Summer Swing Dress DIY in 2 Styles!

I’ve always been SUCH a dress person. Growing up in the 90’s, I had a plethora of fabulous matching dress combos. They were always super flouncy and colourful with too much fabulously gaudy lace trim. Sometimes it was a summer swing dress, or a plaid patterned two-piece. Growing up as the super girly girl that I was, I LOVED all of this. It thrilled me that all of my clothes had a matching headband or little cardigans to go with it. The dress that I wore for my grade 2 school photo immediately comes to mind. It was a little cream lace number with a matching short sleeved cardigan AND headband. I was in heaven.

Today, I don’t buy cardigans or headbands that match my dresses, but my love for dresses still runs deep. I buy the majority of my clothing, but I’ve been getting more and more into sewing lately, and as a result, have started making more things. This Summer swing dress DIY was one of my recent projects which I love as much as any dress I wore as a kid. The style just happens to be a bit nicer 😉

Tash loves a good DIY too, so we decided to make these dresses together. She found the tutorial on Merrick’s Art, which seemed especially easy, adorable and affordable. After yoga one Sunday, we headed out to the design district in Toronto and each found fabric. Tash chose a deep teal and I decided on a bright corally pink. With our fabric in hand, we returned to Tash’s place and began our dress construction!

The dress is quite easy to put together - which makes it great for beginners. To make your pattern pieces, you can use a dress that you already have, which makes it easier because you won’t have to draft pattern pieces. For the sleeves, you have to draft a piece, but this is a good item to invest in because you can use it for a number of other projects too! The neckline piece also comes from the dress that you already have.

So, when we made the dresses we each made them a little bit differently to work with our body types. The base tutorial was the same, though, so I suggest looking at that first! You can lengthen, shorten, add, or subtract based on your body type. We made Tash’s dress a little more fitted and mine was a little more flared. Therefore, I am calling Tash’s dress the small swing and mine the big swing. Tasha’s boyfriend (and my friend) Ben was nice enough to take the photos for us 🙂

Summer Swing Dress DIY - Small Swing

I’m calling Tash’s style of dress the “small swing” because we pretty much followed the tutorial exactly for her dress and it just has a slim a-line silhouette.

The only thing that we did differently for Tash’s dress was to tailor it a little more around the bust so that it fit her body type better. Her sleeves are also cut a little shorter than mine were.

I love the deep teal fabric that she chose! It’s the perfect base for adding accessories. It also works really well for transitioning from day to evening wear.

Follow the tutorial on Merrick’s Art linked above, but make your sleeves a little shorter. Also take in the seams of the dress any place where you want it to fit more snug.

Summer swing Dress DIY - Big Swing

For my dress, I wanted it to have more swing in the hips so that it didn’t look too clingy. In order to make the dress flare out more, I cut two triangles of my fabric to use. I was able to cut the triangles out of some extra fabric that I had. You want a triangle that is an isosceles shape (two sides are longer than the bottom). I cut my triangles on a folded edge to ensure that both sides were even.

All you have to do to insert the triangles is to line up the bottom of the triangles with your hem and sew them to the front and back of your dress like you would a side seam. I sewed one side at a time in order to make sure that the point of the triangle was tucked in the seam. 

The remainder of my dress is the same as the original tutorial. I kept my sleeves at a longer length and didn’t take in the top of my dress like Tash did. I wore mine with and without a belt, but can’t decide which I like better - you tell me!

I think the finished dresses look really cute! They’re perfect for warm summer days and there are so many different ways to wear them! I think my small self would love that dresses still have a special place in my heart - and on my sewing machine.

Let me know your take on dresses and if you would make a summer swing dress for yourself!


xo, tess.


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