Here’s the thinking behind a SWAP. Your typical home seamstress sees a great fabric — maybe quilting cotton with totally kawai rubber ducks — and decides to make the Sorbet top she’s been reading about at all the sewing blogs. She posts the picture to Instagram and hangs it up with a sense of accomplishment.

Then she gets involved in a sew-along for a cardigan in sweater knit fabric, so she pulls that fun pink and black zebra stripe out of her closet. A friend in the blogosphere makes the cutest red corduroy pencil skirt, so she makes one too.

The year goes on this way, and she has a closet full of cool projects and nothing at all that she can actually wear in real life.

Instead, Sewing with a Plan has you choose a print containing a neutral and a fashion color, plan a practical 11-piece mix-and-match wardrobe using tried-and-true patterns, and create a central wardrobe on which you can build for the future, adding coordinating pieces as you go.


Thus, looking at the fall color report from Pantone, I might think of the Marc Jacob orchid wool suit I made for my Spring 2014 SWAP, pick marsala and sage as my two colors for the Fall 2015 SWAP, and plan to use this print for a two-piece dress that will look great with that suit.


I find suiting in the sage and make a jacket, pants, and skirt. Another pair of pants in marsala and one in the darker green (Dried Herb) finishes the bottoms. I have a jacket in the darker green in my wardrobe already, along with orchid and marsala tops from previous SWAPs, so I add tops in rose, dark blue, and gray.


I sally forth all fashionable and coordinated.

It’s such a great idea.

But this year, I’ve only made four of the planned 11 pieces for the Spring 2015 SWAP. I made none from the Fall 2014 SWAP — I just have the lovely fabrics I bought, now in last year’s colors. The pieces from previous SWAPs might not fit me at all by the time fall rolls around. And I actually never wear skirts. I just make them because I’m following the rules of the SWAP.

In the real world, I wear one of the following options:

  • Home at my computer I wear jeans and a shirt, with a sweater in cold weather.
  • In class or meetings, I wear trousers (invariably in a dark neutral color), a simple blouse or shell, and a jacket.

I am not actually a good enough seamstress to make pants and jackets with confidence that I’ll be able to wear them. So I could buy new pants and a plain jacket for fall, and make blouses from my current stash. A plain shell a week would be a realistic sewing goal for me, and since my pants and jackets are almost always in a plain dark neutral, I could use any fabrics and not worry about color coordination or trendiness of the color.

Just a thought.