SIGNUP - FREE Membership and 1 FREE Sewing Lesson
| FAQ | Login
PatternReview Blog > Pattern Hack - A Trapeze Dress Two Ways
Pattern Hack - A Trapeze Dress Two Ways By Deepika on 5/26/16 12:10 PM

Summer is going to be here before you know it and sometimes you just want something easy to sew and slip on.  With this in mind I'm switching it up a bit with a more modern looking hack, a trapeze dress two ways.  The easy loose fitting shape lends itself to a number of fabrics, so I've given you a knit and a woven option. We'll also be covering how to draft two different necklines and a sleeve/sleeveless options.  All these choices can be mixed and matched, it's up to you.


 Sewing 7

Sewing 5

The Hack

This month we'll be converting the Grainline Studio's Scout Tee into a Trapeze dress with side seam pockets. The knit sample features a V neck and slightly capped sleeves.  The woven version features a higher neckline and a racerback sleeveless style. Recommended fabrics are rayon knits, bamboo knits, rayon challis, silk and any other light drapy fabric.


To recreate this pattern hack at home you will need:


- A copy of Grainline Studio's Scout Pattern. Trace all the pieces for the knit sample, omit the sleeve for the woven sample. 

- Your favorite type of tracing paper 

- A clear ruler 

- A french curve and a hip curve ruler 

- Scotch tape 

- Scissors 

- Pen or pencil

 - Optional, a gridded cutting mat is helpful but not necessary to complete the drafting.


Sizing Notes - If you decide to use a knit fabric for your garment I would suggest going down at least one size because of the added stretch. You might also want to cut the seam allowances down to 1/4" if you are sewing on a serger.


Adding Ease and Length

In this section we will be exaggerating the Scout Tee's trapeze shape by adding more ease to the pattern. After that is finished we'll lengthen the pattern into a dress.


Back Changes

1. First we need to establish a pivot point that is below the neckline area so that it doesn't become distorted with our changes. Draw in a horizontal line across the back right about where you'd put in a yoke. On my sample this is exactly 3" from the neckline. Pic 1


2. Find the halfway point on the newly drawn line. Use this location to draw a vertical line down through the bottom half of the pattern.  This will be our slash and spread line for adding, "more swing." pic 2


3. From the bottom of the pattern cut top the vertical line until reaching the horizontal line. Then cut across out to the armhole. Pic 3


4. Place a large piece of paper behind the left half of the pattern and tape it in place. Pic 4


5. Now we are going to pivot the right hand piece to add more ease to the hemline.  Move the cut pattern piece as that it's on a bit of a diagonal.

Pic 7 

Keep the side seam area so that it touches.

Pic 6 

The amount of extra ease you add is up to your preferences. On my sample 2 1/2" were added to the hemp sweep. Once you have the amount of ease desired tape down the cut pattern piece. Pic 5


6. Now it's time to length the top into a dress.  Extend the CB line down to the length you desire. On my sample I've added an additional 11".

 Pic 8

7. Following the angle of the side seam, extend the side seam down to the same area. Square the hem across for now. Pic 9


8. Next we are going to add a little more flare to the hemline.  From the side seam measure out 1 3/4". Draw a diagonal line from this point and blend it up into the waist area of the side seam.

Pic 10 

9. Now that we have finished adding ease to the pattern we will fix the hem of the skirt so that it hangs properly. From the side seam measure up at least 3". (Depending on the size of your bust you might need increase this amount. The larger the bust the more it will pull the hem up at the CF. To counter act this you may want to have a more exaggerated curve to the front hemline.)

 Pic 11

Take a hip curve and place it at the 3" mark on the side seam and the hem at the center back.

 Pic 13

Draw a new hem.

Pic 14

Pic 15


10. Draw in a notch for pocket placement.  I put mine 11" down from the armhole.

Pic 16 

11. Your final pattern piece will look something like this.

Pic 17 

Sewing 9

Front Changes

1. On the front our pivot line will be the bust apex. On a pattern with a bust dart you would draw a horizontal line through that area. Since the Scout Tee is a dartless pattern we'll need to figure out where the bust apex is.  To do this lay the pattern up against your torso.  Position the shoulder seam and CF in the correct locations on your body. Now you can pencil in a small dot where your bust apex is. (The fullest part of your bust.) As long as you mark the general area of your bust apex it will be fine for this hack.


2. Once you have the location of your bust apex figured out, draw a horizontal line across the pattern at that location.

Pic 18 

3. On the front we want to have two vertical slash lines. Draw them in so they are semi evenly distributed across the pattern.

Pic 19 

4. From the bottom of the pattern cut up on the vertical line closest to the CF until you get to the horizontal bust apex line. Then cut across to the side seam. Go back and cut the second vertical line apart as well.

