My ideal SWAP wardrobe ?

The rules for the Sewing With A Plan 2010 contest at Artisans Square are available. The idea is to make a wardrobe of co-ordinating pieces.

I don’t do well under pressure so won’t be taking part, but I love making plans so I’ve already made several 😀 I admire people who make one plan and stick to it, but my mind just doesn’t work that way !

There are 3 options this year. Two include dresses, which don’t fit my lifestyle. So I choose Option No. 1 :
6 tops  – t-shirts, shirts, blouses, or camisoles
4 bottoms – jeans, pants, shorts, skirts or kilts.
1 your choice (not an accessory)

This isn’t an ideal basis for my wardrobe, as I wear multiple layers. But this is just a fun plan anyway, so that doesn’t matter.

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Note : Butterick-McCall’s-Vogue has changed their websites. My BMV links now only get you to a page where you can search for a pattern number.
I apologise that I haven’t changed to the new individual URLs, but it would be a lot of work.

– – –

6 tops :

When I let ideas spring to mind, I was surprised to realise my choices for tops are all Sewing Workshop patterns. Perhaps it’s not so surprising. They’re independent designers with a good selection of ‘pear shaped’ styles : flared sides with fitted shoulders. Rather than straight up and down styles with dropped shoulders, which are not flattering on me, and which most independent designers focus on.

Despite that, my first choice is a modern ‘sloppy joe’, the Hudson top. I think this works because it’s oversized. Straight sided patterns look bad on me because I need 2 to 3 sizes too large on the top to get fit over my hips – not surprising they look awful. . . On an oversized top like the Hudson, the side seams are somewhere out by the wearer’s elbows, which has a different effect.

I think this is modern because the armholes are high and the sleeves slim. Not like similar styles of 20 years ago which had such deep armholes they were like dolman sleeves – not flattering on me.


In their latest newsletter (link below), Palmer-Pletsch recommend short tops with wide pants, or long tops with slim pants. So presumably they would prefer the shorter top with these pants. Personally I look better in longer tops and in slimmer pants, and would be unlikely to use this pant style.

Perhaps that top is easy to make rather than ideal for me. For a more flattering shape, I need good fit at shoulders and flare over hips. Here are a couple of Sewing Workshop possibilities :

Spring Street : (oop) an attractive shirt with unusual collar. Though in the pattern the shoulders are more dropped and the sides less flared than they look in the line diagram. This is a rare case where the fashion drawing is closer to the style than the diagram is.


Zigzag : has a front yoke. Perhaps it’s the recent version of the Spring Street shape, with changed collar and sleeves.


Zona : has interesting seam and dart placements. It isn’t flared, so I would add some, probably at the underam.

Another pattern which meets my criteria is the Liberty shirt. And it has my favourite high collar. But I can’t include everything !

These tops would be good for me as they can also be worn as layering pieces – a way round the SWAP rules if you need warmth.

Inspired by the What did you wear today ? strand at Stitchers Guild, I really do need fitted tops as they are more flattering for me. I think I might be willing to post a photo of myself wearing something fitted, though not wearing my usual shapeless RTW. But oh fitted garments do need so much trouble with fitting ! Still, I would like to have these 2 patterns as TNTs, so. . .

Tribeca : I love this style – reminds me of a blouse I happily wore to rags. Sad to say, I gave up on my first attempt to get all those darts to fit my small busted, short waisted, high hipped, sloping shouldered, forward necked self, but one day. . .


Salsa : another attractive style which would also need a lot of careful fitting on me.


All these tops have raised necklines, which suit my longish neck.

– – –

4 Bottoms :

I just wear pants as neutral background for tops. The Zigzag and Mizono (below) patterns include slim pants, so if they work well they could be a good basis. As I’ve chosen tops which cover the waist, the unflattering effect of an elastic waist on me would not matter so much.

Co-ordination : It isn’t necessary in the SWAP this year for all tops to go with all bottoms, but they are supposed make a ‘collection’. If the pants are all similar, that would ‘just’ be a matter of fabric choice. I’m cheating by not mentioning fabrics, as many people find this the most difficult part of making a co-ordinated wardrobe.

