April 11, 2014

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

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!


78 comments:

  1. SO cool! Love that dress!

    Have a great weekend!

    The Style Storm
    <3, Christina

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

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    1. It's called "Rock the Boat" by Essie!

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  3. This is a beautiful color on you! Love the dress :)

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

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

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    1. I found a similar one and added the link above!

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  6. I absolutely love the color of this dress!

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.com

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

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

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  9. Fabulous dress, loving the colour

    X x

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  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

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  11. 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?

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    Replies
    1. I've heard good things about Everlane tees, although I've never owned one. Maybe check them out??

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  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

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

    www.asequinloveaffair.com

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  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!

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    Replies
    1. It's CoverGirl Lipslicks in "daring." And yes, it's a perfect dark neutral color!

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  15. 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.

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  16. Gorgeous! You got the proportions just right.

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





    Firmoo Giveaway
    Lauraherder.blogspot.com

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  18. This dress looks absolutely wonderful!

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

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

    xox
    www.head2heels.co

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  21. You look SOOOOOOOOOOOOO pretty in the close up!

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

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  23. 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.
    www.thedecorina.com

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

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

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

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  27. You're featured on A Beautiful Mess!! That's awesome, and the dress is beaut :)

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  28. 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

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    1. Great idea! I'm working on some videos that will be shared here, so I'll make sure some tips for pattern making is included in them! Thanks for the suggestion!

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    3. That would be awesome, thank you!

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  29. 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

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  30. 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

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I'm working on a few videos that will hopefully go up next month that will cover this!

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

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

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  33. 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?

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    Replies
    1. yeah -- it's similar. A medium weight, soft, stretchy knit. Super comfy and good stretch rebound.

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  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!

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    1. Try this tutorial -- it's super straight forward!

      http://www.makeit-loveit.com/2013/03/adding-hidden-side-pockets-to-anything-skirt-pants-shorts-etc.html

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

    destined2begreat23.blogspot.com

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    1. I have a Nikon D7000 and use a 50mm f/1.4 lens. But my photographer, Jylare, took these for me! (jylare.com)

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  37. 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.

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  38. 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

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  39. 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!

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  40. 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

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  41. 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

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

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  43. 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.

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

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

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  46. 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.

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

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  48. Hey Merrick :)
    the dress looks great and I love the style of the tutorial!
    Best, Luu

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

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  50. 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!

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    Replies
    1. I added the widths to the tutorial above!

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  51. 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

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

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

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  54. 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!

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

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  56. 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!

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  57. 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.

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  58. 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

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  59. 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?

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  60. 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!

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

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

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  63. 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 :)

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