Gertie’s Swirl Dress

I finally made the Swirl Dress from Gertie Sews Jiffy Dresses. This is the second pattern from this book I’ve now tried, and it didn’t disappoint. This book is a great starting point for anyone beginning on their sewing journey; it covers all the basics, from sewing techniques to fitting adjustments. They’re all expertly illustrated, too, which helps those of us who are more visual learners. Despite being one of the first books I picked up last year when I was started sewing, I’d only made one of the patterns up until now. When I received this fabric, I decided to give the Swirl a go this time.

I made the dress first from a cotton fabric gifted by Minerva – it’s so vibrant and acts really well when washing, ironing, cutting and sewing. While it’s 100% cotton and non-stretch, there’s a wee bit of give in the weave which makes it really comfortable to wear. I’m all about the summer makes at the moment now that the sun has finally showed its face and this fabric makes a perfect choice for lightweight, breathable, colourful summer dress.

Saying that, this dress was not without its issues. I make a lot of Gertie’s patterns and am usually able to take the same size as standard practice; however, a quick toile revealed that there was quite a lot of ease in the bodice; at the end of the day it’s loose fitting. However, this was literally falling down over my shoulders in the first toile. I had to downsize, grading out to my usual size at the waist and adjusting the armholes as sizing down made them tight on me but that’s generally a problem area for me when it comes to fitting. The fact that this pattern features a grown-on sleeve, however, makes this a simple adjustment; I lowered the side notch and seamed the shoulder on the diagonal, narrowing the seam from neckline to seam from 5/8 to 3/8 of an inch.

There are no darts in this pattern – the only fitting is done by way of gathers around the neckline (so it’s a great pattern for the bustier ladies – I love it when I don’t have to do an FBA). Having toiled the bodice, I was content that it sat quite well, but upon joining the skirt the back neckline of the bodice showed a bit of a gap. So fast forward a couple of days, I made it again and, this time, took 1.5 inches out of the back neck-line pieces. I also have a suspicion that the skirt contributes to the gaping. If you used a straighter skirt or even a full gathered skirt, I think it would pull the bodice better into place, but I love this skirt.

Another adjustment I had to make this time was to make the waist ties a bit longer; the pattern piece is one size which really isn’t ideal at all – it just didn’t click with me to change it until I’d finished. When you tie the original ties at the back, the bow looks a bit pathetic, so I added a few extra inches and it looks so much better now.

I’m much happier with it now and will quite happily pick it up again in the future.

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