– – –

Optional item :

This would have to be a layering piece, to give me some warmth. To meet the rules, I’m only allowed one jacket, but four come to mind. There are recent Koos Vogue 1146 or Mizono Vogue 1145 patterns.



I love the snuggle look of the Mizono style, but it’s tapered at the sides, oh dear – well it’s big so perhaps it would be okay.

I also love the scarfed swing coat style. There’s DKNY Vogue 1129, said to be Easy but actually needing fitting skills. Ultimately I do need to do that fitting work, as I would like to wear a fitted coat instead of my big straight parkas. And fitted RTW just looks ridiculous on me.


Or for a much easier scarf jacket there’s McCall’s 5987.


Co-ordination – a layering piece has to work over all the outfits made from tops and bottoms. I don’t think the Koos jacket would work well with the necklines of the tops I’ve chosen, but the others would. I think the Mizono all enveloping jacket with big shawl collar would be a good choice from that point of view.

If I make the most sensible choice, it’s the McCall’s scarf jacket. But if I choose by love, it’s the snuggley Mizono or eventually the DKNY fitted one !

(P.S. Oh dear, Palmer-Pletsch in their latest newsletter recommend this DKNY scarf jacket for the inverted triangle shape. As I’m a pear, perhaps I need to re-think that one 😀 )

– – –

There are some subsidiary rules for the SWAP this year, to test sewing skills.

1 [garment] will be a matched print or stripe.
1 will feature embroidery, beads or sashiko.
1 will have buttons as the star feature OR use unusual or alternative closure(s).

Matched Stripes :

It would be fun to make the Zona top with matched chevron stripes ! Each piece would have to be cut individually – start from one of the fronts and work round. Use a pattern with seam allowances removed, as it’s essential to match sewing lines not cutting ones. But it would probably be impossible to end up with stripes matching at the front, so this isn’t really a good idea. . . It might work by shifting the front opening sideways so the stripes at the edge of the opening match the other side when the front is closed. And it would need the side seams changed to vertical.

Or I could use the Stripes Alive shirt from Brensan Studios. Ah, that wouldn’t be valid. For the SWAP you’re supposed to show your skill by matching stripes, and the whole point of that pattern is you don’t have to match stripes at all 😀

Embellishment :

The obvious choice to embellish is the Koos jacket. It’s designed to add embroidery to. Or the yoke could be made with sashiko. But otherwise that pattern doesn’t fit well with this plan.

The yoke of the Zigzag top would also be an easy place to add embroidery, beading, or sashiko. Or the seam and dart lines of the Zona top could be emphasised by added trim or embroidery.

Buttons :

I could use the Diane Ericson Revisions Nuevo shirt View B, instead of one of the other tops. Those dots on the shirt front are actually small buttons.


Or take inspiration from this John Galliano jacket covered in brooches 😀 (s/s 10 RTW)


Photo from Patterns available November 2009

Explore posts in the same categories: my choices, wardrobe planning

2 Comments on “My ideal SWAP wardrobe ?”

  1. EJVC Says:

    We have a different take on pear-suitable patterns, I think! I love the Koos coat but would shy away from some of the others fearing an exaggeration of pear-ness. Definitely the shorter top with those trousers, although I don’t like the drop-shoulder rectangle (obscures narrow waist, a nice pear feature);

    You know I should come down and do some fitting on you. I cannot believe it will be that difficult. I am sensing perfectionism 🙂

    • sewingplums Says:

      Thanks Elizabeth – yes ‘pear’ is a very general shape description – ‘pears’ can have many detailed differences. I like wearing flared styles. You and I might like different designs because your shoulders are square and mine are sloping. . .

      Some pears have no noticeable waist, really do look triangle in outline. I have got a defined waist, but I’m not simply an hourglass with larger hips.

      And yes, I am quiet and careful and I like it that way 😀

      Good Luck for finding what is flattering, to all shapes and styles, and however long it takes !

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