This style builds off of the straight tee dress that we made yesterday but has added fullness at the hem for that swingy trapeze style. So step 1 is to follow the directions to lengthen the shirt from the straight tee dress tutorial until your pattern looks like this:
Step 2: This is the Most Important Thing about making a swing style dress – you cannot just angle the side seam out to add fullness. If you do it that way, your dress will hang flat in the front and back with all the fullness congregated around the side seams, which will cause them to buckle. You want your fullness to be evenly distributed around the hem of the dress so you get those great ripply lines all around, not just at the side seams. The correct way to add any fullness to a pattern is to use a simple little method called “slash and spread”, so that’s what we’re going to do.
First decide where you want the fullness of the dress to begin. I chose the natural waist, but you could make it as high as just under the underarm as well. Cut the pattern horizontally across that point. Then cut the pattern vertically down through the “skirt” at a slight angle. In my example, I’ve only cut the skirt portion once at the center, but you could choose to split the skirt up into three or four even sections for more fullness.Step 3. You’ve completed the “slash” so now it’s time for the “spread”. Lay a large sheet of paper under your pattern pieces and as you rotate your pattern pieces, tape them down. Align the top center point of the “skirt” with the bottom center part of the top where they were cut, as indicated by the star in this illustration. Then rotate the skirt portion out to your desired amount. For my dress, I shifted the bottom of the pattern piece 2″ out from center, which is as much as I’d recommend. If you wish to add even more fullness, I would suggest cutting the skirt into more pieces. And remember that every spread is multiplied by 4, so moving this portion out 2″ means that the dress is now 8″ fuller.
Step 4: Repeat step 3 to align the second portion of the skirt so that they touch at the original horizontal cut line, as indicated by the star in this illustration. Then angle that skirt portion out by the same distance as the first skirt portion.Step 5: Use a ruler to outline your new pattern piece, as indicated by the red line. The center pattern should go all the way down to the original center front hem of the dress. When drawing in the side seam, you’ll have to smooth out the lines a bit to follow the general shape of the rotated pattern pieces. Connect the center front line with the side seam with a curved hem line, making sure it leaves the center line at a 90 degree angle. (The extreme curve of the hem is also important to make sure the final hem is the same length all the way around the dress. Another hazard of just angling out the side seam instead of slashing and spreading is that often the side seams end up longer than the center front and back.)
Repeat these steps so that the back of the dress matches the front, and double check to make sure the side seams are equal in length. And that’s it! Your new pattern pieces are finished and you can sew your swing dress!
Fabric drape is also really important to achieve those great ripples along the hem. I used rayon spandex for this version, but any lightweight knit with good drape will work well. If you’re at a fabric store, you can hold up a yard or two to see how the fabric drapes. If you’re buying online, any kind of rayon blend will be a safe bet, but poly blends are also good.
Now go throw on your brand new swingy dress, perfect for looking cute and stylish but staying comfy! And meet me back here tomorrow when we’ll hack the City Park Tee to have a waist seam and a gathered skirt!