Sewing with a Plan 2017 #12 – decision time

Thank you for all giving me your advice on the MANSWAP – where I try to create an 11 piece wardrobe for my son in four months (now two).

I have four out of 11 garments done. If I was pacing myself that should be five and a half by now.

This week I almost completed item four – the Vogue 8988 jacket. I am pretty pleased with it. Gus too. He says he will wear it, which is very pleasing. I have learnt a great deal from this project about fitting and construction. My tailored pockets are passable and improving.

I used some good quality shoulder pads and sleeve roll to make the shoulders look really nice. I lined the sleeves with a decent, firm acetate lining and overall I think the fit is good, especially given the long hard road to get there.

Vogue 8988
Almost complete Vogue 8988 jacket (button-hole and button still to be done)

With just two months to go seven garments is almost one a week. The blue jacket took me at least three weeks just to sew. A second one would be quicker – maybe one and a half weeks if all the planets were aligned. If I had a few spare days leave I could take off time to do this project.

I could include a RTW item (say a shirt) and make a quick T-shirt. So while I think finishing on time would still be technically feasible it would involve too many sacrifices and compromises. I would have the satisfaction of getting the boy’s wardrobe done. And I know I would be really proud of it. I really like what I have made so far, and I am learning a great deal that will help the remaining garments go more quickly. But I think on balance I am going to call it a day in terms of SWAP. I did, briefly, play with the idea of submitting what I have been making for myself, plus a few other items I can knock off fairly fast. But no. I have nothing to prove and I am in this for fun, and for learning. Competition (except against myself) is irrelevant.

So that is the end of the SWAP time-table for me. I think I will make up more clothes for Gus, and I will write them up as I do them, but I want to knit, and read, and make myself a few items. So right now the pressure of a time-table makes little sense.

Over time I will be contributing to Gus’s wardrobe, and Gus (who is helpful, engaging, patient and kind) will be helping me to develop my skills. I really appreciate his willingness to be featured on these pages and you will hear from him again.

By Christmas I plan a more modest wardrobe for my son, as follows.

Gus’s wardrobe

  • A second, tailored jacket (However Gus finds the style of the navy jacket “old-fashioned” which I guess it is – maybe classic).
  • A painted silk bomber jacket (Gus and I are both looking forward to this project)
  • Blue trousers (Brenda’s kind donation)
  • Tailored summer shorts (Gus actually “needs” these)
  • Jeans (I am keen on the learning involved in this project).

The two tailored shirts are “nice to have” but I think I might prefer to just buy them. These cost about £25 from Uniqlo and I know home-made will not be superior. So until I get the shirt-urge maybe I can let myself off for now. However a perfect white shirt is something I do want to make at some point as I think in many ways it is the garment that sorts out the really good constructors from the also rans (that would be me).

Uniqlo men’s Oxford shirt

I don’t feel upset or worried about “giving up”. In fact I would say Gus and I are both relieved.

However I am a little bit disappointed. You see I love SWAP precisely because it is so challenging. Although beginners will find they can use it to organise their sewing it really appeals to what might be called “advanced” seamstresses. People who make their own patterns, fabric and plans. People who enjoy the more challenging “plus difficile” patterns, vintage designers or things like corsets. People who find the whole idea of an 11 piece “me-made” capsule wardrobe a fabulous idea – a little bit like being a proper designer. People who think about it for up to a year before they can get started. It seems to me (apart from one year one outfit which is also appealing for more advanced sewists) we need challenges to stretch and test us rather than just “here is something I ran up in a few hours” (which has its place too). So I am disappointed not to be continuing, but also a bit relieved because I can now do a few other things that I enjoy.

Over the next year – as I make a few more things for Gus, and myself, I shall be silently thinking about SWAP 2018 – to create a plan that is challenging and achievable, and within the rules.

33 Responses

  1. I’ve loved following your jacket progress. I’m currently working on a jacket for my hubby. Starting point. A second hand one that fit but was a tad too short. Pattern now drafted, next step muslin.

  2. The shoulders on that jacket are perfect, (as is the rest of it ) and it looks great. cannot believe you are getting so much done

    • Yes I think I nailed the shoulders Eimear, after several frustrating attempts. It looks really nice across the upper chest and I feel a real sense of satisfaction of finally understanding what was required. I need to instinctively grasp the fitting issues and kind of internalise them. To go from just my self to someone else and a man was really hard for me, so I got a real sense of achievement.

  3. The jacket looks great and I’m so glad that Gus likes it. I’m glad, too, that you’re comfortable with your decision to withdraw from this year’s SWAP. I’ll join you in 2018! You certainly have nothing to prove. I believe that the wardrobe you create for Gus will benefit – there’s no point in creating something he considers old-fashioned and therefore wouldn’t wear. I look forward to seeing the silk bommer jacket.

  4. Stephanie

    The jacket looks really good. Your decision is what I expected. I think we are all going that way this year. The planning was fun though and the items you made useful and appreciated, which is what counts.

    • Yes. Thank you for that S. The planning was amazing for me, and I know I can do menswear now if I want to. I have made trousers and a jacket and could repeat these again if I wanted to (but kind of what is the point?). I will crack a proper shirt and jeans in due course.

  5. Your jacket looks very good! You know you’ve made the right decision when relief is the resultant emotion. I am not surprised either that you’ve chosen to slow down. Too much life! This way you can really enjoy the items you complete, and focus on some of your other creative endeavors. Sounds like a good, healthy decision.

