferred.
Another benefit of batch sewing is that it's inherently broken down into smaller steps. If you have shorter periods of time to sew, this can be helpful for you. I worked on these 4 tanks over the course of 3 days taking many breaks to parent.
I love the silhouette of the Summer Basics. The tank is fitted without being too tight. The burrito roll method does result in a thinner strap, even when using only 1/4" seam allowance for construction. If you'd prefer a larger strap, add additional seam allowance when cutting.
All Love Notions patterns are 40% off during the Mothers Day Sale happening through May 10, 2021. This is a great time to stock up on patterns you've been eyeing. If you have any pattern questions, feel free to ask below or message me on instagram.
My posts may feature affiliate links. This means if you make a purchase from these links, I receive a small percentage in compensation at no cost to you. I may have received patterns or products to test or review but the opinions I voice are my own.