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Bundling Pants

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I now have a pants pattern that works for woven frontclose and for stretch Back BP Fall 08 #404 and am ready to “shoot the engineer and start production!” (click on the thumbnails for larger pix) I’m *taking a chance* on the pants pattern in hopes that my weight will not continue to swing as erratically has it has been in the past year or so.

Applying Production Techniques to Home Sewing

Here’s what little I know about production although I’ve been sewing commercially since 2003. As always, I’m sure there are those out there who know more about the techniques than I do.

Production sewing is something I’ve had to teach myself since I have no experience sewing within a factory setting and yet had to devise fast construction methods to meet demand in my commercial sewing. I’ve learned a lot by spending what time I could at, and by reading the pertinent parts of Kathleen’s book, The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Sewn Product Manufacturing as well as applying my own years of production woodworking. I have years of experience as a woodworker, cutting puzzles on the jigsaw before we had a laser cutter, sanding countless boxes, working in the spray booth and hand painting, etc. I did anything we needed, including driving the delivery trucks and unloading at the customer’s school. But I digress….

The Evolution.

My first commercial sewing season involved doing runs of 20 items at once where all the steps were done on 20 identical things at once. Actually within a woodworking factory that is a tiny “run”. Once one product run of 20 was complete I started the cycle over again with 20 of another item. That was deadly boring and even though sales were brisk enough to warrant this type of production the production cycle was too long since my customers would order up to 8 different items at once. Lesson 1: Don’t simply follow industry practices.

Next massive influx of orders: Construct the amount currently on order plus another 5 to put into inventory and then move on to the next item and do the same. It was much less boring but still took too long to fill orders and no one could quite seem to keep the inventory count correctly. That meant that if it was “in inventory” on the computer, whether or not it was actually on the shelf, it would automatically get allocated to any new orders and wouldn’t show up in the Production Required report. Grrrrrr. And I still hated the work. Lesson 2: Don’t make up arbitrary amounts for inventory. Pay attention to how you feel about your work.

How I tolerate the job now: Lean production. I don’t make inventory. I prep components depending on the stock and time available during off season and finish construction on an order by order basis. The Most Important Lesson: Make your work life comfortable and fill orders as soon as possible.


So this week at The Stitchery is personal pants week. I’m in a mood to sew GREEN and with temperatures swinging between daytime highs of 20 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit I chose 3 different fabrics: a stretch wool tweed from Pendleton, a dark green tencel gabardine and fine silk/wool pinstripe in a greyish-greenish taupe-ish.


The last color has thrown a wrench into my production. Why? Because I prefer to use grey thread on this fabric. I thought I could tolerate using the same green through the run but noooooo


So I have “shot the engineer” and sadly, she was I! I will bundle the two greens together and isolate the instances where I feel I can use a green thread on the silk/wool pinstripe pair. Can you see how doing the work of 2 similar items at once will go quicker than if you are working on one at a time? It is necessary to know the pattern, the order of work and to have already worked out the kinks of (shudder) following instructions.

How did I make this color mistake? What was I thinking??? I can only blame it on the florescent lighting in my old house that is now The Stitchery. That pinstripe doesn’t look as grey in person as it does in the photos. It only become extremely apparent outside in the direct sun. Good thing I’m not paying myself by the hour for this job LOL.


These two pants will be sewn as if I were working on one pair. All the serging will be done, the backs will be separated from the fronts and the back darts sewn in, pocket bags will be grouped together, flys constructed and applied, all the waistbands formed at the same time, and I’ll throw in the other pair where I can. It will finish last in the order of work.

And next will be a much more diversified work: tops, shirts, blouses, jackets that will go with each very different fabric, patterns and fabrics not yet chosen. I am hoping to get a shortie jacket out of the leftover yardage of the silk/wool but the other two colors will have to become separates. I have a few things in mind that might mix and match with all the pants.



hugs to all


About Mary Beth

I am fascinated by changing patterns and colored threads. I sew garments and am teaching myself to machine knit. Since selling the building that housed my workrooms, The Stitchery, I'm searching for a place to set up the knitting machines again. There must be room here somewhere!

8 responses »

  1. Congrats on your now TNT pants pattern, happy sewing and enjoy making your new 3 pair of pants.

  2. Great fit! Thanks for the links re production sewing. As I am about to start a small run of pants this will help a lot!
    I envy your temperatures, though!!

  3. You’ve gotten great fit on these and I am loving the fabrics you’ve chosen.

    I am always happy when I’m finished sewing in this manner because I have more than one finished product to show for my time.

  4. My one experience sewing many of the same thing was with diapers. Easy and fast, right? But I got sooo bored doing the same thing over and over. I try to make my husband’s shirts and pants in pairs – that saves time but avoids the feeling that nothing will ever be finished that I get if I try to sew too many things at once. Your pants look great, enjoy getting the new ones made!

  5. Such a smart idea. I need to do this myself but I have yet to get to the point where I like anything I’ve made to make more than one, except my stretch pants. I did a similar production type sewing when making a million dog sweaters (I know, don’t laugh) and it worked out pretty well. It’s great to put this into practice for your own wardrobe. You’re going to have the most awesome wardrobe!

  6. OH wow, TNT pants pattern! Congratulations. Three pairs is about the most I could manage in production sewing without utter desperation although I did 5 once. The thread thing sounds like what I would do (the light in my house is terrible,either too much or too little; it is another one of those things I am going to change “someday”)

  7. I left an award for you on my blog. enjoy.

    greetings, Paco

  8. Pingback: Burda + #404 Again and Again and Again « The Stitchery

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