Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sewing My SWAP!

"You are making great progress on your SWAP. Three pieces, including the jacket, which is one of the more labor intensive pieces. It seems like you planned out your SWAP work load really well."

Audrey left this message in the comments today and it made me think.  This is my 4th SWAP "contest" so I do have an idea of how to sew for one...but more importantly, I think that everytime you participate in one, you hone your wardrobing skills just a little more.

There are several things that I'm doing differently this time around because of my experience in the other three SWAP contests.

1.  No storyboard
I know that this idea is considered heresy because the storyboard is the starting point for most sewists when they begin a SWAP.  Technically, you really do need one since the entire point is to "Sew With A Plan."  However, I've found that being so tightly bound to a list limits my creativity and causes me to be bored with the plan before it's finished.  Then I start to sew other stuff in the meantime and I wind up doing all night sews at the end just to complete the SWAP...so NO storyboard!

2.  Sew the most complicated garments first
This is when your enthusiasm for the process is most high.  Knock out those all-encompassing pieces first.  It allows you to feel a measure of success and will encourage you to press on to the finish line.

3. Don't be married to your plan
THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT ONE!  Make allowances to veer off on another path.  That's why I just purchased the last piece of fabric that I need for my plan...and there are still chances that something can change! *LOL*  Leave room for creativity or inspiration to strike...you just never know...you may end up with an amazing reversible dress!

4.  Don't enter the contest to win
This might be controversial but what the h*ll, my blog, my opinion.  I've never seen a plus size woman win this contest anywhere.  I don't know what's up with that, but I'm of the firm belief that I can't win this contest due to my size...so I'm making a wardrobe FOR me!  The prize is that I will have all of these great new garments in my wardrobe and I will feel wonderful wearing them!

And this is the biggest change of all for me and this SWAP...most of the garments will come from new patterns and not a TNT pattern!  Now I'm not going to remake the wheel for a pair of pants and even one of my dresses is from my TNT dress pattern, but most of the tops in this SWAP are from untried and new patterns...the ratio is something like 40% TNT and 60% new!  Yeah, I know...

Here's a preview of some of the new patterns that will be incorporated into my SWAP:

Vogue 1750

Simplicity 2566
So that will be four new patterns included so far in the collection...there's a chance that one more will yet make the cut!  I also chose a different color this year...in the past I've used basic colors or in the case of my first SWAP a brightly colored lime for a summer SWAP that didn't really impress anyone...even me!  *LOL*  The choice of color (navy) was to expand my wardrobe horizons and hopefully by working with it and some new color combinations, I won't be bored!

I will be working on the bottoms or the two pairs of pants for the SWAP this weekend.  I want to get them out of the way so that I can concentrate on the tops.  If you've noticed, I don't make a lot of tops and in the last SWAP I participated in, only two of the tops I included actually got any wear.  One got donated pretty quickly after the contest so I'm trying to make sure that each top that gets made this time will actually get worn.

That's an update on my SWAP...my thoughts...and a little bit of a sneek peak of where I'm going!

Diary Bits:
This is a new section that will be making periodic appearances here.  It will sometimes show up at the end of a post and sometimes it will be the post.  It will just be a bunch of thoughts that I want to share...

Tonight's Diary Bit is about my Vogue 8593 - navy blue doubleknit Michelle Obama knock-off dress.  It's been finished since December but today was the first time I wore it to work.  And I can't believe the number of compliments that I got on this dress.  Both bosses were impressed...with one saying that she couldn't believe how great this dress was...even the "evil one" in my office took a second look!  So even though I more than likely won't make this dress again...it was a home run!

...and as always...more later!


  1. My wish and hope is that you will beat the odds and be the first plus-size woman to win a SWAP contest! And Gertie prolly has something to write about this matter, too!

  2. The Michelle Obama dress is my all time favorite garment of yours. It is hot hot hot.

  3. Yeah! I do have something to say on this matter! Carolyn, I wish I could disagree with you. But I can't recall ever seeing a plus-size woman winning a sewing contest. I hope you break the mold with your entry. I'd love to blog about your thoughts if that's okay with you.

  4. This is only my 3rd year of SWAP, but I agree that you can't enter one to win, it would be a waste of sewing time. My plan is to use the SWAP to make the basics and separates that I don't usually make, as they are simply not exciting enough by themselves. No storyboard for me either, my plan is in my head.
    I greatly admire your sewing. I am not sure why a plus sized woman should not win a sewing contest.

  5. I just tracked back to your MO dress. No wonder your colleagues all like it- it's drop dead gorgeous! I am surprised you aren't thinking of making it again in a colour.

