THE PERFECT SUMMER SWING DRESS (TUTORIAL)

I’m completely obsessed with chartreuse right now. It’s a different and unexpected neon color, unlike neon yellow or pink, and it’s just so fresh and bright and fun for summer, like a freshly squeezed lime.

I picked up this fabric from Girl Charlee a few months ago, thinking I would use part of it for my Parisian top, but I changed my mind after ordering it so this fabric suddenly had no purpose. Then, in a twist of fate, my friend posted a handmade green dress on instagram, I pinned this dress from Sincerely Jules, and my Golden Tote showed up in the mail a few days later with an amazing flared tunic that was just begging to be copied and made into a dress. The combination of all three was a match made in heaven and the perfect summer swing dress was born.

I’m planning to make myself a few more of these and live in them during the summer! But this style of dress would also be perfect layered with a scarf, boots, tights, and a jacket during the fall and winter!

A full tutorial is at the end of this post!

photos by jylare smith
made by me dress (similar here)
lulu*s sandals c/o (old, similar here and here)
lulu*s bag c/o (old, similar here)
Find the full tutorial after the jump!

Materials
Step 1 // First let’s cut out all our pieces. You’ll need a BACK, FRONT, 2 SLEEVES and 2 NECKLINE lining pieces. Use a tank top or tank dress that you own, fold it in half, and then lay it flat on your fabric with the fold of the fabric matching up with the fold of your tank. Cut around it (adding a 1/2″ seam allowance), and then adding your desired length and a flared width (mine was 20″ across at the armpits, and 42″ at the hem for both FRONT and BACK pieces). Do the same for the FRONT piece, making the neckline lower on this one. Use a fitted 3/4 sleeve from a shirt that you own and use it as a guide to cut out the 2 SLEEVES, then use your FRONT and BACK pieces as guide to cut the correct widths of NECKLINE pieces.
[tip: I always use parchment paper to cut out real pattern pieces (using my own clothing to create these pattern pieces), and then pin the pattern pieces onto the fabric and then cut. It eliminates a lot of error, and also allows me to fold the pattern pieces in half and make sure they are symmetrical or straight before I cut into my fabric!]
 
Step 2 // With right sides together, pin the FRONT and BACK pieces together at the shoulders and sew together.
Step 3 // With right sides together, pin the top of the SLEEVE and the top of the shoulder together, as shown. Continue down the rest of the arm hole, pinning the sleeve in place.
Step 4 // Sew the sleeve to the arm hole with a 1/2″ seam allowance. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for the other sleeve.
Step 5 // With right sides together, sew from the elbow to the knee with a 1/2″ seam allowance. Make sure your seams match up at the armpit!
 
Step 6 // With right sides together, sew your NECKLINE pieces together to make a circle. Make sure this circle is slightly smaller than your dress neckline so it has to be stretched to fit around — trim if necessary before sewing the two NECKLINE pieces together.
Then, with right sides together, pin the NECKLINE circle the neckline of the dress, matching them up the shoulder seams and then stretching evenly so it fits around the neckline. Sew with a 1/2″ seam allowance around the entire neckline, stretching slightly as you sew so the pieces lay flat. Trim the seam allowance and then tuck the lining inside the dress and press flat.
Step 7 // Using a wide stitch, top stitch around the neckline to tack the lining in place. Then hem the sleeves and the dress to your desired length. [tip: for a more professional look, blind hem stitch the bottom hem of the dress. This is a super easy video that shows you how to do it]. 
 
Press all your seams flat and you’re done! Happy weekend sewing!

126 Comments

  1. SO cool! Love that dress!

    Have a great weekend!

    The Style Storm
    <3, Christina

  2. I LOVE the dress. Weird question: what color do you have on your nails? It's such a pretty spring blue color!!!

  3. mandy says:

    This is a beautiful color on you! Love the dress 🙂

  4. That color is great! You look so fabulous!! 🙂 I need to learn to use my sewing machine ASAP! 🙂

  5. Léanne :) says:

    Super cute! You look great, as usual! I LOVE that necklace but it looks as though they no longer carry it…. :'( Boo for me!

  6. Paige Flamm says:

    I absolutely love the color of this dress!

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.com

  7. Ashley says:

    It's officially time for you to start selling your dresses! I would buy this one in a second.

