“The Rules” Sewing with a Plan 2017

The rules for SWAP this year are out. Here is the condensed version. If you are thinking of particiapting you need to join Artisans Square and check the details for yourself. I hope that some of you might consider the challenge this year. Planning your wardrobe and then making what you need can be lots of fun. We plan until Christmas, sew until the end of April and publish photographs at the beginning of May. Then there is some voting, but that is not too important. All of us are winners as we have created a set of clothes that we (if all goes well) love and work well together.

So here are the summary rules.

“Eleven garments divided between Upper, Lower and Over pieces.

Upper: Minimum 3, maximum 5.
Lower: Minimum 3, maximum 5.
Over: Minimum 2, maximum 5. No more than ½ may be outerwear.

You decide how many of each, within the numbers above, to total 11 garments.

Your twist: Each garment in a category must work with at least half of the garments in each of the other two categories.

PATTERNS: A minimum of 3 and a maximum of 8 patterns can be used.
KNITS: You may include up to 4 crocheted, hand or machine knit garments.”

I think these rules are nice and loose and will suit different levels of expertise.You may use one previously sewn item, completed by November 5th, when the Rules were posted. Two can be Early Bird (ie made between now and Christmas, and one Ready To Wear item, so only eight garments need to be made in the final four months.

Before the rules are published, for about a month, participants speculate on what rules might appeal to them. One suggestion was that this year there might be different categories – beginner, intermediate and advanced. Others, many others, have emphasised the need to keep it simple – using tried and tested patterns that don’t take too much time. These posts have made me think, and I will give you my take on this.

I sew hard stuff. I do it because I like to learn. In this sense, every time I make something, I feel a bit like a beginner – a knowing beginner or an adventurous beginner – but someone who is learning.  I don’t get much personal satisfaction in making something easy. Each item has to have a challenge of some sort for me – challenging fabrics, fitting issues, vintage/couture construction, embellished or painted, something I have never made before (it was jeans; now my Everest is a bra). Of course I do understand the appeal of the “Jiffy” or “Quick Sew” pattern, those soft, casual knits and the speedy overlocker. For holiday wear I would love some of these. But for my working wardrobe I need clothes that are fairly formal, well fitted and with a wide range of jackets (for authority).

So now I am going to have an initial look at how the SWAP 2017 rules might work for me.

I have three possible SWAP in my mind at the moment – pictures and patterns are illustrative.

My own classic SWAP.

Burda 6985
Burda 6985


  1. Tailored jacket
  2. Tailored trousers
  3. Tailored shirt
  4. Jeans
  5. Leather jacket
  6. T shirt
  7. Fitted skirt
  8. Fitted dress
  9. Blouse
  10. Warm coat
  11. Raincoat

SWAP 2017 rules [4 tops (the dress counts as a top), 3 bottoms, four overs (half of which are outwear]

My casual SWAP.

Weekend wear


  1. loose fitting trousers 1
  2. loose fitting trousers 2
  3. loose fitting trousers 3
  4. jeans
  5. unstructured jacket
  6. sweat shirt
  7. long sleeved T shirt 1
  8. long sleeved T shirt 2
  9. pullover jumper
  10. loose fitting pinafore dress
  11. jumpsuit/boiler suit

SWAP 20167 rules [5 tops, 5 bottoms (jumpsuit counts as a bottom), one over]

MANSWAP for Gus.

1940s lads


  1. Shirt
  2. Long sleeved T shirt
  3. High waisted jeans
  4. Corduroys
  5. Smart shorts
  6. Casual trousers
  7. Tailored jacket
  8. Bomber jacket
  9. Alpaca “Lore” jumper
  10. Polo neck jumper
  11. Coat

SWAP 2017 rules [4 tops, 4 bottoms, 3 over of which only the coat is outwear]

So all of them comply with the flexible SWAP 2017 rules. And I want to make all three! I will spend a week thinking about it and then decide. Whatever happens I will make something from every list over the next six months. The planning of sewing is something I have learnt from the SWAP challenge. I do it because it works for me.  But which of these three is going to be my SWAP collection,  as opposed to just sewing in my own time?

18 Responses

  1. Stephanie

    Kate these all look great and I will look forward to seeing what you do. The problem I am having for my own is dealing with the issue of 8 patterns only. I can see how some of the items you have listed could be derived from the same pattern to meet thus but not in all cases, especially if wardrobe patterns are not included as one pattern. You probably have a solution I can’t see.

    • fabrickated

      I thought I would come to that Steph, in due course! Trousers into shorts, four pairs of casual trousers from one jogging pants pattern, two jackets from one pattern – one in leather, one in fabric, tailored trousers into a tailored skirt, same knitting pattern – different stitches? Making T shirts without a pattern? I haven’t thought it through but it will be an interesting twist I think.

    • fabrickated

      It is such fun Sue and I think it might suit your personality and sewing style. I really have found the end product very useful. Doing the SWAP has really forced me to work to a higher standard than I might do if “no one was watching” if you know what I mean!

  2. Sam

    I’m tempted to join in this year, the trick for me would be not getting distracted by “new and shiny” patterns that come along and sticking to my original plan! I’ll have a think about it…

    • fabrickated

      It is a big commitment but I have found you can adapt it quite alot as you go along. And sometimes things don’t work and you need to change them Sam. As you are already very competent I would say that you would be able to include new and shiny as well as tried and tested and I think you would find it fun. Of course lots of people make other garments besides their SWAP outfits too.

  3. Elaine Sabin-Simpson

    I haven’t even started thinking on the right lines yet. To be honest, I have the same issue as you with not wanting to make loads of easy things, I do those in between the ‘real’ sewing in any case. I’m not sure the rules as they are particularly suit me…but I’ll play for a while to see. I can definitely do a set for Dawn though, she only wears separates, needs loads of trousers, and I already have two huge boxes of fabric set aside for her. Not sure it would last me until April though!
    Maybe I need to follow your lead and plan more than one SWAP, and do all of it. But then, what about my steampunk ideas? Sigh.
    I’m intriguing myself trying to suss out the anonymous co-ordinator. So far I have, NOT a Brit, older, well-educated. All going on vocabulary clues! Have you got any notions?

  4. Marianne

    I admire your determination to join once again! For me rules and deadlines take the joy out of sewing, so no SWAP for me, but I’m definitely enjoying reading about your plans. I think the manswap is the most challenging!

    • fabrickated

      And Manswap it is Marianne. I know that SWAP rules don’t suit everyone but for me they give structure and context to my sewing and make me think it through rather than just launch into making stuff. Thank you for following along – I really appreciate your insights and support.

  5. Lynn Mally

    I first got to know you via a SWAP and have always enjoyed following your plans. Since I love tailored jackets, the first and the third proposals appeal to me most. And wouldn’t they be the most challenging?

  6. Jay

    The first and third are the most time hungry, maybe that will be a factor in your decision. You’ve spent some time on choosing a colour palette in the past, what’s it going to be this time?

  7. Kim

    SWAP is a brilliant way to coordinate your wardrobe. I would probably benefit enormously from joining in but I’m not sure that now is the time. Good luck with your multiple SWAP plans.

    • fabrickated

      Kim – I have always hoped you might join in. You certainly have such high standards and skills, and I know you think in wardrobe terms. But it is a big commitment and not for everyone. I don’t know how it will work out for me – I have decided to make the clothes for my son – I will be experimenting with creating for a client, maybe getting a little insight into your world.

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