…it’s me, in my swing dress!!!
Of the four sewalongs I’ve participated in, this one, run by Casey, has taught me the most about dressmaking. To be honest, I’d had my fill of sewalongs, but when Casey announced she was running one for the Swing Dress, I couldn’t resist. Having admired her three previous versions of the dress from afar, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make my own. The way it worked was that Casey chipped in with posts on the tricky areas and then left us to get on with the everyday/boring bits on our own. This is much more my way of working and I learnt so much, both in terms of dressmaking techniques and invaluable and fascinating snippets about 1940’s fashion.
So, what did I think of the pattern? Sense and Sensibility, who produce the pattern, also print patterns for Regency style gowns so they're good on authentic period detail. I think that’s what I liked about this pattern. What I didn't like was the instruction for sewing the gathered shoulder. Talk about confusing, it was a nightmare - but that’s when making a practice muslin (along with Casey’s expert instructions) came into its own. I’d never have managed to work them out for myself, and having practiced on the muslin first, it all made much more sense when I came to sew the real thing.
Much to my surprise, the fit was unexpectedly good (I was expecting the worst after my Crepe dress fitting debacle). The bodice is designed to accommodate long-waisted ladies (not me) so I knew I’d have to shorten it. I also shortened the back, as well as reducing the back width. On Casey’s advice, I also reduced the amount of ease in the sleeves which worked like magic when it came to attaching them. Apart from shortening the skirt pieces, I didn’t have to make any other adjustments.
1. How to fit a gathered shoulder to a bodice.
2. How to reduce sleeve ease on a 1940’s style.
3. How to insert a lapped zip, 1940’s style*
*I abandoned my effort at inserting an invisible zip after I inserted one pretty well and then discovered I’d put it in UPSIDE DOWN. That was one of the few times in my life I wish I smoked. I had to make do with a few deep breaths instead, having briefly contemplated taking to the bottle.
The sleeves are probably the feature I’m most proud of. I chose the three quarter length sleeves and they’re so flattering, they've even got little elbow darts.
I can see why the top fabric recommendation on the pattern was crepe, it’s absolutely perfect for this type of dress, very drapey and swingy. It’s not bad to sew with either, if you can grit your teeth against the fibres that go EVERYWHERE once you cut into it. The wool crepe behaved itself beautifully, despite my early misgivings. I’m still a little nervous about wearing it to my brother’s wedding – as long as I’m on my guard against rain, hot sun, a hot iron and spilling a drink down myself, Airplane-style, I should be fine.
And the other big plus? The fabric was £7 a metre. I bought three metres and there’s still enough left to make an A-line skirt, hoorah. x
PS. Apologies for the rubbish, shaky photos, it was too cold to get undressed and re-do them!