Tag Archives: 1940’s swing era dress

My made June-ish

17 Jul

June is usually the coldest month here, and my warmer clothes are usually just op-shop finds to see me through an average of all of 3 weeks of cold weather. So I didn’t sign up for Me-Made June.

But this June turned out sooooo cold I had to dig out some of my southern travel clothes for their extra warmth. One old favourite is this blue velvet skirt. I found the skirt, a straight wrap-around in I think a size 8, (too small for me) in an op-shop in Darwin when I was 19. I made it into this straight skirt that buttons up at the side. (Gorgeous buttons. Mmmm!) The fabric was a tad worn and frayed in places when I found the skirt, and I do secretly love that. It has Character!

It turned out to be the perfect weight for the extra-cold weather. Yes yes, I really was barefoot even though it was freezing 😛 I wore this skirt so much that, especially on days I wore a top I had also made, like this one, I was doing a Me-Made June after all.

One day I will work out how to fit the back of my bodices so they don’t have all that extra fabric in them. I already take some length out of the waist. I have trialled taking some of that excess out of the shoulders/neck, without affecting the armscye. I think it is working. More on that in a later post when I am more confident of what I am doing.

The top is my “wearable muslin” of Sense and Sensibility’s swing era dress pattern, started when I optimistically joined Casey‘s Swing era dress sew-along earlier this year. I ‘fess, I went on holiday in the middle of the sew-along and never started the actual dress The muslin worked out just fine, however, so I finished it off as a top, (practised that crazy shoulder corner seam!) and it soon became a wardrobe favourite. I suspect it is partly to do with the colour (looks lovely on me and goes with everything in my wardrobe), partly the weight of the fabric is so nice (cotton poplin), the style is comfortable (love that back pleat!) and it suits my figure. What more can a girl ask for?

(For the record I have some red, red, red cotton sateen in the cupboard to make the actual dress up.)

Swing dress sew-along – cutting and fitting the paper pattern

12 Feb

GGGGRRRRRRRrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr <—— very loud, very frustrated growl.

1) What is with the 1/2 inch seam allowances? Every other pattern (well, in my experience anyway) apart from the occasional lingerie one, has 1.5 cm seams interchangeable with 5/8th inch seams. What on earth is a half an inch in metric anyway?
And I like having 1.5cm seams to play with, it makes vagaries of fitting different drapes of fabric so much easier to manage.

2) The pattern totally lacks any markings such as waist, hips, bust point. It lacks nape-waist markings or measurements.
These two factors, combined with this piece of information in the pattern notes have me totally frustrated:

The bodice is designed to accommodate long-waisted ladies – those with a nape-to-waist measurement of 17″ to 18″. If your nape-to-waist measurement is less than this, you will most definitely need to shorten the bodice pieces.

Huh? What? When your nape-waist is 14″ a variation of 1″ is waaay too much. NOT IMPRESSED. I might as well go buy an RTW dress. With no pattern markings telling me where the waist is, let alone the nape, how on earth am I supposed to work out how much to shorten the bodice by? The whole thing is made even more impossible by the fact the shoulder seam does not sit on the shoulder, nor is there a shoulder point mark.

On a related subject, how much am I supposed to shorten the skirt by too, when there is no waist, hip – or heck, even the nape – markings?

I know I know. “Make a muslin” BUT, I have always found muslins work best when it is a bit of a tweak here or there, not practically re-drafting the entire garment to fit. After all, isn’t the point of a paper pattern so that you don’t have to do that?

Not impressed.


I don’t remember having this issue with the Regency gown. Mind you I did buy the Simplicity print of the Sense and Sensibility pattern, not the pattern direct from Sense and Sensibility. I just did my usual height adjustments, and straight back adjustments and it is fine.

I did consider the possibility of simply cutting it out as it was, and fitting the length on the muslin as best I could. But I find it almost impossible to adjust a muslin for my straight back, which needs a longer upper front than upper back, while still making the side seams match up. That really needs adjusting at the flat pattern stage, and needs the same reference points as to adjust the nape-waist length.
So I figured I would give it my best shot at getting the length and straight-back fitting issues resolved by tissue-fitting the pattern a la Palmers Fit for Real People. This isn’t really my favourite method of fitting as without a helper it is very hard to make sure everything is sitting on the body the way the finished garment would have fallen. And something like this dress is so involved, my Fitting Consultat aka mum won’t do it. (And I didn’t have the energy to bribe her with doing a bit of sewing for her in exchange!)
It is also not exactly easy to gather the printer paper up, and two seams needed it for this method for this dress. O_o
So I just tissue-fitted as best I could. I will cut out the seam allowances at 1.5 cm so I have that bit of playing room with the muslin.
I still have to adjust the skirt – the lack of waist marking is making that a bit hit-and-miss as well. But thankfully the muslin can sort that out easily.
Next up – muslin.

