Appleby Makes’ Trudy Dress

Simple Sew Blogger Trudy Dress, Tutorial 1 Comment

Simple Sew’s Trudy dress tutorial by

Hello everyone! For my Simple Sew make this month I’m going to show you the Trudy dress.


Fabric suggestions

As you can see, the kind of dress you get depends entirely on your fabric choice. The taffeta and lace (shown above) make a great party dress, but mine is a more everyday dress and I’m so pleased with it! The fabric for this make has very kindly been gifted to me by White Tree Fabrics and you can find it here. It is a sage green and cream poplin that has worked well with this pattern.

Fabric and notions

You’re going to need:

  • Up to 3m of 115cm (45″) wide fabric or up to 2m of 150cm (60″) fabric depending on your size.
  • Some fusible interfacing (half a metre is plenty).
  • Matching thread (get a couple of spools) and bobbins.
  • 56cm (22″) zipper. I’ve gone for an invisible zip.
  • A regular zipper foot for your sewing machine
  • An invisible zipper foot if you’re choosing to go with the invisible zip.
  • Your usual dressmaking stuff – pins, tape measure, tailor’s chalk or air erasable pen, seam gauge or ruler etc.

First things first…

Sorry to sound dull but it really does make sense to wash your fabric before you cut into it. You really don’t want your dress to shrink when you first wash it. I always wash my fabric the instant it goes over the threshold of my house! This fabric was washed, dried and ironed all within the space of a few hours and I was able to start my project the day the fabric dropped through the letterbox!

Choosing what variation to make and finding your size

There are many variations of the Trudy dress. Sleeves or no sleeves? Collar or no collar? What attracted me to the pattern was the Peter Pan collar so I was definitely going to make that variation. I was unsure about which sleeve variation to use though – the pattern includes long, three-quarter length and short sleeves.

Measure yourself around your bust, waist and hips. The pattern shows finished garment measurements not body measurements so choose your size appropriately. Usually I’m a size 12 for my bust and hips but a size 14 for my waist (thanks kids!). I have learnt from bitter experience that if I’m making a dress then I need to make a toile (a mock up). I often find that I need to tweak the fit of the bodice and this pattern was no exception, although they were not my usual tweaks! I made a quick toile out of some rubbish fabric. I pretty much made up the whole dress but at a minimum you should make up the bodice and one sleeve.


For me, the fit around the bust was spot on with all the darts pointing to the right place (ahem). However, the length of the bodice was a bit long and hit me at the part of my waist which I’m most self conscious about so I shortened the pattern piece by an inch and a half. As I liked the length of the dress on me I added that inch and a half to the skirt pieces. The other change I made was to the shoulder. I must have narrow shoulders as the seam line went down my arm. I narrowed the shoulder seam by about 1.5cm but unfortunately I wasn’t sure how to go about make the corresponding adjustment to the sleeve, which is why I’ve opted for sleeveless! The sleeves are very easy though!

03Adjusted pattern pieces. Don’t forget the back as well!

Tracing the pattern and cutting out

Because I was changing the pattern pieces I traced my pattern although I have to admit that I don’t always do this! Fold your pressed fabric selvedge to selvedge, wrong sides facing you. Place your (traced and cut out) pattern pieces and lay them according to the layout provided on the pattern envelope. Make sure the grainline arrows on the pattern pieces are parallel to the selvedge. The front skirt, front bodice and front facing need to be placed on the fold of your fabric. Pin your pattern pieces to the fabric or use pattern weights (large washers, baked bean tins, etc.) to hold the paper down.

Marking notches and darts

There are a few notches on this pattern shown as little triangles on the edges. These are useful for matching up your fabric pieces later. Mark these notches on your fabric by making a s04mall snip no more than 10mm into the fabric. This is well within the seam allowance and this fabric was nice and stable. However, if you’re using a fabric with a very loose weave or one that frays, cut triangular notches outside.

There are a lot of darts on this pattern! I like to mark the ‘legs’ of the darts with little snips into the fabric and I mark the points with tailor’s tacks as it marks both pieces of fabric at the same time. The other advantage to these is that both sides of the fabric are marked and they can easily be removed. Join the snips to the tailor tack point with a chalk line.

Finishing seams

You must finish any raw edges of fabric to prevent them from fraying and ruining your beautiful dress. You may wish to go round each of your pattern pieces with a zig-zag or overcasting stitch before you start sewing. Just make sure you can see all your notches. My personal preference is to finish each seam after sewing. I will be using an overlocker to finish each seam after I’ve sewn them.

Let’s sew!

1. Apply the interfacing- We’re going to start with interfacing the collar and the facing pieces. Fuse your interfacing on to the collar pieces following the manufacturers instructions. Don’t follow my example – make sure you use a pressing cloth to stop your iron getting covered in glue!

06Use a pressing cloth people!

You can then fuse the interfacing to the facing pieces and finish of the bottom edge with a zig-zag stitch! However, for the facing pieces I do a few extra steps to get a wonderful, neat finish. Here’s how…


First, put your facing piece and interfacing piece right sides together and pin and sew along the bottom edge only. Use a 5mm seam allowance. Then make little notches into your seam allowance. Finally, flip the interfacing so its wrong side is together with the wrong side of the facing. Fuse in place and you’ve got a beautifully neat facing!


