My SWAP 2017

posted in: Designing, SWAP | 24

I’ve  decided!   MANSWAP it is – a wardrobe of 11 items for my son Gus. Really for the challenge of doing menswear.

As a number of you mentioned – challenging is better for me. The casual wardrobe (apart from the knitting) was sending me to sleep. For someone who has never designed, pattern cut or made menswear, this is very challenging. In fact I have been battling with a jacket for Gus for weeks now, and it may never come together. I have committed to knitting a jumper that is designed for a woman. I have bought several vintage patterns, which while very appealing, are not ready to go. I will  need to do a fair amount of toiling and fitting in advance if I am to deliver this wardrobe for my son.

However I have done some of the preparation in advance. I know Gus’s colour palette (cool-muted) and his body shape (tapered). Or “carrot” as Demented Fairy called it). I wondered if Parsnip is a better description of a man who is wide at the shoulders with slim hips. And hey presto Debenhams got there before me. I am sure Gus would like to think he has a figure like Daniel Craig (ha ha).

Mens body shapes
Body shapes

The down side of making for Gus is that I may have to buy fabric (as his colouring is different to mine). I have a few greys and beiges in the cupboard but no soft greens or blues or taupe. My experience when deciding in advance to make something eg taupe corduroy trousers is that you cannot find the right fabric. So Gus and I will  need to keep an open mind. However as we know we are looking for cool-muted colours we can be confident that even a second or third choice will fit just fine (eg muted pink or purple).

And I have agreed a rough list of clothes with Gus that fit the rules. So I am ahead in some ways.

Here is the MANSWAP list

  1. Beige Shirt – white or beige
  2. Striped Long sleeved T shirt
  3. Deep denim High waisted jeans
  4. Soft green Casual trousers
  5. Taupe Corduroys
  6. Soft blue Smart shorts
  7. Light grey Tailored jacket
  8. Bomber jacket in hand painted silk including beige, soft greens and blues
  9. Alpaca “Lore” jumper – light grey
  10. Deep grey-blue Polo neck jumper
  11. Coat

One of the issues, brought to my attention by Stephanie, is that part of the challenge will be to do this with no more than 8 patterns (for 11 garments). There are a number of ways to address this within my plan. For example I could make all the trousers from one pattern (item 3, 4, 5 and 6), adapting it to provide the jeans, casual trousers and shorts. I could stick with one knitting pattern and do one plain and one with cabling or a fancy stitch. I could make the coat and jacket from the same pattern, and maybe the T shirt/sweat shirt (item 2) could be derived from the bomber jacket. I could drop the T shirt and do a long and short sleeved shirt from the same pattern, or drop the shirt and do a short and long sleeved T. So many options. I am not worried about the restriction although it needs some creative thought down the line.

So, those who are participating (are you?) now have six weeks before we get started.

My life is incredibly busy at the moment. I have taken on a new role in addition to my main job. I have joined the board of the NHBC which insures new homes in the UK and works to raise the standard of building. It is an interesting role but very demanding as I learn about insurance and the specifics of the company. I have been squeezing other commitments and haven’t got round to commenting on so many blogs, and Instagramming. This week I went to see one of our Extra Care schemes for older people with three local Councillors, including the leader of Lambeth Council Lib Peck. We were shown around by Bridget and John, who live there. My Lorelle sweater seems to go with everything. For our local women politicians the pant suit seems to be the norm (in berry shades).

Cheviot Gardens
Event at Cheviot Gardens


I am going to use the next six weeks to work through the patterns, make some toiles and fit Gus. As we are allowed to create two garments in advance I am going to do one jersey – the “Lore”. I am keen to get started on this as I have been given some good advice by Kari-Helene on how to “masculinise” a jumper. When I made the Lorelle (above), knitted with 5mm needles it didn’t take very long once I had worked out how to make the thing. So I can knock this off and then spend maybe a week or two on one of the other items, and still have plenty of time after Christmas.



24 Responses

  1. Stephanie

    This is going to be great! Lucky Gus.
    To be honest I just find the eight pattern restriction a bit unpleasant given that I don’t really want to use the same block for multiple garments. It’s designed to match the original concept of streamlined wardrobe development. In the case of knitting, unless you use the same tension, even if the garment is roughly the same shape it’s not exactly the same pattern in my opinion. I think the rules will have to be interpreted some what loosely.

