Bold Trapeze Dress

This project, I have to say, was a bit of an experiment. I was unsure of my abilities to turn a shirt/tunic pattern into a flared mini dress, and I was skeptical of the big bold print I chose. In the end, though, it turned out pretty nice.

I used the Esme shirt pattern and instead of cutting the font and back on the fold, I added flared center seams and side seams, with some pockets! To my surprise, It turned out okay and the fabric became softer after a wash, so now I have a new summer dress. The print on the fabric is huge and bright and I think it’s just perfect for the summer months. It’s kind of ironic that I cut out the dress on a snow day (you can tell I’m always waiting for summer).

Okay, here’s the math:

The Front

  • Convert fold-lines into grain-lines
  • Add 5 inches to the bottom and extend the pre-drawn lines of the tunic (they are slightly flared in the Esme pattern, so be careful that you are extending the pre-drawn lines!)
  • Measure horizontally 5/8 inches from the grain-line of the neckline for seam allowances
  • Measure 7 inches out horizontally from the bottom of the extended side seam, mark
  • Measure 6 1/2 inches down from the bottom of the shoulder opening, pretty much the bottom of the dart
  • Draw a straight line from the below-shoulder opening mark to the 7-inches-out-from-side-seam mark. I measured this line to be about 27 inches long. This is the new flared side seam!
  • Measure 10 inches out horizontally from the bottom of the extended center seam, mark
  • Draw a straight line from the added seam allowance in the neck to the 10-inches-out-from-center-seam mark. This line was about 37 inches long. This is the new flared center seam! Now you’re all ready to go with the front!

The Back

  • The back is really the same. Convert the fold-line into the grain-line, add seam allowance to the neck, add 5 inches to the bottom of the dress, measure out 7 inches and down 6 1/2 on the side seam, draw the straight line (about 25 3/4 inches long), measure out 10 inches and draw a straight line on the new center seam (about 38 7/8 inches long).

Here’s what your pattern pieces should look like when you’re done:



  • Sew the center seams
  • Insert darts to the front
  • Sew the side seams – if you are inserting pockets, do that step here (I inserted them 12 inches down from the bottom of the shoulder openings, but that was too high)
  • Insert facings to the neck and shoulder
  • Level the hem (I used a dress form hem marker, but you can level the hem any way you like)
  • Hem up as high as you like, I turned up 1 inch and then 1 1/2 inches for a lower-mid thigh length.

I really love this dress and have worn it twice in the week since I finished it (and again in the second week!). I think that the next time I make a trapeze dress, I will add more flare to the body. I also added pockets 12 inches below the shoulder opening, which landed exactly on my waist and ended up really high. Next time I will put the pockets much lower. I think you could probably do this with any simple tunic pattern, and you could flare it as much as you want. It’s a really simple trapeze dress, and oh so cute in a giant floral print!



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