Planning a Handmade Wardrobe with Sewing Journals and Swatch Books

July 15, 2017   /   byFiona Parker  / Categories :  Feeds
I haven't had all that much time for sewing in the last few months and once things slowed down I felt so bewildered by all the things I wanted to make and the growing size of my fabric stash that I wasn't sewing either. To get back into the groove of things I decided to literally go back to the drawing board, get organised and plan out my next few projects. With limited sewing time part of me has always scorned wasting any of those precious hours or planning or sketching out ideas, until last year. I put a lot of consideration into the handmade additions I made to my wardrobe last summer and found that really successful. I got so much wear out of those pieces and have been excited to get them back out again now the weather has heated up in London.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Planning a Handmade Wardrobe with Sewing Journals and Swatch Books

I really don't need to be buying anymore fabric so the first step was taking stock of my stash. I'm sure most of what is in there I bought with a specific plan in mind so I wanted to revaluate and see if I still wanted to make those things or put those fabrics to better use elsewhere. I keep my stash in a big basket so it's quite hard to see what I've got and a real pain to dig something out from the bottom to check how much of it. I've tried various methods for keeping tabs over the years but never been able to keep on top of any of them. Enter the 110 Creations Sewist's Swatch Book which Beth kindly sent me a copy to try out months back.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Planning a Handmade Wardrobe with Sewing Journals and Swatch Books

The notebook is organised with a page for each fabric in your stash and provides a template for noting down everything you might need to know in future, complete with space for a fabric swatch. The layout is well thought out and the fabric swatch square is always on the outer edge so you can reach it with a stapler. Whenever I've tried to catalogue things before I've never though about including fabric care instructions or the stretch percentage; both of which would be really useful to have to hand when contemplating a future project! There's a care symbol key and stretch percentage guide to measure against included at the front of the book to make this straightforward.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Planning a Handmade Wardrobe with Sewing Journals and Swatch Books

Most sections on the template include options to circle rather than being left blank to fill in. Whilst for many things I find this really useful and quick on some I find it perhaps a little too restrictive. But there is always an 'other' space for writing in your own option. The 'Content' section includes a multitude of fabric types to circle yet the types of fabric on the market nowadays are endless so that won't cover all bases. I do love that one of the options is 'Mystery' though! There are numerous pieces of fabric in my stash that I have no clue to the content of! I like that the 'Length' section doesn't state whether in yards or metres as different people have their own preference but a large proportion of the pieces in my stash are leftovers from previous projects so aren't a nice round 1 2 or 3 metre piece.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Planning a Handmade Wardrobe with Sewing Journals and Swatch Books

Once I got into the swing of entering things I found my own method of using the book though and it has definitely changed the accessibility of my stash, encouraging me to use it more. It is pretty time consuming to put together at first but is very quick to add individual fabrics each time you buy a new piece. Plus it's really satisfying to see all those neat and tidy pages an swatches! I can't think of a single extra thing I'd add to the template and feel like I'll never need to go rummaging through the depths of my big fabric basket again. If you feel like your stash could benefit from a good sort out and catalogue you're in luck as Beth is actually offering a 30% discount on the swatch book until Monday 17th July. Use the code SAVENOW30 at the checkout.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Planning a Handmade Wardrobe with Sewing Journals and Swatch Books

Now I had a rough idea of which fabrics I'd like to use for which garments the next step was making some more detailed project plans. I used the Sew Crafty Journal for this to much success last year and have got back into the groove of that. It's great for allocating patterns to fabrics, listing what notions you might need and sketching out changes you might make to the pattern. The project pages alternate with ideas and notes pages throughout the book which is a nice mixture that doesn't restrict you. I think these areas are good for loosely jotting down and roughly sketching ideas for future projects that may not be so set in stone that they need a full project page.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Planning a Handmade Wardrobe with Sewing Journals and Swatch Books

I haven't used the what went right/wrong and what I would do differently sections all that much as I found the categories quite broad for quite a limited space and often spilled over into the full page notes section overleaf to write freestyle instead. I have found it more useful for planning out ideas in advance rather than recording changes and decisions you made throughout the construction process. I think I'd prefer specific slots for jotting down the size I cut and any changes I made to the flat pattern plus how much fabric I used as I quite often get to writing a blog post and realise in all the excitement of starting to sew I didn't write these down which are kind of essential points I try to include in every review.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Planning a Handmade Wardrobe with Sewing Journals and Swatch Books

But in saying that I like that it's not too specific and gives you that freedom for creativity that you need in the planning stages. I used to just make lists of my sewing plans but I'm actually quite a visual person so being able to collect fabric scraps and sketches along with written ideas I find really motivating. I particularly like that the areas for sketching are blank so that you can draw details or just elements of a project if you wish rather than full garments on human figures all the time. I'd also like to experiment with using it as a scrapbook and sticking in some inspiration images. I was unsure about what to use the small box on the right hand project page for but now I'm looking at it again it might be nice to include a photo of the finished garment to look back on!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Planning a Handmade Wardrobe with Sewing Journals and Swatch Books

I think I'm still figuring out how to get the best use of this one as a planner but going through the process of filling it out and taking the time to do the drawings actually really encourages me to devote some proper thought to a project before getting happy with the scissors. I've definitely come up with some more creative ideas as a result and made little changes to a pattern to better suit me which I've only thought about as I was sketching that part of the drawing. It encourages me to see what I probably wouldn't have seen until I'd sewn that part up if you get what I mean.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Planning a Handmade Wardrobe with Sewing Journals and Swatch Books
Last summer's sewing plans

I feel like the fact that I am finding myself with a successful handmade wardrobe has a lot to do with the fact that I took a little step back from jumping straight on the sewing machine to actually plan; considering what I wanted to wear and projects that would fill in some gaps. The planning has really fired up my sewjo again and I'm longing for a solid few days of machine time!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Planning a Handmade Wardrobe with Sewing Journals and Swatch Books
A project page from 110 Creations: A Sewist's Notebook

There are a multitude of sewing planners on the market at the moment. By Hand London have just released their PDF version complete with stash log. The fact that it's printable is brilliant as you can print as many or as few of each page type as you need. I also own the 110 Creations Sewist's Notebook (above) which I like for the big A4 pages with lots of room for scribbling lots of notes! Plus the handy needle change record and pattern catalogue sections. This one has sections for noting down alterations made and notes for next time so could be great used in combination with the Sew Crafty Journal. Both Gertie and Jenny have released sketchbooks with croquis suited to their target market. Have you used this kind of journal to plan your sewing before? What do you find useful?

This is a syndicated post. Please visit the original author at Diary of a Chain Stitcher

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