Tag Archives: SWAP

SWAP 2018 – planning

I wasn’t going to participate in SWAP (Sewing with a Plan) this season. Between too much going on, sewing mojo on vacation, and inspiration pictures pulling me in too many different directions at once, I didn’t feel like planning a wardrobe to fit arbitrary rules that may not fit my lifestyle.

And then the rules came out. They are delightfully simple and they sent my sewing imagination soaring. This is the gist:

You’re making a collection of 11 garments to be worn as outfits of at least two pieces that work for your personal style.

  1. Choose two neutral colors (at least 3 garments each)
  2. Add one accent color and two prints OR two accent colors and one print (at least 1 garment each)
  3. Remaining two garments may be made from any one or combination of your neutrals, accent(s) and/or print(s)
  4. Each garment must work with a minimum of two outfits

Here is my preliminary plan:

Wardrobe plan - WIP

It’s not quite finished – it’s missing a piece. Something in light gray. I’m not sure if this will be a dress or another top. We’ll see.


Here’s something that caught my eye now as I was looking at the rules: “Multiple styles of pants, tops, jacket/cardigan, dresses, accessories, etc are made from the limited color/print palette. New seasons bring new items that work with some of the garments from prior seasons. Your goal is to create a collection that looks like it belongs together and that you can easily add new pieces to in the future.” When I sewed a SWAP wardrobe in early 2016, I used just three patterns and a bunch of different fabrics. I think the idea here is the opposite – choose just a few fabrics and go to town on patterns. Hmm, something to chew on. I may rethink the whole thing yet.

And that’s all I have today. See you soon!

SWAP wardrobe finished

Or perhaps a better title would be “The Unintentional SWAP Wardrobe”. I didn’t start out sewing a SWAP (Sewing With A Plan). In fact, I started out without much of a plan at all. I just needed clothes. So I made some. And then some more. And then more still. Until I had more than enough to call it a SWAP.

SWAP 2016 - 1

This year, the rules (on Stitcher’s Guild) called for sewing coordinating pods. I was really short on tops so my pods are one bottom and two tops, plus more tops in the combo pack.

SWAP 2016 - 2

By some miracle, I hit upon the combination of a denim skirt with a short-sleeved top when I was sewing the 6-PAC. It was instant love and I started envisioning a closetful of colorful denim skirts, printed and solid-colored tops, and a few cardigans. So I had, well, if not a plan, at least a vision.

SWAP 2016 - 3

The combo pack is two garments that coordinate with both Pod 1 and Pod 2. Above and below you can see how this worked for my pieces.

SWAP 2016 - 4

The wildcards could be just about anything but had to follow the pod rules. I stuck with one bottom and two tops. The black skirt works with every top and the multicolor print top works with both of the other skirts. I’m not keen on combining the silver top with the other two skirts, but it works well with either cardigan. I think it would look great with a white denim skirt and together they may form the basis of the next 6-PAC.

SWAP 2016 - 5

For an unplanned SWAP (ahem!), this is quite a lovely collection, if I say so myself. I’m super excited! I haven’t been this productive in at least a decade, and the joy sewing has brought me in the last two months defies description. These clothes are very comfortable to wear and they are very me. I love them.

Happy sewing!

Cropped polka dot cardigan

Oops, I completely spaced coming back here to tell you about the polka dot cardigan. Because I’ve been busy knitting and watching Craftsy classes. I even have a knitted FO for the next post. Which I will write right after this one so I won’t forget again.

Polka dot cardi

But back to the cardigan. It’s a refashion project. It started out as a nice, but really too long and rather shapeless cardigan from Lands’ End. I love the polka dots. The length is fixable. It was supposed to be part of my SWAP. Oh well.

Polka dot cardi - original

See what I mean? Too long. Bottom safety pin marks where I cut it off.

I cut off some 7″ from the bottom so that it would end at my natural waist. Any longer than this and I would have had to take it in at the sides. This way I could leave the side seams untouched. I hemmed it using 1″ foldover elastic in black. I had also auditioned a slightly narrower white one, but it made the polka dots look ivory in comparison so that was a no-go. I also cut off the ribbing from the sleeves and finished them with the same 1″ black foldover elastic. This gave the sleeves a nice 3/4-ish length. I used the regular straight stitch – surprisingly, it has plenty of give. It’s not needed but it’s good to know it’s there.

