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Monday, June 6, 2016

Make Laundry. Don't Do Laundry

Today, I'm participating in the Make Laundry, Don't Do Laundry Tour, and I can't think of a more fun theme for the start of summer!  The ladies at Pear Berry Lane, Paisley Roots, and The Crafting Fiend are running the tour and they even came up with a graphic with this hilarious take on the laundry symbols that go on clothing tags:

The - tongue in cheek - idea is that in the time it would take to run a full load of laundry through the washer and dryer (not to mention four days later when it actually gets folded, ha!), you could make something to wear instead.  Cause sewing is way more fun than laundry, right?  I mean, there's a reason I own this Top Stitchers T-shirt.

You guys know I make all of Bean's clothes, right?  Like, all the way down to the underwear and socks.  So I've been known to cobble together a sewn ensemble at the last minute.  I've even sewn a few assembly line pairs of underwear before school on a morning I realized she really couldn't squeeze her tush into the tiny old ones anymore.  The struggle is real.  There are so many tried and true patterns that I have which I can make in no-time, but I took the "fresh sew" perspective for this tour.  Sometimes it's good to know before you've ever sewn a pattern about how long the process will take, and I can assure you these Thread Faction skorts I made are about as much bang for your buck as you're going to get.

I posted about the SS2016 collection last week as a part of the Thread Faction tour, and the #106 knit skort is just fantastic.  Click over to the post because there's still a little bit of time left to enter the giveaway to win the pattern for yourself!

I told you I'd be making a lot more of these and I couldn't wait.  The first one I made was size 5 which fits Bean just fine right now, but I decided to jump to a 6 to make the four for this tour as I can already tell she's going to grow a ton this summer.  Sorry for the slightly blurry pic above, but I swear she looks like she's grown two inches just in this past week!

Since I do a lot of assembly-line style sewing, I thought I'd let you in on a few of the things I do to speed the process up.  I should warn you that I don't like to skip certain steps.  I take the time to press seams and repress seams, tie knots, and thread in ends to ensure the final product will look great and last after many washings (yes I do occasionally DO laundry hehe).  Again, I make all of Bean's clothes so these aren't items that she'll wear once for a blog post and then not care if they spontaneously combust.  These are clothes that will be worn (and worn) and need to stand up to every day wear.  The first thing I do is read through the pattern.  I don't read every single word, but I do skim to see if the designer has any tricks I might not know or to see if something is done a little differently.  It helps to know if there's going to be a tricky step ahead of time so it doesn't slow the process down too much during the precious machine sewing time.  Then I do all of my pattern taping and fabric cutting at once.  It's helpful for me that I can do this in my kitchen when Bean is around.  Sometimes I even cut a day or two ahead so when I get a free moment at the actual sewing machine, I have everything ready.  I timed myself during this process so I could be accurate with the times I give you and this part took me 31 minutes.  That includes 8 minutes to cut and tape the pattern together (I sewed a size 6 this time so I reprinted the pattern).  It's nice when a pattern is super quick to tape together too!  Oh, and remember that I'm sewing four skorts at once so you could knock a bunch of time off of this for one skort.

The next thing I do is check the pattern for the hem allowances and do all the pressing at once.  Even though the side seams will need to be sewn, I know that having these press marks and hem memories will speed things up later.  This is especially true for me with circle-ish shapes at the hem as once everything's sewn together it can be trickier to get a nice smooth hem.  Once I've sewn the side seams I'll come back and give a quick press around the seam area, but having the original folds makes it so much easier.

Here's everything all neatly pressed at the hems.  Some of these knits are ones that want to roll like crazy, so I find using the tailor's clapper really handy.  And again, pressing those hems before sewing everything together makes them easier to manage.  Pressing all of these hemlines took me 17 minutes.

