Hello Sewists. Here’s a funny thing; it’ll probably take me longer to tell you about this dress than it did to make it!

If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen that I broke my wrist recently. Not a particularly smart move on my part, although difficult to avoid at the time. Yes, I’d had a few drinks; I’ve also had more drinks in the past… yes, I lost balance (attempting to tidy the table) and fell; I’ve also fallen over before, but it’s never turned out like this. I suppose the main lesson I’ve learnt is not to drink and tidy-up. I swear I’ll never do it again!

So, along with work, this means sewing is out of the picture for the meantime. Obviously I’m gutted, but what can you do.

I usually blog something as soon as I’ve made it; I don’t have much of a back log… well, there’s this one post about making a needle case (that’s sat in my drafts pile for about a year now) that I never thought would see the light of day. But never say never! And there’s a couple of unblogged garments for others that I haven’t got decent photos of yet… they’ll get bumped up to the top… starting now In fact…!

Last month MrA & I were round at our cousins enjoying some Vietnamese food and our favourite card game (Tete a Merde to give it its French name!) and getting excited about their upcoming trip to Japan. I suggested that CousinM would need something really light and floaty to combat the heat & humidity of summer in Japan; we chatted about styles and it seemed that a basic trapeze dress would be perfect.

I’ve collected loads of patterns from books and magazines etc… scoured through them and would you believe… not a single trapeze dress pattern! … not even something with a tank style top I could use as a base… stumped!

MrA saved the day and said ‘isn’t there a pattern on the internet?’ … Genius! Of course there is! I searched for ‘free download trapeze dress sewing’ and found this amazing pattern from SewingRabbit. For a free pattern, I couldn’t have been happier – clearly printed, colour coded, all matching up nicely and plenty of instructions! Great job! Technically, it’s for knit fabric, but I thought I’d go for it anyway.

I made a toile out of some stash fabric and CousinM & I both decided to go down a size. She handed over a brown paper bag of vintage silk and the plan was set.

I’d decided early on that this would be a bias-binding-project, so all the seams (except the shoulders, which I French seamed) are being bias bound one way or another. I made about 6 metres of it… then had to make another 2! I’m getting used to making binding a bit more now though and (with the help of a light spray of starch) it all went without a hitch.

I drafted pockets – I just drew them freehand on some off cuts, folded twice to make 4 pieces the same. I marked a start point for the pockets on the side seams of the front and back pattern pieces.

It’s pretty straightforward adding pockets like this. Pin a pocket piece (right sides together) onto the side seam of each main piece. Two on the front, two on the back – I like to finish the seams behind the front pocket bags at this point –

Then sew up the side seams: stop at the pocket stitching and fold the side seams out of the way as you sew around the pocket bag. Reposition and continue sewing the side seams to the end.

It was the order I had to do everything in that took the most working out. I probably should have just printed (or read) the instructions, but … I wanted to save paper and … ah, whatever, I didn’t look at the instructions! So this is the order I did it in…

  1. Staystitch neck & arm edges.
  2. Sew pockets to back pieces.
  3. Sew pockets to front pieces and bind the seams behind the pocket bag.
  4. Sew shoulder seams.
  5. Sew binding to inside neck line, press to front & stitch down.
  6. Sew binding to arm edges, press away from body.
  7. Sew side seams including pocket.
  8. Trim and bind the pocket edges.
  9. Snip allowances by pocket to bind the side seam from hem to armpit.
  10. Press arm binding to outside, stitch in place from the front.
  11. Sew binding to hem (right side to right side) press binding to inside and stitch in place.

Next time I make this I’m gong to try French seaming the sides and pocket, and turning the binding to the inside. For a first attempt I’m really pleased with how this one’s come out…

I’ll leave the next one to hang before I hem it, this one was made and gifted on the same day! CousinM is really happy with it and even loves the uneven hem! She kept it on all evening when I dropped it off, then it went straight in the suitcase for the flight in the morning! (Hence the hasty photos!)

They’re back from Japan now, And had a marvellous time despite the incredible temperatures. CousinM said her dress was perfect for the heat and even received many compliments, particularly in Kyoto.

I got a little gift too; some colourful off cuts of sail boat canvas and a roll of beautifully woven cotton cleverly mixing black brown white orange and blue!

I’m not sure what I’ll make with them yet. Maybe wallets from the sail cloth? But I’ve got plenty of time to think about it while this broken wrist heals up.

Happy sewing!

Notes to self:

  • Make more binding than you think… then a bit more!
  • Even up the hem of the next one.
  • Maybe try an asymmetric one?
  • Try French seaming the pockets and side seams.
  • Drink lots of milk (for bone growth!)
  • Keep wiggling your fingers.