Cold Weather SWAP 2016

At the beginning of every year I write a sewing list which gets edited many times throughout the year. Last year was the first time I actually made somewhat of a visual capsule wardrobe with my SWAP 2015.

Surprisingly I sewed up quite a lot of my 2015 plan, those I didn’t make were due to the fact I had similar or alternative items to wear. As a brief overview this is how my plan started, and not to mention there was lots of blue in the palette.

basics fabrics and patterns

And this is what I made, 13 items out of 20, obviously swapping out some fabric colours and patterns to suit my needs. I have 2 more of these cut out and ready to sew so almost 15/20 – I think that’s a good accomplishment. (Each photo links to the post for that item)

New look 6107 side 3     new look 6107 belted side 2   Simplicity 1425 front Tania's and Mccalls 6960 front 2   Mccalls 6514 front 2   Simplcity 3850 front 3   Wonderland blue front front  mccalls 6503 front  New look 6301 front FT Simplicity 1354 side   Foxglove tank front

So for this year I have decided to do two seasonal SWAPs. First I will tackle autumn/winter, or as I’ve called it, the Cold Weather SWAP 2016. I have enough warm weather clothes to get me through the rest of summer in the Southern Hemisphere. Although it won’t stop me from sewing warm weather clothes if I feel like it.

I used Polyvore to assemble my mini wardrobe and have mentally tried to stick to stash patterns and fabric wherever I could. Most silhouettes are actually quite simple, I think my biggest challenge will be the Moto jacket, and I’m excited about that – there are some great patterns out there. My Cold SWAP 2016 was partially designed so that pieces would also fit in with my existing wardrobe. I realise I may be slightly ambitious with some items but I did cheat a bit though as a couple of the items I have already sewn these past few months whilst doing pattern testing. 

This year I am mainly going with neutrals and a splash of red for colour. I haven’t been as organised to pattern match the items just yet but having a visual plan is good as done.

I hope you get some items off your sewing list to get 2016 off to a great start.

McCall’s 6503 Denim Dress

This is another item to mark off my SWAP 2015. This is McCall’s 6503, I made view C, without the flounce, and the last minute decided to make a pleated skirt but had already cut out my pattern pieces for the view C skirt, more on that below. I used some broadmill denim (100% cotton) in indigo. Although I pre-washed my fabric, it was a bit stiff for this dress, probably better suited to jeans, Gingers here I come, but I’m hoping after some wash and wear it will soften.

mccalls 6503 front

                         mccalls 6503 side front mccalls 6503 back

I found the instructions really good as it allows for a nice clean finish on the insides of this dress. The only thing difficult for me was due to the thickness of the fabric, in some areas I had to sew through 6-8 layers (including interfacing) but my trusty cheapo machine was like a workhorse.

mccalls 6503 inside

The dress fit straight out of the envelope without major fit adjustments however I did make some aesthetic changes. I lowered the armhole about 2cm at the bottom and tapered to nothing at the sides of the armhole and these were bound with 12mm black bias binding, as instructed. I also chose to make the front placket non-functional by omitting the button holes and sewing the buttons through both left and front placket. I used silver 13mm buttons which don’t really show up too shiny in the photos but thought they were the best choice for this fabric. There is also about 5cm of the side bodice which is stitched together before the zip starts but found I couldn’t really get the dress on comfortably so decided to make the zip go right up to the armhole instead. Unfortunately due to the thickness of my fabric, the zip insertion didn’t go that well and doesn’t lay as flat as I would like but I can live with it. I added a hook and eye to ensure it stays closed. I’m not sure if an invisible zip would have been better but maybe again the multiple layers of fabric or the stress at that point may have had a similar outcome.


I didn’t want to lose any length of my skirt so I bound the hem with 12mm black bias binding which also had a functional role as it would have been very difficult to turn this fabric twice to stitch the hem as instructed. As mentioned above, I was originally planning to make view c but wasn’t sure if the gathers would sit right so just used the already cut out skirt pieces and put in 4 pleats at both the front and back. I probably should have aligned the back pleats with the darts but wasn’t too fussed. I probably should have also checked what the difference was between view c and d pattern pieces as I may have been able to use it to measure out the pleat placement on my skirt panels.

There were so many layer of denim that it was also hard to slip stitch the collar down on the inside and also the internal midriff band so I decided to top stitch both these areas. I just wish I had graded, or cut my seam allowance smaller for these midriff bands, as you can see from the photos the seam allowances are visible.

mccalls 6503 side front  2

Just for my own reference, I serged the shoulders and bodice sides before step 24 which is where you attach the front to back bodice pieces. I serged each side of the midriff bands after step 44 after they are attached to the bodice. Lack of concentration however had me attach the midriff facing to the bottom side of the already attached midriff band which I only noticed after understitching. Thank goodness this is a forgiving fabric. I also serged each of the skirt pieces prior to sewing them at the side seams.

Overall I’m really happy with this dress and the gap it fills in my wardrobe. I have worn it twice already since having been made 4 days ago. I also really like this pattern and definitely will be making it again and perhaps may make the midriff bands a little thinner next time too.

Planning the 2015 Basics Collection

Remember this top, I nearly didn’t either. It’s been sitting in my cupboard unworn since I made it and thought I better fix it before it starts collecting dust. Surprisingly once I put it on again I realised it was way bigger and more unflattering than I thought. I ended up taking in 5 inches from the centre back seam and was able to pattern match the back (apologies for not pressing the back seam but I promise it does go to one side).

      New Look 6735 side         New look 6735 back

There is still some gaping at the front neckline but I can live with that as now it’s wearable.

I don’t really have anything to pair it up with, I truly am in need of basics in my wardrobe. I lack the pieces that I can just throw together on a casual day out and because of this sometimes I also feel overdressed for my lifestyle. Using Polyvore I came up with what I think will be invaluable pieces to my wardrobe and was put together with the current fabric stash in mind. For some reason I have gravitated to buying lots of blue fabric this past season but I guess they work together and without realising I have my capsule wardrobe. I’m definitely not setting deadlines for getting these sewn up as other projects often take over and I’m realistic about the fact that I probably won’t sew any jeans although there has been an influx of new patterns. The styles and fabrics are not definitive and subject to change depending on my taste and mood when the times comes to sew them. I’m hoping I will really only need to purchase notions.

summer 2015 basics

I’m not quite sure how many combinations I can come up with mixing and matching these items but it would be a great travel collection too, with modifications. There are 2 LBD’s as I don’t own any and I think two silhouettes are good to have in rotation depending on the function. Not to mention adding cardigans or jackets to the outfits to change the look and make them transeasonal which I won’t even be contemplating making whilst I sit through an Australian summer.

The fabric choices and patterns will be as follows although it’s a bit hard to see and some patterns will have modifications:
basics fabrics and patterns

I did notice there are a lot of white tops and I may make multiples in different colours, ie black.  It’s nice to have a bit of a plan and direction although sticking to it will be another ball game altogether. I have so many other things I also want to sew in the meantime, including a dress for a friends wedding at the end of the month in which I was planning on using Simplicity 1354 so might make up that dress soon to check the fit and I have already bought some brocade fabric for it.