How to Sew a Swing Dress | Pattern and Tutorial

How to Sew a Swing Dress

FYI: while you see Mindy modeling the dress, this dress was designed and sewn by me (Amy).  When you live in different states and the weather doesn't cooperate for photos (rain and fog EVERY SINGLE TIME we scheduled a photo shoot), you do what you have to!  Plus, she's a prettier model. :)

This dress is a design that I really loved, thought about for a LONG time, talked myself out of multiple times, and then just decided to go for it.  One thing that I share with Mindy is a passionate desire to rid my house and life of all unnecessary clutter, so while it would be easy to think, "Oh, it's just one dress, it doesn't really matter whether I end up liking it or not.", I want to be very mindful of anything new that I add to my closet, making sure that it will serve me well.

Materials Needed

  1. Fabric.  Mine is a remnant from my Mom's fabric stash, so I don't have a link to the exact fabric, but it's a crepe-like chiffon with a bit of stretch.  It's very lightweight, which is why I lined everything but the sleeves on the dress.
  2. Seamstress measuring tape.
  3. Our FREE shift dress pattern!
  4. Fabric shears
  5. Fabric pen
  6. Approximately 3 yards of fabric.

Pattern Adjustment

This is so, so easy!  

  1. Using the shift dress pattern in your size (for this fabric with only light stretch and to make a more flowy dress, I would absolutely recommend sizing up.  Since I am usually a size 4, I used the size 6 pattern), and a new piece of paper (I use gift wrap tissue or newspaper, whatever I have handy), mark out 4" from the curved, side seam of the pattern.
  2. From that mark, simply draw a diagonal line to the sleeve opening, leaving the seam opening the same, but modifying the side seam so that it no longer has any curve, but flares like an A-line or swing dress.
  3. Do the same with your back dress piece.
  4. Cut two of each front and back piece if you are lining your dress.  If you have a medium weight or heavier fabric, I would not suggest lining your dress.  It will just look very stiff and bulky unless you have a lightweight, light colored fabric like mine.
  5. If you are not lining your dress, cut out the facing pieces for the neckline.
  6. Since I lined my dress, I cut two of each front and back piece.  I cut the top layer one inch shorter than the bottom layer for a layered, slightly ruffled hem look.  
  7. For a fuller sleeve, I simply cut my sleeve pattern in half, layed it on a piece of paper and added 3 inches to the middle of the sleeve.  If the fabric you are using doesn't have any stretch, I recommend adding at least 1.5 to 2 inches to the middle of your sleeve.  

Sewing Notes

  1. Since my sleeves are wider than the armscye, I ruffled the top of the sleeve slightly to make it fit.  
  2. The hem on my dress is layered, but since I didn't want to add bulk, I did a very small zigzag stitch on the raw cut to create a rolled hem look for each layer.  If you lined your dress and want a smoother look, you can simply sew the hem together like you did for the neckline of your dress.

Happy Sewing!


Amy MocasDress