“Plan your work and work your plan”

posted in: Organisation, SWAP | 20

What is your project planning like? I am afraid most of my methods are rather rudimentary.

I once attended a Microsoft Project Project Management course where the first exercise (to lull us in with a false sense of simplicity) was to “plan to make a Christmas dinner”. Of course every child knows that getting a hot  meal for 12 or so people (two of whom are vegetarians, one can’t have butter and one lacks his own teeth) to arrive at exactly the right time is very challenging. It usually needs three women to do 12 hours of shopping,  an evening and morning in the kitchen, and even then the brussels are overcooked.

So it is with some trepidation that I worked out how I can deliver my SWAP outfits to the deadline of the end of April. There is not much slack in this plan. My progress is very slow and although I have time for one toile (pant suit?) I am going to do the Cardin suit (the most challenging item) without a toile. One of these weekends will be spent at the Museum of Costume and Lace (anyone want to join us for part of the Easter weekend?) I hope, with lovely Stephanie of My Vintage Inspiration. But it is a long weekend so that helps. But it does mean focusing on making something every weekend.


9 Jan 16 Jan 23 Jan 30 Jan 6 Feb 13 Feb 20 Feb 27 Feb 5 Mar 12 Mar
Blue Pencil skirt 1950s blue blouse Start purple jacket Continue purple jacket Finish Purple jacket Purple skirt Finish purple skirt Purple silk blouse Toile for pant suit Pants



19 Mar 26 Mar 2 Apr 9 Apr 16 Apr 23 Apr 30 Apr
Tunic Hand painted blouse Fabiani dress Flared silk skirt YSL pink dress Finish pink dress Photographs


I am not sure I have got them in the right order. Some people start with the most challenging item, then it’s plain sailing. Others ease themselves in with something simple to flex their sewing muscles. I think, having made the plan, I am more the sort of person who goes with the flow. I sort of want to make each pack as a pack, because I do have a tidy, orderly side. But I like a bit of spontaneity too. And I am slightly unsettled by not having fabric for the pant suit, or even knowing what colour it will be. Then there is the issue of using the dress with the tiny stains (on the back) or making up the YSL Mondrian sequin dress that I would like to wear to an event in February. And of course I always reserve the right to change my mind!

Fabrickated SWAP 2016
SWAP 2016 patterns

Arrgh. I think I will just cut something out and get on with it. This is the beauty of the plan. It provides a very useful boundary of a time frame and deadline, and it restricts what I am making to a few sets I have really thought about.

The phrase Plan your work and work Your Plan was apparently used in sermons from the 1880s and no one knows who said it first. I quite like it.

Do you plan your sewing, or do you just go with what you feel like? Or a bit of both, like me?

20 Responses

  1. Catherine Daze

    I try not to plan too far ahead. It’s fun but I always change my mind when I get there, which is how I came by a lot of my fabric stash. What little planning I do is in a paper notebook. Still haven’t found an electronic method I like and I’ve tried a few! I am in awe of those who are organised enough to do SWAP.

  2. Stephanie

    Ack! Your plan is a little bit terrifying to me, but a good reminder. I have only just started making my first item (plum-coloured wool pants) and I’ve set myself some challenging goals this year. 🙂 I still don’t think I’ll lay out a schedule though, as like you I like to be spontaneous. I suspect that what it will be will be an alternation of difficult and easier items .e. challenge then rest, challenge then rest, although I think that I have a kind of a mental clock that ticks in the background making me aware that I need to keep up momentum. PS Re. Brussels I apologize that I don’t have the dates firm/available yet but I will let you know as soon as I know. I think in about a week or two I should have a better idea of the constraints.

    • fabrickated

      So glad to hear those plum wool pants are coming along. I meant to do the purple suit this weekend, but I have had a real crisis of confidence. I will let the plan rest for a while and may change it if I don’t come back to it. In the meantime I am going to have a go at the YSL sequin dress. Don’t worry about Belgium. We are going and if you are there too that would be even nicer.

  3. Stephanie

    I hope you do find the time to make up the YSL evening Mondrian dress at that will really suit you. I read over Pattern Vault’s post on hers and it’s a lovely dress.

