Sunday, November 14, 2021

Do You Presew?

There hasn't been a "Question of the Day" posted in awhile so I thought it was time to have a good question to discuss.  See as I was choosing fabrics and matching patterns for my next cutting session, I started to ponder on this.  I realize that I think about the cutting and sewing process as I'm making my project choices.

To me my most successful projects are when I've thought out the pattern alterations, how I'm going to cut the fabric out and the sewing order BEFORE I've done a thing. I do a lot of "presewing" way before I ever get to my sewing machine to do any actual sewing. And as I was working through my next set of projects starting with making a "To Sew List", I wondered if anyone else presews?

Of course this leads to several more questions.

  1. As previously discussed, do you cut one project at a time or do you make a cut pile?
  2. If you make a cut pile, how many projects are normally in the cut pile?
  3. When you're cutting out your project, do you compartmentalize the process?  You know only thinking about one task at a time?
  4. Or do you visualize your project all the way to the end ~ again presewing?

As always, I'm interested in hearing/reading your and hope you will share them with me.  So talk back to me about the "Question of the Day - Do You Presew?"


...as always more later!


 

32 comments:

  1. Unlike many sewists, I love the cutting part of sewing, the planning of the layout which I never follow and do my own thing. The idea of a cut pile philosophy totally appealED to me. Take not of the ED as in past tense. Back in career times of standard 60 hour weeks those zip loc bags existed a lot. If I could cut something out, I was sewing and on my way. But the reality was I never got to them all or they turned into half way UFOs which upset me even more. One day I said no more. There were bags with garments cut over a year old, and so many half done and so many others I just did not like any more and really didn't want to finish. The guilt of the the wasted money really got to me. It was there and then that I threw them all out and took my one garment at a time pledge. What I do do now I find really works for me. I will put together a project with fabric, pattern and everything needed in a stack. I have a white Joann's cutting table open at the end of my big long actual cutting table. I will pile these stacks on that table. They never get cut because I am working one at a time now and there time will come, or not. The beauty of this system as that I never waste any money and it is totally flexible. I will move them around the table in the order I want to do them next. I change that order all the time and who cares? No foul. Many is the time I will disassemble a stack, put all those notions away and just decide I will never make that or will one day use that fabric for a different project. I will substitute the stack with my next shiny object, old crow that I am. When a stack is on the table a long time I know I really want to make it and it gets to the front of the line. It is a really manageable, guilt free system that works well for me. So I am definitely a one at a time sewist who rewards herself with the next stack of choice on that table. I love how I can control my stacks, great fun. It was a gamechanger getting rid of cut pile bags and moving to the stack system.

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    1. Just wanted to add that I do "pre-sew" but that is usually done when I can't sleep or maybe it is why I can't sleep. I will read the instruction sheet several times, make note of the differences compared to how I want to do things and then note how that could present problems. Inevitably, I will lay in bed at some point and metally work thru those problems and figure it all out. I am ready to go the next day and review everything one more time to make sure my ideas will work. Great question.

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  2. I cut one project, interface all the pieces that require it, topstitch any pockets and belt loops and then sew one project. I don’t switch gears easily and I enjoy going step by step completing the project. Perhaps when I am an experienced sewist I will feel differently, but for now I plug along enjoying the process.

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  3. Do you pre-sew? Yes. For me, it's a vital part of the garment making process. If all of the preliminary steps aren't taken, then the project very likely will not turn out as successfully as it could.

    I'm a "one project at a time" type o' gal. As such, I can skip question two and move on to three and four.

    I don't compartmentalize. I visualize the entire project as one task. I think the entire thing through as "the project", working on each step as I get to it, yes, but initially, I go over the whole thing so that I know what I'm going to be needing to do at each step, and preparing and gathering materials (including outside instructions from other sources, if necessary) to make the garment a successful one.

