Hot! The ‘Seeing Red’ Dress

The Facts

Fabric: 3 yards red polyester suiting ~$15
Pattern: Sense and Sensibility 1940’s Swing Dress Pattern ~$16
Year: 2007?
Notions: Red invisible zipper $2
Time to Complete: 5 painful hours
First worn: For photos
Wear again: Yes
Total Price: $33

The Swing dress. Why did I put this off for so long? I had signed up to do the sew-along for this dress last year, but never seemed to get around to it.  Let’s dust off the pattern and fabric and check it out.

From the first 3 bullets on the instructions, I was stumped.  Oh yeah. That’s why I’ve never completed this dress.  I sat and stared at those instructions for about half an hour.  I appreciate the patterns from Sense and Sensibility, and their unique design aesthetic, but those hand drawings are impossible to figure out!  I finally resorted to searching the internet, starting with Casey’s blog.  Thankfully she had a step-by-step tutorial for the shoulders of the dress – the very section I was stumped with.  Apparently this is a common hangup point.

Seriously, this dress made me feel like a beginning seamstress all over again.  I made silly mistakes, like attaching the right side of my shoulder to the wrong side of the blouse… twice.  And then attaching the right side of the skirt to the wrong side.  Argh!!!  I probably could have shaved off an hour or two if I could just get past these lame issues.  The hubby heard a lot of shouts and yelling coming out of the sewing room while this dress was made.  But I will triumph!

Really, once you get past the first hurdle of the shoulder assembly, the dress is easy to put together.  I like the placement of the ties – the side with the zipper is hidden by the way their attached.  The front of the dress has a deep v, but it’s not too scandalous.  If you’re uncomfortable it, they do recommend a button or brooch as a closure option.  I chopped a considerable amount from the hem… about 3 inches.  I prefer that it fall at about my knees.

When I first cut the pattern, I went with one size larger than normal, just because I wasn’t used to the pattern company and I don’t like work with 1/2” seam allowances.  That gave me the comfort of my typical 5/8” without stressing about fit. It turned out to be for the best as I was worried that the dress was going to be on the snug side.  I was able to forsee some problem spots and adjust the seam allowance as needed, so I ended up with a comfortable fit.

If I still did swing dancing, I would totally take this dress out for a spin.  It’s so gorgeous and girly, and the skirt has the perfect amount of twirl to it.  I’ll just save it for those extra girly days, when I want to get dolled up.



Christine started sewing in late 2010, inspired by the many crafty bloggers and their gorgeous, self-made outfits. When she's not sewing, she's doing Irish and Scottish dancing, needlework or other various crafts, and hanging out with her hubby and fur babies (1 dog and 3 cats).


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  1. I love this! The color. The vintage silhouette. And your story of avoiding construction because of WTF instructions….I do that all the time! Usually there’s someone out there with a been-there-done that method written in something other than Klingon.

  2. Hi Christine, love this color red on you and the cut of the dress is beautiful. The shoulders look really cool., nice job on the construction.

  3. As soon as I get this damn skirt finished for the UFO challenge (yup, last night was just not going to happen), I will have a go at the swing dress pattern in a red wool crepe for next week’s challenge. Glad to see it took you 5 hours even with mistakes. So, probably 10 for me!

    • I was kinda surprised that it was only 5 hours when all was said and done, b/c I felt like I spent so much time on this! But I think part of that was because I only watched two movies while I was making it, so at least an hour was spent in silence following along with tutorials.

  4. Oh wow, what a great color, and I love the seaming details! It’s very flattering.

  5. You look great in red Christine, she looks perfect on you. Love the pleats on the front too. You look fancy :P

    • Thanks Kazz! Seriously, I need a fancy dress break! I don’t have nearly enough occasions to wear them. Or maybe I just need to attend more fancy parties?

  6. Awesome dress! I never got around to making it, but I think It might have to go on the sewing queue now. Yours looks great!

  7. It’s lovely. I just finished my Red garment, it too was a UFO, very similar shoulders !! They are off putting. Well done for completing it.

  8. Ahh I totally love your dress!! It is beautiful! The bright red and the ’40’s styling is awesome!

  9. This is gorgeous! Love the little tie on the back.

  10. This is just gorgeous on you!! Red is definitely one of your colours – so pretty! Well done finishing it! This pattern is in my to sew list, too.

    • Thanks Sarah! This is one of the first all red garments that I made because I didn’t think it would work with my skin tone but I’m pleasantly surprised! Maybe I can finally dye my hair red now? ;)

  11. Very pretty! Great color and I love the pleating at the shoulders.

  12. Beautiful dress! I’ve been eyeballing this one, so it’s good to know that someone deciphered the hieroglyphs! Red is an absolutely divine color on you… you should wear it often!

  13. Jealous that you look so great in red! I am excited to see what you cook up for V-Day!

  14. darn, that’s cute!!!

  15. I love a red dress and you wear it well. You look like you are ready to go dancing!

  16. Way to push through! I hate those head scratching, mind numbing hang ups. Great rich red, go swing it up!

  17. Take swing dancing again! It would look so fabulous on the dance floor! I love the dress-

  18. Your version is I absolutely love this dress on you, and yes please, take it swing dancing and have a fabulous time!