Swing Dress sew-along – cutting the muslin

26 Jan

Cutting the muslin

Casey of Elegant Musings, who is running the Swing Dress sew-along made a button for it. Not sure what to do with it (I am woefully ignorant of Blog-land stuff)
Here it is anyway!

I got ahead of rest of the sew-along, having just cut out my muslin. After stressing so much about the paper-fitting, I just wanted to see how it would turn out.
I am also going to Brisbane in a week, for a week, so won’t be able to work on it.
When I got to pinning the front piece I discovered there was no grainline marking. I am done with tearing my hair out about the pattern. I want to enjoy it, not whinge. So hey, who cares? I took a punt on the grainline being the front edge of the crossover bit. After all that is what muslins are for, aren’t they?

Swing dress sew along – adventures in home printing patterns

20 Jan

Printing the pattern
I had an amusing time with the Swing Dress e-pattern…

Apart from the odd small craft pattern, this is my first try at an e-pattern. I downloaded it, printed it out and stuck it all together.

There are no matching up marks as there are in the Burdastyle e-patterns I downloaded at the same time, but as the pages printed up in order from right to left, bottom to top, and it came with a printout of the entire layout, it was a lot easier to work out than I feared. There were the odd bits that didn’t quite match, but not so bad it will throw the finished garment off.
I used up heaps of stickytape, and it was like a grown-up version of kindergarten. My inner child had lots of fun! And it really wasn’t as big a job as it looked at first glance.

But half-way through I did get frustrated wrestling with the wind from our always-turned-on ceiling fans. I had the airconditioner on too, but the fans make the aircon’s capacity to cool just that much more effective (and friendly to our electricty bill and environment).
So when my fiance mentioned at his work they are always printing up large-sized plans at the copyshop, and it doesn’t cost a lot, I decided to just get it printed on one big sheet of paper there, along with the 3 burdastyle e-patterns I bought at the same time.
I sent it to them to print, and the copyshop had NO idea how to get the swing dress to print on one big sheet. So  I checked the FAQ’s on the Sensibility site, (only then, of course, not beforehand) and discovered it simply couldn’t be printed out like that. The only way was the stickytape and A4 sheets, as I was already doing.
Oh well.
However… the lovely girl that helped me out at the copyshop asked me where I got the pattern from. Her grandmother had just recently given her a sewing machine, and was in the process of teaching her how to sew (how awesome! Just like my Granny and mother did for me) And loved the patterns and wanted her own.
So I gave her the URL to the Sensibility site, BurdaStyle and a few other places I have found. Sadly, I discovered I knew the URLs off by heart I visit these places so much.
I hope she has much fun with them all.

Swing dress sewalong and other pattern delights

19 Jan

 Last night I bought my first e-pattern – Sense and sensibility’s “swing dress” Never being one to do things by halves, I also bought a few BurdaStyle e-patterns.

Going back to Sense and Sensibility this morning to check on fabric types, I discovered there is a sew-along on this very pattern, happening at this very moment! They are up to about the muslin/fitting stage. I’ve never done a sew-along before (I figure the stuff I did in Home Ec at school doesn’t count) and am gonna give it a go. Could be a lot of fun! At the very least I may get my dress done sooner than I possibly would have otherwise.

The BurdaStyle part of my shopping expedition started with these gorgeous-looking wide-legged trousers in “half-sizes” ie petites, drafted for women 5ft 3″ which I happen to be – plus another half-inch that must not be forgotten, that takes me to 5 ft 3-and-a-half inches. (I reckon the extra half-inch is my curly hair so it shouldn’t affect the trouser pattern too much!)

I have been wanting to make a dress in a similar style to this one here.
This Burda pattern is the closest I could find (I am not too fussed on having a collar).
In thin white fabric, with a scarf and loose hair to tangle in the sea breeze along the seashore, as the pattern photo shows, doesn’t strike me as much to write home about (I prefer bathers or board-shorts on the beach!) but the one below, one of Burdastyle’s members, is pretty much exactly what I want – but maybe in a soft blue instead?

And last but not least, I bought this just because I couldn’t resist the pretty dress. Oh dear.

However, I realise I have in my stash a potential fabric. This cotton-lycra woven sateen.

The flowers are quite large, but with judicious placing of pattern on print, and application of lace and trim, maybe it would work…?

Having thus inspired myself, I am now going to sew.

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