Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

SWAP A2, A3 & A2 Again


I’ve been away from blogging for a week or two so just to remind you that this is SWAP combination A.

Thank you all so much for such generous comments on Jungle January coat – it’s a welcome relief from forced coordination wardrobe planning.

In the silent weeks I made this.


It was part of SWAP and the cornerstone of combination A – 3 garments that make an outfit and based upon my colour scheme of heather.


Simplicity K1465 made in a ‘found’ mixed wool fibre tweed in pink and olive green houndstooth. The fabric came from an antique shop in Greyabbey and what you got was what you got. The pattern is a straight mock wrap skirt with a 360 peplum and a frill along the edge of the wrap. Fully lined, completely and utterly understitched, frill hand stitched down at crucial points; there isn’t a seam or join that isn’t sewn at least twice. The peplum and frill were laboriously hand frayed. The finished skirt length was totally determined by the amount of fabric.

Looked like this…



Along the way I sewed a Paco Peralta Draped Top (A3) in olive green wool crepe to wear with the skirt. il_fullxfull.292016701I’ve made this many, many times before. This time I added a little back neck opening with a button closure. Otherwise, nothing’ s changed and it’s still a very stylish and classic contribution to any wardrobe. In fact, I don’t think I’ve made a SWAP in the last 3 years without a Paco Draped Top being part of it. It’s a foundation and at the same time an embellishment.

I have another me within my head and sometimes (actually, many times) she is 100% right but I have developed the ability to totally ignore her. She had severe reservations while sewing this skirt but I carried on regardless of her little voice that kept saying ” No. This isn’t you. This isn’t your style. You will never wear it.”

And what do you know – she was right again! I hate that.


So, I unpicked and cut and salvaged and saved what I could and ended up with a straight skirt without peplum or frill or mock-wrap and too short.

Undeterred, or maybe foolishly, I couldn’t leave the blasted thing alone.

Also along the way I sewed a pair of winter Strides in olive green Donegal tweed – both pattern and fabric from Merchant and Mills.DSCN6064

As usual after every make I had a little bit of tweed left over; this was added to my not-peplum-anymore skirt.


I made some pleats like this:

Sew a big long ring of fabric, overlock the edges and hem. Hemming must be done before pleating. Mark out regular divisions – I used 1″.


Concertina the fabric to the marks and pin. Then tack securely.


Press extremely well with a damp pressing cloth and lots of steam on both side of the fabric.

I sewed the pleats to the lining and catchstitched the lining to the skirt.

The skirt’s side seams were rounded to reveal more pleats. And this is the ‘new’ skirt


Swishy hemline with an apron-effect top skirt….

that goes with my pink fleece jacket


as does the new Strides


I have absolutely no idea what part of SWAP is done or has to be done or even what part of SWAP I’m working on – I just seem to be sewing clothes in a couple of colourways and hoping that I’ll end up with 3 + 3 +2 +3 coordinating garments.

My first item, the pink coat, was cut down and altered into a short fitted jacket and now the peplum skirt has been completely refashioned using pleats. I’d save a lot of time if I just managed to sew it right first time!

I actually think I’m doing APWS – a plan with sewing rather than sewing with a plan.

With these four things plus the grey Vogue trousers I now have five garments – almost halfway there.



43 thoughts on “SWAP A2, A3 & A2 Again

  1. Fab skirt! The first one. If you weren’t going to wear it you could have given it to your oul mate – that’s me btw – although it looked far too long for my flawless legs. Was impressed by what you did with it. But girl, from the heart, fleece jackets are for reading in bed. Love you!!! X

  2. Loved the skirt the first time around. Trousers and top look great.

  3. All that work! Gaaah, unpicking twice seamed tweed! I really liked the peplum version, but if it doesn’t “spark joy” – look who’s been reading her Marie Kondo – I suppose it must go.

    Here’s what I took away from this blog post. First, your dazzling productivity, which produced multiple well constructed pieces in no time flat. Second, process. There’s no way to achieve “serendipity successes” where the details come together even better than planned and sing heavenly music… if we’re not willing to risk a few “serendipity misfires”. I judge not just the results, but the process. Yours is courageous & creative. Each experiment becomes part of the idea toolkit that pays off over a lifetime of sewing. Thanks for the energy boost.

  4. Sankati – we never stop learning. I learnt a new process about pleating so absolutely not a lost cause. Thank you, as always.

  5. I’m with the others in preferring the first skirt version but know you didn’t like it. Maybe you may have to have an unusual, for you, fail (I have lots of those! ). I like the trousers and top.

  6. Sometimes you just have to call a halt if you aren’t happy with a garment. I thought your body language said happy with the second skirt but you clearly don’t think so.
    I am impressed with your output and even if you are working on ‘a plan with sewing’ you are still doing well. The trousers and Paco top look great.

  7. I too loved the first skirt and the whole outfit with dark olive and pink in fact all the way to the boots. Maybe it’s ‘me’!

    But am also impressed by the dark (burgundy?) tights with the unusual and lovely shoes. A good ‘base’ on which to build an outfit. Look forward to the next instalment.

  8. Of I can really relate to this




    • I like the look of the original skirt better, even though both us, I think, aren’t fans of ruffles and flounces. Yes, I also love the tights with the shoes and skirt. Adore the colour of the pants (and great fit too) – it reminds of a olive green gabardine coat I had for about 10 years – had to give it up when it got shiny from wear and huge shoulder pads became passe. It looks like the kind of olive green that can look more green or more brown depending on the light.

