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Here is my 1940s “Swing” Dress Pattern, inspired by an original Hollywood design, circa 1942. The design comes from the WWII days of fabric rationing, which meant narrower skirts and more tailored lines. If you like “Peggy Carter” style, this is the pattern for you!

  • Sizes 8-26 all included in one ePattern.
  • Unique yoke with gathered shoulders and two sleeve options (short and “bracelet-length”).
  • Gored skirt great for twirling! Put on your dancing shoes!
  • Transition this pattern to evening wear by lengthening the skirt.
  • Photo Instructions online.
  • Click to download the Swing Dress Pattern yardage chart.
  • Available for instant download!
  • This pattern is rated advanced intermediate, due to the fitting and tailoring, but beginners have taken my online class and navigated through it just fine.
  • Also see Casey’s detailed and oh-so-helpful Swing Dress Sew-Along!

Thank you very much to customer-models Casey of Elegant Musings and Anna (pink) of Pleasant View Schoolhouse!

Note: If you purchased a copy of this pattern prior to January, 2008, click HERE for corrections/revisions.

As seen on CraftGossip.com

(Looking for the paper version rather than the ePattern? Purchase from one of our many retailers worldwide!)

58 comments on “1940s “Swing” Dress Pattern”

  1. I love this dress, I can’t wait to make another! I found it a little tight in the shoulder area, I can’t rotate my arms, but that might just be opperator error. Once I figured out the gathered shoulder the dress was a breeze! A favorite of mine, I hope there will be some additional patterns soon!!

  2. I just love this pattern/style. My question is: I am not a small woman. I would need a plus size. Would this cut be flattering for a larger woman, or, and please do be frank, should I bypass this style? Thanks, and love this site!!

    • Hi, Carol! This does work nicely for plus ladies, because the surplice bodice with cummerbund is very flattering. The A-line skirt also gives a nice, slimming shape. Just make sure you’ve got undergarments that fit nicely, and you’ll be ready to go!

  3. The third picture from the end reminds me of a picture of my grandmother from WWII. The black hair, the dress, Oh My! Brings tears to my eyes. I love it!

    • Hi, McKenna! eBay is a great source for vintage patterns. Menswear from WWII tends to be harder to find than womenswear, but it’s out there. Military patterns do not exist from that time period, as the various branches created their own uniforms. However, you can still find “costume” military patterns from time to time (also check eBay and places like MonsterPatterns.com). Hope this helps!

    • Yes, you get the download link from E-Junkie within minutes of completing your order. 🙂 The yardage chart gives you a list of recommended fabrics, and you can download it free by clicking the link above. Hope this helps!

  4. i have been searching for a pattern like this for a long time. i love the style, but my problem is that i am very large chested, esp. after having a baby. do you know of any tutorials or help that would assist me in fixing a pattern like this? i’ve gotten help when it comes to darts in shirts, but most of the time if i make the top to fit in a larger size, that also means the armholes are huge, and it doesn’t fit properly. wondering if this would be the right pattern for me. thanks for all the wonderful patterns and photos!

    • Hello, Emily! Several ladies who are “E” and “G” cups have put up helpful tips on my Message Forum explaining how to enlarge a bodice without enlarging the armholes at the same time. There are two main ways to do this. For “DD”, usually just lengthening the bodice adds the needed room. For “E” and above, you will need to lengthen the bodice through the upper chest (through the center of the armhole) and the lower edge. You take up the extra room in the armhole by adding a side dart (as is done in my 1910s Tea Gown supplement for sizes 18-26DD). Definitely pop over to my board and post a note, because I know several competent seamstresses who will be happy to give you all the tips and tricks. And have fun sewing!

  5. Hi Jennie, I’m new to sewing and have successfully followed simple apron and handbag patterns. I would like to progress and this dress seems perfect. Do you think this is appropriate for a beginner and if not be frank. Also I am a DD but petite and short waisted so will the extra length from being short waisted allow for the DD without having to add to the bodice length?

    • Hi, Natalie! If you can handle your machine and sew up an apron, you can move on to the Swing Dress with a bit of help. The shoulder yoke and side zipper are two complicated areas that throw most beginners. In January and February of 2011, Casey of ElegantMusings.com is having a “sew-along” for this dress, so it’s an ideal time to try it, as there will be lots of help available. 🙂 And you should not have to add length to the bodice front for the DD cup, but you may still want to shorten the bodice back (I’m short-waisted, too, so I have to do that). Hope this helps!