I’ve worn this cardigan quite a few times before the heat wave. It’s such a happy little shoulder warmer.

Next up, I have a yellow knitted shawlette to show you. See you then!

SWAP sewing – red top and dress

Well, it has taken me a while to get back to sewing. I have a good excuse for February (out of town all month) but how March got away from me, I really don’t know. Anyway, it is high time to get cracking on this SWAP collection if I want to finish it by the end of April.

To that end, I sewed up a top and a dress, both red, both sleeveless. Same fabric for both – Sophia double knit in Scarlet. It turned out to be a darker red than I thought it would be but very wearable, and less in-your-face than my usually preferred screaming bright red.

Red 1

The pattern for both is my TNT that started out life as M6355. I just love it. By now, I can sew this up without much thinking or elaborate planning, having worked out the best stitching sequence in previous versions.

Red 2

I left the necklines plain, just a simple scoop, because I plan to wear scarves with both of them, as in the picture above. I will have to look through pictures to verify this, but right now my theory is that I prefer to wear necklaces with collars, and scarves with no-collar necklines. If this hunch turns out correct, then that will inform my future capsule planning.

I hope you all are sewing up a storm. See you soon!

Wadder report

The last ten days or so have been a very busy time for me. Lots of time in the air and on the road, then recovering from jetlag, and visiting with a friend… Fun times. But let me bring you up to speed on my sewing ventures.

The weekend before I left, I was sewing up a storm. Well, so I thought anyway. I made the red tank top and red dress but they ended up in the trash can instead of in my closet. I had a funny feeling when I prewashed the red ponte and its hand changed significantly. It seemed very liquid-y, if that makes sense, and not anything like the stable fabrics I like to sew. But I pressed on anyway, figuring that it was better to sew it up and find out it’s wrong now than to postpone sewing it until the end of SWAP when there would be no time to find a replacement.

Well, next time a fabric changes like that, it will be going to a new home. The dress was a good three inches longer when I put it on and looked like it would only continue to grow. Even in the short distance between the shoulder seam and bottom of the armhole, on the relatively lighter weight top, the stretching was obvious – turning in the edge of the armhole to hem it would have exposed my bra band. It was a rather expensive lesson (the ponte was from Marcy Tilton so the quality was lovely, just not well suited to my purpose) and I’m glad I figured it out early on in the SWAP. Today I ordered some red Sophia double knit so I can remake those two pieces.

In the meantime, I started sewing the black pants. They are almost finished. They just need the waistband and the hems.

I must say there is something very comforting in following the plan. I can keep moving forward, learning from setbacks like the growing red ponte, but not letting them stop my momentum.

SWAP sewing – first three tops

I’ve been down with a wicked cold but that hasn’t stopped me from sewing. In between the gallons of tea and regular doses of cold medication, I was thinking and sewing spring. Ha! Take that, silly cold!

Tops 1

This is yet another adaptation of my favorite pattern, M6355. I just love it. The fabrics are black Sophia double knit, white Swiss 4-way stretch (from Gorgeous Fabrics – it’s a fabulously smooth nylon/acetate/lycra jersey), and the striped knit is a cotton interlock that’s been waiting patiently in my stash for years.

I took the pattern for my colorful dresses and shortened it to about the high hip level. I left off the collar and just turned the neck edge under, topstitching with a twin needle. I really love how easy it is to use a TNT pattern. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever use another top pattern again.

Up next is the red top and red dress. The fabric is in the washing machine as I write this. I hope to have pictures to share by the end of the week.

See you soon!

SWAP 2015

Occasionally over the years, I’ve planned a neat-looking SWAP and even made a few pieces, but I’ve never actually completed the whole thing (as far as I can remember, anyway). The closest I came was in in 2004, when I made three skirts and six/seven knit tops (seven sewn but one was a wadder).  I have photographic evidence, hehe.

This year, I need some basics. Simple shapes, easy color scheme, that kind of stuff. I’m going with red, white, and black. Most of them are already in my fabric collection.