  8. kateprs says:

    I can't believe you made this by yourself! It looks fabulous, and I love the way you styled it!

  9. Fabulous dress, loving the colour

    X x

  10. Merrick,

    I have been looking for a dress like this to make, and wasn't shocked that you read my mind! I'm hoping to find a thicker, dressier fabric so it will be appropriate for a wedding, and do a shorter sleeve, but THANK YOU. Love your style, and your tutorials!

    xoxo

  11. Nicole says:

    Cute!!

    I'm also wondering if you have any suggestions for good basic tees? I actually bought one from Pickwick and Teller after seeing it on your blog and LOOOOVE it but when I went back to buy another, I found out they're on a hiatus 🙁

    Any suggestions?

  12. This Looks extremely cute on you! I couldn´t wear this Color, but you look great with this Dress. Well done.
    Best regards from Germany,
    Elke

  13. Shira says:

    I am OBSESSED with this whole look and pinned it! I wish I had any sewing skills at all lol!

    http://www.asequinloveaffair.com

  14. Love the simple tutorial! Can I ask what color you're wearing on your lips? It seems like it would go with everything. Thanks!

  15. Monica says:

    The first time I tried to make a dress for myself it looked like a tablecloth with a hole in the middle. OK, so that was also the last time I tried to make a dress or myself. This tutorial gives me the push to try again! Oh, and I love your lipstick color as well.

  16. Gorgeous! You got the proportions just right.

  17. Laura Herder says:

    This dress is AWESOME!!!! Love the colour!

    Firmoo Giveaway
    Lauraherder.blogspot.com

  18. Kaolee says:

    This dress looks absolutely wonderful!

  19. I was just about to make this from scratch, but your tutorial is a lot better than what I had in mind. Thanks!!

  20. Roxanne says:

    I love this dress. It's s easy and basic and still so classy and 'expensive' looking
    Amazing pictures as well.

    xox
    http://www.head2heels.co

  21. You look SOOOOOOOOOOOOO pretty in the close up!

  22. Stephanie X says:

    Lovely dress.
    xx Stephanie (www.stephaniesstyleblog.com)

  23. Erica McLeod says:

    That dress is so great! I am inspired to fire up my sewing machine. But somehow I am pretty sure it wouldn't come out like that. Well done.
    http://www.thedecorina.com

  24. Kristen says:

    Oh man, I wish I could make this! I'm afraid it would look *homemade*. Yours is just beautiful!!

  25. Laura says:

    i adore this dress! would definitely try making my own if i had my sewing machine with me, oh how i miss sewing.. x

  26. Exactly what I need!
    I got the fabric but wasnt sure what to make. Now i know, thanks!

  27. hattie says:

    You're featured on A Beautiful Mess!! That's awesome, and the dress is beaut 🙂

  28. Maria Modl says:

    Merrick, that color is gorgeous on you, and what a fabulous dress! You're right, it's perfect for summer 🙂 Do you have any tips/have you done any tutorials on how to make patterns from your own clothes? I'm an experienced seamstress, but I've never done that before and I'd like to give it a try!

    Maria
    adifferentfashionmm.blogspot.com

  29. GnomeLover says:

    Wow! The color! The cut! The fabric! Everything. I love everything about this dress. I wish my sewing skills were up to par. I would make this in a heartbeat!

    Jenni

  30. Eve says:

    I love this, and may have to make one just like it. Can you give some additional tips on how to cut out the arms? I'm not sure how to get the shape correct on the part that attaches to the arm hole. Love this post.
    Eve

  31. chachamisu says:

    Love that dress and the whole look. You make it look easy to make it and wear it effortless.

  32. Ellie says:

    This is suuuuch a fun dress! I love the DIY aspect of it and can't wait to try it soon. 😀

  33. Lucy says:

    I'm so in love with this dress and you are absolutely gorgeous in it! I am so not a sewer, but I think I might give it a try. Question about the fabric before I order it– is it the same kind of fabric and weight as the average maxi skirt/dress?

  34. Love the dress and the color! Can you provide a "how to" for adding pockets that are set into the side seam? I love a dress with pockets!

  35. What camera and lens do you use Merrick? I love all your pics.

    destined2begreat23.blogspot.com

  36. Love this dress and (once I buy some fabric) cannot wait to try it, looks like an easy enough project for a sewing beginner:) Lovely photos btw.

