swing dress sew-along

Today is the day, sew-alongers! I am so, so excited that we’ve officially completed this sew-along together. It was such a fantastic experience for me, and I loved that I was able to work on a project with others and get to know many of you just a bit better through our collective sewing. I do hope you had fun with this, if you participated, and you’re pleased with your final dress! Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post to contribute your dress to the link list (which will be open indefinitely, so don’t worry if you’re not done with your version yet!). So without further ado, here is my version:

03.17.11 | mint green swing dress

[ are you ready to celebrate? alas, I forgot to pick up a party hat last time I was out... ]

The only downside with these photos is that they weren’t taken at the romantic, waterside location I had envisioned in my head since I bought this fabric. Alas, my resident photographer (aka Sailor Husband) was unavailable, so it was just me and my trusty tripod. Seeing these pictures, I’m really glad that I refit the pattern during the sew-along; I feel like the fit is more spot-on than the previous versions.

03.17.11 | mint green swing dress
03.17.11 | mint green swing dress

[ for the curious, the shoes are the Remix Rita heels; a Christmas gift from my in-laws. ]

03.17.11 | mint green swing dress

[ more pictures here. ]

Instead of a button or brooch at the neckline, I decided to make a fabric flower from the book I reviewed last week. Isn’t it fun? I thought it would be a rather whimsical little addition to the frock and add a bit of texture to the neckline. Plus it’s very 40s to use all the last bits of scraps to make a smart accessory, right? (The BurdaStyle website has a link to download this flower pattern if you’re interested.) The only problem is that the lightweight silk is a bit floppy, so I think I might add a bit of fabric starch to stiffen the petals a bit.

03.17.11 | mint green swing dress

[ details: fabric flower made from scraps of leftover silk. how very 1940s to use all the scraps! ]

03.17.11 | mint green swing dress

[details: vintage white ceramic belt buckle embellishing the self-fabric belt. ]

I think that pretty much rounds this up. I don’t really have much else to say about this dress since I’ve already rambled on in the sewing posts (which if you missed any, they’ll all be archived here). Thank you again to everyone who participated in this sew-along–and be sure to add a link to your finished dress below!

Swing Dress Party!
Ready to show off your new Swing Dress? Just enter your blog post/photo url in the form below (please only one link, per version of the dress. So if you’ve made more than one, you can submit one link per dress.), click submit and add your dress into the virtual party! Be sure to check out everyone else’s versions as well… Can’t wait to see yours!

Note: Due to an ongoing spam problem with the link widget I originally used in this post, I unfortunately had to disable it. Please visit the Flickr group to see some of the finished dresses participants made!

March 17, 2011 · 65 lovely thoughts
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Finally–the long-awaited beltmaking tutorial! way I make my fabric-covered belts has been learned from a mix of trial-and-error and vintage manuals. The supplies are simple, and making a simple pass-through belt is quite easy. I have, however, included instructions for how to add a pronged buckle to a belt and add eyelets. I hope you enjoy, and as usual feel free to ask any questions in the comments!

Supplies: 1″ wide stiff belting (available at JoAnns), 1/4 yard fabric at least 45″ wide, buckle for 1″ belt (see sources at the end), pattern paper, thread, scissors, ruler, pins.

Begin by measuring your waist and adding 6″ to 8″ inches to the length (I tend to err on the side of more, especially for a belt using a pronged buckle). Draft and cut a paper pattern 2 times the width of the belting plus 1″, by the length plus 1 1/2″. So if your waist is 28″ (plus a 6″ overlap) and your belting is 1″ wide, the fabric would be cut 34 1/2″ by 3″. I like to make a paper pattern to keep on hand for future projects.