SWAP 2015 fabrics

A little bit of analysis of my previous SWAP attempts leads me to believe that my best bet this year is to focus on one silhouette and make multiples of only a few patterns. So, I’ll be making pants – it’s time to update my pant pattern to a narrower leg and adjust the length to somewhere near the ankle so they will work with both heels and flats. I’ll make three pairs: black, white, and red.

To go with the pants, I will make five tank tops: black, white, red, white/black stripe, and white/red stripe. I was completely wintered out by Christmas so all this sewing will be with spring and summer in mind. I am almost always cold so layering is important. That said, I do not like the feel of two sleeves inside one another so my preference is for a sleeveless top with a long-sleeved cardigan. The five tank tops should give me a pretty good start.

SWAP 2015 plan

The other three items in the SWAP are wildcards and those will be two cardigans and a dress. The two cardigans are RTW that need a little refashioning. One is solid black, the other black with white polka dots. I plan to cut them shorter, reshape the neckline, and add white trim like I did on the red one. The dress will be solid red and sleeveless.

I am actually going to limit myself to just two patterns – one for the pants and one for the tops and dress (both of these patterns are TNT).  I am hoping this will help eliminate any analysis paralysis so that I can just sew. Let’s see how well it works.

See you soon!

Black and lime green: testing a theory

Between all the forum talk about outfits vs. uniforms, happy repeats during my Project 333 experiments,  and the takeaways from my recent Style Essence consultation, I’ve been developing a better idea of just what I want to sew and wear. And I think I found the right formula. A sleeveless dress and a coordinating collared cardigan. (I think the collar is important as it not only elevates the formality of the look, but also provides an opportunity to add color, like a built-in scarf.)

Composite - green dress

I made two sets: one in lime green, the other in black but with a contrasting collar and cuffs on the cardigan. All four pieces are from M6355, which by now is a TNT pattern for me. I used Sophia double knit for its ease of sewing, care, and wearing. No lining, no zippers. This is still a theory that needs to be tested, but if this really is THE formula for me, then future versions will likely be lined and possibly made in drapey wovens. And for cooler weather, the dresses might have sleeves. We’ll see.

Composite - black dress

Spring came early this year (or more like, winter never really got started here) so I expect to have a lot of opportunities to test my new uniform. In the pictures above, my absolute favorite combination is the green dress and black cardigan, so I think I will start with that and make a few more sets in the next few weeks, for more color options.

It’s funny, actually, because I expected to prefer the one with the green cardigan and black dress. Something about having a bright color on the bottom half of the body just didn’t seem right. But to my surprise, it looks good both in real life and in the pictures, so I’ll stick with it for now.

See you soon!

Project 333 and SWAP

You know how sometimes the universe is telling you something? Your friend makes a comment, you read something on a forum or a blog, the library has some interesting new titles… and when you look at all of it together, there’s a message for you. (No? OK, just me then.)

Whenever we move, it always takes me close to a year to develop a good understanding of how I need to dress for the new climate/lifestyle/work status. I’m getting close to that point now. I’ve been planning my SWAP, then Mary made a comment on SG about needing a strategy, and then I came across several articles about wardrobe simplification with links to Project 333. Hmmm… yes, hello! Strategy! I totally need this! I read and took notes, and then I went through my wardrobe. Take a look:

I started with a core of eight dressy items – a four piece suit and four fine-gauge sweaters.

Plan - part 1

Then I added jeans, a black leather skirt, and four casual tops.

Plan - part 2

Then came color – lime green and red. Both of these are straight from the Bright Winter palette. Even though I don’t wear red very often, there are days when nothing but red will do. And of course, I love the lime green.

Plan - part 3

Just a few more sweaters. You may have noticed that I don’t have any T-shirts in here. That’s because I consider them undergarments. As in, I wouldn’t wear them without another layer and a scarf (so they don’t show).

Plan - part 4

And it’s done. 22 pieces in all. Manageable.

Plan - part 5

Now I’ll add the coats, scarves, footwear, and accessories. Without scarves and jewelry, my total comes to 30. Once we count the scarves and jewelry, the total will be over 33 items, which is okay because the number is arbitrary anyway. The point is to have a small, cohesive wardrobe. I’m good with extra accessories.

