Category Archives: Workroom

production cutting

Tips for Production Line Cutting

When you’re set to do a load of cutting, you’ll work more efficiently if you have a system in place. There are a few techniques for this and the aim is to find the best solution for you. Now I say this because not everyone is going to have the same steps or work flow. Factors such as work space, the type of items you’re cutting and the materials you use all contribute to how your system is going to pan out.

For example, someone cutting a bulk lot of kids shorts is going to need space to stack the shorts in bundles as they are cut. Their workflow flow for cutting may look something like this –

  1. unroll and check meterage. Check for flaws in the fabric and mark them with a safety pin at the selvedge
  2. place pattern pieces in the most economical way taking care to follow grain lines, pattern matching and avoiding any flaws
  3. mark shapes, sizes and notches onto fabric. I generally trace pattern pieces onto the fabric with a soft pencil or biro and mark sizes within a seam or hem
  4. cut shorts and stack each garment as a complete bundle (ie the front pair and back pairs stacked together)
  5. discard scraps as you go (a tall laundry hamper or plastic bin is good for this)
  6. keep a tally of what sizes and how many of each you’ve cut as you go
  7. slide the fabric up the table and arrange ready to trace and cut the next lot.

I use a table like the one pictured below where it has a space for you to add fabric swatches, the sizes you’re cutting, the number you need and a spot to keep a tally of what you’ve cut as you go. If you keep one of these sheets for each garment you cut, you’ll have a way to go back and check any discrepancies at a later date.

You can download the Exel file here.  Cutting Sheet example

production cutting materials

This process can be repeated till you’ve cut as many as you need. Once you’ve done with the fabric, move onto any other fabrics needed for the item. If any pieces require interfacing, keep these separate and cut all together.

Cut elastics all in one go. Make a mark on your cutting table or ruler to save yourself measuring every single piece.

Once all your pieces and trims are cut you may need to fuse interfacing. Always use a pressing cloth to save your iron or steam press from any excess glue. Remember this is the iron you’re going to be using to press the finished garments.

Count out your labels and keep them in a little shallow container to sit beside your sewing machine. This is a way to double check you’ve cut and sewn the correct number and sizes. If you get to the end of your sewing pile and have a set of labels left over then something’s gone wrong!

Now you’re ready to prepare the sewing machines which I’ll be covering in a future post. To be sure not to miss out why not subscribe and have it sent your inbox. Just enter your preferred email address in the subscribe box on the right and it will come automatically.

Shared on Weekend Crafts Creative Spark Linky Party.

steps to perfect piping

5 Steps to Perfect Piping

Have you tried pipping an edge of your garment? Say a neckline or the hem of a short sleeve? Apart from looking super special it’s a great way to help ease in a gaping neckline or adding an extra pop of colour.

Step 1

I like to use knitting yarn inside my piping for clothing as it’s soft enough to sew over and is a lot cheaper than cord. Alternatively, cotton cord is sold by the meter and comes in a variety of thicknesses.  It’s what I prefer for soft furnishings.

Firstly we need to cut the strips. For clothing, piping should be cut on the bias because it will give us the stretch we need if we want to ease in an edge (on a neckline for example.) Soft furnishings and accessories piping can be cut on the straight grain and will use less fabric.

Cut bias strips 4cm wide and join if necessary.

Step 2

  1. Fold the bias strip over the end of your yarn and position under the half foot of your sewing machine
  2. begin sewing and use the yarn “bump” as a guide for the foot to run along
  3. sew all the way to the end
  4. trim so the seam allowance on the piping is between 6mm and 1cm (this is especially important when using darker piping in a pale coloured item as you won’t want the seam allowance to show through.)

piping collage 1

Step 3

Next we sew the piping onto our project.

  1. position the piping along the required edge leaving a tail hanging off the end. Sew on top of the first row of stitching
  2. with your lining facing the right side of your work, and the piped fabric on top, sew just to the left of your previous row (as indicated by the yellow line in the photo)
  3. and if all goes well you’ll have something like this.

piping collage 2Step 4

Now what if you have to insert a zip? You can make your piping sit back away from the edge which will give you space to add a zip.

