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Monday, December 28, 2015

Strategy for Fabric Busting in the 2016 Pattern Stash Contest

Have you figured out your pattern attack?  I've decided to hit my Seamwork backlog since their sizing runs to accommodate my dimensions, so alterations will be predominantly grading instead of slash and spread.

Now it's time for fabric.  I have a large percentage of my stash occupied by other people's fabric.  Really nice fabric, mind you, but in colour-ways I wouldn't normally pursue.  I am thinking that since I am whipping up what will essentially be wearable muslins I should start with wearable fabric that isn't precious (to me).

In this sort of contest your fabrics should be ready ahead of time: pretreated before you are ready. This step is easy for me. I usually wash my fabrics as they come into the house. I wouldn't say I am paranoid about germs and bed bugs and dust mites and odors (although listing them like that is giving me the jitters) but incoming fabric (especially other people's fabric) gets a run through the washer before it hits my sewing room.

The exception, of course, is wool.  Wool is treated as I sew it.  I have a plan to use a printed wool viscose for a skirt in the coming weeks, so as I psych myself up for THAT, I will be thinking through the prep.  This fabric is NOT a good candidate for the contest: wool easily doubles the time you spend on your project.  The cost,  pressing, shaping, shrinking, steaming, underlining and finishing of wool undermines fast sewing.  I like me a little slow sewing,  so I will probably start preshrinking this fabric this month, but I won't be including this in my contest.  (However, I may make a wearable muslin of the pattern for this contest...).

For the Main January theme for our group, Judy has us addressing our stash and stash organization.  As you prepare for this, consider our supplemental contest: what patterns are you using?   Grab the appropriate fabric for the patterns - don't mess around with the pattern's suggestions: if it says knits, grab a knit, if it says lightweight cotton woven, grab a pretty quilting cotton.  Switching up the fabric adds time for fiddling, adding in ease, and should be done when you are working with a rehearsed pattern.  Unless, of course, you are into self abuse.

A great strategy would be to pick 5 patterns that use the same fabric, and will use the same needles and thread.  This will mean constant sewing - and if you dedicated and VERY organized - you could cut all the patterns out at once and just sew non-stop.  (Insert hilarious uproar here - I know you exist Super-Sewer,  but that's insane).

 - but the strategy still applies -

If you have a serger, you know what I mean - you sew items that will work with the same serger thread back to back so that you can get away with NOT changing the thread back and forth.  This applies well to the approach to this contest - sew the seams, and switch to a double needle for hemming and hem several items at once - when your thread and needles work on several items, you create a production line environment and find efficiency.


  1. Great post Heather.

    1. A comment? Wow, those are like hen's teeth! Thanks!

    2. A comment? Wow, those are like hen's teeth! Thanks!