I put off sewing a batch of Nixie Briefs for weeks because I thought it would be soul crushingly dull… When I finally got around to it, I actually found batch sewing really relaxing! I thought I’d share some tips in case you want to try batch sewing for yourself 🙂
Batch sewing basically means you cut out several lots of whatever it is you’re making (which usually seems to be underwear) and follow each step of the pattern with all of them before moving onto the next step. This works especially well for items like pants, which can feel very labour intensive if you’re only sewing one pair. For example, when I made my Nixies I cut everything out and measured out the elastic lengths for each pair before I started sewing:
I then sewed the gussets on each pair, and after that I sewed the first pass of elastic on each:
I did the same thing with each step of the pattern, until I ended up with three finished pairs of pants!
Tip no. 1- Make a prototype
Even if you don’t normally make a toile, with batch sewing it’s an absolute must! Particularly with underwear patterns, it’s highly unlikely they’ll fit you perfectly without any adjustments, so be prepared to make several ill-fitting versions before you’re ready to make a batch. I made three prototype pairs of Nixie briefs before I got the fit exactly right, but it was totally worth it to avoid disappointment. My final list of adjustments went as follows: altering the elastic lengths in a bunch of different ways, making a sway back adjustment, altering the rise so it was somewhere in between the high waisted and brief versions, and altering the gusset width. As you can see, it’s really all about trial and error!
2- Check you have all the notions you need
Imagine cutting out ten pairs of pants/bras/etc and then realising you only have elastic for three. Granted, you can always order more, but it’s still frustrating. I know, underwear patterns often have lengthy and annoyingly specific lists of notions, but here’s your reminder to double check just in case.
3- Pace yourself
When I’m really absorbed in a sewing project I have a bad habit of saying to myself ‘just one more step, then I’ll take a break’. Before I know it, it’s an hour later, I’m desperate for the loo and dying for a drink of water! If this is you, try planning breaks into your sewing practice. For example, you could promise yourself ‘at the end of this podcast episode I’ll have a cup of tea’ or, if you don’t listen to podcasts, maybe at the end of whatever playlist you’re listening to. I made sure to do this whilst sewing my Nixies, and it helped me avoid feeling burned out.
4- Remember, sewing is supposed to be fun! (And if it isn’t, make it fun!)
At it’s worst, batch sewing (and any sewing, really) can feel like you’re on a treadmill. As well as taking breaks, try to slow down and enjoy the making process instead of just focusing on the finished product. Once you get into the rhythm of batch sewing it can be surprisingly relaxing to just go through the motions. Listen to some good music (I listened to Lana’s new album on repeat whilst making my pants), have a hot beverage nearby, and stretch once in a while so you don’t get back/neck ache.
Remember that sewing is a hobby, so if you’re still not enjoying it it’s absolutely fine to take a break for a while or start a new project to regain your sew-jo. Sometimes it feels like everything is riding on you completing this project, but at the end of the day it’s just sewing!