Thursday, 3 March 2011

Oooh, who’s the swinging blonde?


…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.  



So what did I learn from Casey during the process? 

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. 
4. How to topstitch a midriff piece so it looks perfect. 
5. How to set in sleeves correctly



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!

31 comments:

  1. Yay, this looks fabulous! You've managed to get a great fit too. I also love Casey's way of 'teaching' and I've found her tips on tricky bits invaluable, as I'll be refering to them in the future too! I now can't wait to finish mine, will be posting pics of my muslin tonight to get some much-needed feedback ;o)

    Well done again, you look beautiful in it!

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  2. Hilarious comments about smoking and hitting the bottle! That looks like a really satisfying dress to make. Always a result when you have enough fabric left over for a skirt.

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  3. Lovely! Now you just need to learn how to do a victory roll or whatever it's called for your hair! x

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  4. That shoulder detail is lovely. The topstitching really gives it that something extra. Well worth all the trouble!

    Did you resolve the issue with the wool and will you be wearing it to this summer's wedding (or will you have made 5 other suitably gorgeous dresses by then only to find yourself umming and ahing about which to wear on the day!)?

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  5. I certainly do! In fact I'm going to do a plea on my blog soon, asking for hair and make-up advice from all the 1940's goddesses out there. Marie, being called beautiful has absolutely made my day, thank you! x

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  6. Oops, must have got waylaid by the shoulder pic as I realise you actually mention the wearing at the wedding!

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  7. Sorry, my first comment was in response to learning how to do a victory roll! Makes sense now. Nathalie, I do plan to wear it unless it pours with rain, in which case I'll bail out. x

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  8. Hello Jane! I've not left a comment before but had to as this is such a gorgeous dress! I have seen what beautiful things you've been making & like your choices. This dress, though, is fabulous, & being crepe must feel that bit more special. It's making me feel more like tackling older patterns with tricky techniques now!

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  9. Aw Jane, it's fantastic. I confess I have totally bailed on this project for now. Me and this pattern just don't seem to get on very well at all.
    Love this colour on you too. Can't wait to see it with victory rolls and some red lippy!!
    Px

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  10. Gorgeous dress and beautiful color on you! I haven't done a lot of sew alongs, but it's good to know that Casey hosted a good one!

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  11. Looks lovely! I'm thinking I should have made my swing dress in red too. :)
    You're giving great motivation for me to finish mine up.

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  12. Oh it's so pretty - and a gorgeous colour. Another pattern to add to the list then...!

    Oooh so annoying re the zipper! I'd have had a good stamp.

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  13. It looks lovely, I especially like the shoulders.

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  14. This dress looks so fab! I really wanted to take part in this sew-along but i just don't have the skill yet. I feel your pain with the zip. I would have been far less controlled than you in that situation!!

    BTW where do you get your crepe fabric from? I want to try making something with this (i have a fair few vintage patterns, i should try and make one of them!)

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  15. This is my kind of dress and you've made a terrific job! It looks lovely on and I really like the last shot with the shoulder detail. Glad it went well as I do enjoy your sewalongs and hope you do more. Bethx

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  16. Oh Jane, it's beautiful! Good work you! I really want to make this now...

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  17. Wow! FANTASTIC! I'm loving the 40's silhouette on you! The dress looks stunning and the color is beautiful!

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  18. Love, love, love it!
    The fit, the colour, the fabric (which makes me happy since it's the same as mine!). You look amazing in it and I am more than a little envious!
    I can only hope mine is half as good if/when I finally get round to sewing it!

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  19. Imagine having a picture of you in your crepe on Gertie's blog.

    Oh, you do!!!!

    http://www.blogforbettersewing.com/2011/03/gallery-of-delicious-crepes.html

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  20. I know!!!!!!!!! I've been in a frenzy of excitement ever since I saw it, it's like receiving the dressmaking equivalent of a knighthood. It's ironic that she describes the dress as "cheery" and my face is anything but! Thanks for the link. x

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  21. I see you're a Gertie star. Yay and congratulations!!

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  22. Thanks, as always for your wonderful comments about my dress, I totally appreciate them all. Law, I got the wool crepe in a fabric shop near where I live (Ealing). I see you live in Brighton, have you tried Ditto in the North Laines? x

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  23. You look great! Love the colour! I'm halfway through my swing dress and it is so inspiring the see the finished ones!

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  24. Thanks Isis, I can't wait to see your dress (in fact can't wait to see all of them). I've just discovered your 1940's blog so will be reading through your posts to get some hair and make-up tips! x

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  25. Oh, the red is so beautiful, great job! I've come to expect you finishing ahead of the game on these sew-alongs, and you didn't disappoint :) I'm admiring the nice look of your gathers after practicing on my muslin - if they don't gather correctly they sure can look unflattering. I'm so excited to finish this dress, love the look!

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  26. Oh, this looks beautiful! Very nicely done. Great colour, you're going to be smashing at the wedding. :)

    Don't worry about the cigarette bit...I've learned that the ability to whip up a quick daiquiri or Mai Tai is very, very helpful when dealing with sewing troubles. Just whir it up, sit and close one's eyes, imagine a beach...waves...palm trees...someone else figuring it out for you... ;)


    I didn't join this sew-along (perhaps wisely, considering my own ongoing Crepe debacle, or unwisely, as I suspect this dress might have been easier for me to fit!) but would eventually like to make this dress, or one like it, as I've several 1940s patterns that are similar to this one.

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  27. Beautiful dress. The red is so lovely. Great job!

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  28. Wow, what a pretty shade of red! It's beautiful. The set-in sleeves look fabulous. Great job!

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  29. Your dress turned out so pretty. Love the color and it looks so pretty on you.

    Love seeing the differences in the fabrics everyone chose.

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  30. Wowza!!! You look so gorgeous in this stunning red! (Of course, it's making me want to pull out my red swing dress... but alas, the heavy crepe is too warm for the weather right now! Boo!) I am so tickled that you participated in and enjoyed the sew-along--thank you for joining in! :)

    ♥ Casey

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