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  4. I’m like Bunny; I used to batch cut but found it sometimes took months (years) to make them all (or not). Mostly I lost interest and wanted to make something else more. Now, at 76, I have arthritis with some spinal stenosis and can’t stand at the cutting table for more than 30-45 minutes comfortably. I might have to take a cup-of-tea break in the middle of cutting out even one garment, especially if I’m doing any pattern alterations or hacks. I’m most comfortable when I can move often from sitting to standing: sewing machine to ironing board to work table. I also “pre-sew” in bed before sleep - seems to be a common practice! When I actually begin to sew though I’m sometimes guilty of just jumping right in and not taking the time to test and plan - trying to cure this! It is a very good question! And can I just say “thank you” for continuing to blog? You are a bright spot in my day when I see your post show up in Bloglovin, along with others including Bunny.

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    1. Thank you, Kathy. Lately I've been able to really sew and focus on the blog again. I do enjoy it and appreciate your kind words.

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  5. I have four wide yards of blue linen that I have pinned so many different patterns to (a 1907 day dress, a 1970s drop seat jumpsuit, latest a Tamotsu office set) AND it's back folded and patternless in the cupboard. It's waiting for it's forever pattern.

    I do fuss over one project at a time more than I used to. I stack up the notions and fabric in a tray box (honestly, they are cardboard racks for local breweries' six packs, with loads of art on them already) and stack those up. When I cut, I put the pieces in the box, but I take the instructions upstairs as bedtime reading, supplementing them with books on relevant topics. I am trying to really savor each make, instead of just banging through it. So far it's resulted in the same number of successes and fails, but better finished ones.

    And this is a fabulous question and I'm going to come back and read all the responses.

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    1. One thing I want to focus on is using the buttons I have collected. I have a LOT of big showpieces, and I need to make things they can be worn on. The fabric stash does get used, but those buttons don't seem to. I need them to drive the projects for awhile.

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  6. With simple projects that I've done a few times with plain fabrics, I just cut and go without too much thought. The more complex the pattern and fabric, and if it's the first time I sewed it, the more likely I'll pre-sew.

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  7. I will batch-cut if I'm making multiples of a tnt pattern, but for anything new, I have the best results if I don't even start the project until I have most if not all the layout and construction clear in my mind. For most projects, that means the least time is spent at my sewing machines, compared to the prep.

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  8. Hello,
    Love this thought provoking 'question of the day'. How do I sew? I have been told repeatedly for many years I tend to overthink everything. I consider my tendencies as being prepared, for this or that, and all-encompassing consumed when I have no pattern or even something new. Reading and researching sometimes for days. I have to see the process and finished item in my minds eye, both. I seem to feel confident of my success for the item and then embark on the journey, although I am not always successful. I have never considered coining it 'pre-sew' but it works! I do have four items cut on hangars for -ouch- coming up on 4 yrs. I want to finish them before cutting more for lack of space but I moved (was taking care of my mom 250 miles away when the boys father suddenly died and I was demanded back) sososo many things are still in boxes. I have been going through boxes for 3 weeks and not yet found sewing boxes, yet! Its coming though. Getting distracted alot - when I got to picture and then craft boxes. LoL. So maybe I think 'yes' to be honest to all 4 of your intriguing questions about how I sew. Never going to change either. It works for me. I am curious now if I could actually try to make a garment based upon some fantastic old buttons I collected when I worked in a garment district 40+ decades ago. Thank you, thank you for your beautiful blog and your bloggers. You all are awesome.

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  9. I usually cut one item at a time, although, having said that, I've just cut two lots of the same tnt pattern. I have to work around my MS, so even if I wanted to, I'm unable to go straight into sewing after cutting out. But I take the 'resting' opportunity as a chance to read through all the instructions again and work out in my mind how to do things.

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  10. I am guilty of overbuying supplies such as my sewing, knitting, crafts, etc. It has become worse since the internet introduced me to wonderful bloggers such as you! I never pre-cut - it scares me to think I would never get to the sewing piles. I have tried very hard in the past few years to use what I have before buying any more. I do "pre-sew"in the way of reading the pattern instructions multiple times and making all decisions on construction before I even start. If it is a garment, I completely sew one before I start another. But if it is something I am doing multiples of (mask-making or Christmas gifts), I will sew in sessions of one task before going to the next. I love some of the answers to your question and will try some of these suggestions for my sewing projects in the new year.