And that stacking I do?  There's a method to that madness too.  Before I had my clapper, I realized that immediately after pressing if I folded the hemline back so that they lay on top of each other, the residual heat and steam mixed with the weight of the hem on top would keep the ends from curling up right away.  You could always use a starch or something to help with the rolling, but the clapper and then this stacking method has worked amazingly well for me.  And frankly, who has time for starch?  I have a wardrobe to make, hehe!

The above picture shows two things that also speed my process.  The first is of course the Janome CoverPro 2000CPX.  I'm a Janome ambassador, but I can tell you there's no bias when I say that having a coverstitch machine when you sew a lot of knits is a HUGE time saver.  I did well with the double needle on my regular machine for years, but just the time it would take to swap out the needles and change the tension added a lot to my total sewing time.  The other thing in this picture is the one pin.  I don't do a lot of pinning when I sew knits.  I use one pin to keep everything together as I load it onto the machine and then for hems I use the original fold I pressed as a guide for stitching.  The only other time I really use pins is to match the centers and side seams, like when adding a waistband.

I stitch the hems of the shorties and the skirts at the same time and before they've been sewn together with the waistband.  Just to be sure the stitching won't unravel in the wash, I pull all the threads to the back and make a small knot close to the stitching.  For now I let those threads hang and I will later go back and deal with them once all the at the machine stitching is complete.  At this point all that was left was to sew the shorties inside the skirts with the waistband attached.  This pattern has the elastic sewn right to the waistband before folding which is my favorite method for knits.  I always use it for shorties, leggings, and tights as those are items I like to speed through sewing as well.  This part took me the longest at 86 minutes.  That is for sewing the side seams (and crotch seams of the shorties) together AND for the hemming.  Though I do take my time with pulling the threads to the back and knotting as I know how hard my girl can be on her clothing and there's nothing more devastating than a double needle hem unraveling.

And finally, once the waistbands were on all I had left to do was to deal with these crazy thread tails.  I usually do this part around Bean as well since I don't have to be sitting at the machine.  It's a good project for chatting while she colors as it doesn't take any concentration.  I thread the threads on a yarn needle and then hide about an inch or two inside the hem and clip the rest of the threads.  Remember that there's a knot near the stitching as well.  I find this really keeps the hemlines intact.

fabrics from Imagine Gnats (*affiliate link) and Kitschy Coo

So the entire process for these four skorts took almost exactly 2 hours.  Now that wasn't consecutive hours as - like I mentioned before - I like to cut the fabric when Bean's around and then sew after hours, but I used a stopwatch and had it running at all times when I was working on these so the time is accurate.  The time at the sewing machine and iron was about an hour and twenty minutes with the rest of the time spent during daylight hours.  That's not bad for four new staple pieces!

I want to quickly mention my favorite underwear pattern for Bean.  Kitschy Coo's Boy Briefs are the only underwear she's ever worn and they're SO fast to sew.  She is at the largest size now, but thankfully Amanda just released the Braw Boy Cut Briefs which are ages 6 to 12 so she'll be covered for years.

And the top is the Everyday Tank by Serger Pepper that I made WAY back here.  Seriously, Bean was so tiny back then and I can't believe it still fits....barely.  I think I know what's next on the assembly line!

In the meantime we want to thank all of our amazing sponsors for being a part of this tour.
A few of the designers are having sales for the duration of the tour, so here are the codes!

George & Ginger use code MAKELAUNDRY25 for 25% off her patterns
Blaverry use code MAKELAUNDRY for 25% off her patterns
Stitch Art use code MAKELAUNDRY for 30% off patterns
Paisley Roots use code MAKELAUNDRY for 25% off patterns
These codes are good through June 12th!
Then Laela Jeyne's Emily Womens T-shirt & the Deluxe Charlotte Kids Leggings are on sale through the 11th! No code needed!

I know everyone loves a good giveaway so here's the prize packages: 

Click over to one of the three tour runner's blogs for the rafflecopter: 

And check out the rest of the tour here!!

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