Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Swirl Sew-along : Part 1 : Cutting Your Fabric

Well isn't this exciting!  We are finally starting our sew-along!!!

First of all I want to say I have been completely overwhelmed by the interest in this sew-along.  I expected maybe 20 people would want to join me, but its actually around 120!  I have struggled to keep up with the demand, and I have to say thank you to everyone for their patience while I got through it all.  So once again, thank you!!!

Now, lets get going!!!

My first instruction is:


I know there are a lot of people that skip this step (especially those new to sewing) but I'm here to encourage you not to.  We will more than likely be mixing different fabrics here - using different bits and bobs to embellish our dresses.  You really need to pre-wash all of it.

You may remember this Christmas dress from a few years ago:

Well, because I was in such a rush to make four dresses that weekend, I didn't prewash the fabric I used to make the halter strap and the bow.  Guess what happened.

The first time I washed it, the dye from the red fabric ran all down the front of the bodice and on to the skirt.  I have washed it several times now, and its faded enough to wear, but it doesn't bear close inspection.  I have also heard other horror stories about pant legs that shrunk up, fabrics that shrunk differently and caused warping in the design, and more colour run stories.  So lets just all be safe and wash it!

Now the lecturing is over, the fun can begin!

Cutting Layouts.  I have to confess that I never follow these things! As long as the grain arrows are pointing in the one direction I just fit them where they fit!  I haven't had a problem to date!!  But I know there are people that like these things, so here are the ones from the original pattern instructions.

Now - there is one piece that you don't need to cut out - the Bodice Trim Guide piece.  It is a guide only, so we don't need to cut it out.  But don't lose it!  We'll need it sooner than you think.

I also want to talk about something that dawned on me last night while I was supposed to be sleeping (don't you love that!).  Please put on something that fits you well and get your tape measure, and measure from the shoulder seam, down over a boob to your waist (it will be a slightly diagonal line).  Particularly you ladies with large boobs, and you ladies with short torsos, and you ladies with long torsos.  Ok just everyone do it.  Write down what the tape measure says.

The pattern has a shoulder to waist measurement of 17".  Now, the fit is supposed to be a bit blousy (trust me, they look better that way), so if you measure 15" or 16" I wouldn't change anything.  But if you measure. 14" or anything over 16" I would change the length of the bodice pieces to give yourself an inch or two of space.

Take your scissors and chop the bottom of the pattern off like so:

Overlap it however much you need to, lining up the centre front side:

Tape it together then take your scissors again and cut the side so you have a smooth line not that jagged line.  Easy!

Get another piece of paper and put it behind your two pattern pieces, lining one edge up with the centre front.  Then space the two pieces apart how ever much you need to.  Tape it together.

Cut off the excess paper and cut the side so you have smooth line.

EVERYBODY - Don't forget to do the same thing for the back bodice piece, and the back bodice facing piece.

UPDATE TO COME - it seems those of you with an XL pattern may have to add their excess in a slightly different way.  I'll add to this post in about 24 hours with instructions for you ladies.

Also, while we are thinking about making little adjustments, you might want to cut the skirt pieces a little shorter depending on how you like to wear your skirts.  The pattern will give you a skirt that is approx 30" (if you do the hem like I'm going to show you).

If you don't know how long you normally like your skirts, go and grab your favourite dress out of your wardrobe (or more likely, the washing basket).  Measure down the side seam (so you know you have a straight line) from the waist to the hem.  Then add an inch to that measurement.  That is how long you need to cut your skirt pieces.  Make that change now (if there is one) before you cut your fabric.  It will save fabric and effort later!

I think thats enough for our first post!

Get cutting ladies!!!


By the way, if you haven't joined and would like to, its not too late!  Comment here, or send me an email to sewretrorose(at)


  1. I think it's going to be cutting night! I will do the Swirl dress and the skirt for my client. Cutting is the most boring/annoying bit so its good to kill two birds with one stone.

    1. I agree - cutting can be the most annoying bit! But when you get into a groove and cut more than one thing it can be sort of enjoyable... Good luck Eszter!!

  2. Oooooh it begins! Timing wise think I'll start cutting etc Sunday so time to look measure & get it right! Thank you

    1. Exciting isn't it! I will have posted the next lot of instructions by then, but don't think you are falling behind. No hurry!

  3. See I knew I was behind for a reason. Might have to add excess for an xl. So it's totally ok I'm sitting on the couch with my dog instead of cutting out my pattern, much less my dress!

  4. Hi, I would love to join too! my email is and I'am M size. Thanks

  5. Okay, okay, ladies. I literally came to the library here this afternoon just to keep up with our sew-a-long. I am an XLer so will have to wait for additional instructions (whining).

    Fabric = washed, been washed. Now must iron and starch it.

    Pattern pieces = cut apart and taped

    I will probably shorten the skirt. Not sure where I should cut. I do know it will be below the hip area. Not a biggie.

    K, gonna go home, check the shoulder-to-waist measurement as instructed.

    Everyone have a good day. Until tomorow (or whenever Beccie next posts about this);



  6. P.S. Didn't mean I will "cut" to shorten; I have to fold the pattern piece to shorten it, duh! ;-)

  7. Cutting fabric !!!! Oh my word, I've only just assembled most of the pieces, after painstakingly drawing and cutting 6mm off of the A4 on one side to align with your drawn lines and now I see the pictures of your pattern alterations I'm thinking I should have just stuck them together as they were printed !.....Arghhhh ! what to do what to do ?

  8. Reading this blog post is like Bart being told a maths equation (cue glassy eyes, and blah, blah, blah going around in my brain) idea what any of you are talking about! Just as well I'm clever at other things.....and I can get you girls to make my dresses for me!

  9. I've come really late to this sew-along and only just getting started. Did the instructions for altering the XL pattern get posted? Just wondering because I can't find them. Thanks!

  10. Do you still have this pattern for sale?

  11. Omg, such a pretty dress, you are so talented