Sunday, May 13, 2012

How Silhouette Patterns "the Swing Dress" Turned into Three different Things


My husband has been away for over a week and I spent much of that  time in my sewing room. 

My  goal for May was to make at least one item of clothing using a Silhouette pattern because I've purchased quite a few lately. I decided to start with the very simple Swing Dress


Sizes at Silhouette Patterns are based on finished garment measurements.They also include pieces for B,C, and D cup sizes. So after reading the back of the envelope, I decided I wanted my finished garment to measure 37" at the bust because I was using a very stretchy knit.

When using one of her patterns, Peggy Sagers wants you to trace your chosen size so you can go back and change it up until you can achieve a perfect fit, so I copied Size 2  ( for D cup) knowing I wasn't going to be happy with a 39" waist or a 47" hip. I also knew  those numbers had more to do with style than fit so they didn't bother me.



I made a muslin  but only down  to the hip area, using a knit very similar to the good stuff I'd be using.

 I then decided I needed a lot of shaping at the waist,so I would need to curve the sides, the front and back at the waist line. I decided I'd have to use a center front seam for this , so I draped my muslin on my body taking in the required amounts at those waist points and transferred these changes to my muslin. It took a couple of tries before I was satisfied.

 I then transferred the alterations to my pattern.

I  lowered the neckline using my French curve and copying a favorite neckline on another garment.

I added 4" to the length realizing the pattern looked awfully short.

I cut out my dress and basted all the seams and tried it on.And it was too short !Urrgh! 

It was cute but not particularly flattering. The trouble was with the swing at the side seams . I once again draped the seams to the way I thought looked better  (I turned it into an A-line) , transferred the change to my pattern , cut away the required amount from the side seams . This was much better. 

I added the sleeves which I changed to 3/4 length and finished the neck with a self fabric binding.I even added a band at the bottom (so not great) to add an inch and a half. Here I'll show you .



The Swing Dress Turned A-Line

A close-up of the hem.

I know it ain't pretty !

And me in this very simple but time consuming little dress .I'm going to a dinner tonight and I'm wearing my new dress in spite of the hem.




Next I decided to make a top using the pattern. When I bought this slubbed rayon lycra , it told me it wanted to be 3/4 sleeved,long, close-fitting and shirred at the sides. I literally could not change it's mind.

 I used the above pattern and this time straightened the sides so it hugged my hips.

I shirred the sides using clear elastic. Then I just happened to see this top on Coldwater Creek.
I decided to add two lines of shirring to front and back.

This time I used two rows of stitching and gathered them because I felt I'd be able to control the gathers better this way.Here's a close-up of the inside seam and front area. I covered the front shirring with a strip of fabric.


I also shirred the sleeves using three rows on each arm.


Here is the finished top.






Next up ,I wanted to use up some cotton knit in my stash so I made a nightie using the Swing Dress pattern with the A-line sides and I changed the bust dart into sunburst darts at the neck. I also added an inch to the side seams to make it roomier and used sleeves from another pattern and added darts at the hem of those too..




I'm happy with my three pieces from the same pattern. It makes it seem more worthwhile to have used it more than once given the time I spent with the alterations.

I'm really greatful to Peggy Sagers and her generosity in providing sewists with so much free information on her bi-monthly,Monday night webcasts. I've learned a lot about draping from her and my clothes are fitting me better than ever before.

I hope you found time to sew this weekend!

More later from




15 comments:

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

You have made this into such a versatile pattern. I love all three versions of this pattern but especially the blouse. Love how you got the CC look with this pattern! Fantastic! Happy Mother's Day!

Vicki said...

Nice work with the pattern. I especially like the top on you.

Gail said...

You look lovely in both outfits. I especially like the ruched hipline on the top.

Linda T said...

All of them are looking great from here. I made that pattern not long ago in black rayon ponte type knit. I did lengthen mine also and gave it a bit more shaping at the waist. I like it and have worn it several times. I plan to make it again for this summer in a colorful (probably print) knit.

Jane M said...

Wow, that's good bang for the buck from that versatile pattern. I've not had success wit Pegg's patterns but your side ruching has given me wonderful inspiration....and it would match my own personal body ruching:-)

Irene said...

Lovely! - all three items. I particularly like the ruched top. Looks quite wonderful on you.
Great save on the dress.

velosewer said...

Wow.
What a versatile designer you are.
The hem on the dress in RTW is usually seen as a design feature. Anything goes. And the dress was great on you as well.

Lisette M said...

Well you got your money's worth using that pattern. I love all three garments!

Sheila said...

Lovely dress and like the idea of using it for the top and nightgown. Starburst Dart detail is awesome.

Dixie said...

Each of these garments looks very nice. I love the red print for the dress. And good for you for listening to the knit that wanted to become the ruched top. It's very stylish. The nightie looks comfy, too. Great ways to maximize a pattern!

Summer Flies said...

I love your red dress, and the rouching for the top. That's very clever.

Pamela Ann said...
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Pamela Ann said...
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Pamela Ann said...
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Carrie Diamont said...

Thank you for the notes on the changes you made to the swing dress. I am working through some of the exact changes you made to make it more flattering to my figure type. It was described as one of those styles that is flattering on "everyone" so it is good to know that I'm not the only one making several fitting adjustments ; )