I finally finished the Swing Dress Sew-Along this weekend with putting in the zipper, tackling those sleeves, hemming, and other finishing touches.
All in all, I am very happy with the experience, as I feel it gave me an idea of how to follow some decent sewing practices. It helped me learn/re-learn some basic techniques but also introduced some more advanced ones. Looking at this dress in its final
state, I feel like I finally have a piece of work that shows some measure of skill and forethought. All of my other projects that I've done over the years have been done more ad hoc. Finishing seams, making a muslin, altering patterns, choosing appropriate fabrics: all of these things were vague, strange concepts that I only glanced at nervously until this project. Going through this project along with more knowledgeable seamstresses online helped me pace myself a bit better and to understand it's worthwhile to restart things as long as the end product is well done.
There still are some things that I feel I have to learn more about, after having done this dress. I realize I have a very limited understanding of fabric and how to look for good fabric choices. I tried to follow the recommendations for types of fabric that would do well with the dress, but chose a very thin cotton lawn that needed underlining. When I went to JoAnn's to buy cotton batiste, I didn't get any help from staff. So, I went by tactile preference on this dress and got some cotton sateen, which makes it feel really good, but perhaps at the cost of a decent draping fabric.
I also did not do the side zipper very well. At this point, I am ready to be finished with the dress, so have no interest in redoing it. It is set into the dress well enough, and I just tidied the overlapping side of the dress placket zipper by adding a second seam. The overlap loses some of the smooth "hidden" look, but I'd rather ensure that the fabric in the seam doesn't get caught in the zipper teeth. If I were to do it again, I'd likely baste the inner seam closer to the zipper, so that it would lie flat closer to the actual seam.
I was able to figure out how to fit the sleeves better. Upon undoing one of the sleeves and reassessing the ease, I only had to take out about an inch to get it to line up better. I have to sew them into the armscyes more slowly, perhaps, as I had gotten random parts of the sleeve caught in the seam multiple times. But, they're decent. I look forward to the day when sleeves are far less work.
The icing on the cake, though, is my antique store brooch find! There were a lot of fun pins, but this one was half the price of the others I was looking at and had the added bonus of the blue accent. As my husband put it, it has just the right blue:yellow:off-white ratio for the dress.