  6. Thanks, Jennie, I will sign up for that class and order the pattern. I’m 4′ 11 so I anticipate having to shorten the skirt as well. I’m so excited to sew my own clothes. Its very hard to find things that fit me I’m 4’11 size 6 waist and DD so being able to tailor make things is exciting! Wish I discovered sewing earlier!

  7. I really want to make this dress in a true red. Ok I admit, I just want my own copy of Casey’s dress 😛 I was following her sew-along but got left far behind. Then I realised I really wasn’t inspired by the purple fabric I had put aside for it. I want red!
    I just can’t find any fabric in the red I want, except for 100% linen or 50/50% linen/cotton. They are reasonably soft as far as either fabric goes. Would there just be too much body to be suitable for this pattern?

    • Hi, Imogheena! A cotton-linen blend would work, because it is lighter in weight and has a better drape to it. Linen tends to wrinkle so easily and is stiffer. Have fun sewing!

  8. I just bought some gorgeous silk (which I think is a charmeuse) and am now wondering if it will work for this pattern – but the rest of the bolt was only 2 1/2 yards of 45″ wide. I’m a size 12-ish but not very tall so usually shorten skirts. Could I make the yoke and waist out of contrasting fabric, do you think?

    • Hi, Katie! It may be a bit of a squeeze to get it out of that little amount of material unless you slim down the flare of the skirt panels a wee bit. A contrasting cummerbund would be cute if the fabric is a good complement to your silk!

  9. Dear Jennie,
    Made my muslin of the swing dress and did a FBA for my DD( not the entire amount I needed since the extra length from being short waisted also helped!) without adding length. The front fits well but as you predicted the back bodice is long. How do I take out the extra length just from the back bodice and have side seams match up? Do I take it from the center and taper out to the original length at the sides?

    • Hi, Natalie! If the front is fitting perfectly, including at the side seams, then, yes, all you need to do is reduce the back length by tapering up from the sides toward the center back. Sounds like it’s coming along beautifully!

  10. I finally have time to make this dress. I love the style. I have the Revised 2008 pattern. I have sewn alot in my time but #3 has me stumped as well as 4. I can’t get to 4 without getting 3 first. If you shaded the right sides and left the wrong sided plain could help. But attaching to the facing and turning it over dosen’t make sense.
    The facing would be sticking out instead of laying down flat. Can you help me figure out this step.

  11. I love this dress and want to buy the pattern, but am VERY nervous. I am not certain that I would call my sewing skills intermediate. Additionally, I am very busty after nursing our kiddos…36 J so it is darn near impossible to find something that actually fits top and bottom. I am not at all confident about changing the pattern to fit me, although I know this can be done. Is there help out there for moms like me that need to learn the skills to adjust the pattern?

    • Hi, Molly! If you’d like extra help to navigate through this pattern, I do have an online class that you can take at your own pace. 🙂 Adjusting for a fuller bust is not extremely difficult. You’d leave the bodice front at the longer length (it’s long-waisted, but that is perfect for a larger cup size) and simply add more width to the front edges that cross over. That provides more fabric to gather beneath the bustline. I will be happy to help talk you through this via email if you need any assistance. I’ve also got an online tutorial that helps you tackle special fitting issues and an appendix from my Romantic Era Dress pattern shows how to adjust bodices for DD (and larger) cup sizes. Hope this helps!

  12. Hi, I am curious as to what you would suggest if my top is one size and my waist is another. Should I cut the top in the smaller size and the bottom of the dress in another? I am so excited, I can’t wait to make this.

  13. I am interested in this pattern, but don’t know if the size would be right. I know that patterns for this era run small, but I would need a pattern for a size 4-6 in today’s sizing schedules. Would this pattern still work?

    • Hi, Leah! Actually, this is not an original 1940s pattern but one I created (inspired by an original Hollywood design). If you click above to download the yardage chart, you’ll be able to check your measurements against the sizes on the chart. The pattern runs true to measurements, and keep in mind that pattern sizes aren’t the same as off-the-rack sizes, so a 4/6 in off-the-rack clothing is more like a 10 in patterns. Hope this helps!

  14. Hi! I’m just wondering if sizes are in US scaling? Just wanting to check before I set off!
    Very excited – been wanting to create the dresses I always head for in shops for ages…

    • Hello! The sizes are US, but remember to check measurements rather than “size,” as pattern sizes do not match off-the-rack clothing sizes. If you click to download the yardage chart, you’ll get the measurements in inches and centimeters. Thanks!

