Sweet Pea

My husband hates sweet peas. These pretty little flowers smell heavenly, but the vines are aggressive. My dad, a farmer, said that a weed was just a plant that wasn’t in the right place. Well, sweet peas in iris beds are in the wrong place! Several years ago, Mark dug up an entire iris bed to get at all the sweet pea roots, then re-planted the irises. Those sweet peas have not shown their pretty little faces in that bed again!

When it comes to my Sweet Pea pattern, however, it’s a different story!

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The pattern got its name because of the twisty spiral skirt, which is like the twisty spiral sweet pea vines.

The skirt gores can be made in the same or contrasting fabrics.

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Here’s another version that was in a Sew Beautiful pictorial in 2011, I think.

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It’s been one of my best-selling patterns (although people tell me it tends to run long, and if you need to shorten it, that must be done at the waist before stitching the skirt to the bodice.)

Not too long ago, S.G. sent me a photo of a dress she made from this pattern. “I used Swiss Lawn AKA Fairy Fabric. I used shaped lace between the gores because the fabric was too delicate for the serger.  I created the fabric for the bodice by embroidering a lace fill in white rayon all over the fabric, then adding white beads on every other intersection.  I cut my sleeve in a circle flounce to echo the flounces on the skirt. The little girl, who turns 4 next month loved wearing it, it twirls perfectly.”

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So when I was making up samples for my Craftsy class, Heirloom Sewing Essential Techniques, I picked this pattern for the lesson on tucks, to show multiple ways to use tucks to embellish a bodice.

First, I showed how to stitch plain folded tucks on a block of fabric, then cut out your pattern piece from the tucked fabric. (I’m sorry these photos are sideways – for whatever reason, my photo editor would not save the rotated version today, and I just don’t have time to fight it!)


Next, I showed double needle pintucks, and how they could be combined with a bit of lace.

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Here are pintucks stitched close together in trios, with spaces in between just wide enough for the presser foot, where I stitched decorative stitches.

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Cross-hatched pintucks create a yoke effect.

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And finally, the bodice I used for the finished dress – bias, cross-hatched pintucks, some embroidered Swiss insertion, and curved pintucks!

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Here’s the full dress – I used Imperial broadcloth, and a tiny little Swiss trim on the sleeves and neckline.


Here is a backlit photo of the bodice


And another photo of the pintuck detail


Tucks are versatile, and sweet peas can be sweet! 🙂


7 thoughts on “Sweet Pea

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