My Sewing Workflow (Not Actually Work)

First things first. There is no right or wrong way to do this. I am a type A personality and I love lists! I also love staring at my fabric and dreaming of what I can make. I have a pretty good mental picture of most of the patterns I have. If I have trouble I can look into my lovely pattern storage binders to see what I have. If I was super awesome I would have just a binder full of only pictures of all of my patterns. That is next on the list!


When I first started sewing, I worked on one pattern at a time. My habit of prepping multiple patterns at one time has started fairly recently. If I would have started like this at the beginning, it would have been WAY too overwhelming!. A few things to keep in mind when you are cutting out multiple patterns in a row. Don’t get lost in the monotony of it. Enjoy your fabric that you are about to sew with! Get excited that you are one step closer to making whatever you want!


Copy Shop Printing:


When I am lining up my projects, first I mindlessly send all new patterns that have been purchased in the last couple of weeks to print. I used to print the patterns out and piece them together but I have discovered copy shop printing and I feel like I will never go back! I use and they have fast shipping with all patterns printed perfectly to scale. The cost is usually just over $1-$3 per page/pattern which isn’t too horrible and you pay a flat rate shipping fee. To order, you upload your copy shop pattern file and select the proper size paper. Here is a helpful paragraph from this website on uploading and selected size:

“Several patterns from different manufacturers contain multiple pages. Each page is counted. So if you have 3 PDF files, and each one is 2 pages that are A0 size, the number of pattern pages would be 6. Opening the PDF file in any PDF viewer will tell you the page count. The A0 size is a European size, roughly 33" x 47". In order to print that size properly, you would want to select the A0 and 36" x 48" page size. This way your pattern would be printed at 100% in the center of the page. Additionally, make sure all of your patterns are the size you select. There are files from manufacturers where the file name says A0, but its really 36" x 130" for example. You can check the document dimensions by opening the PDF file in Adobe Acrobat and looking in the bottom left hand corner for the dimensions. If it is oversized, like the above 36" x 130" pattern for example, you would select the 36" x 152" size.”


I found this paragraph super helpful in case you are interested! A few days later your patterns come to you in a brown paper package all rolled up. Pull them out and get to cutting. I usually have my computer nearby to look up the sizing before I cut/trace. Since I am new to making pants and things of that nature, I have been tracing those patterns. In case I need to modify them later, I would rather have the master copy untouched!

I should add, if it is a simple pattern, and I think it will just be a few pages, I will print it on my home printer and just piece it together as normal. I still do this for a lot of simple shirts.

Cutting out paper patterns (regardless on if I am making this pattern soon):

I don't plan on my size changing anytime soon. But does anybody??? Either way, I cut out my paper patterns as I purchase them, regardless of whether or not I will be making it soon. If you are worried about sizing and want to try the sizing of a pattern company in a completed garment before deciding on your size to cut out, I would recommend that. Some pattern companies have a tendency to have a larger waist paired with a smaller bust or vice versa. It is something you might need to test first. The best way to judge this is to also look at the ease built into the completed measurements on the pattern. More about this in another blog post soon!


I try to cut out these pattern pieces when I just want some mindless busy work while watching tv or hanging out with the kids. If it is something difficult it may not be super mindless. But if it is a shirt, or skirt or even a dress, it is usually pretty easy to cut out while doing something else. Getting that part done helps you to be so much more motivated the next time you want to sew something.


NOW for the meat of this post:

Next, I think of projects I have been wanting to make. I usually think of about 10-15—just because it is fun. It’s like online shopping for me. Sometimes I get onto a website and fill my cart with 15 things and then just close the window later! It’s just fun to dream. I may not get to those 15 projects but it helps me get excited. I pull the fabric off of the shelf and place it next to a pattern (that has been already printed and cut out!). Sometimes, I don’t have the pattern printed just yet, but I will place a sticky note on the fabric.



Now I start the washing process! I probably should wash my fabric when it comes in the mail, but I didn’t start that way, so I am playing catch up. Plus, I feel like I am doing something on my project and making progress even if I am just putting fabric in the washer. I think, “Yay, I’ve started!” Haha, not really but I still say that!


Cutting fabric:


Now I start cutting out the fabric. Sometimes I save the difficult cuts for a morning when I am more motivated or an early afternoon. If its late at night, then sometimes I will cut out a shirt or skirt with like 4 pieces! I have a drawer where I store a lot of these patterns after they are cut. This drawer is amazing and almost like Christmas when I reach into it!

I will typically try to cut out about 6 or 7 patterns that I have planned. I really try not to do more than that unless they are super quick sews. The reason for this is that anything could happen and I could get really busy and I don’t want to feel overwhelmed with a lot of projects built up. It feels good to finish this drawer. I also know that my ideas and inspiration are very fluid. I don’t want cut out too many projects for fear that my opinions will change! I have to keep up with the times ya know?!

Speaking of keeping up, I sometimes feel like I have to be different no matter what. If I see a cute pattern and I want to make it, I really try not to pick the same fabric as the maker. However, sometimes they really have made the best choice and I just need it in my closet!!! So, I break that rule a lot! Either way, just had to add that little blip!

As for cutting out multiple projects in a row, I have so many things I have done wrong in this area and will have a blog post soon about what to watch out for! Make sure you focus and try to minimize mistakes! However, we all have those days, and don’t worry, I have done them all and I am still here—standing tall and loving sewing!


Organizing the Order:

I really don’t like to be inefficient! It is a huge pet peeve of mine. If I leave a room and I am going to another room, I usually grab 3-4 items that need to be in the other room so I can walk with a purpose! That being said, I like to gather all of my knit projects together and work on those in a clump. When I made my daughter a cute little swimsuit, I then made myself two swimsuits, underwear, and a bra! I had loaded wooly nylon onto my serger and changed the bobbin thread and the needles to stretch needles. I figured I would make the most of it! I reach into my cutout drawer and make all the knit projects and then all the woven and visa versa. Its not the end of the world to change a needle but it can save time if you don’t have to in between every project. If I have to change the color of my serger thread to a darker color I also try to find another dark project to do next so that I didn’t waste ALL THAT TIME!!


Thats pretty much it! I really love this method of planning and getting ready to sew. It’s kind of like when I was young, I did my history and english homework first, before I did my math, because math was easier for me! My whole life has been based on getting the difficult stuff done first and then breezing through the rest. That’s just how I function, but it may not be for you.

Victoria SmithComment