  4. SewRuthie

    My MSP course used building a house as an example ironically!
    My day job is doing projects so although I do plan my sewing I like to play and be creative too.

  5. Mary

    My planning is very rudimentary. Here is how it goes: Have a rummage through patterns. Have a rummage through fabric stash. Match pattern to fabric and place together on table in sewing room. Create stack of projects six or seven projects high and then start sewing the one that strikes my fancy first. Maybe interrupt that one to start a different one but only allow myself two projects to go on at once. And I usually sew for the next season. Today I am sewing a linen dress for spring/summer and in the stack behind it are cotton tunics and linen trousers as well as another linen dress. As I admire the stack I realize I really could use a knit cardigan so will probably shop for the perfect knit in the next two months and whip up an Ottobre cardigan because I know how serviceable the pattern is and it is already traced and adjusted and ready to go. Each season I make about five or six new garments and they usually are in the same color scheme because I know my colors I like to wear. My #1 rule is to enjoy my sewing!

  6. Seamsoddlouise

    Yikes your list is so long. Good luck and may the sewing gods be with you. My planing is very slight I have a vague idea of what I want. I know that I want two pairs of casual trousers and two linden sweatshirts to wear before the weather warms up and I have plans for a jersey dress. But I haven’t set myself proper deadlines. Perhaps I should try it.

  7. Jay

    I don’t plan. Sewing time is stolen from things I should be doing instead. You’ve picked pattern gems, and the colour scheme is lovely. Fingers crossed it goes to plan!

  8. Anne

    What an intimidating list! Mainly you have one item per weekend apart from the purple jacket where you have 3 and the skirt where you have two. That seems fast. Do you work only at the weekend? I’m in total awe of how much you get done! (Maybe that’s my problem, or part of it – I need to set a faster pace/goals). I need to be slightly organised for the wedding sewing I’m doing – otherwise I want my sewing as a relaxing hobby.

  9. Jennifer Miller

    Wow, seeing it all written out makes it very clear just how much time remains for all these garments. I’m unfortunately not the best planner, but maybe this will help. Really looking forward to seeing how your SWAP shakes out. Your colors and patterns are so pretty.

  10. Annieloveslinen

    Gosh! That’s ambitious. I’m a bit like Catherine I buy fabric for a particular pattern then change my mind and a bit like Mary in that I make what has worked before and what I know I’ll wear. I admire your plan it sounds fab and I hope you do the Mondrian dress too.

  11. Sox

    I do a bit of both -some planning and some of what I feel like. I don’t like to make it too structured because it is supposed to be fun and not work. I’m impressed at your list!

  12. QPlourde

    I’ve been trying to plan better too – mostly because I always end up getting to a project when it’s already out of season because I get delayed so much. But so many times I will cut something out only to abandon it for the next shiny object. Oh well – trial and error I guess. Very interested to see how the planning goes for you :o)

  13. Amanda

    My time is similarly limited, so I can relate! I really only have one day a week to sew, and the other days I can only grab snippets of time here and there, so I’m using those times to work on tracing/pattern adjustment etc, which for me, is easier to do in smaller increments of time. This way, I can organize all my SWAP projects in little piles: fabric, notions, pattern, etc. so that once I finish one, I can grab whichever one I fancy sewing next 🙂 Can’t guarantee it’ll be fool-proof but so far, it’s been allowing me to utilize my precious little sewing time to the fullest 🙂

  14. Kim Hood

    The busier I am the better I plan. Most of the time I can work to a daily list (with a mental ‘long range’ plan alongside) but it’s not unusual for me to go off the rails on personal work.
    Your plan looks challenging but I’m sure you will achieve it.

  15. Abbey

    Very ambitious, indeed! But no doubt within reach, given that you’ve planned it all out and are so productive and focused!

    Like you, I do a bit of both when it comes to planning vs not; I keep a running list of projects I’d like to undertake and then decide which one(s) to tackle, which is nearly always dependent on my inspiration rather than any need or strategy. I do wonder whether a more organized approach would improve my productivity, but I enjoy that rush of sudden inspiration that powers my current method. =)

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