  6. Joyce Latham

    The garments are wonderful, (and the time that you two spent together working on the project together is the most wonderful! ) A real joy to watch and follow along as you both seemed to get along great and have such respect for one another. Looking forward to seeing what else you two develop …(I would buy the shirts made too)..the boomer jacket will be really cool. Thanks for including why you enjoy the SWAP. Good luck with your next knitting project Kate!
    Joyce, from Sudbury

    • Oh Joyce, you are so lovely. Yes, of course, this is about mother-son bonding as much as anything else. I am excited about the silk bomber too. I so appreciate your kind words and shared interests.

  7. Wow, the painted silk bomber jacket sounds exciting….. Does this mean that a cashmere sweater for your trip to the south of France is back on the table? It would be fun to see a post on how the travel wardrobe played out in real life.

    ceci

    • Ceci – thank you for the challenge. I have made up the sweater for the French trip. I will photograph the event and share – as you suggest. I am interest too!

  8. I read this very early this moning, and must admit, I thought it was coming! I’m glad Gus is enjoying his wardrobe so far, and that you will continue but not feel pressured to a deadline, so that you can both enjoy the process more. My WIFESWAP has stalled, because [dare I admit it], I think the rules this year are a tad boring, and I don’t feel all that inspired. I’ll continue to sew for the missus, but the results may not work to the original plan. Not to worry, lots of other challenges around, including Mrs Hughes’ ‘Dress Like Your Nan’.

    • Yes! I am sure you will finish – you just have so much more energy and skill than me. I am loving your sewing adventures and follow with enthusiasm. I love the dress like your grandma challenge although I am so old my grandma only wore boring tweedy/tartan skirts and twin sets. My Mum wore lovely clothes in the 1940s/50s which I have already been inspired by.

      The SWAP rules are a tad boring – to be honest I just found the TNT and repetition of simple styles demotivating.

  9. You are so ambitious, Kate! But I for one am glad that you are not trying to squeeze your work into the deadline. The point of all this is to keep learning and make beautiful clothes, not to meet some arbitrary date.

  10. Kate, you’ve accomplished a lot with the SWAP and its just fine if you redefine your plans. Gus is very lucky. Looking forward to seeing your sweater.

  11. You’ve highlighted all of the positive reasons for sewing a SWAP wardrobe so well and why I participated for years. You’ve also highlighted all of the reasons why you know when it’s time to throw in a towel on a SWAP wardrobe and why I stopped sewing them. I can’t wait to see the new pieces that you make for Gus, in your time table and when it works for you both! So a win-win! Gus got some new pieces, you learned some new techniques and challenged yourself sewing, and the SWAP competition was the event that inspired it. Looking forward to your next creative adventure.

    • Carolyn – you are one of the wisest women in this business. Thank you for your sweet comments and feedback. I really think the new techniques I have learned in menswear will raise up my women’s wear.

  12. The Jacket is looking great, really suits his shape. I am glad he will wear it. Pity about SWAP but as you say this is for FUN!

  13. Your persistent in fitting has really paid off. Gus looks wonderful in his jacket. And re SWAP: no need for more “shoulds” in life. You’ll keep challenging yourself in any case!

    • Elle – you are right of course. Should is a horrible thing really, isn’t it? I need less Should in my life. Thank you.

  14. I’m sure this is the best decision for you! As you mention, many people spend months planning a SWAP. It will be interesting to hear your thought process if you share it next year. I’m not one to plan out this many garments, but I very much enjoy learning how others plan.

  15. I think you’ve done pretty well. The jacket is classic and looks very well on him. Gus’s comments remind me why I am and will remain a “selfish seamstress”!

    • Thank you Gail. I love to create/make food for the children and grandchildren. It gives me a real sense of pleasure to provide for them and to embody my love for them in clothes, or meals, or other experiences. But there are limits and I think I reached them on this occasion. I hope to create a few more nice clothes for the family, but gradually and gently.

  16. Sewing should be fun and if it causes undue stress then adjust your plans. I’m happy to see that you have decided to make what you comfortably have time for. You’ve planned some wonderful things for Gus and you should be able to enjoy creating for him.

    • Thank you so much Mary. You have helped me, and encouraged me, more than you can know. Much of this jacket was marked and basted with your thread and needles. Sending love and gratitude.

  17. How you manage to fit as much as you do into your days is inspiring but I think the self knowledge to call a halt on something you are not enjoying is magnificent. You have made some great garments for Gus, and I’m certain there will be many more.
    Enjoy doing things for fun for a while 😃
    P.S. Great jacket.

    • Thank you dear Kim for your support and encouragement. It was the right decision, although I feel a bit cross with myself. But my circumstances have changed. You know about this too. Hoping you are enjoying your retirement.

  18. When you look at your swap progress in terms of types of garments completed it’s quite impressive. i couldn’t do a sweater in that timeframe. Enjoy the process of slower sewing, it’ll still be quicker than many of us can manage.

    • Thank you Annie. Sometimes we think we are superwomen, but we are not. Best to do what we enjoy and come to terms with the rhythm of life.

  19. Very cool classic jacket with superb fit…pat yourself on the back and know that you have done everything possible to create a masterpiece. As with all great artists, it is time to step back and reassess your plans and find some time for yourself. Shifting to knitting, a calmer less stressful practice and reading will give your brain a little break. It is like for me and my brides…meeting deadlines, pulling wild solutions out of my brain day after day can take a toll. A body needs the balance of serene pleasures…may you find some to nourish you and your soul!

    • Yes. Very wise and kind feedback Mrs Mole. I need to push myself but we also need to know our limits. I am really enjoying knitting and reading as a change. I think I did a good job on the jacket in the end and am relieved it is finished.

  20. I totally understand why you have changed your plans, given all the time constraints, and you will enjoy the process much better if you can take a more relaxed approach. It will still be fascinating for all your followers…

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