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  11. Pre-sew, mostly when I am stuck in boring meetings. Cut 10-12 projects at a time -- keeping the scraps with the project, because what if I change my mind mid-sew and need to swap out for contrast cuffs or collar? Try to sew things in the same colorway so I don't have to change thread so often, so very seldom do one project all the way through from start to finish all by itself.

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  12. I presew all the time in my head, and I make muslins if I'm altering the pattern.

    However, I do not precut more than a garment or two - I *always* change my mind about what comes next, and if I have cut fabric waiting for me, it ends up feeling more like work and less like fun. Probably because that presewing creativity is the cool part... and I do that before I cut fabric.

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  13. I'm normally cutting one at a time, unless it's repeats of the same pattern. I sort of combine compartmentalizing and thinking it through. I think it through to find out what I can do before I need to go turn on the iron. Like finding all the bits that need interfacing fused, sew all the seams that can be before pressing is done, etc. Part of it is that now my iron is in a different room than the sewing machines, it also saves a tiny bit of time overall when I don't constantly need to wait for the iron to warm up, as I turn it off every time I'm done.

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  14. I pre-sew all the time. When I have appointments like doctor, oil change or hair, I take some patterns with me to read the instructions. There is always something I learn from the instructions and a lot I ignore. I don't cut multiple projects at a time because after pre-sewing I like to jump right in cut then sew.

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  15. I think my level of "pre-sewing" depends on the project. If it is something new or something that I know is going to be a challenge with lots of detailed steps, then I usually do quite a bit of pre-sewing (reading instructions, watching YouTube tutorials, making mock-ups). If it is something I feel confident in sewing, and I'm not using any new techniques I don't usually do too much pre-sewing because I feel confident in the steps I'm going to use. When I was designing and sewing skating costumes, I used to do a lot of pre-sewing. There isn't a lot of space to a leotard, but there is actually a lot to consider in terms of fit, comfort, and decoration, and the best ways to achieve these things for an overall look. I do miss the amount of pre-sewing thinking I put into those costumes, because I find that regular garment sewing doesn't demand as much pre-planning from me, or that it can be a bit more compartmentalized. I think this is because many of the details are isolated (for example, a welt pocket often is only sewn into one piece of fabric), as opposed to needing to flow into an overall 3D design like in a costume (where design elements may need to cross multiple seams to create an overall effect).

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  16. Great question. I generally finish one project before starting the next, but right now I have a jacket cut out but am finishing a flannel big shirt. I want to add piping to the jacket (waterproof fabric) and didn't have any suitable fabric so I set aside and cut out the big shirt. But, my pre-sewing often happens while I am sleeping. Who knows how my mind thought of rip stop fabric the other night - and I checked the web before I got dressed! A trip to Joann resulted in a plain nylon for the piping, which will work well.

    If you consider looking at blogs, reading books, checking reviews on Pattern Review as pre-sewing, then I am guilty. I don't consider making muslins as pre-sewing, but fitting.

    As I am cutting out a project I will think ahead of whether I will make the pattern as is or make some changes. This morning I added the collar and then focused on the hem, but decided to add a HK-like finish to the hem bottom as the fabric as the red bias lining fabric pulled out the red lines of the plaid. If this is pre-sewing, then sometimes I pre-sew during the sewing!

    I do alterations and will think ahead of the steps to narrow the bodice, shorten the dress, or whatever. Guess I do more pre-sewing than I would have thought!

    Thanks for asking the question...... Mary Jackson

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  17. I 'agonize' over every sew. Matching pattern, inspiration and fabric. No cut piles here. (Sad emoji.) Don't love to toile, but it's saved a lot of heartache.
    Now that you mention it, I do presew!

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  18. I've been doing some batch cutting to try and make mini wardrobe capsules--however, it only works if both garments are a success. LOL. I also like having a couple of different projects underway. If I need an "easy" sew after work to unwind, then it's a usually a TNT or a basic pattern that doesn't require a lot of brain cells to fire. A new pattern definitely gets the pre-sew prep, which is rewarding in its own way.

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  19. Hi Carolyn,
    I only cut one thing at a time because whenever I have have done a cut pile, I don't often finish it because of time constraints then I lose interest. I absolutely plan ahead/visualize because I have a lot of fit issues to deal with. If I didn't plan ahead, I would not have a wearable garment. However, I usually only focus on sewing one thing at a time because, again, lack of time for more lengthy sewing session. I guess this is part of the planning process for me as well though so I guess I do plan things out a lot :).

