1940s Swing Dress Modification


If you own a copy my 1940's "Swing" Dress Pattern with a copyright date earlier than 2008, then you can use this photo tutorial to make a simple change to the pattern to bring it up to date. After lots of feedback from customers frustrated with steps two and three in the instructions, I found that a tiny alteration to the original (a 1943 Hollywood Pattern design I modified back in 2001) solved the problem! I've outlined the steps below. [I've also uploaded a scan of the revised shoulder area in PDF format that you can download HERE. That way you can just trace the changes directly onto your pattern piece! But still read through the directions below, since there is a new step between the old steps two and three!] Please also note that there was a very old error that never came to my attention until this revision. The bodice front piece has some mismatched lines at the shoulder area. Click HERE to download the PDF of the fix. The red lines are correct--the old lines had all sizes from 8 to 14 running to the size 8 gathering line! Oops! Because of the changes made to correct those lines, I also had to re-do the back facing for sizes 8 through 16. Click HERE for the new 8-12 facing and HERE for the new 14-16 facing. Thanks!


(Click thumbnails for larger images.)

Here are pictures of the original bodice back, including the cut-out "notch" area in the upper portion of the curve.
This is the area you will be changing (to eliminate the notch).

Let's get to work!

  1. I always recommend tracing your pattern pieces from the original pattern sheet. This preserves your original intact in case you ever want to use other sizes. In these photos, you see the pieces traced on interfacing, which makes an excellent, sturdy pattern you can use over and over again. Lay out your bodice back piece and cut a small square of interfacing to place behind the notched area of the neckline (1), then, using a fabric marker or "Sharpie," draw two new lines to fill out the neckline at the notch (2):


    1.

    2.

    (Click thumbnails for larger images.)

  2. Now tape the new piece in place and trim around it:


    (Click thumbnails for larger image.)

  3. Next you are going to mark a dot on the back bodice 5/8" away from the original notch. In the first photo, you see the dot placed; in the second photo, I'm using the width of my tape measure (5/8") to show how far the dot is placed from the original notched area:


    1.

    2.

    (Click thumbnails for larger images.)

    These are the only changes you need to make to the entire pattern. Piece of cake! When you follow the instructions to make your dress, you will pin your back facing in place as shown, then stitch it to the bodice back, stopping at the dot. I've pinned the facing to the back bodice here to show you how this is done. In the first photo you see the pins right along the stitching line, terminating with the purple-headed pin at the dot. In the second photo, you can see where I've flipped the facing back to show that the last 5/8" are left free:


    1.

    2.

    (Click thumbnails for larger images.)

  4. After sewing to that point, you will add in a new step, pinning the free edge of the back facing to the bodice front's "facing" (which is one with the bodice--it's the taller area sticking up at the bodice front). Take up a 5/8" seam to connect the back facing to the bodice front. Now you'll have a nice seam allowance to turn under along the remaining free edge of the bodice back neckline and the shoulder overlap. Press the seam allowance under neatly, then pin it in place over the bodice front gathers as illustrated in step three and topstitch in place.

The rest of the instructions are identical from this point on. This simple change makes such a huge difference in the construction of this dress. Once I figured it out, I wondered why the original 1943 pattern included that cut-out notch, because it really makes no sense to have it (in fact, it eliminates most of the fabric you need to turn under for the shoulder overlap!). I hope these instructions help you to enjoy this pattern more and create many beautiful dresses from it!

Enjoy your new creation!


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