  15. I love this dress. I was wondering if it would go for today? (My mother doesn’t want me dressing out of style.)I’ve seen a very similar style recently by Chaps. It had that crossover with a v-neck and swingy skirt. I would look for a solid fabric.

    • Hi, Ella! This is most assuredly right in style now, as 1940s and 1950s fashions are on a huge comeback trend. April Cornell has just put out a retro-style collection that has a dress nearly identical to this one, and there’s also a UK-based vintage-style dress company that has one very close to this pattern. Retro is BIG now, and it’s always classic!

  16. Hi!
    I would love to make a dress like this, but I’m wondering if I have enough fabric. Can you tell me how much I would need, at least, for a large?
    Thank you!

    • Hi, Jaspen! The yardage chart with all the sizes is available for free. Just click the link in the bulleted list above to download it, then check your measurements to find your size (remember that pattern sizes don’t match off-the-rack sizes). Hope this helps!

  17. Absolutely love this dress! But I’m curious, does the skirt go all the way to the knee? I’m 5’7 and I prefer my skirt lengths to go to just below the knee or lower. Thanks for these great patterns!

    • Hi, Ariel! On 5’5″ me, this skirt goes about two inches below the knee as-is. As you are taller, you might need to lengthen it, but first make the bodice mock-up in muslin and try it on. The bodice is long-waisted, so if you have a long torso, it should fit perfectly, and that should make the skirt correct, too. But if you are longer in the legs, you’ll probably need to lengthen the skirt just a bit. Hope this helps!

  18. Quick question… I’m going to a vintage-inspired wedding in December, and I absolutely adore this dress. However I will be nursing an infant (not sure how old baby will be, baby isn’t due for another few weeks!!). Is nursing a viable option in this dress? And could I add some umph to the skirt in this pattern and get something akin to the 1950’s Rockabilly style dress? I look pretty smashing in a full skirt… 🙂

  19. I’ve been meaning to buy this for years, and have just realised that it’s the workable version of the vintage pattern I just tried to make! (front bodice piece was shaped wrong)
    Guess I know what I’m spending my birthday money o!

  20. Hello. A question from England. I made a mock-up of the bodice Nd I’m glad I did as my funny ol’ figure doesn’t conform and although the pattern came together well I will need to make some adjustments. My question is this: if I shorten the front so that the boob area isn’t sagging around my less than ample cleavage do I have to shorten the back? The issue is that I have a long and broad back but no boobs. So I need to get rid of some of the excess material at the front but don’t want to shorten the back. Maybe I could widen the midsection band by the amount by which I shorten the bodice front? Then they would match wouldn’t they? Any advice? Also although it is too big in the boobs it is too narrow at the ribcage and waist…see an odd shape…so it should work to just take a size 16 as I did but add width to all bodice sections as if for a size 18…right? Basically imagine trying to fit it to a 38, 32, 36 but with no boobs to speak of. Tricky.

    • Hi, Alex! If the back fits find, it is perfectly kosher to shorten only the front, and if you find it narrow at the ribcage/waist, you can also bump up a size in the cummerbund waistband. You’re on the right track–just tweak for your unique shape, and you’ll be set!

  21. this is a gorgeous pattern i am hoping to purchase. i have an hour glass figure shape. will this pattern have good amount of ‘hip’ room ? from the photos the pattern looks a bit slim. i normally wear a USA size 10-12

    • Hi, Dianna! I always recommend “grading” between sizes to get a perfect fit. So if you’re a 10 in the waist and a 12 in the hips, you can cut from the 10 to the 12 down the skirt pieces to give yourself the needed room. The skirt does flare, but that’s toward the thigh rather than at the hip, so sizing up will be helpful. I show how to do this in my Tips section if you read the “Easy Alterations to the Regency Gown Pattern” (the tips work for any pattern, though). Hope this helps!

  22. Lovely dress. I was wondering…. do you have any other 1940s inspired patterns in the works? It’s my favorite fashion era. The dresses are so lovely!

    • Hi, Ruthie! Believe it or not, I do have a tweens/teens version of this dress in the works — but probably a couple of years from now, as I’m still under a pile of Edwardian and 1950s patterns that need to be finished up. Thanks for your interest!

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