2. Prepare the collar – take your collar pieces and lay them right sides together. You are going to stitch one short edge, around the outer curve and back along the other short edge (shown in red pen below). When you have done this trim the seam allowance to 5mm and you may find it helpful to cut little v-shaped notches in that outer curve which will help with turning. From now on, all your seam allowances will be 1.5cm.


Turn your collar pieces the right way round and give them a good press.


Stitch the collar pieces together as shown. This will keep them in place when you attach the collar to the dress. Make sure your stitches are within the seam allowance.



3. Sew the darts – Darts are found on the front and back bodice pieces and the front and back skirt pieces. Pinch the darts matching the snips. Pin the dart as shown below making sure your pins go through the chalk lines at the back and the front.

12Sew along the chalk line from your snips to the tailor tack point. Backstitch when you start to sew but just sew off the fabric when you get to the point and do not backstitch. Instead tie the threads into a knot and cut the thread.

Press all your waist darts to the sides of the dress. Press your bust darts downwards.


4. Sew the shoulder seams – place your front bodice right side up and place the back bodice pieces right side down lining up the shoulder seams. Pin and stitch the shoulder seams.


Repeat the same steps with the front and back facings. Because these seams will be hidden I merely pinked the seam allowances here.


5. Attach the collar and facing – now we’re going to attach the collar and the facing in one fell swoop. Have the right side of the bodice facing upwards. Lay your collar pieces onto the bodice, also right side facing upwards. Align at the neckline using the notches to help you and pin securely in place.


Now for the facing. Your facing should be right side facing downwards. Pin in place around the neckline and the armholes (see picture to right). You will have sandwiched the collar in between the bodice and the facing.

Stitch around the armholes and neckline with the usual 1.5cm seam allowance. I also trimmed the seam allowances to remove some bulk but keep enough for understitching later.


Now for the fun bit…turning through the bodice. This bit is difficult to photograph but what you do is put your hand through the gap in the shoulder from the front bodice. Grab the back bodice and pull it through the facing. Repeat on the other side. Give everything a good press.


An optional step is to understitch the facing to the seam allowa20nce. This just prevents the facing from popping out when you’re wearing the dress. I’m using a ‘stitch in the ditch’ foot for this but you don’t need one. Just line up the armhole seam with the middle of your foot and shift the needle over to the side where the facing is. Make sure the seam allowance is folded underneath. You won’t be able to do the understitching as you move towards the shoulder seam but a little bit is better than nothing!

Give everything a good press and, voila! A beautifully neat bodice!


6. Attaching the skirt and sewing the side seams – With right sides together, join the front skirt to the front bodice at the waist. Finish this seam and press it upwards. Repeat for the back pieces.


You’re going to close the side seams of the dress and the facing now. Flip out the facing and pin the side seams RST the full length of the dress. Make sure you line up the underarm and waist seams. Continue pinning up the facing. Start stitching at the top of the facing all the way down to the bottom of the skirt. Repeat on the other side.

7. Installing the invisible zip – It’s your choice what zip you go for with this dress. I like the clean finish of the invisible zip. There are tonnes of tutorials out there that show you how it’s done (including some Simple Sew tutorials) so I’m just going to give you a quick guide here.

First of all finish the back seam. It’s going to be very awkward to do once the zip is in. Then gently press the zipper teeth away from the tape which will make it easier to stitch. Don’t melt the teeth though!

Open the zip and with the right side facing down, place the right-hand side of the tape down the left-hand open edge of your fabric (right side facing you) and pin into place. Don’t forget the 1.5cm seam allowance! This is shown in the first picture.

Put on the invisible zip foot (some magical people can install invisible zips with just a standard zipper foot but I’m not one of them!). Put the zipper teeth in the left tunnel of the foot. You will be stitching to the right of the teeth. Back stitch at the beginning and end.

Close your zip and where the waist seam is mark the other side of the tape with a pin. This will help ensure that your waist seam matches up when you sew the other side. Open the zip again.

Flip your dress round and pin the loose zipper tape, starting at that waist seam. Place your zip teeth in the right tunnel and sew all the way down. Done!


Swap to your regular zipper foot and pin and stitch the rest of the back down to the bottom. The regular zipper foot allows you to get in nice and close to the end of the zip.


We’re nearly finished! We just need to neaten the facing.24

Fold your facing over the top of the zip so that the facing is RST with the back bodice (shown below). Keeping your regular zipper foot on stitch along the sides of the zip tape through the facing and the bodice. Trim the top corners and turn the facing. Give everything a good press.

25What zip?


27Facing attached to zip

8. Hemming the dress – Turn up the hem by 1cm and press. Fold again, press and stitch in place.

You’re done! Go wear your dress at the first opportunity! I’m wearing mine to a barbecue this weekend

28 3029

31Standing under an apple tree – they were falling all around me!

Comments 1

  1. Great tutorial.
    I am making the Trudy dress with the collar and the long sleeves.
    Can you help me with attachment of the cuffs on the sleeves as I am unclear from the instructions.

    Many Thanks!

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