      • Su, you’re absolutely right about the ‘green’ trousers – sometimes green and sometimes brown and they seem to take up the colour they are paired with. I’m definitely not a frills and ruffle person but I had to try even if it was just to prove it to myself. Now I know for sure….Thank you

    • Thanks Kerry – we’re all here to support one another in whichever way we can

  9. I love the green strides. You look beautiful and confident in that trouser outfit.

  10. Very lovely, every piece. You have accomplished a lot! I can’t believe you are half way there.

  11. Ruth, you are the cutest thing! I love your sense of humor, your willingness to not take yourself too seriously, and your ability to know when something doesn’t work for you and change it! Very brave!
    I am a designer, teacher, consultant in Boulder, CO, USA, NOT a fashion capitol, but doing my best to help women look their best. My adorable sister lives in Letterkenny, Donegal, and I am going to her son’s wedding in Sept.
    I don’t read many sewing blogs, they don’t interest me, but I read yours and am amazed at your ambition, productivity, and willingness to redo/cut apart/refashion until it is right for you. Brava. Most sewers throw those pieces out that don’t resemble the original concept/dream. You have the ability to reimagine it newly. And save it! Brava.
    I know you are 2 1/2 hrs from my sister, and have no idea if I will have the time, but I would love to meet you, if we can figure it out while I am there. I know you will be in school, and don’t know how long I am staying, but if you would send me your email address, I will send you the announcement of my next show, Feb 12, 13, 14, geared towards wedding party and guests, so you can see what I do. I SHOULD have a website, but it just isn’t easy for me now…I’d rather be in the studio than at the computer. That is short sighted, I know, but there it is.
    Thank you for your willingness to share your process, hope to hear from you,
    Wendy Karnish

  12. Love the pink/olive heather colors. The Peralta top and striders (new word for me!) are utterly elegant. I wish you liked the skirt in either form but if not, then not. Your creativity and stick-to-ness is inspiring in any case. SWAP or APWS, you’re well on your way….

    • I love the colours together too Elle – reminds me a bit of English country living – gamekeepers and hunting parties, except we live in a city semi-detached! Thank you

  13. Wow, you really do hang in there….actually I like the wrapped, whatever that was, skirt 🙂 The Strides are beautiful…

  14. The skirt with the pleats added is adorable and clever and seems so you…..surely its a keeper?


    • So far it’s you and me against the world Ceci. I need to test drive the skirt for a day before I fully commit to keep or donate, or even cut it up again!! Thank you

  15. I love what you did with the tweed skirt! It is magical.

  16. The khaki top and trousers are winners, yes. Just great. Elegant and really nice. I don’t like the first skirt. I think the peplum, plus the waterfall ruffle, plus a houndstooth pattern is just way too much going on. The pattern is actually strobing on my monitor. So I prefer the second version, although I agree it is not quite there, but I so support the idea of not giving up with the design idea. The idea of a pleated skirt under a straight skirt is quite brilliant, but somehow the curves in pink over the green are unflattering. I think if top and bottom were closer in tone – perhaps a lighter and darker shade of green, or grey or whatever, and you had a straight hem it would work brilliantly. I might copy this myself.

    If it is any consolation SWAP is not really working for me either. I am pretty dissatisfied with what I have been making, and like you I will have to come back and do some alterations. But I will keep going as it may just sort itself out. There is plenty of time left.

    And thanks for sharing it all – I learn such a lot from following along.

  17. Wow, that skirt remake is fabulous! Love the strides too.

  18. Ruth, I love your blog! Interesting to see that first skirt – I really liked it and immediately started thinking that I could make something similar, but then realized I would probably not wear it. Then as I scrolled down to read further I had to smile when I saw you made the change. It was gorgeous, but no use if you don’t feel nice wearing it. I do like the second skirt a lot.
    You inspired me to order the draped top pattern today- I had a lovely time looking at Paco Peralta patterns and seeing other versions of the top online.
    Thanks always for the inspiration.

  19. I may be the only one, I much prefer the second skirt, it’s much sleeker and I don’t like too much fuss around the tummy area! the second skirt has interest but in the right place. Love the olive top and trousers they look such a great fit. Xx

  20. Love the second skirt, the pleats are fun! And they draw attention to your fabulous legs! A matching pink top might look better in my opinion, elongates everything. I learn a lot from your blog, least of all not giving up on projects that turn out unflattering. Love the trousers, too. I could never take part in a SWAP though, unless it was timed for a decade. Takes me four months to complete a pencil skirt… couture, though, with organzaed hem and all. Still…

  21. Love the pink and olive combination. The strides are divine. I think the skirt would look fabulous remade into a vest providing a stunning transitional piece from pink jacket to olive strides.

  22. I love your skirt, especially how you snatched success from the jaws of disaster (not that the first version was a disaster, just not your style!). I’m hoping to follow your lead, because the skirt I made from the fabric I got in Greyabbey is a bit of a nightmare!!

  23. I think one of the reasons your blog is always so engaging is your humour shining through and your preparedness to exhibit the output that doesn’t live up to expectations. Having read everyone’s comments I find I can’t resist adding my 2c worth! First skirt: agree with fabrikated, there is too much going on with that version and the proportions are out IMO. It’s almost passe, but I think that fabric suited a simple, uber-fitted and probably shorter skirt. It does lend itself to fringing though, a sheath with a fringe? But you were short on fabric anyway so that’s academic. Love the fit of your trousers too btw and the shoes look like they might not only be attractive but comfortable – the holy grail.

  24. Love your thought processes with the skirt and the eye is drawn away from the top portion and to that divine hem with pleats…love that. If you are keeping it and want to “tame” the pleats, you could make a knit lining piece (horizontal strip) that would be tacked to the inside folds so they would not flare too much. The pink jacket really jazzes up everything and the top just suits you too. You are the only person who has had a good fit with those strides…so many need to drop the crotch to get them to hang right. Great job, Ruth!

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