Pic 20 

5. Place a large piece of paper behind the right half of the pattern and tape it in place.

Pic 21 

6. On the front we are going to pivot both of the cut areas to add more ease to the pattern.  You can add the same amount of ease to the back or add more. If adding the same amount of ease as the back, divide the amount between the two pivot points on the front.

 Pic 22

On my sample a total of 4" of additional ease was added to the front.  I added 2" to each of the pivot points.

Pic 24 

When moving the pivot areas on the front pattern piece it's fine if you need to overlap the side seam area a bit. We can add that length back into the side seam when we lengthen the pattern.  Once you have all the pivot areas how you like them, tape down all the loose cut pieces.

Pic 23 

7. Because we have two pivot areas on the front the side seam might need some smoothing out. If that area has a sharp angle go in and true up the area with a new side seam curve.

 Pic 25

8. Repeat steps 6-10 from the back section to lengthen the front piece. After you are done put the pieces on top of each other and make sure the side seams are the same length. Make any adjustments you might need if they are not.


9. Your final pattern piece should look something like this.

Pic 26 

This completes the pattern changes that both of the knit and woven variations share.  Proceed onto the neckline and sleeve option you'd like.


V-neck/Short sleeve variation

In this section we will convert the existing neckline into a V shape and draft a new band. After that we'll slightly modify the sleeve to a shorter length.



1. Measure down 2" from the center front and mark. This is be the bottom of the V-neck.

 Pic 27

2. Take your french curve and position the straight end on the new mark. Draw the V portion of the neckline blending it into the original one. Cut off the excess paper.

Pic 28 

Pic 29

3. Since we've changed the neckline a new neckband needs to be drafted. Measure both the front and back necklines with a tape measure. A curve runner would be an excellent tool for this too!  Add the two numbers and subtract the shoulder seam allowance to get the band length.

 Pic 30

4. Draw a rectangle the band length by 1".  Label one short end with fold.

Pic 31 

5. On the opposite short end we will add an angle for the V-neck.  Measure in 1/2" at the center of the band. Draw diagonal lines to the outer edges. This end should look like a snake tongue.

Pic 32 

6. Add seam allowance to all edges other than the fold edge. Draw in a grainline and the neckband is finished.

 Pic 33

Pic 34

Short Sleeve

1. On the bottom edge of the sleeve measure up 1" in the center.

Pic 35

2. On each end measure up 1/2".

Pic 36 

3. Draw a new hem edge for the sleeve with your french ruler and cut off the excess paper.

Pic 37 

Pic 38

4. If you are using a knit jersey you may want to take out the sleeve cap ease.  On this pattern it's around 3/8"-1/2".  To do this draw two vertical lines on either side of the sleeve head notch.

Pic 39 

5. From the sleeve cap side cut down almost to the sleeve hem.

Pic 40 

6. Then overlap and tape these two areas the amount needed to remove the sleeve cap ease. On my sample both areas overlap 1/8".

Pic 41 

Sewing 8


Higher neckline/Sleeveless variation

In this section we will raise the neckline on the pattern and carve out new raglan/racerback armholes. Finally we'll draft an all in one facing to finish the neck and arm areas.

Front changes

1. On the shoulder seam measure in 1/2" and mark.

Pic 42 

2. On the CF measure up 1 1/4" and mark.

 Pic 43

3. Use the french curve to draw in a new neckline using the new marks.

Pic 44 

4. Using the new neckline edge as a starting point measure 3 1/4" down the shoulder seam and mark.

 Pic 45

5. Draw a new armhole with the french curve placing it on the new mark and the bottom of the existing armhole.

Pic 46Pic 47 

6. You may want to raise the armhole 1/2" depending on your fabric choice.


7. Cut off the excess paper to get the new style.

Pic 48 

Back Changes

1. On the shoulder seam measure in 1/2" and mark.

Pic 49 

2. Once again draw a new neckline with the french curve blending it into the original CB.

Pic 50 

3. Next measure 3 1/4 down the shoulder seam from the new neck edge and mark.


4. On the back we are going to draw a bit of a racer back style.  To do this position the french curve parallel to the existing armhole. On my sample the ruler is about 2" away. You can adjust the position for your personal preferences.  Draw a new armhole curve and blend it into the bottom of the original armhole.

 Pic 51

Pic 52

5. Raise the armhole if you did it on the front.


6. Cut off the extra paper to finish up the back changes.

Pic 53 

Sewing 6


To finish the neck and arm areas of my woven sample I drafted some all in one facings. Now I'll show you how to do the same.

1. Lay a sheet of trace paper over the front bodice.


2. Trace the CF, neck, shoulder, armhole edges and a bit of the side seam.Pic 54


3. On the CF side measure down 3" and draw a short straight line into the facing.  The rest of the bottom of the facing should be curved, use a french curve to complete the pattern piece.

 Pic 55

4. Repeat these steps for the back facing. Make sure the side seams of the front and back facings are the same before cutting them out.

