Charcoal self drafted linen trapeze dress and linen trousers.

A few weeks ago I shared my white linen maxi trapeze dress. The maxi version was a bit of a whim really as I liked the idea of it but wasn’t sure if I would actually wear it. This version was already on the agenda, a shorter length in a neutral colour. I was pretty confident that I would definitely wear this one. However we have had such an amazing hot summer that both dresses have really been too warm to wear. Now the weather has cooled I am looking forward to wearing this much more.

I created the pattern using a classic A-line dress pattern that fitted me. The rework to create a trapeze dress was more challenging than I expected. I used the cut and spread pattern cutting method to create the flare, which is important to create an even flare. With the flare I planned to start it at the bust line, keeping the shoulder and neck fairly fitted. However on my first toile the side seam swung forward. I had to redesign the back cutting the flare to a much higher point to balance the style.

In the end it worked. The heavy hang created by the amount of fabric in this trapeze dress is lovely. I used a medium weight 100% linen fabric which is a dream to work with. Linen is one of my favourite fibres. I love working with it as much as I love wearing it.

I added an invisible zip to the centre back seam because the shoulders are still quite fitted. I was worried it might be a bit tight to pull on and potentially stretch the neckline. My worrying was unnecessary because it is easy to pull on. The neckline I finished with a self fabric facing, under-stitched and hand finished along the zip edge. If I make this trapeze dress again I will probably bring the neckline in a little closer to the neck. I’m happy with the way this looks, though I feel the weight of the fabric pulls it further down the shoulder. I think its quite tricky to get necklines the way you like them, often the only true test is when you wear the garment for a length of time.

The sleeves are set in which was an easy job with this fabric as it molded around the curves with ease.

I am quite keen on taking care in choosing the right finish for hems, for this trapeze dress I wanted to keep to clean lines and quite a tailored look. As I had under-stitched the neck facing as opposed to top stitching I chose to hand finish the sleeve hems and skirt hem so no stitches are visible.

The hem shape of this trapeze dress is quite extreme so I cut facings in self fabric. This is quite a bit of extra work but definitely worth the effort.

Lastly the trousers are also self drafted, my new favourite ‘go-to’ pattern. I first made this version in the same charcoal linen I used for this trapeze dress. Now I am busy making them in all ‘useful’ colours! These are made from a remnant of a heavier weight linen that has a flaw across the fabric. I decided the flaw kind of added to the charm of the fabric especially in this neutral colour. There was just the perfect amount left to make these trousers, it was meant to be.


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Julia Claridge

I was about 6 or 7 years old when I had my first go on a sewing machine, it was an old hand crank machine that my mum used with her patients, she was an occupational therapist. I still vividly remember watching with amazement as the tiny perfectly formed stitches were created as I turned the handle. I Grew up in the 70’s and 80’s when buying clothes was less affordable and dressmaking was an answer to updating your wardrobe more regularly. My own mother was a talented dressmaker who made most of my clothes and my sisters clothes as well as a many for herself. I soon got involved with making my clothes, I loved the whole experience of picking out fabrics, trims and a pattern to create a new outfit, then going home to make a new garment or outfit. When it came to leaving school I visited a careers advisor who asked what I wanted to do next. My answer was ..Sew! Read more...

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