When we first started stocking Merchant & Mills patterns, they told us that the Trapeze Dress was their biggest seller. Blinded by the goodness of some of the other M&M dresses like the Factory and Dress Shirt, we were resistant to the allure of the Trapeze until a customer came in wearing one she made out of a heavy, drapey denim. It looked fantastic. Finally, the penny dropped - we got it!
I've since made this pattern up twice. The first version, in black washed linen (above, black linen currently out of stock), has become one of my most reached-for handmades. It's easy to wear and layers up well on cooler days. The Trapeze is also a great one to wear out for dinner: there's a lot of volume in that there skirt - second helpings are no problem! I could smuggle my smallest child under there if the need ever arose.
Hence my second version, a party Trapeze, made from Tsumiki black & metallic gold linen. (Black also sold out, but natural and gold available here).
This is a straightforward pattern to sew with no fastenings and little to no fitting required, making it a beginner-friendly project. I found that the sizing ran fairly large, plus it's a loose-fitting garment, so I went down one size from what my measurements suggested.
The sleeveless version has a substantial facing which covers both neck and arm, and the method of attaching it to your main dress is one that was new to me. There's a little fabric twisting and some awkward sewing involved - but it really is one of those situations where you just trust in the pattern and forge ahead. The pattern instructions advise that the technique seems "twisted and weird", but it does indeed work. The facing gives the garment some nice structure (handy if you're using fabric with a heavy drape), and some nice clean lines so it is worth it. The sleeved version (on the pattern cover) has a facing on the neckine only.
For my second version I was short on fabric, so I left out the facing and simply bias bound the neck and arm openings. This worked a treat too. If you decide to go down this path bear in mind that the seam allowance is a nice healthy 15mm, so you'll need to trim down your arm and neck openings to account for that - also so you can get it over your head. ;)
Any fabric with good drape would make a great Trapeze. Any of our washed linens would be super. Merchant and Mills also suggest woven wools or chambrays. We think it might work in rayon too, for the ultimate breezy light summer dress.
The Trapeze Pattern is on our website here.
Happy summer sewing!
- Fiona & Jane xx