 Pic 56


Feel free to borrow a pocket you like from another pattern. However if you want to draft a pocket from scratch here's an easy method to do so.

1. Draw a rectangle about the size you'd like the finished pocket to be. Place a notch on one of the long edges.

 Pic 57

2. Determine how big you want the pocket opening to be and place that mark on the long edge.


3. Then use the edges of the rectangle as a guide for your french curve draw in each side.

Pic 58 

Pic 59

Pic 60

Pic 61

4. True up any curves you don't like and cut out the pocket.

Pic 62
Drafting Note - You can sew the V-neck variation in a woven and the sleeveless version in a knit, however you may want to change the neck and/or sleeve finishes. The v-neck variation could be sewn as is in a woven, but you can also choose to draft a facing for the neckline.  If you sew the sleeveless version in a knit the "all in one facing" can be skipped. Instead draft individual bands to finish the neckline and armholes.


Sewing Notes

V- neck knit version

1. Sew the shoulder seams. 

2. Sew the CF of the neckband.

3. Basting the CF to the V of the neckline helps line up the seam. Then sew the rest of the neckband in place.

4. Sew the sleeves on flat.

5. Attach pockets at the side seam notches.

6. Sew up side seams, underarms of sleeves and pockets.

7. Hem.

 Sewing 10

High neck/sleeveless woven version

1. Sew the shoulder seams.

2. Attach pockets at the side seam notches.

3. Sew up side seams and pockets.

4. Sew the shoulder seams and side seams of the facings.

5. Place the dress and facing right sides together at the neckline line. Sew together the neck.

6. Trim SA and clip if needed.  Edgestitch neckline.

7. Turn dress right side out. On the outer edge of the shoulder seam tuck in the seam allowance and pin. This will give you an anchor for turning the fabric the right way to sew this area.

Sewing 1 

8. Take the two raw edges next to the shoulder seam and pull them apart and around until half of the shoulder area is tucked into the other half. This will allow you to put the raw edges right sides together. Sew from the shoulder seam down to the side seam.

Sewing 2 

9. Untuck the shoulder area and then retuck it in the opposite direction so that the second half of the armhole can be sewn.

Sewing 3 

10. Trim and clip the SA of the armholes.


12. Hem.

Sewing 4 

My sample also has the following fitting adjustments

- 1/2" forward shoulder adjustment made to both the shoulder seam and the sleeve cap.

- The knit version has been taken in at the side seams about 1/2".

Hope you've enjoyed this hack. Trapeze dresses are perfect for hot summers. You can whip one up this memorial day weekend. If you sew it up, I'd love to see it. Post to Instagram or Twitter with hashtag #prpatternhack and tag @patternreview so we can find it. 


Filed Under: Pattern Hacks  

You may also be interested in ...

Pattern Hack - A Trapeze Dress Two Ways

Pattern Hack - Kimono Sleeve Shirt Dress

Pattern Hack - Linda Top, Ruched Sleeves, Wide Neck

Pattern Hack - Butterick 6169 collar, yoke and zippered pocket

Pattern Hack - Nettie Dress to Mock Wrap Dress with Pockets - Part 2

Pattern Hack - Nettie Dress to Mock Wrap Dress with Pockets - Part 1

4 Comments      Login to Add a Comment    
whitburney said... (5/28/16 9:56 AM) Reply
Heather, you do THE BEST tutorials! And even though this is miles away from your usual style, you rocking both dresses! I'd steal them both out of your closet in a heartbeat! And i think you've inspired my weekend sewing project!
Lisa Gaskamp said... (5/26/16 4:25 PM) Reply
YES! Love this... will have to try it out!
heathergrows said... (5/26/16 3:44 PM) Reply
This is awesome Heather!! Both dresses look great on you! I really want to try this with the Lark pattern!
margob said... (5/26/16 3:04 PM) Reply
I love this hack! Thanks for the great instructions. I have a piece of silk I think would make a dreamy dress. :)

Search Blog

Subscribe to RSS Feed

Recent Comments

   happysquirrel commented on the Shirtmaking Workbook Book Review & Giveaway
   annem54 commented on the Shirtmaking Workbook Book Review & Giveaway
   AmandaRenea commented on the Shirtmaking Workbook Book Review & Giveaway
   whitburney commented on Pattern Hack - A Trapeze Dress Two Ways
   GalaxyGal commented on the Shirtmaking Workbook Book Review & Giveaway


  May,2016 (9)
  April,2016 (11)
  March,2016 (15)
  February,2016 (10)
  January,2016 (13)
  December,2015 (17)
  November,2015 (21)
  October,2015 (17)
  September,2015 (14)
  August,2015 (10)
  July,2015 (13)
  June,2015 (14)
  May,2015 (12)
  April,2015 (11)
  March,2015 (17)
  February,2015 (15)
  January,2015 (16)