It’s a hot summer. It’s so hot that I am currently lamenting the fact that I don’t have enough sleeveless dresses to wear. I’ve made so many of the Merchant & Mills patterns, but this is my first time making the classic Trapeze Dress. I picked it up a couple weeks ago with the intention of making it in a lightweight chambray.
The Rifle Paper Co. Les Fleurs collection arrived this week and right away, I knew that their floral rayon would pair perfectly with the simple style of the Trapeze Dress. I’ve made a few things with the Cotton & Steel rayon and I don’t usually pre-wash this fabric. They recommend dry cleaning for the longest wearing, but I’ve just been washing in cold and hanging to dry. This has worked well for me so far.
The pattern makes efficient use of your fabric by having the back piece cut in two. You would need twice as much fabric if it was cut on the fold. The pattern also assumes that you are not using a directional print. The front piece and back pieces are cut in opposite directions. Luckily this Floral Birch print was not obviously directional, so I just cut the back pieces ‘upside down’, as directed. If you have something where this would matter, you would want to adjust the yardage to account for that. For once, I found that I need exactly the amount of yardage that the pattern recommended. There were only small bits left over once I cut out the five pieces.
One thing that I was so excited about making this dress is that it is super simple. I figured it would come together quickly with no issues. Of course, there were a couple issues. I knew that I wanted to check the fit. Most of the Merchant & Mills patterns are a bit more of a relaxed fit than I like. I often will take in the sides a little bit, especially around the waist just to give a bit more definition there. That’s exactly what I ended up doing here. I just took a bit off the sides, adjusted my pattern and then matched my changes to the front and back facing pieces.
This pattern uses a proper facing rather than just bias finishing. Hooray! I love facings. Not only that, it’s an all-in-one facing, meaning it faces the neck and the sleeves at once. I’ve done this before and have used a method that leave the shoulder seams open. I was interested in trying their method. I tried to walk through it carefully a few times and always got stuck with everything being all twisted up. There was a lot of stitch ripping and cursing as I tried to make sense of the steps. Hoping the internet would have the answer, I looked it up and found a few people mentioning having difficulty, as well. Some people gave up and did bias trim and others figured it out but didn’t offer any insights. When I checked YouTube for a tutorial, I found a few, but none following the same method as the Merchant & Mills instructions. This tutorial from Threads seemed really straightforward and worked perfectly for me. I did have to back track a bit to undo the side seams of the dress and the facings but it was worth it to learn this great technique. Also, the pattern calls for interfacing the facings, which I skipped and I’m happy that I did. This rayon is heavy enough to hold it’s own. To tack down the facing under the arms, I just stitched in the ditch of the side seam (through the dress & the facing) for a few inches to hold the facing in place. Facings that flip around are incredibly annoying.
I kept the length of the dress as it is in the pattern. It’s pretty dressy and I’m planning on wearing it to a wedding in a couple weeks. Normally, I would add side seam pockets but I wanted to keep the drape and lines of the swishy silhouette without the pockets (and my iPhone) dragging the side seam down.
This first version took me a bit longer to make than I anticipated, but now that it’s all sorted. I know I will be able to knock out my next ones in just a couple hours. This is truly the perfect dress for the summer!
SEWING NOTES Size: 8 Adjustments: took the sides in slightly for a better bit Yardage: Pattern calls for 1.9 metres of 44 inch wide fabric and it was a tight squeeze. You would need more fabric if your print is directional. Didn’t use interfacing on the facing pieces. Construction: Could not figure out their instructions for sewing in the facing. Found a great YouTube tutorial from Threads and followed it instead. It changes the order of assembling the dress though! Added the extra step of tacking down the facing by stitching in the ditch of the underarm seam for a couple inches.