Sunday, March 4, 2012

Reader Question: SWAP Planning- thoughts?

This was my plan for the 2008 SWAP. 

Oksana left a comment on this post "Sewing With A Plan - SWAP 2012":

"I like your SWAP plan, really!
I am just thinking about it but I do not know how to begin and where to go :)
can you share some ideas about it?
I mean - where and how should I begin? Should I chose models [ie styles] I like, than find all the patterns, buy ALL the fabrics? Or there is another way?"

Discovering your planning preferences is a wonderful part of the DIY clothier’s journey to self sufficiency and personal expression.  That's the DIY way!

Let’s start with the rules (taken directly from Stitchers Guild sewing discussion forum) for this particular sewing challenge, SWAP 2012.

"SWAP 2012 will focus on fitting, and making tried-and-true patterns:

From this list, choose seven garments.  From those seven, choose four to make twice for a total of 11 garments that will work together.
  • Button Down Shirt w/Collar           
  • Blouse or shirt   (collar is optional)                 
  • T-Shirt           
  • Vest                               
  • Overshirt                 
  • Dress             
  • Jeans
  • Trousers       
  • Shorts or Capri Pants       
  • Skirt   
  • Jacket (jean jacket, windbreaker, hoodie, etc.)                     
  • Coat  (suit or sport coat)
  • Overcoat or Raincoat     
  • Bathing Suit and Coverup"

Q: "Should I chose models I like?"
We sew to express our personal style.  You don’t need to select all 7 models (in the US, we call them styles, designs, silhouettes, "looks"...) at once; you can take things one at a time.  Many enjoy the creative process of creating a design board, using magazine clippings on a bulletin board, digital images and software, Pinterest or Polyvore.  I enjoy that sort of planning, but it’s not how I always work.

Q: "then find all the patterns?"
Based on the spirit of SWAP 2012, start with patterns you already own. Which of them are tried and true; offering predictable results every time?  Are you starting with a blank slate and you need to develop 7 well-fitting patterns?  If so, start with one simple pattern, put blinders on, and get that pattern to work for you.  Take it one step at a time.
If you have many patterns that are tried and true, now is the time to seek out new styles and turn them into TNTs.

Q: "then buy ALL the fabrics?"
should you buy all fabrics at the planning stage?  That, my dear, depends on your personality!  Some of us are absolutely energized by fabric shopping and some of us prefer to shop for each piece as inspiration strikes.  

As exciting as it is to design the collection there are equally daunting execution challenges for the sewing warrior. 

I will delve into some of the things that have challenged me up in each category, and how I am working my way through those challenges.  Every new project produces knowledge.  Arrivals at new skill levels alway involved a journey through obstacles and triumphs.

For my 2012 SWAP, I have not created a story board nor have I created any sort of plan.  I am working opposite of that.  I have a page set up on my blog to keep track of what I am sewing, organized by pattern.  At the end of the sewing time frame, I will select the pieces that belong in one coherent group and meet the rules of the SWAP.

What about you, my fellow SWAP-ers?
How are you planning your work?
Do you have enough well-fitted patterns, or are you spending a lot of time on that?
For more discussion, you can visit the Stitcher's Guild forum.


  1. The swap concept is awesome because in the end you have a wardrobe of clothes that plays well together and you can continue to add pieces to your wardrobe that work with the swap. My problem is that I am not good at comitting. I've tried so many times and I never complete anything because somehow I feel pressured to complete the items. So I enjoy reading your blog and I'm inspired by the results.

    1. Yeah, if you feel pressure, then it's not worth it! Sewing should be fun. Thanks for your kind words :)

  2. I am new to sewing (hence no TNT patterns) and did a SWAP based on patterns I wanted to try and fabric in my stash. I also incorporated contests on pattern review that I wanted to enter. I used OneNote to collate it all (great system) and have completed Jan and Feb months. I wish I had taken a more wardrobe approach (there is a mini wardrobe later in the year through PR contest) but I realised that a lot of the fabric I purchased don't match anyway... it is all a learning experience. 2013's SWAP will be much more coordinated

    1. I have been meaning to try OneNote, thanks for the reminder. You sound very organized!

  3. Thank you so very much for answering my questions!You really helped me.
    Unfortunately, there is no tried-and-true patterns, and yes,i am starting with a blank slate and need to develop 7 well-fitting patterns.
    I get the idea, thank you so very much ( and i did not know about DIY philosophy either!).
    No I go and do it!

    1. Oksana, if you are starting with a blank slate, then I recommend picking one pattern in a basic style. Spend time to sew a muslin (a prototype) and learn what fitting adjustments will improve it. Good luck and please feel free to post here or email me if with questions!!

  4. Oooh good post... And your advice is absolutely rock-solid. I spent a while building a "pattern wardrobe" mostly through trial and error. I have two simple blouse patterns, two button downs, three skirts and a pair of pants... I make jackets and coats as one-off type projects because I don't need them much in my climate. Once I had several patterns that fit, I started learning how to alter them for style, which then led me into drafting... That's not everyone's course, but it worked for me. Probably if I had less free time on my hands I wouldn't have bothered with drafting, but stuck to altering patterns I already knew fit..

    Another advantage to having a "Pattern wardrobe" is that when you want to branch out and try something different, if you fail it's less depressing. If it's good, then everyone wins. :)

    1. Good point - having a pattern wardrobe does seem to take away some of the pressure. can always fall back on TNTs when time is short
      b.something to sew a TNT you need a quick win (after a disappointment :)
      c. There isn't so much at stake when you do go off in a different direction and try something new. You know you weren't counting on this new experiment as a wardrobe builder.

  5. I very enthusiastically shopped my stash and found more than enough fabric and I have a TNT pants pattern and skirt pattern and camp-shipt pattern that I will use. I also pulled a couple of Peggy Sayers Silhouette patterns to work on techniques I am not familiar with. On top of that, I pulled out some boucle for a self drafted jacket (with the help of Living Soft software). I ordered only one piece of fabric from Spoonflower. The number of garments exceeded the requirements. Everything is stacked and ready. What happened? A commitment to make two men's shirts and continuing neck-shoulder-arm pain and a stubborn sinus infection. I am going to try to complete two March birthday gifts and and a couple pair of pj's for myself before I head to hospital for neck surgery. (I tell people that am rusting and that is causing structural damage.) Am I disappointed that I may not complete my first swap? Yes and no. I still have everything planned and ready to go and recovery may be quicker than I think.

    1. wow Patsijean, you are off to a great start!
      Do tell - what is Living Soft software??

      I hope your neck surgery goes smoothly and recovery is speedy!!

  6. Hi, I have made the decision to not buy any more clothes. I have been going through my closet and putting stuff in 3 piles. Give away, repair and restyle. Reading your "why I sew" totally resonated with me. I'm tired of ill fitting and unflattering clothing. SWAP sounds like what I need. Planning and foresight have always been my sticking points. Thanks for the inspiration.


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