Batch cutting

Batch cutting can be a faster way to sew but is it for you?

Last year, many of us unexpectedly had a lot more time on our hands at home. As a result people discovered, or rediscovered, the joys of making their own clothes. It’s a great creative outlet but how do you approach each project? Are you a meticulous planner with pattern and fabric decided from the outset? Or do you rummage in your fabric stash to see what grabs you and then search for a pattern to match?

Deciding what to make?

I have always been a cut and sew one project type of sewer. However other sewers may take a different approach.

Sketching your designs

By sketching your designs with simple line drawings, you have a visual reminder of what each garment looks like. If you use a lot of ‘Big 4’ sewing patterns where their numbers aren’t especially memorable, this can be helpful. Use this approach to when you use patterns traced from sewing magazines. It’s also a good way to see if you’re satisfied with all your elements. You can check that they work together before you commit to buying expensive fabric. It’s also a great way to create a complete capsule wardrobe that’s suitable for working from home.

Making a list

Personally, I tend to write a list with the sewing pattern names or numbers and then put my fabric suggestions alongside.

A swatch of the fabric or two is also useful so you have a choice, or if you are making multiple versions.

Even if you scribble a long wish-list that’s completley scattergun with no particular focus that’s fine too!

How to get started?

You can cut each item separately, and then sew it up before moving on to the next project. A more radical approach is batch cutting where you cut out everything at one time? Many of us cut and made lots of scrub sets during the summer of 2020. This meant we had to approach organising and cutting out in a whole new way.

Batch cutting means you have every item, which you can bundle together with their linings, interfacings, trims and haberdashery. This is common practice in an industry sample room – everything is ready to pick up and sew when you’re ready. Even if you have a single TNT (tried ‘n’ tested) sewing pattern like a T-shirt – you can plan to cut several at once.

This is a big investment of your time especially at the beginning. So you might need to set aside a whole weekend to achieve it. Especially if you have to a clear a space to be able to cut out. You also have the freedom to select from your pre-cut piles, and decide what order you want to make your garments in . You could sew a challenging jacket first, and then progress to a palate-cleansing T-shirt before going on to a pair of trousers to complete your outfit!

Making choices to suit your sewing

• Do you use scissors or a rotary cutter, and how proficient you are with both of these?
• Do you pin your pattern to the fabric or do you use weights to hold it down? One is quicker than the other but there are pros and cons with both.
• Are you new to sewing, and want to stick to making simple garments?
• Do you have budget constraints that limit how much cash you can spend?
• Does working from home mean you’ve opportunities to fit in 30 minutes of sewing?

There are lots to think about here so, and it might be different from one time to the next. Always choose the one that enables you to enjoy your sewing to it’s fullest. After all, our time and resources are precious and we deserve to get the best from both!  

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