07 August 2010

TUTORIAL: More tips for assembly-line sewing

Before Christmas my mom and I made five Hawaiian shirts, each one a different size. Eventually,we were cursing under our breath, realizing we were accidentally trying to fit a size 5 collar on a size 7 shirt or a size 7 sleeve in a size 5 shirt. That many pieces, all in the same fabric, in five different sizes... well, it's easy to get mixed up.

I've already blogged a tutorial on assembly-line sewing, but it only discussed the techniques to use when all items are exactly the same size, regardless of how many different fabrics you may use. But what about when you are making several things, all the same pattern, all the same fabric, but in many different sizes? It can get confusing very quickly.

Here's what I do. Go to the nearest discount store and buy a package of garage sale pricing stickers (any little sticker dots will do). The ones I have, left over from a garage sale a long time ago, are in neon shades.

Today, I'm sewing three little girls' aprons, all in the same fabric. As I separate each piece from the tissue pattern, I stick a dot on the fabric identifying its size. For instance, I'm making sizes 4, 6 and 8. I used pink dots for size 4, orange dots for size 6 and green dots for size 8. This way, you can process each step of construction for all three aprons at once without getting pieces mixed up and without spending any time figuring out which size pieces you have in your hand.

For example, I start this apron by binding the edges of the pockets. Each pocket is marked clearly with a label, so I don't worry about getting them confused (and trying to put a size 8 pocket on a size 6 apron skirt) and am free to bind all six pockets in a chain (saving lots of time and thread!) before moving on to the next step of construction.

By the way, I've tried other marking methods. Post-it notes fall off. Chalk marks come off. Tiny stickers seems to work best for me so far.

Do you have another way you solve this problem? Share your tip in comments!

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