    Good luck with your SWAP. Do we all get to vote? Because, if we do maybe a plus size woman will win! :)

  6. I think it takes more than just expert sewing to make something for plus sizes. Most of the time we can't make something straight from the packet and it takes quite a bit of extra effort to fit garments, which means lots of muslins, and lots and lots of extra time to make them look like the pattern envelope. This is a skill in itself and takes years to master IMHO.
    I do hope people realise how much EXRA effort it takes for plus size sewists and vote on your expertise.

  7. Like you, I did not join the SWAP to win. I joined as a challenge to myself to see if I could finish it. I didn't bother with a storyboard because I change my mind all the time. I made 5 garments so far and 3 of them are not going in the collection. So it's back to the starting block.

  8. oh, how I love your blog! the MO dress is amazing and you look wonderful in it. every time I'm in New York shopping for fabric, I look to see that wonderful smile of yours... it would be like bumping into an old friend. ...maybe some day.

  9. The Michelle Obama dress is so gorgeous and I am glad that you had such a positive response to it.

    And I love how you are tackling your swap.

  10. I really wish I had the attention span to finish a SWAP/wardrobe. With your recommendations I might be able to do a few coordinated pieces, but even that would be a chore.

  11. You go girl! I'm rooting for you. Love that you got all those compliments on your Michelle O dress.

  12. I've never done a SWAP before and, other than sewing the most complicated pieces first, that's the plan I'd decided to go with. Nice to know that I'm on the right track.

    - Myrna

  13. Love this post! Thank you for sharing your thoughts on how to do a successful SWAP. I'm toying with the idea of maybe doing one for PR later this year and I'm with you - I'd be entering to make cool clothes for myself, not to so much to win. As for your SWAP this time, I'm so in love with your choice of navy. I think it's a very underrated color that looks chic when paired with neutrals and fresh when paired with brighter colors. I can't wait to see how the rest of the pieces turn out.

    And a huge congrats on the compliments. That dress really is lovely and I'm glad folks are noticing are nice it is. :)

  14. Thank you for this. You've given us clarification and a plan. Best of luck on yours.

  15. That is excellent advice. I like the idea of planning it as you go along instead of all at once. I've never successfully completed a sewing plan because I hate feeling tied down, even if I made all the decisions that are tying me down!

  16. Carolyn,what a triumph for you! I've got that pattern slated for a LBD and have to admit I've been hesitant that it won't do for my "busty" matronly figure.But it looks so good on you. I might give it a try next month.

    I empathize with your Swap thoughts.Just finishing last year was a good feeling.

  17. I think that you have great advice for SWAP contests. I've entered 3, didn't finish 1, but I did get some great coordinated garments. This year I just pulled color coordinated fabric and have not entered officially. It's amazing to me how much of my non-official SWAP is getting done! Maybe, next year I'll enter again. BTW, I'm in love with your SWAP jacket. Of course you got compliments on your MO knock-off dress. It's gorgeous!

  18. Great post and Looking forward to your Swap.

  19. Enjoyed reading your thoughts on doing a SWAP. Sorry to hear you feel you won't win, but I can't comment on that as I haven't followed too many of them. I hope you do though, as you put so much thought into making what suits you and fitting it well! You will always win with great garments in your wardrobe!

  20. Carolyn, two things. Vogue 1750 - I love the pattern but it doesn't come up, even as OOP. Any suggestions on where to find one?

    Second, in my opinion, you should win a SWAP contest, because you, along with a few others, truly understand how the plan works. And you achieve success time and again.

    I have been quiet for a long time, but I do check in on what people are doing and your site is my first on the list. Julie (formerly Timmel Fabrics owner)

  21. Carolyn I thought you did win a very similar contest on PR couple of years back? Which whilst not 'the SWAP' contest it was a wardrobing contest with very similar rules and timescales. The wardrobe you did was all black and white. (have I lost the plot??). I agree though that I don't enter to win, but rather as motivation to sew the clothes I want.

  22. Great post.I love Swap-contests too, and just participating with so many others is a lot of fun. However, your skilllevel should definitely set you among the topcontenders. That (non SWAP, I think) navy-mrs O.-dress looks great and fits like a dream. It's sad that people vote from prejudice and don't even know it.

  23. dayum! that V8593 looks good! I mean, i thought it looked good the first time I saw it, but i liked seeing it again. i love how you accessorized it.

  24. Carolyn, I totally agree with you here, as I have thought exactly the same thing when looking at the SWAP entries. Be that as it may, I have been reading your blog for years now and you totally rock. I would love to take you out to lunch is I am every in NYC, because you are a fascinating, straight-thinking woman.

  25. I'm sorry to say that you're probably right about the plus sized women not winning a SWAP.

    That being said, Madam, you can SEW! I enjoy sewing, am plus-sized and do sew my own clothes, but I bow before your skill and creativity. Madam, you know how to DRESS. It seems to me that a lot of the "fatshionista" crowd look like the rag-picker's child with what they choose, but holy mackerel do you look GOOD.


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