  2. Hila

    Thank you for sharing the mens body type infographic – very halpful. I have entered the SWAP. I dont know what I am doing as I have made a capsule wardrobe before. Thats not going to stop me though?. I gather the first thing I need to do is decide on my colours. I cant seem to settle on anything so far. Still there are 6 weeks to go yet. Can you reccommend resources on how to create a capsule wardrobe? Thanks.

    • FabricKated

      I am so pleased you are joining in Hila. I have my own approaches to the capsule which I would be happy to elaborate in a future post – just for you! Artisans square has lots of references to this topic – see the Wardrobe posts. Much of this is in the Australian and American style; some I find a bit dowdy and safe. Being an English eccentric I have much more emphasis on quirks and twists. I’ll get back to you soon,

  3. Jay

    I’m interested to see how you find sewing menswear. The tailored jacket is the potential nemesis – but you’ve made a good start on a toile. Generally, I have to be dragged kicking and screaming to sew menswear, casual jackets being the exception as they have more scope for design detail. You must be an impressively fast and determined hand knitter to fit that in the timescale as well. Good luck; you’ve certainly set yourself a challenge!

  4. Elaine Sabin-Simpson

    Nice plans! I must say, I’m still floundering about for inspiration- as you said, it’s all too simple! Then again, I’m puzzled by the ‘must go with’ aspects of the rules, the numbers don’t make sense to me as it’s worded, but I may be on the wrong wavelength right now. No idea if I’ll jump in or not, the discipline worked well for me this year, but the focus on ‘keep it simple’ is making me yawn. I can sew simple all year round!
    For Gus’ fabrics, I highly recommend the Italian Textile company on EBay, as I’ve had some STUNNING stuff from them, all very high quality, and interesting colours and textures. Not cheap, but not outrageous for the quality. Remember, they’re priced for half metres to trick you!

    • fabrickated

      Thank you for the suggestion on man-fabrics and for the naughty pricing. It really winds me up when fabric is priced for the quarter yard/metre. I agree the narrative is a bit odd, and I have no clue who the person is. She is very opinionated and seems to have a view about how it should be done, while the basic rules are very open. I liked it when you were in the contest DF, and I learned alot from you. I guess whatever we do we need to find a way to make it a little more challenging.

  5. Anne

    Good for you. This lot will certainly stretch you and keep you interested. I look forward to seeing your progression.
    I’m considering entering as I find I need a challenge to keep me motivated and I do need basic garments. When I read the rules, I was rather confused at first but think I ‘get it’ now. I gather the reduced number of patterns is to encourage the development of tried n true patterns? I don’t have any of those so this will still be a big challenge for me. I’m thinking navy, pink, cream maybe. To keep it simple, trousers, tees, kimono, jacket/s, maybe a blouse – I don’t have any of these as TNTs. I’d be quite happy with safe but don’t want dowdy.

    • fabrickated

      I think for some people using just a few patterns is a fun approach. I don’t really want to make that kind of wardrobe as I find it rather boring. If I want three identical T shirts in different colours I go to Primark. And while I agree with you that we don’t want dowdy I am not sure I even want safe – I am looking for an adventure Anne!

  6. karen

    Kate, you might want to check out Make My Pattern website. You can get a made to measure men’s trouser pattern by entering your son’s measurements and downloading a pdf pattern. I do not sew for men, but, the site host also has step by step sewing instructions on Youtube. I have followed these instructions (which were very clear and concise) as women’s trousers are sewn the same way.
    Just a thought.

  7. Joyce Latham

    Hurray…Gus wins….and in more ways then one.
    You’ll be busy…but you always are.
    Looking forward to see this develop….bring it on.
    Joyce from Sudbury

  8. Kim

    I’m sure that this will give you the mental challenge, as well as learning ‘male specific’ techniques, to maintain your interest through this SWAP. Lucky Gus is also going to be given a spectacular wardrobe infusion.

  9. Sue

    This all looks marvellous. I was also going to suggest the Makemypattern website, but felt you were going for more of a vintage vibe. I think you are going to learn a great deal about fitting and making clothes for men and I am looking forward to following the journey.

  10. ceci

    Congratulations on your new work role; what an attractive group of people in the photo, and so color coordinated.

    Looking forward to the menswear project.


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