  1. instead of leaving a tail hanging off the back, fold the piping at an angle
  2. sew on the lining or facing as instructed above
  3. see how the piping is now set neatly back from the edge
  4. leaving you seam allowance to insert a zip.

piping collage 3

Step 5

Or what about joining your piping when it meets?

  1. when you begin sewing, fold the piping at an angle
  2. then when you come around to where it meets, turn the piping at a slighter angle and run it off the edge. This is where you’ll be glad you used yarn instead of cording as you’ll be able to sew over the top with no problems.

piping collage 4


I’ll be doing a second post soon about further methods for joining the ends, how to sew a zip along a piped edge (like you would in a cushion cover) and how to sew piping on curves and corners.

In the meantime, practice and let me know how you go. I’d love to see your work on Instagram too so use the hash tag #stitchingrules.


zips in cushions cover image

Sewing Zips in Cushions

Cushions are a great project for learning how to sew zips so here I’m going to show you step by step how to insert a zip into the bottom seam of a cushion. Zips in cushions traditionally sit in the bottom seam because this allows you to flip your cushion to show both sides. Think floral on one side with stripes or plain on the other side – so many fun combinations.

fabric for cushion projectI’m using a funky printed tea towel from Typo and a striped ticking fabric on the back.

cut lines for tea towel

Decide what size cushion you want to make – mine is going to be 49cm x 49cm to make the most of the print on the tea towel. The cutting size is 51cm x 51cm which includes a 2cm seam allowance all around and will be suitable for a cushion insert of 50cm x 50cm. You want the insert to be a little larger to make it nice and plump.

overlocked piecesBegin by overlocking around all edges of both pieces of your cushion. This will be the only overlocking you’ll need for this project and doing it now makes it easier than overlocking multiple seams together later.

For this sample I’m using continuous zipping cut to the correct size. Continuous zipping can be economical and handy for projects that require a zip longer than the standard pre made sizes available.

placement of first stitching for zip openingBegin stitching two short seams along the bottom from the sides to 5cm in, leaving an opening for your zip. See photo above. Remember the seam allowance is 2cm.

pinning first side of zipPosition your zip right side against the fabric, with the zip pull pointing down, and the end sitting 2cm from the side edge. Notice the tape of the zip is sitting around 1cm from the overlocked edge. You need your stitching to be on the 2cm seam line so pin like the photo above and stitch close to the zip teeth.

sewing first side of zipYou’ll need to move the zip pull to keep the stitching close.  Notice the 3/4 mark on my machine – that’s the 2cm mark.

pinned view for second side of zipFor the second side, line the zip tape on the edge of the overlocking. Your stitching can be down the centre of the tape for this side. Stitch like the first side moving the zip pull if needed.

final zip stitch inside view with pinsWorking on the zip side, turn the fabric to make 2cm. Notice that the fabric is visible and the zip tape should be roughly centred. Sew this row starting and finishing in line with the zip opening.

final zip stitch outside viewThis is what it will look like from the right side.

stitching at end of zipLastly, stitch across the ends of the zip at the 5cm-in-from-the-edge mark.

start pin for final stitchingOn the home stretch now! With the zip open, fold so the right sides are together and begin pinning at the top right hand corner. Move the seam allowance up so you can sew from the seam line.

pinned for final stitchingContinue pinning around with a 2cm seam allowance. If your fabric is striped, you may like to sew from that side to follow the stripe.

1st fold for corner turnOnce stitched around turn the cover right side out. To achieve neat corners, hold with your thumb in the corner and fold one seam over with your forefinger.

2nd fold for corner turnThen fold the other seam over and hold between the thumb (inside) and the forefinger (outside). Pinch together and turn right side out. Your forefinger will remain in the corner and push the corner out neatly. It’s almost like a bit of origami in the corner of your cushion.

finished zip end viewTa-dah! Done. Squish your insert in and plump it up so it fills the corners.

finished zip viewAs you can see, the zip is quite hidden and both sides of your cushion would feature nicely on you couch.

finished top viewI hope you enjoy making cushions – you can never have too many.

As always, let me know if you run into any problems. Comment here or email me using the link in the side bar.

Linking up with And Sew We Craft Together Link Party