As many long time readers will know, I love Swirl wrap dresses. I started collecting them about three or four years ago and have amassed an embarrassing amount since. I wear them year round -- even in the snow -- and they really are my favorite type of vintage dress.
The Swirl dress, originally called Neat 'n Tidy, was created in the early 40s by the L. Nachman and Sons Company. First conceived and marked as an apron, by the 1950s, the Swirl was being sold as a quick and easy dress for the busy homemaker to slip into. Ethel on I Love Lucy was famous for wearing several different incarnations of the Swirl dress and undoubtedly inspired many other homemakers to do the same. Into the 60s and 70s, the Swirl label added different styles to their line (like zip front dresses) and by the late 90s was on the decline, finally closing up some in 1999.
As with all popular trends, knock offs were made and even home sewing patterns were created for the skilled housewife to stitch up her own. Last summer, I unearthed a severely tattered Swirl in the basement of a Detroit home and couldn't leave it behind. At first, I was going to try and rework the hem to make it wearable, but it became clear that wasn't a viable fix.
Instead, I decided to take the dress apart, making my own pattern, and recreate it. The dress fit perfect and would allow me to make several others. It went together extremely easy -- the hardest part was figuring out the neckline since I didn't have a Swirl in my collection with a similar neckline to look at how they put it together.
I decided to sew in the label from the roached dress (since this is for me and I have no intentions of selling it or trying to pass it off as a factory produced Swirl). I used a pocket pattern from a vintage apron and ric rac to jazz up the neckline and pockets. I -LOVE- the final outcome and plan on making many more!
Fabric: Joann's Clearance, $3.50/yard
Pattern: Original Swirl Dress Design
Hours to Complete: 12-14
Total Cost: $13
I've already bought some more fabric for another dress and am working on drafting a different style top!
Like the Swirl, but can't sew? Here's a few on etsy, including one from my personal collection!
And here's some patterns for all you seamstresses!