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March 15, 2011 · 70 lovely thoughts
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I’ve decided to postpone the Swing Dress party until next week. Partly for selfish reasons (I haven’t had time to get some photos of my dress yet!), and also because many people requested the belt tutorial before the party. Which is understandable–if you want to make a belt for the dress, you’d want to model it for the party, right? So I’m going to get that ready for Monday, and then the dress party will be next Thursday (March 17). Sorry for the back-and-forth about this, but sometimes things just have to be flexible! So look for a post next Thursday with a link form for you to add your finished dress into the mix.

I also wanted to say a big thank you for all the lovely comments on the last several posts! I haven’t had a chance to reply to all of them yet, but plan on tackling that tomorrow. Thanks from the bottom of my heart!

March 9, 2011 · 16 lovely thoughts
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So all we have left to do is hem our dresses, which means that this is the last tutorial in this sew-along series. (Although I am toying with the idea of tacking on a tutorial for how to make a separate belt–anyone interested?) Hemming is probably one of my favorite parts of sewing–I love hand stitching a hem and tend to opt for that over a machine blind hem. But, you can certainly do that if you’d like (just consult your machine’s manual for instructions). Below is how I hemmed my Swing Dress, but it certainly can be done with just a plain turn-under hem (turn under 1/2″ and then another 1/2″ for the 1″ hem allowed) and then slipstitched.

Turn under your hem 1″, lightly press and pin. Try on the dress to make sure the hem is even around. As you can see on the left image, my hem was originally a bit long on the left side, so I refolded the hem to achieve an even line all around.

I decided to use the same lace tape I used on the sleeve hems (it’s just so fun!) on the skirt hem. Trim the edge of the hem to an even length and finish with a zig-zag stitch or serge. Pin one edge of the lace hem tape over the edge of the dress hem (covering the finishing stitches) and then stitch it to the edge using a straight stitch (although a zig zag is acceptable too).

Turn up the hem and pin in place along the previously-pressed crease.

Thread a needle with thread that matches your dress material and hem using a whip or slip stitch. Give the hem a final press and you’re done!

If you haven’t already, now is the time to do any more finishing work like adding a button to secure the bodice overlap and tacking down the neckline facing. Try on your dress, admire your handiwork and give yourself a pat on the back–you did it!

What’s next in this sew-along? According to my schedule (which we are surprisingly close to the original finish date!) we’re supposed to have a Swing Dress show-off party. I was thinking that I could post my final dress and then have a form that you can link to your finished dress (blog post or images) to share with everyone. Cupcakes and party hats optional (but encouraged). How about a week from now: March 10? Does that sound achievable to everyone? I’m so excited to see all your lovely dresses!

March 3, 2011 · 25 lovely thoughts
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Zipper time, everyone! If you’ve decided to use the recommended invisible zipper in the side seam, then go ahead and install it according to the package directions (or check out a tutorial. There are a lot out there, so this is certainly not the only one!). I cannot recommend enough that you should also have an invisible zipper foot to install it with; it is very frustrating and nearly impossible to get a smooth and professional installation otherwise.

Me? I prefer regular, old-fashioned zippers; particularly on dresses like the Swing Dress that harken back to another era. Today I’ll be covering my favorite insertion method for a side-zipper-opening: the dress placket zipper. It’s the “overlap” style that you see on a lot of dresses from this era; I originally taught myself how to do this method from a 1940s sewing manual!

Do keep in mind though that you need a 5/8″ to 3/4″ seam allowance to work with. If you don’t, you can easily add additional width by seaming on narrow strips of fashion fabric to your side seam allowances over the zipper opening (on this pattern between the bodice and skirt side seam notches)–which is perfectly period and I’ve seen suggested in several sewing books of the era.

Prepare your zipper prior to sewing it in. Does it need to be shortened? Also press the zipper flat with your iron at a low-heat setting. Most zippers over a certain length come folded up in the package, and you want to get those creases out!

02.28.11 | sdsa: zippers!

To begin with, baste the seam opening using large stitches so you can easily remove them later (on my machine I usually set it to a 4 or 4.5 stitch length). Press seam open.

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February 28, 2011 · 41 lovely thoughts
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