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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Outfit versus wardrobe sewing

Before I left for this trip I did the big seasonal wardrobe change over. Moved my winter clothes down to the basement and my summer clothes upstairs. In that process I threw out a lot of clothes, most of my winter stuff in fact.

And speaking of facts this process forced me to face one.

I don't like my clothes and the way I dress any more, not at all as much as I used to.

What happened?

 I have always sewn most of my clothes, nearly everything I wear and I used to enjoy my clothes a lot more than I do now. I had to think hard about what has changed and then it finally hit me. With all the sewing contests and SWAPing going on in the sewing world I started to think like everyone else about capsule wardrobes, the list of the 10 things you needed to have, and making everything coordinate. My wardrobe became another job and making clothes for it became an exercise in filling in gaps. This struck me when I looked at a couple of tops with some prints that I really didn't like and wondered why I owned them. The answer of course was that they coordinated perfectly with my wardrobe plan, and met some contest criteria. Suddenly I realized that there were three of us in this closet, me, my clothes and the Wardrobe and one of us has to go.

Up to now I have had a basic colour scheme and a sort of style which I would describe as simple, comfortable, a bit fifties, the word I always wanted to say to myself when I looked in the mirror was kind of North American sharp ( Doris Day versus Chanel) and I used to think in terms of outfits. This is a good fabric for a dress, what shoes do I need, what earrings, what bag, if it gets cold what jacket/cardigan/coat will I wear with it - move on. This also made for easy dressing because once you had the outfit organized you could get up and get dressed in the morning without thinking, which is important because I don't do a lot of thinking in the mornings.

Now I realize this isn't really SWAP thinking and kind of slow and inefficient but I felt pulled together when I go dressed. 

This is of course a totally different way of dressing than figuring out five different ways to wear the same basic white blouse or all the combinations that you can wear from a core wardrobe. That makes my head hurt and I am not all that creative about putting things together, that is real fashionista stuff.

I have realized I am not a component sewer, that the module wardrobe makes me feel like I am always wearing the same thing, and that I can't see a big picture full of connections.

I think I am just happier with fewer outfits and that it is more fun for me to think of one thing at a time, than to take on a whole scheme. Works well with just sewing what is in front of you and not feeling that you have another chore lined up in your life.

But that's just me.


Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

It might not just be you! I had a full head of steam that I was going to make another SWAP wardrobe after several years of not officially swapping...well the rules have worn me down. *LOL* I wouldn't use some of those requirements if I were sewing for myself and the gyration needed to make it work actually doesn't work for me so I understand.

However, since I'm at that place where I still must dress everyday, I have to like/love my clothing because I'm in it for so many hours every day...so I can definitely understand how you feel about that!

Go your own way. Do you and be happy with the your creative efforts!

LisaB said...

Thanks for writing this, Barbara. It helps me know I'm not alone as a non-SWAPper.

RuthieK said...

That seems fair enough to me. I am a wardrobe sewer but we don't all work the same way. Sew what makes you happy and you like to wear and stuff the plans.

Maricou said...

You are making a very interesting statement indeed. I am French (Chanel vs Doris Days) and have been blogging for not so long ago. My blog roll lists a majority of American sewistas bloggers and reading them I've discovered something that I had never heard of before : SWAP
From this day on, I looked at my clothes with another eye and realized that they were not chosen because they could mix and match in a very organized and planned way.
Most of them were bought because I liked them even if I don't today.
Reading about these SWAP everywhere I was begining to think that this might work for me too.
Your post made me realize that all this planning might not suit my somewhat "rebelle" French spirit more at ease with more artsy choices.
Hopefully, those words will make some sense to you

Mae said...

I'm baffled by the SWAP concept. I even have trouble thinking 'outfit'. I suppose that's why I *always* wear a dress. Add shoes and a necklace et voila! Minimal thought required. Probably this strategy works best in warm climates.

Nancy K said...

Me too. You are not alone. I am a dropout from two wardrobe contests. I don't like all the things I made for the swap I created, or the one wardrobe I completed. It is just too much of a headache to plan a whole wardrobe. It makes my head hurt! I want to sew just what I love and invariably that gets lost in sewing a wardrobe. This is supposed to be fun, not create more stress! I end up sewing less, rather than more. No more contests for me. I hate the time constraints too.

Heather said...

Yes, I feel the same way Barbara.