Posted on Friday the 1st June 2018 by The Unfinished Seamstress
If you know me, you know that I’m a hippie at heart. I may not present myself that way at a glance, but don’t be fooled: I’m a Kombucha-brewing, cloth-diapering, vegan-granola-eating, earth mama type. So when I decided to sew up a Merchant and Mills Trapeze Dress
, I could not resist this absolutely beautiful tie-dye Batik Fabric
While it is definitely tie-dye, the single colour feels fresh and modern to me (not in a small part due to the Shibori trend, I’m sure), rather than overly hippie-retro. This fabric is hand-dyed in India, and has variation in the pattern throughout, which I love for the natural feel. I love seeing the hand of the maker. On mine, it was significantly darker toward the selvedge, and lighter toward the fold, so with the right pattern, you could essentially colour block with the same cut of fabric. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?
It’s very lightweight, which is perfect for summer, but it manages to be nicely opaque as well. This pattern is finished with a facing, and you definitely can’t see it. I’m seriously considering getting more to make a kimono, or if I wanted to go full-hippie, maybe a Charlie Caftan
? It’s a little lighter than I like for cloth napkins, but I even think this would make a beautiful tablecloth or modern quilt. This pattern though, the Merchant and Mills Trapeze dress, does make the most of the breezy quality.
Catching air in the breeze here, you can see the shape of the dress really well. I love a simple dress shape, and this one is minimalistic even by my standards. I can imagine it in solid linen, obviously, but I think it would also be a fantastic blank canvas for a beautiful print. Merchant and Mills, to me, seem to have one of the strongest brand aesthetics of the indie pattern houses, and it can be hard to look past their slubby, putty-coloured utilitarianism to see the true versatility of the patterns. I think this dress will work in pretty much any fabric weight I throw at it, and I will definitely make a few for autumn and winter as well. But for summer, I love this batik or a lightweight linen.
As for the sewing, can you see the slight boatneck shape? That means it doesn’t even have a closure, folks. Ultimate quick win. Ultimate throw on, easy morning, uniform kind of dress. I shortened the length by 4 inches, which is a fairly standard alteration I make because of my height (I’m 5’2’’), especially where the fit is loose. I also diverged from the instructions as written a little bit, because I found the it confusing the way they were asking me to attach the facing. Instead, I used the famous “burrito method” (there are a million and one tutorials out there), which was a revelation. My only other complaint would be that the instructions don’t ask you to either stay-stitch or under-stitch, and I think both are a good idea with this sort of dress. Especially for a pattern that is so great for beginners, I think it would be nice to include this in the written instructions. But that is a very small niggle on what is otherwise a deceptively simple, elegantly drafted and versatile pattern, in a fabric I truly love.
So if you need me, I will be swanning around the farmer’s market in this dress, picking out biodynamic greens to juice, or whatever it is that modern hippies do. Thanks for reading, as always.