  37. Anne Weaver says:

    Gorgeous!! I've got a Craft Gossip post scheduled for later today that links to your tutorial: http://sewing.craftgossip.com/tutorial-perfect-summer-swing-dress/2014/04/14/
    –Anne

  38. The Dunns says:

    I would love to see a video tutorial on how to make patterns from my own clothing. I have tried it before and it never quite works out that well. I love your blog!

  39. Lynn Röder says:

    I really like this dress and would love to make one myself. 🙂
    Could you tell me how long yours is and how wide at the bottom?
    Thanks a lot in advance!
    Lynn

  40. long time reader, never commented, but i had to, because that dress is so totally becoming on you !! you look gorgeous. the shoes, dress color, style, everything. i love it. i wish i had your creative flair !!!! i actually feel like this dress has inspired me to start sewing or get a sewing machine !!! love it. lol

  41. Raquelita says:

    Awesome dress and amazing color for summer! PS- You look gorgeous 🙂 (as always!)
    XO Rach
    http://www.lamariposablog.com

  42. Mrs Gray says:

    Your tutorials always make me wish I were better with my sewing machine! I can't wait until we get moved so I can unpack it and at least give it a try.

  43. Can I just say – this is just about the prettiest thing I have seen in forever! I love it Merrick! You are amazing!

  44. love it! i would also love to know the width of the bottom.

  45. I have read your article about Summer dresses and trust me you are looking perfect in this look.As everyone knows that
    Designers launch special collections for summer dresses and specially women gets crazy for the awesome lawn collections everywhere. Mostly girls’ do online research before actually buying lawn prints. Designers have their own websites and mostly sell on online shopping portal like AdClout.

  46. CarolT says:

    I love your dress. I haven't made any clothes yet but I want to make this one.

  47. Luu says:

    Hey Merrick 🙂
    the dress looks great and I love the style of the tutorial!
    Best, Luu

  48. How wide did you make the bottom of your dress? The fit is perfect!

  49. The dress is gorgeous and i'm looking forward to making it in a floral! I have the same question regarding the approximate width at the bottom. thanks!

  50. Risa West says:

    I've been obsessing over chartreuse lately too and this will be a great addition to my closet… that and i only wear dresses in the heat of summer. i'm totally making one of these ASAP

  51. Uhm, can you make me this dress? For reals! I LOVE it!

  52. I fell in love with this dress the moment I saw it on Pinterest. What a pitty I can't sew.

  53. LOVELY dress!! I have made swingy tops, but have not tried sewing a swingy dress before. I'll do that soon 🙂 thanks for the inspiration!

  54. THE SHOES! WHERE ARE THEY FROM?!?!

  55. katelynwilde says:

    Hi Merrick! I just tried your link to the girl charlee site for the fabric and it says it's not available anymore. Can you suggest a type that would work the same? Thanks!

  56. I just discovered your blog. Your summer swing dress is fabulous! I will try to sew on and let you know when I 've made it.

  57. I just discoverd you blog. I love your summer swing dress and I'll try to sew on for me. I'll let you know once it's made. See you

  58. Your dress is gorgeous. I'm an off-and-on sewer, and your blog has definitely inspired me to start up again. I'm finishing up a Parisian Top (found the pattern through your blog, thanks!), and it occurred to me that the sleeves and upper bodice from that pattern might work for this dress. What do you think?

  59. Kalie says:

    Ok so I know you say the color your using is called is chartreuse but when you bought it in girl Charlee was it saying chartreuse or was it the lemon lime color they have now? I love that color and can't find it anywhere please help!

  60. The dress is gorgeous,and I'll try to sew on for me!

  61. Unknown says:

    Where can I get that gorgeous bag?!?!?

  62. Hey, lovely pattern, I cant wait to make this for myself! Would you be able to tell me a little bit more about your experience with Girl Charlee fabrics? I've heard a lot of mixed reviews about their quality, like how their fabrics are very sheer (to the point that they were unusable), but with your dress the quality looks okay. I can't decide if its worth taking the risk and placing an order or not! Any help would be greatly appreciated 🙂

  63. Sooo cool! Love that dress!

  64. heather says:

    its looking so perfect on you. i am wondering how much did you add to your actual measurements like across the armpit to make it that loose on the top.

