SWAP 2007 is officially over; there were 31 ladies who each made coordinating wardrobes of 11 garments. I didn't participate this year...although I have the three previous years...but, as a member of the Stitcher's Guild forum, I get to vote for the prize recipients (I started to say 'winners', but, really, every one of those 31 ladies is a winner). In fact, anyone who is a registered member of SG is invited to vote, so please take a little time and check out this year's SWAP wardrobes and see the SWAP discussion at SG for instructions on how to send in your vote. And, even if you're not an SG member, the wardrobes are definitely worth the time to look through them.
But how on earth does one decide which three are the best? And then rank them?? You'll know what I mean when you look; they're all amazing displays of talent, creativity and tenacity! And they have gotten better every year.
I don't know how everyone else comes up with their top three, but I have made an effort to be objective. When the first SWAP voting happened (I participated in that one but didn't finish on time), I made an Excel spreadsheet with some criteria on it to which I could give a point value, depending on how well I perceived that that wardrobe had met the SWAP criteria. NOTE: this is not a suggestion as to how everyone else should do it; it's just the only way I could be happy with myself that I was being as fair as I could.
The first item...can I see the garments in the photos? This is more a tie-breaker than anything, but some of the wardrobes are shown kind of bunched up and it's very difficult to tell what's what. Some are styled and some are just kind of hung on doors...that's not the big point. I just want to be able to see what I'm supposed to be judging.
The second item...does this follow the SWAP guidelines? There are two wardrobe options, recognizing that folks have different lifestyle needs, but they both have criteria as to what should coordinate. For instance,the traditional SWAP wardrobe consists of four bottoms (skirts or pants...or shorts or culottes, whatever), six tops (at least two of which need to be more than mere t-shirts), and a jacket (that could be a shrug, a vest, a duster...just a top layer), and must incorporate at least one garment that has a print or pattern. The second year I did the SWAP, my wardrobe contained a shirt/jacket. It worked well with all the bottoms, but I couldn't wear the wardrobe jacket over it. That's ok...it worked for my lifestyle and actually gets worn a lot...but it doesn't meet the SWAP guidelines. It's not a value judgment; but a wardrobe that has a jacket that can be worn with all the tops will score higher here than one that, like mine, has a top or two that really doesn't work with the jacket. So...I've got points awarded for how well the jacket works with the tops, and another for how well the tops work with the bottoms (that's modified a little for the dress swap...)
The third item involves 'Julie's Twist'...that is, she always includes some little requirement that pulls a little more creativity out of the participants. This year's requirement was that one garment had to be reversible. I get two point values out of this...one for creativity and one for execution. Reversible garments can be really 'loving hands at home' looking if they're not well executed.
The next criteria is on the use of a print (or a plaid or a stripe...fabric w/a pattern of some sort), a requirement for the SWAP. Does it go with the solids? Is it there? Is the garment suitable for the print?
Finally, I throw in points for my overall impression...are the colors good together? Does the style of the garments all work together?
I used a 7 - point rating system: 0, the element isn't there or isn't visible; 1, it's there, but it doesn't really work; 2-3, ok, that works ; 4 -5, that's good and finally 6 - 7, wow, that really looks good.
Out of 49 possible points, I ended up with 10 SWAPs scoring from 44 to 47 when I went through them yesterday...and I had to be very picky or I've had a handful of perfect scores. Obviously, this isn't a magic formula! I'm going to go back over the top 10 again...and I'm going to have to eliminate some very, very good work based on some piddly detail, which makes me sad...but, ultimately, this isn't about who can do the fanciest stitching on the most elegant fabric, or who has the technical know-how to post fabulous pictures...it's about who creates the most wearable wardrobe.
That's probably going to be the tie - breaker...wearability....
It is great to get to take such a long look at some very excellent sewing; I just hope folks aren't overwhelmed by the idea of trying to select and rank three swaps as the most outstanding and give up. Please, please vote if you're a SG member! How you pick is up to you...but these ladies have worked hard and are certainly deserving of a little bit of objective consideration from the rest of us. Last year's SWAP was written up in Australian Stitches; it's a good promotional tool for home sewing to see that ordinary women can dress themselves...and do it well.