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Sewing with a Plan (SWAP)

Updated on January 3, 2018

More Sewing Pleasure with a Plan

Sewing a Narrow Hem
Sewing a Narrow Hem | Source

Plan for Sewing Success

Sewing with a plan means setting a goal, collecting needed supplies, and completing projects that fit together with the plan. Start with a few key questions:

What do I need to sew this season?

Develop a plan around your family's needs. Does everyone need new pajamas? Is there a wedding coming up? Take inventory and make a list of missing items in every person's wardrobe.

What new skills do I want to learn next?

Is this the year you finally decide to try tailoring a suit? Maybe you are ready to tackle slippery swimwear fabrics or home decorating patterns. If you are a beginner, maybe your goal is to practice sewing zippers until you are a master. Plan projects to help you meet your learning goals. Invest in a class or a resource book if needed.

How much time do I have to sew?

Do you need to plan quick projects? Perhaps you need Christmas gifts for a bunch of children or a dozen baby blankets to donate to Project Linus. On the other hand, maybe you have just retired from a demanding job and are looking to immerse yourself in a big project. If so, plan your magnum opus--maybe an art quilt or an evening dress. Indulge your creative side!

The sample plan below is for summer sewing. The planner just needs to select patterns and make a shopping list with notions and fabric yardage needed. With a completed plan, some supplies can be bought in bulk instead of one project at a time. Bulk sewing supplies are a great value.

Sample SWAP Plan for Summer

nice dress for wedding
rayon floral
tankini swimsuit
look online for free pattern
cotton gauze

A Plan for Dresses

My sewing plan one season was to beef up my wardrobe with this Threads pattern done in two different fabrics from my stash.
My sewing plan one season was to beef up my wardrobe with this Threads pattern done in two different fabrics from my stash. | Source

Advantages of a Plan

Our great-great-grandmothers had to sew almost everything worn by their often large families. Do you think they did that without a plan? Of course not. A plan enables the worker to buy the right supplies in the right amounts, avoid waste, and coordinate purchased clothing items with items to be sewn. Plan to sew similar items in the same sewing session to minimize changing presser feet, needles, etc. Sew all the knits at once, for example, then change needles and sew the denim or wool items.

For our ancestors, winter was the time for most sewing, since fields were at rest until spring planting. Money from the fall harvest paid for the yard goods and shoes the family would need for the next year. Women spent their visiting time with their sewing or knitting in hand, redeeming every precious minute they had.

Now most of us sew for pleasure rather than from necessity; however we can still make sewing a social activity. If you don't have friends who sew, seek some out. Your local fabric store may have classes where you could meet like-minded people. You can also join a sew-along group on the internet. I've included some links to resources below. You can also leave a comment on this hub and find some fellow Hubbers who like to sew.

Patterns for Mini-Wardrobes

Whether you enjoy sewing woven fabrics or stretch knits, there are some stylish patterns this season that contain coordinated pieces for your fall wardrobe.

New Look 6164 is a complete knit wardrobe. A stylish dress with sleeves can be made appropriate for business or pleasure. An unconstructed jacket, pencil skirt, and sleeveless top make this pattern endlessly versatile. All garments are designed and sized for stretch knit fabrics only in misses sizes 8-18. Only basic sewing skills are required.

Simplicity 1593 is a knit wardrobe for misses sizes 10-18 or plus sizes 20W-28W. It includes a 3/4 sleeved tunic, which could be lengthened for a dress, as well as pull-on pants, a long vest, and a cardigan jacket. All tops cover the hips, flattering a multitude of shapes. Every piece is simple to sew. Choose several coordinating knit fabrics and freshen up your fall wardrobe. These clothes would make a great capsule wardrobe for travel.

Simplicity 1718 is a Project Runway pattern with up-to-the-minute styling. A long, gored trumpet skirt, wide-leg pants, and several styles of pullover tops can create looks for the office or for after hours. Just change your fabric choices to change the mood of the wardrobe. A size range from misses 4-20 means almost any woman can enjoy these clothes. Project Runway patterns include a croquis (traceable fashion sketch) so you can try out color schemes before buying your fabrics.

Simplicity 1944 is a great choice for the professional woman. Create matched and unmatched suits with this pattern, which includes a jacket in two lengths, a skirt, pants, and a pullover top. The jacket has collar/lapel variations, so make more than one. With this pattern just add accessories and head for work. It is available in misses sizes 8-24. Intermediate sewing skill is necessary, particularly for constructing the jacket.

Butterick 5897 is billed as a "lifestyle wardrobe." It lives up to this label with a classic shirtdress (sleeveless, short or long sleeves) and great separates. Tailored pants, walking shorts, a tie belt and a slip make this a fine collection of sportswear for the modern woman. The pattern comes in misses sizes 8-16 and plus sizes 18W-24W. The tailored pockets and buttonholes require careful, precise, sewing, but an experienced seamstress should have no problem with these garments.


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