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  20. Such a thought-provoker! I would consider the design process as a pre-sew, which would be a "yes" for almost every garment that I make. Some of us even carry a finished garment to the fabric store to shop for the finishing touches. Would you call that a Post-Sew?--Anne

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  21. I have multiple projects going-- a dress for me, a quilt that probably won't get finished until next Christmas, a smocked dress for a grandbaby and some appliqued a line jumpers for the grandkids. I was stuck in a sewing rut and decided I was bored-- so the quilting came as a new challenge and really got my sewing fires burning again!

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  22. I do "pre-sew" when I am using a fabric with a pattern that has to be matched or when I am going to cut the first garment in such a way as to leave enough fabric for a second garment.

    I only cut and work on one project at a time. This is a holdover habit from decades of limited space. Only emergency mending might sneak into the middle of a new garment project.

    I also choose all thread, notions, buttons, etc before I cut the garment out. Very occasionally, I change my mind about the buttons, but I do not wait to have a plan in place. This habit is a decades-old holdover from living far from reliable fabric/notions sources. I live in such a location again, so I am glad to have these habits ingrained.

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    1. BetsyV - I choose all my buttons, threads, notions ahead of time too. I don't want to have to stop in the middle to purchase something. If I don't have what I need that garment goes to the bottom of the cut pile until I have the supplies.

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  23. This is an intriguing question and I never thought about it before, but I do pre-sew when I choose which pattern to go with which fabric and other notions needed. I now measure my pattern to determine whether I need a FBA or not and other fitting things. That's pre-sewing too. I don't have a cut pile or a big stash. Fabric is too expensive to have it in piles unused. I cut, then sew. I do stay stitching or interfacing before stitching up seams. I am a very intermediate type sewist. It was easier to sew for myself when fabric wasn't so expensive and when my figure wasn't so much harder to fit. I thank you all for your comments and I surely appreciate Carolyn's blog posts always.

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  24. I do some research (reading instructions, reviews, etc.) before sewing. I also do a lot of on-the-go sewing. By this I mean: I don't always cut out the interfacing or lining with the shell pieces; instead, I cut them out as I go. Over time, I've wasted a lot of construction materials on garments that didn't fit right or that I wasn't going to finish. Even if I make a muslin of something, I still postpone cutting out everything until I am at a point where I think it makes sense to do so.

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    1. L - I precut fabric but linings and interfacings I cut as I need. I don't know why but since I'm not in a rush these days, I don't feel the need to do that step. Also, my cut pile isn't for speed it's because cutting is the part I like least about sewing so if I can make a pile and work through it I feel like I'm ahead in the game.

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  25. Absorbing reading over everyone’s process. I definitely presew but it starts when I see something that has been made eg on Insta, or a new pattern. I then think about what fabric I have in the stash before purchasing. An example is the Hope dress. I just have purchased it after seeing all the wonderful makes over the past year- I wasn’t sure of that style on my body so tried on some versions in retail. I now will make a wearable muslin out of a rayon from the stash. I know what I need to do to ensure Style Arc patterns fit so it’s more about making sure it’s all okay. But at the same time I will cut out 3-4 t-shirts and another muslin of a Butterick. I used to hate cutting out and altering patterns to fit but now love the whole process. I think it is because previously with 4 children time was very limited. Now although busy teaching it is much easier fitting multiple blocks of time in. I love batch cutting out but that is the way my brain works -before I cut out I have already batched all the sewing steps for each garment. Even better if they all have matching thread, but I sew all straight seams, do all the fiddly bits first - such as collars etc. Another tip from Gigi or Anne was to always sew the lining first, both to check fit and as often the momentum is lost after sewing the outer bits - this has meant that even sewing a complex garment seems to be a quick fun project. I recently posted my lastest makes on Instagram and realised in the space of 8 weeks 12 garments­čś│ Amittedlyin that I had 2 weeks off school with term break but it shows that this works for me. Love the blog enjoyed everyone’s comments.

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