diy: sdsa supplies + inspiration

Oh wow--thank you so much for all the great feedback on yesterday's post! I noticed a few questions about this sew-along and plan on posting an faq (as well a buttons for you to use and a link to a group Flickr) tomorrow evening. I'm trying very hard to keep this blog balanced and not become too sew-along-heavy and space things out with my usual posts. So please excuse if the sew-along posts tend to be a bit later in the day than I normally post! I also wanted to let you know that if you're not able to participate right now (I know there are a ton of sew-alongs going on right now! Unfortunately, my schedule is such this year that it was now or never.), feel free to still chime in and participate in the comments. Plus, you can always go back and refer to the sew-along later on; that's the beauty of a blog after all! Even though I've made three versions of this dress previously, I am still not tired of it! I'm envisioning a springtime version in a pretty pastel with short sleeves for myself. This pattern is quite simple to sew up, offers a lot of options for deviating and making your own version. To top it off, Jennie Chancey based the pattern on a 40s design, so it's great for those who swing dance or participate in living history events. But even if the 40s isn't really your look, it's a classic style that lends itself well to other interpretations in modern fabric (or would even look fun made up in a 70s print!).


 The supply list for this particular dress is quite simple, although I've made a few additions. Better yet, the fabric requirement isn't that great (most sizes average around 3 yards), which means it's perfect for those of us on sewing budgets! I'll be discussing suitable fabric choices later this week, so sit tight for those. Until then, here's the list of supplies to start gathering:
  • Swing Dress Pattern: There are two forms you can purchase the Sense and Sensibility Swing dress pattern in, printed or as a download. If you're familiar with the way BurdaStyle formats their print-at-home patterns, you should have no problem with the download version. Jennie also has a helpful e-pattern faq on the site.
  • Fabric: Consult the size chart to get an idea of what size you'll be cutting out. I've generally found Jennie's yardage requirements are more than ample, but adding an extra 1/4 or 1/2 yard in is never a bad idea! (Remember if you choose to make this dress longer you'll need more.) As mentioned above, I'll be going over suitable fabric more thoroughly later in the week.
  • Stabilizer: Although the pattern does not require it, I find that stabilizing the midriff area and neckline really helps the overall look. Again, this is something that I'll be discussing going forward.
  • Muslin: You certainly aren't required to, but I recommend making a muslin to tailor-fit this pattern to yourself. I've tweaked my copy over time and now have a custom-fit version and it really pays off when I want to make another version! Get at least a yard more of muslin than the yardage required for your size. (Of course, you don't have the buy what's labeled "muslin" on the bolt--any inexpensive fabric that isn't too heavy or stiff should work. This dress is best suited towards soft, drapey fabrics so something around a lightweight cotton will work for the test version.)
  • Shoulder Pads: No, we're not talking line-backer style pads! Rather we'll be making the more moderate pads that I wrote about here. You can always opt for pre-made though.
  • Cotton Batting: Only if you opt to make your own shoulder pads.
  • Matching Thread: Just the usual, all-purpose type should suffice.
  • Closure: The pattern uses an 8" invisible zipper, but for this tutorial I will be showing you how to insert a regular zipper using a method that was popular in 40s sewing books (just get an 8" to 10" regular zipper if you opt for this method). You can also opt for snaps if you're using a very soft/sheer fabric instead. (I'll include a short overview of this as well.)
  • Brooch/Decorative Button: Optional to attach at the neckline to keep things closed, but if you prefer a few discreet handstitches will work too!
  • Pattern Alteration Supplies: Things like pencils, markers, rulers, etc. As you go along and fit your pattern, you may wish to trace it onto new paper. I recommend using a sturdy banner paper, non-fusible interfacing, Swedish Interfacing or medical table paper (I use this and it's cheap and slightly transparent).
  • Basic Sewing Tools: The usual things like fabric shears, sewing machine, iron, hand sewing needles, etc. I'm sure you already have most of those!
Now, just a quick word about skill level. This pattern doesn't have any techniques--besides inserting a zipper and topstitching--that I would classify as "hard". If you're an ambitious beginner and have made at least a couple garments, are familiar enough with sewing and garment construction, you should be fine! (As much as I'd like to, this won't be a "how to sew" course, so just be advised I assume you have knowledge of basic construction and/or a good sewing reference.) This is part of the reason we'll be making a muslin: to familiarize yourself with the construction before cutting into your fashion fabric! What about variations? This pattern, as I mentioned, is such a simple style that can be tailored to your own aesthetic vision easily! Some ideas would be: contrasting fabric for the midriff, leaving off the sash ties and swapping out for a belt (as I did on my most recent version), trying some embroidery or trapunto on the midriff piece, using a bordered fabric along the neckline, making it floor length for a sumptuous evening gown, adding embroidery or beading to the bodice... The list is endless! Here are a few images that I found in my files to inspire you for similar styles: 

quick 'n dirty sketches of variations from my sketchbook.

l to r: patch pockets on a paneled skirt similar to the Swing Dress pattern | a vintage dress (Ebay) sporting a self-fabric belt and button embellishments | an evening gown with a contrast midriff section.

40s embroidery motifs that could easily be reworked and added to your Swing Dress version.

What are some ideas you have for your version of the Swing Dress? I'm still contemplating mine, but I want something functional (perhaps pockets?!) and suitable for warm weather. I'm also envisioning a pretty pastel solid fabric, but a print would also be fun... Off to my sketchbook to doodle some ideas!


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