    • Merrick says:

      Hi Heather! The top that I used for my pattern was already oversized, so I didn’t have to add any width when cutting my pattern. But if you’re going off of your personal bust measurements, I would add at least three inches (1 1/2 to each side). Hope that helps!

  65. Patty says:

    Cute idea. With your hair down, the neckline doesn’t show up in the picture. How well fitted is it?

    • Merrick says:

      The neckline is a crew neck, and sits like a normal t-shirt, nicely against my chest. No draping like a cowl neck. Hopefully that answers your question!

  66. Babis says:

    Hello Merrick, I love your tutorials. I would want to know if you sewed your dress in a overlock sewing machine or in a normal sewing machine. ^^

  67. Ash says:

    Everyone seems to be so excited about this dress, but who has followed through and made it? If you haven’t — go for it! I made mine last night in no time! I was a little nervous about matching the sleeves to the tank pattern, but it worked out just fine! A big thanks for the tutorial!

  68. Fran says:

    Hi there. I love this dress pattern, but I was wondering if it can be made with 100% cotton fabric? Or does the fabric have to be stretchy?

  69. Shelby says:

    I’m just a little confused one how to attach the sleeves just from looking at step three and four. Can you offer some clarification please?

  70. Kate B. says:

    I just had my first try at this tutorial using a peachskin polyester fabric. It didn’t have any stretch to it, but I used a blouse that was made of a similar fabric as my template, so the sizing wasn’t an issue. I love how straightforward this was to do. It’ll take a bit of work to style it, though. I think that I need a scarf or big statement necklace to balance out the lack of a fitted waist. I’m definitely trying this in a jersey fabric for the spring. Thanks for the great tutorial!

  71. lildebrarae says:

    I’ll be working to make this one.

  72. Mi-hara sara says:

    make me this dress in this color pleasssse!!!! luvpurple123@gmail.com

  73. Traci says:

    I really love your ideas! Call my “technically illiterate”. … but how can I follow you on pinterest?

  74. Pinned and on the wishlist! Thanks so much for the tutorial!

  75. Virginie says:

    Great dress ! Is there any patern ( in cm)?

  76. Great Look ! Love the colour !!!

  77. collegedistrict says:

    Impressive! I love that dress the color is really attractive.Perfect creation.Thanks for posting inspiring post about fashion.Amazing!

    Click Here

  78. Louise Thomas says:

    very nice collection.. very impressive.. you can also check out lovely stuff of swing dress at little wings factory.

  79. A Fashion Addict says:

    Definitely want this to be me next DIY project!

  80. ash says:

    your outfits always look professionally done I love it!

  81. cd says:

    The dress is great, but I’d like a better view of the top front and can’t see it with your hair over the front.

  82. M says:

    I am trying to use my double needle for a knit project right now, but the bobbin thread isn’t catching both top threads. Do you know how to fix that?

  83. Alis says:

    Merhaba ben elbiseyi çıktım ama kolların vücuda birleşme yerinde bir problem var vücuduma yapışıyor bunu nasıl çözebilirim

  84. Sharon Hrycewicz says:

    this is adorable and still stylish two years later. How do I adjust for size?

  85. liz chapman says:

    Hi

    Can you please send me the link for the dress pattern .

    Thanks

  86. Cindy Chaplin says:

    where can I get a pattern for this dress? I don’t trust myself to cut the curves freehand. thanks

  87. Christy Faucheux says:

    I’d love to make this dress with pockets! Not patch pockets. Any suggestions? I’ve never really sewed before, especially not pockets!

  88. Sarah Jane says:

    Sorry to be slow here but can somebody point me in the direction of the pattern please i cant seem to see it
    Thankyou

  89. Barbara Logan says:

    Does ANYONE know where to find a pattern like this…???? I do NOT have the talent to create one myself. I don’t have anything close to it that I could even use to make a pattern from. I’ve spent HOURS searching for it, as this is exactly what I’m looking for. Desperate here…

  90. Indigo Moon says:

    Can I use linen or a cotton/hemp blend? And I’d love the pattern – it’s perfect for me…though I may want now sleeves too 🙂

  91. lori says:

    Do you have the link to the dress pattern itself? Please email me the link if you still have it. I’d love to make this one myself!! I have the perfect fabric just waiting.

  92. Susan Kane says:

    Is there an actual dress pattern. If so could you tell me how to get it please 🙂

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