This post was brought to you by my friendly local Vinnie’s. You’ll know by now my love for op shopping, and a few weeks ago I stumbled across some fabric about which I was totally undecided. I love me some crazy prints, but felt this particular fabric might stray from the “so ugly I love it” category to “so ugly I actually hate it”. As it was a mere $2 for 4m, I bought it anyway, and decided it would make economic muslins if anything. I’m glad I did, as this is possibly my most hilarious dress yet.
The pattern I used was Simplicity 2246, the Lisette Traveller Dress. I’d already made it up once before, but I was an inexperienced sewist and really struggled with the collar and buttonbands. I’d used a pencil to mark the pieces and couldn’t wash it off! The colour, a pale beige/brown, was also so unflattering on me that I ended up cutting it into rags.
This time round I was much better prepared. To my surprise, the adjustments I’d made were pretty much spot on – I basically redrew the armscye to actually sit on my shoulder point, as they were slightly dropped which seriously limited movement. I also added width to the cuff as I found it restrictive as drafted. With a few other minor adjustments, I had a good fit on my first muslin.
I did make a few style changes, mostly for ease of sewing: the buttonbands in the pattern were separate for each bodice and skirt, under and upper, meaning I had to cut 8 of them. Nope. I just cut them as one long piece for each side, folded under and topstitched. My skirt was widened by the very scientific method of placing the CF/CB line 8cm from the fold. I also split the one-piece collar into a stand and collar, partly for aesthetics and partly because I thought sewing a one-piece collar would be more trouble than it was worth.
You can see above that I achieved this by simply extending the seamline for the collar stand all the way along the piece, keeping the stand the same height and allowing the collar to vary. I then split the pieces and added seam allowances (6mm for enclosed seams). It came out a bit wimpy, IMO, but I love a good 70s pointed collar (you can see how the collar is essentially straight up from the stand, meaning it doesn’t have much “point” to it). Oh, and don’t do what I did at first, which was to draw from the cutline and then wonder why the pieces weren’t working (you can see my erased pencil lines in the pic).
After resisting the idea of setting in sleeves flat for so long (why, Siobhan, why?!) I sewed the whole side seam, sleeve and cuff in one pass. I clipped at the top of the pocket so it could swing to the front, and again at the cuff so I could press the seam allowances which would be enclosed in the cuff open. Then it was just a matter of topstitching the cuff down. Too easy.
I caught up with my friend Beata of Tatulinka’s Tales recently, and we had a good discussion about perfection in sewing. We agreed that it can be really hard to share something online that isn’t quite right, when so many seemingly perfect creations abound on Instagram and on blogs. Beata decided to share her “So-So Sorbetto”, and in the interests of keeping it real, here’s what went wrong with this dress.
I forgot to overlock the sleeve seam after setting it in flat, so after I’d sewn and overlocked the side seam, I had to unpick the cuff topstitching, overlock the sleeve seam and redo. This was probably a blessing in disguise as my original topstitching was really, really shit. I trimmed my first collar stand too close to the stitching, and it frayed away to a nice big hole. I had to cut and resew another one, which obviously wasn’t perfect either as I was easing it to the stand facing when topstitching. The fabric was so flimsy that I tore two holes when doing the buttons: one was covered by a buttonhole, but there is a darned hole under one of the buttons.
Sometimes you just have to let go and view your creation from a non-sewist’s perspective, which is usually seeing you as some kind of wizard for making a thing. And hey, it turned out fantastically tacky, and that’s what I’m all about. I actually wanted pineapple buttons to top it off, but Spotlight didn’t provide, so these matching yellow buttons from the stash had to do.
If you haven’t made a Lisette pattern yet, they’re worth checking out. I use their Simplicity 1419 Round Trip Dress as my base bodice pattern when sewing for others. They are made by Liesl Gibson, of Oliver + S fame, and are super cute designs that also happen to be exceptionally well-drafted. I absolutely admire the professionalism displayed by Liesl and her husband Todd and the respect they show their customer base. The fact that Liesl is actually a trained patternmaker who has worked years in the fashion industry doesn’t hurt either! You can find Lisette patterns in the Butterick catalogue now, but the older Lisette patterns made for Simplicity are definitely worth hunting down too.
Thanks to Beth for the fantastic photos. What a difference a real camera makes!
Pattern: Simplicity 2246, Lisette Traveller Dress. View C.
Pattern details: Out of print paper pattern. Available in sizes 6-22. Comes with 3 variations.
Fabric: about 3.5m x 112cm wide pineapple print cotton, from Vinnies.
Other materials: Sheerweft interfacing. 12mm buttons, from stash. Water soluble stabiliser.
Mods: Size 14 with:
– 1/2″ forward shoulder adjustment (sleeve cap moved forward 1/2″ to match)
– bust dart lowered about 1.7cm, front waist dart lowered 2cm
– inseam pockets added to skirt
– 1.5cm added to each side seam at waist (6cm total)
– buttonband redrafted as one piece each side, folded under itself
– armscye brought in to sit on shoulder joint and thus increase range of motion
– sleeve cuff widened to 36cm finished width (possibly a bit of width added to sleeve too)
– 8cm added to each skirt half (ie 16cm front, 16cm back) by adding to CF/CB
– collar redrafted to be in two pieces (stand and collar)