A Linen Swirl
Posted on Friday the 5th July 2019 by The Unfinished Seamstress
If you follow me on Instagram, you might know that I’m quietly making my way through Gertie Sews Jiffy Dresses this summer. I made a little cotton Popover from a long neglected cut in my stash, and knocked up a quick-and-dirty Chemise Dress for a rare evening out, but I really wanted the book for this pattern: The Swirl. If you don’t already know, swirl dresses were popular in the 40’s and 50’s as a day dress, and they were essentially wrap dresses that overlapped and tied in the back (in contrast to the latter-day classic DVF wrap dress and what feels like all subsequent modern iterations of the concept), “swirling” around the body in an easy all-in-one, throw on and go.
I particularly loved the plaid version in the book, with the quirky double pocket, so when I stumbled on this beautiful 100% Pure Linen Fabric, I thought it would be a match made in heaven. The only hard part of the decision was Turquoise or Coral. It’s got a good weight to it, and a lovely crinkly texture. The weave is on the looser side, which makes for a lovely summer dress, but do note that it won’t thank you for skipping any stabilising steps. I have to admit that this didn’t come together in a “jiffy" exactly, because I spent a lot of time time futzing about with stabilising (basting, stay stitching, interfacing, topstitching in places; you name it), but also because I struggled with the fit.
How hard can it be, you ask? It wraps, after all. Well, I didn’t muslin (error), didn’t shorten the bodice (error), and didn’t adjust for my narrow shoulders (error). I was rewarded with a ridiculously gaping back neckline. A post swayback adjustment has more or less fixed the gaping (I literally just darted out a whacking great wedge of the lower back), but the point at which the back bodice pieces wrap in the back is still a little lower than I’d like, and I would make different adjustments next time. Live and learn. While I’m at it, the skirt overlap could be a little more generous for my taste (I don’t want to worry every time there’s a stiff breeze), but it’s still a lovely pattern that I will definitely revisit.
In the end, I’m really happy with the dress. The fabric is indeed, completely perfect for it - and a great price. It would also be wonderful for my beloved sack dresses, or something girly and twirly like a B6453. It’s summery, easy-going, good quality linen with a beautiful texture - what more could you ask for? There’s something of a misconception about vintage style, I think, that it’s all glam, glam, glam. People of all eras needed casual clothes too, easy clothes. I’m interested in comfort, as you may know, and practicality, but with a spin sometimes. A swirl even.
Thanks for reading, and please forgive that last pun - I couldn’t resist.Jo xx