January 13, 2008

New Year's Resolutions, and SWAP

I've been doing more sewing than knitting for the last month or 'sew'. The Timmel SWAP has started, and I've been preparing , and now sewing, for that since about the middle of December. Eleven garments (1 jacket, 4 bottoms, 4 tops, 2 dresses) cut and sewn between January 1 and April 11. Then, pictures have to be taken and submitted. There is a possible prize, but everyone who makes it to the finish wins a pattern--that is my goal right now. Well, that and a finished wardrobe that actually works for my lifestyle, and my colouring.

Some links to check out about the SWAP concept:
SWAP sewing information from Timmel
The article that stared it all
More wardrobing articles

The actual sewing doesn't stress me out as much as the story board plan and the final pictures. Story boards are supposed to keep you focused on the task at hand, producing a wardrobe that works well together in colour, fabric and shape. These ladies have developed the story board to a fine art, using photo-shop and other programs to make beautifully intricate boards. They are posted to admire here. I've planned and changed at least 4 versions of my wardrobe, but I am slowly but surely sewing something, so hopefully by the end of February, I will have a more settled plan of attack. The more low tech board appeals to me right now: fabric swatches, patterns and hanging jewelry, pictures of shoes and handbags that go with the swap, etc. pinned onto a plain cork board. At this point, I would get too involved in the planning, and not spend enough time just sewing. With 9 weeks to go, that could be a problem.

There is always a twist to make SWAP more challenging. This year's twist (making 3 different garments from one 'wardrobe type' pattern) did stress me out (thus the 4 versions problem) until I found this Maggie London pattern from Butterick. I waffled about a lot of other patterns, but this one is cute, current, and works with my body shape and current lifestyle, always a plus. Dressier wash and wear is good.

So far, I have made the top, dress, and kind of morphed the pants pattern into a one seam version. It took a bit of work to make it look flattering below the knot. There is a lot of extra fabric in the 'knot' portion of the top and dress that give you this belly pouch if it isn't removed. You can see it, slightly, on the model, but it is pretty clear in the line drawings. I took the extra fabric out. It took a couple of muslins to get the fit right, but once it is, you can just sit and sew. I think the pattern is worth working at to get it right, particularly since it does come in a wide size range, and larger ladies have challenges finding great patterns like this, but others might find the process of multiple muslins frustrating.

What is making SWAP more challenging is that I have decided to use STASH. In fact, I have gone on a fabric buying semi-moratorium. I had to go on a moratorium, since I'm having trouble walking in the sewing room. I have to sew 10 items before I can spend $20 on anything sewing related. My husband suggested that I use the ratio of $1/m fabric used up (which I might actually try, we will see). I'm hanging out for $2/m, which is the cheapest replacement cost, but the point is really to use what I have with is copious. Overflowing beyond reason. I refuse to count up the number of meters of fabric I actually have; other sewers do not have rolls of lining hanging around, and each of those rolls has more than 100 m lining on them. So, no counting until I can actually see the shelves, not the piles in front of the shelves. This means I have to use up the piles lying around the room, which is good. The other part of this moratorium is that every 3rd garment or item has to be for someone else. I sew a lot for me--this is forcing me to share the wealth.

I'm also taking the 'Build a better T-Shirt course' on Sewing pattern Review. I will be able to use the variations from my t-shirt in my wardrobe, when I get something that fits. I used all my muslin up yesterday trying to get my 'pre-T-shirt muslin' to fit correctly; I went through 5 m of fabric on just muslins, yesterday. Now I'm working on fabric 'bits' that might work for the pattern, but they aren't muslin. I think I have a 'woven t-shirt muslin' that works that I can post to the class board (or at least, this muslin is a lot closer than the first 4 versions, anyway). But, it isn't really getting my SWAP sewing done.


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