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Sunday, 7 November 2010

SWAP 2011 Official Rules: Thoughts

This year the twist in SWAP is
Every garment should be made with a technique or feature that you haven't tried, or haven't mastered.  

It seems to me that this is about construction rather than embelishment and I see why improving technique is the goal this year, its about using SWAP sewing to move on to the next level in your own sewing. Its a good aim, because I have no trouble churning out volumes of simple items in different colourways and prints, but I'm only pushing myself there in terms of colour selection not the actual underlying skills.
Interestingly original SWAP was about the sort of sewing I do in my capsules, co-ordinating but fairly quick and simple.
I managed last year to do a simple 10 piece wardrobe in a month for a PR contest where I missed the start, and as it was all knit tops, a simple jacket and faced waist pants this was quite doable. For a newcomer to SWAP and a person with relatively beginner skills thats the sort of thing that would be ideal for them for SWAP this year.
But the SWAP contests have been going for a few years now, and some of us have done quite a few of them, so I can see that DL wanted each of us to develop from where we are at now. Its very clever in that means new stuff for all of us.

BUT, and this is where I am struggling with my own personal challenges, I can clearly see how I can move on in my sewing with tailored pants, jackets etc. I obviously have to learn a lot there, and those are garments I want to sew and wear. Over the years I've moved from elastic waist pants with plain machined hems, to faced waists and invisible zippers, and now on to curved waistbands and front pockets. The next logical step for me is to add in welt pockets. (I am loathe to add fly zipper in becuase I have a little fat belly, and avoid front zippers to reduce the bulk in this area).

Jackets similarly I have a lot ahead of me in terms of techniques to learn and improve, and I wear jackets for work all the time, and cardigans/soft jackets/casual jackets at home and the rest of the time. So improving my skills in those areas also makes sense.

Shirts and blouses have been stymied a little by fitting problems, but some recent discoveries about forward head alterations (which came out of the London sewing weekend) may help there. I don't wear a lot of shirts and blouses, and I'm not sure if this is just becuase I've had so much trouble getting a nice fit, or whether even of they fit I would choose knits for comfort and my own personal preference.

I am planning on adding at least one structured shirt style blouse and a more drapey tie neck style blouse into the SWAP. Again lots of opprtunities for improving skills in plackets, collars, cuffs, plackets etc.
However I am still going to want to have the majority of my tops from nice knits. And because I've already seen a lot of improvement in my knit sewing, and I do a lot of it, its harder to find technique improvements in this area. Maybe they can be small things like new neckband finishes, working out how to add a buckle to a knot front top, adding an integral cami to aforementioned knot front top etc. And of course mastering the coverstitch machine, since she and I have a tricky relationship still.

Fitting and embellishments don't seem to be in the spirit of the 'new techniques', though for me the fitting problems often block improvements in other areas. I have had a few revelations in the last year or two which seems to show that due to my 'S' spine, where I am tipped forward or backwards instead of being straight, almost all of my alterations imvolve adding or removing wedge shapes rather than simple length or width alterations. Interestingly I have not lost any more weight recently but a few people have asked if I've lost weight, I think my clothes just fit a little better!

Apologies for the long post, but I am thinking as I type :-)

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