Thursday, 13 February 2014

Time for sewing?

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has wondered just how much time it takes to make a garment.  When I start a project I don’t usually think about how long it will take, only when it will be ready.  If I actually try and estimate how many minutes or hours a project will take I invariably underestimate.  Those little jobs on each project don’t seem to count, until you actually come to press the seams and realise that it takes time to set up the iron and ironing board and press the seams. 
Yesterday I found myself sewing against the clock and out of curiosity I timed each part of a simple project.

Last week I was unfortunate enough to lose a friend and dive buddy (it was covered in the press here if anyone wants the gory details) and had made myself a new black blouse to wear to the funeral yesterday. 
I had a pretty restless night so got up at about 6 and decided to press my black skirt that I was going to wear with the blouse and make some coffee.  As I was pressing the skirt I noticed that it seemed rather small.  I can’t remember the last time I wore it so I just slipped it on and discovered that it was WAY too small.  In hindsight I should have remembered that I had put on weight since I last wore it, and when I put aside a few metres of black drill for a new black jacket I added an extra metre for a new skirt, so subconsciously I guess I knew the old one didn’t fit me anymore.  No problem, I thought, I’ve got fabric lining and a zip, it’ll only take an hour or so to whip up a new skirt, which was on the sewing list anyway, and my lift to the funeral wasn’t arriving until 9:30; heaps of time!

So this is how it actually worked:

I was using my basic skirt block, with no modifications and no fitting required.  The fabric, lining, zip and interfacing were all in a project bag together, easily accessible and pre-washed). The iron was already set up and my sewing machine and overlocker were threaded up with black thread (from the black blouse I finished the night before).

Cutting out main fabric, skirt front and facing on the fold, two skirt backs and back facing – 10 minutes. 
Cutting out lining as a single piece on the fold – 5 minutes.  
Marking the darts with chalk – 10 minutes.
Sewing eight darts, two side seams and two partial side seams – 15 minutes
Searching for invisible zip (which had fallen down the back of my sewing cabinet) 15 minutes
Inserting invisible zip – 15 minutes
Pressing seams, darts and zip - 10
Cutting and fusing Interfacing to facing pieces – 10 minutes
Re-cutting one facing piece as I’d fused the interfacing to the wrong side – 10 minutes
Joining facing pieces – 5 minutes
Attaching facing to lining and main skirt – 15 minutes
Unpicking and re-stitching the waist seam where I had tucks – 20 minutes
Pressing skirt – 10 minutes

Total time taken? Two hours and twenty minutes.   

I rushed through the shower, tidied my hair and managed to get into my new outfit at 9:15.   Heaps of time for a cup of coffee before my lift arrived.  I poured a cup before I glanced down and realised that I had forgotten one task – the hem!  Whipped off the skirt, overlocked the bottom hem and used hemming tape to fix the hem up.  Cheating?  Absolutely, but I was down to my last ten minutes and didn’t really want a topstitched hem.  I will hand stitch the hem later.

Looking back at it, this project was a case of more haste, less speed.  I spent a total of three quarters of an hour on tasks that I probably wouldn’t have had to do if I hadn’t felt under time pressure.  

I also deliberately kept it really simple, using a TNT pattern that didn’t need any fitting.  I suspect that a simple, plain straight skirt could be accomplished in two hours if I had everything set up and didn’t panic.

I have seen a few bloggers who have kept a record of how long they spend on a special project, but not more routine sewing projects, and often they record time from starting the project to finishing it, rather than actual sewing time. 

People often say “That’s lovely, you should make clothes for a living.” I usually mutter something about cheap Asian imports, but this has given me a quantifiable reason that I could never complete with the imports being sold in the mall.  

 Does anyone know how long garments take them?

1 comment:

  1. funny you should mention this, as I was sewing today, I realised I had spent the better part of the last two days making and putting on a waistband! granted, I was totally drafting as I went without a pattern... but still.
    I think I'm just a super slow sewer, I made a few aprons for gifts last year, and they took me at least 6 hours each.
    & Sorry about your friend, what a horrible thing to happen :(