Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Trina Dress Made for a Very Good Friend

I love this dress and have to think plan carefully about when an appropriate amount of time will have passed before I can make one for myself...

This is the 30th birthday present I made for my friend Eleanor. It was a little while in the works, but in the nicest possible way- I spent an evening in with a glass or two of wine lurking patterns she might like. My thought process was to select something easy-fitting; that means knit dresses, loose simple shapes or wrap dresses for wovens.

I then invited her over (again with more wine) to see if she approved of my choices, get her measurements and to get some guidance on colour. We went with the Victory Patterns Trina dress (which surprisingly few people on the blogosphere seem to have made) as it's gorgeous, elegant enough for occasion-wear, and easy to adjust for fit. She also has a penchant for dramatic sleeves so this fit the bill nicely! 

I ended up blending two sizes according to her measurements between bust and waist, shortening the sleeves and skirt by a few inches as per her preferences, and getting her over to try on a mock-up of the bodice I'd made in lining fabric which I'd bought to line the skirt but sadly turned out to have quite a few holes in it, so was not suitable for the final garment. Great for a quick and dirty toile fitting though - the bodice fit quite well but we decided to take it in a tiny bit at centre back. We had also intended to add a smidge to the front edges for a tad more modesty but I accidentally taped the pattern adjustment to the wrong edge and only realised when I started cutting, by which point it was too late to go back! It's an easy mistake to make as the front and back pieces are giant triangles. Besides, after all that, I think the amount of cleavage on show is flattering without being too immodest! 

All testing having gone well, I cut into several metres of dark teal georgette from Goldhawk Road. As I'm sure many of my fellow print-fanciers out there will agree, it's actually quite tough shopping for solid colour fabric- nothing seems special enough on the bolt, but it has sewn up to look lovely. I can't remember which shop it came from in the end, but I had a nice day out shopping by myself a month or so ago and bumped into a couple of other sewing bloggers. I don't interact too much on the web but I dared myself to go and say hi, and I'm glad I did – they were super friendly and it's great to talk sewing in real life with people.

It was my first time sewing knowingly with a shifty fabric (I've done it the early days when I just thought everything was cotton and didn't know better, with unpredicted results!). I starched the hell out of it so that it wouldn't be too much of a pain, and made sure to stay-stitch well as per the instructions. Things worked out mainly fine, but the dress does get quite heavy once you attach the massive swishy skirt (even in my shortened version), and the ties are super-long and frequently got trod on in the course of pressing and construction! I think because of the matte texture of georgette it's probably not as nightmarish as some of the slinkier fabrics out there, and I'd say it's a nice recommendation for this pattern as it gives the dramatic drape but with quite a grown-up look in my opinion.

Now that I've made this dress I think I would enjoy making another version even more. It's not particularly difficult, but as Jen of Sewing and Slapdashery mentions in her review, some of the instructions are quite convoluted, and trying to sew this after work in small sessions was more taxing on the brain than it needed to be. It took more focus than I was expecting to cut through all the superfluous words and realise I was actually being asked to do something quite simple! Basically there's a headline instruction, and then steps that break down what that requires (I'm quite tempted to rewrite my own version of the instructions in plainer English).

I would also agree (in all cases but especially with this dress) to mark all match points very well. I had a mini freak-out quite late in the game when my bodice seemed to be too wide to align with the skirt – it turned out I hadn't matched up the side overlaps properly. Luckily an easy fix as they're just basted together at that stage and can be adjusted without messing up any of the other processes.

Aside from the overly wordy instructions (which is no great sin really) this is a lovely pattern and one I will definitely be making again. And it looks totally stunning on its recipient! I think she might rather like it too...

Are you tempted to make the Trina dress?

NorseOtter x

PS Massive thanks to Cai for the lovely photos!


  1. Looks gorgeous i could totally see myself wearing something like this!

    1. Thank you! Yes it's really flattering, I am trying to come up with a way of making one for myself that isn't too close to this gifted version! Maybe a wild print and narrower skirt? It definitely needs to be made again!

  2. This is absolutely beautiful! Been tempted to make it since it was first released - already have the pattern sitting there, just not sure what fabric yet.

    1. Thank you! Yes I really recommend it, just have patience with the instructions! Anything with a nice drape and not too much structure will work beautifully. The front bodice pieces are on the bias so be aware of that when using a print as it will run diagonally. Lots of potential for fun though if you want to get creative.

  3. This is absolutely beautiful! Been tempted to make it since it was first released - already have the pattern sitting there, just not sure what fabric yet.