Saturday, November 22, 2014

Swirl Sew-along : Customising your Swirl

There are a few easy ways to customise a Swirl - there are simple things like embellishments and pockets, but you can also go one step further and change the neckline.  In this post I'm going to cover three different necklines that are all based on vintage Swirls. 

Variation One : V Neckline

This is probably the simplest variation to make.  You only have to draw one line.

From the point of the existing neckline where it meets the shoulder seam, draw a line (with a ruler) down to the top of the top trim line at the bodice centre front and cut the new neckline there.  Its tempting to draw the V lower, but don't forget that you have to take the seam allowances into account, and it will be lower than where you have cut the fabric.

You also need to make a new front facing.  Once you have cut your bodice front, use the bodice front to make a new facing but cutting it apart!  The shoulder facing piece is 3" in width, so mark a point 3" from the neckline point at the shoulder seam, and 3" from the bottom of the V at the centre front.  Draw a line between the two.  If you are planning on using bias to wrap the raw edge of the facing, you will need to make a rounded line at the centre front facing.

Variation Two : Rounded Neckline

This is also very simple, but is a bit more annoying because you have to draw a curve rather than a straight line.  To work out the diametre of the line you need to draw, continue the line of the bodice facing from the centre front up, and from the shoulder seam across, meeting the centre front line at a right angle (90 degrees).

Then, take a compass (I had to 'borrow' one from my step-son's school pencil case) and widen it so the pencil point and the pointy point are as wide as the gap from the shoulder point to where it meets the centre front line.

Using that width, draw an arc from the shoulder seam around to the centre front seam.  This is your new neckline.

Once again, use the bodice pattern to make a new bodice facing. I use my tape measure to draw lots of small lines 3 inches from the curve, and then I join them all together.

Variation Three : Gathered Round Neckline

This one is the most complicated of the variations because we need to use the slash and spread method to get the space at the neckline to gather.  The first thing to do is to create a round neckline using the method above.  And you will also need to make a pattern for a facing at this point, but do it without cutting up the pattern you made - trace it instead.

Then, draw radiating lines at even increments (I used 3.4") from the neckline outwards like this.

Note how I have avoided the waist dart - its too difficult to put back together...

Then cut down the lines you have drawn from the neckline, leaving just a little bit at the end to act as a hinge.

Then, put a supporting piece of paper under the neckline, and space the slashes evenly (I used 1/2"), taping them down as you go.  The edges of the arm hole, side seam and waist seam will buckle a little bit, but not so much that the pattern piece becomes unusable.

The only other thing you need to do is just adjust the bust dart.  You can see the bits that I have redrawn in the picture above.

Then continue on constructing your swirl bodice as before, and when it comes to the neckline, run a gathering stitch inside the seam allowance and use the facing to see how much you need to gather.

So that's it!  The best thing about this pattern is that it is a brilliant base for adjustment and personalisation.  Don't be afraid, dream up something and have a go!



  1. Hi Beccie, have you made up a version of the gathered neckline? It's looks interesting.

  2. Speechless yet grateful! Thank you, Beccie. One day I am going to get that expensive Swedish Tracing Paper. It would certainly come in handy to trace out all these neckline variations. Meanwhile, I'll keep using copy paper, bwaaahhh haa.



    1. P.S. Along the lines of the end of your post . . . I am GOING to figure out how to do scallops just because. It'll be fun.