If you’re going to make one pair of underwear, ya might as well make two. Or three or four or five. Or six if you have a yard of knit fabric (like I did) when I sewed my Seamwork Geneva panties.
I’m talking about batch sewing underwear. Undies are a prime candidate for batch sewing because they:
- Don’t take long to cut out (small and few pattern pieces)
- Are private clothes, so if you’re wearing the same panties two days in a row (not LITERALLY the same pair of panties, but a copy of a pair of panties) no one will give you side eye
- Have super-short seams that don’t require many (or any) pins (really!)
I batch sewed a bunch of undies recently, and it was nice to make a significant deposit in Ye Olde Panty Drawer.
Should you be curious about batch sewing underwear, here are the tricks I learned (in no particular order) as I sewed back-to-back multiples of undies.
1.) Use the same thread.
Goodness gracious, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT switch threads between pairs of underwear. If you’re making undies in different fabrics, choose threads that work for all of them. Changing threads is time consuming. What’s more, the seams on underwear are so short! You’ll spend more time swapping threads than sewing! (P.S. I like Wooly Nylon thread for maximum stretchiness and softness. Use this in the loopers of your serger OR in a hand-wound bobbin in your sewing machine.)
2.) Plan the order of your sewing steps.
Make a practice pair to understand order of operations and to ID potential efficiencies. This is the single most important thing you can do as you plan a batch sewing project. Plan your work and work your plan.
3.) Get comfy with chain piecing.
Chain piecing is when you sew seam after seam, assembly line style, without cutting the thread between each seam. For example, you sew the side seam of a pair of panties, and instead of cutting the threads to release the seam from the sewing machine, you start ANOTHER side seam for a pair of panties. So, if you’re making six pairs of undies, you would end up with a “chain” of six side seams. THEN you’d cut apart the chain. (Cutting the chain as you sew interrupts your batch sewing speediness!) For the record, quilters chain piece all the time.
4.) Do like tasks at the same time.
Don’t stop to trim threads; trim all wayward thread at the same time. Cut all pieces of elastic at the same time. Finish all raw edges at the same time. You get the picture. Your flow should be: same step, same step, same step, same step… until you’re done with said step.
5.) Keep track of your fabric pattern pieces.
Pattern pieces for panties are small. Make sure you have the right number of pattern pieces for each panty. As I cut out each pair, I pinned all the pieces together. (Related: PAPER pattern pieces for panties are small, too. Keep them paperclipped together, in an envelope or plastic bag, or somewhere else safe so they don’t wander away or get sucked into a Roomba. (Ask me how I know.)
6.) Boredom is normal.
Don’t beat yourself up if you find batch sewing boring. It’s efficient, but the repetition can be brutal. I suggest taking a break every few steps. You don’t want to be too much on autopilot and make a “DUH” mistake.
7.) Make sure you have all the right tools on hand.
Ask yourself if you have:
- Preferred sewing machine foot
- Nylon (e.g. Wooly) thread (if using; nice but not necessary)
- Bobbin thread
- Topstitching thread
- What else??
Don’t let scattered tools slow you down! Go through your sewing steps to figure out what tools you need when and gather them.
8.) Test stitches beforehand, and record them.
You’ll need stitches for joining fabric pattern pieces and stitches for attaching elastic. Knowing your settings lets you jump into batch sewing without hesitation.
9.) Double check right sides and wrong sides of fabric.
If you’re sewing undies in a knit fabric (and I suspect you are!), and the knit fabric is a solid color whose right side and wrong side look almost identical, take a beat to make sure you’re matching the correct sides before sewing them together. I suppose it doesn’t matter a lot if the right and wrong sides are essentially the same, but why not avoid this if we can, eh?
Over to you, sewing fam: What other tips can you share for batch sewing underwear? Or tips for batch sewing in general? Should you be interested, lingerie sewist extraordinaire Emerald Erin batch sewed some panties recently. Check out Week 4 of her IG highlights.
P.S. Here’s some other underwear content for ya:
Pattern Layout for Sewing Underwear: 6 Panties from 1 Yard of Fabric
Work in Progress: Sewing Panties, Part 1
Work in Progress: Sewing Underwear, Part 2
P.P.S. Here’s another article about Seamwork stuff: Why I canceled my Seamwork magazine subscription.
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Underwear photo by Yuliya Kosolapova on Unsplash