Plan - part 6

I just realized that I forgot to add the gloves and hat – very much a necessity here in the winter. I’ll be wearing them even though they’re not in the picture.

I have all of these pieces already. (Some of the pictures are of the exact item, others are a close approximation.) I am going to wear them from now until the end of February. I think the original Project 333 starts the new season on January 1 but that doesn’t seem long enough so I’ll extend it a bit. And if it works well, then maybe all the way to the end of March to coincide with the start of the next P333 season.

I plan to post my outfits once a week to get a good idea of what I wear the most, which combinations work the best, and where I need to make changes for next time. That way I can modify my SWAP plan to get the best working wardrobe possible. Remember my SWAP board?

SWAP 2014 visual

The suit and coat will be the first five pieces in my SWAP. The suit in my P333 board is a placeholder for the new one. All four pieces will be replaced because 1) I want all four to be from the same fabric, and 2) I’m looking to switch from black to dark charcoal gray.

For coats, I have a very warm winter coat and a very thin trench coat but I need to make one for those in-between temperatures. Then I’ll be able to keep just two coats each season – the new one and the warm one in the winter, and then the new one and the thin trench coat in the spring.

After the suit and the coat are finished, I can focus on adding some lighter sweaters in gray, white, and lime green for the spring. And of course, some things may change as I learn more about my needs and preferences. I’ll keep you posted.

See you soon!

SWAP on my mind

We’re back from our whirlwind trip stateside. Between the cultural must-visit places and shopping, one week is really just not enough. We had a fun time.

Shortly before we left, the SWAP (Sewing With A Plan) rules were announced on Stitcher’s Guild so my jet-lagged mind has been churning over a bunch of possible sewing projects. I’m sticking with the black/charcoal/lime green color scheme and drawing on all the wonderful inspiration that Janice of The Vivienne Files provides. Something like this:

SWAP 2014 visual

I have a plain-woven off-black/charcoal gray wool fabric for the four-piece suit. For the coat, there are two potential candidates: a black quilted smooth poly and a dark gray/black fuzzy wool. We’ll see. For the lime green pieces, I have some poly blend double knits, a cotton jersey, and wool yarn, and also leather for the skirt. Lots of choices here. The two sweaters on the bottom can be a shimmery gray sweater knit and a white/gray boucle knit.

SWAP 2014 patterns

I’m pretty sure about the jacket, coat, and pants patterns. I’ll have to make mock-ups because they are new to me but all three have been on my mental list to try for a while. The self-drafted skirt and dress patterns are no-brainers. I’m debating the sleeves on the dress. Sleeveless may be more versatile. Not entirely sure about the sweater patterns – most will probably be a new incarnation of KwikSew 3003, some may be machine-knitted based on a different pattern. We’ll see.


Here are the rules, for reference (edited for brevity):
We will sew 3 “3 packs” + 2 “wild cards” = 11 garments.

A “three pack” may be 2 tops + 1 bottom OR 1 top + 1 bottom + 1 outer layer OR 1 dress + 1 top + 1 bottom. The “wild card” options must be “garments”, not accessories.

One garment may be previously sewn; another may be purchased.
A current WIP may be included OR one item may be stitched up from scratch before the official sewing date of December 26.

There’s no need for every top to match every bottom.  However, all the individual pieces must form a cohesive collection.

“Sewing” is a blanket term; you may sew, knit, crochet, weave…whatever works.

Sewing will begin December 26th, and all garments must be finished by April 30th, 2014.  Muslins, pattern fitting and cutting may be started whenever you are ready.


OK, so the rules call for 3-packs and I’m thinking in 4-packs. But I think my plan will work anyway:

  1. charcoal gray pants + lime green top + lime green cardigan
  2. charcoal gray skirt + lime green top + charcoal gray jacket
  3. lime green skirt + shimmery gray sweater + charcoal gray dress
  4. wildcards: white/gray boucle top + black coat

I’ll do some more thinking and of course, this is all subject to change. But for now, this is my plan. What about you, dear readers? Are you participating? Thinking about it? Do tell, please.