Sunday, October 13, 2013

Lisette Traveler Dress

You guys, I am officially living the dream. You see, a long time ago (Spring 2011), in a far away land (Tampa, Florida), I was a novice seamstress struggling to make a supremely ugly pair of pajama pants. One day, I fell in love with the Lisette Traveler Dress, but I knew our romance was doomed from the start. With sleeves, a collar,  and 8 buttons, this dress was way, way beyond my skill set. But I couldn't resist the Traveler Dress' charms, so I bought the pattern and fabric, and put it away for some distant day after either magic fairy dust or a Rocky-style training montage gave me ability to do it. And that distant day, my friends, is today.

It cracks me up now that I completely ripped off the pattern picture, down to buying the Lisette Chambray. Beginner Emily had basically no understanding of fabrics, and so buying the exact fabric on the envelope was the only sure bet. Since then, I've even inadvertently stolen the model's haircut!

And really, it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, just time consuming. The trickiest bit was dealing with the chambray, which frayed like crazy and made it hard to find notches and line pieces up properly. I cut a 10 in the shoulders and then blended to a 12 in the hips. I also made a few adjustments, but nothing too crazy - this is a well drafted pattern with clear instructions. I did an SBA and took some of the excess out of the center back. It's still a little big, but I can live with it.

I'm especially happy with the fit in the shoulders. I tend to find sleeves really constricting and have a hard time moving my arms forward to drive, type, cook dinner, give hugs....basically everything. Googling the problem, I stumbled upon this genius tutorial by Sunni of A Fashionable Stitch, which instructs you to add about 1/2" of ease to the back armsyce and sleeve. It worked like a charm!

I actually set the sleeves in properly for once, and while they're not perfect, they're not half bad. I feel the same way about the collar. I was most intimidated by the collar going into this, but it turns out the collar and collar stand are all one piece. It's a nice way to ease yourself into shirt making, but it's probably worth the extra effort to have a separate stand. My collar doesn't sit as nicely as I would like.

The pockets are my favorite part! They were kind of a pain to sew up, but I'm so glad I did. They're not very functional, but they're very cute, and you could fit some money and a chapstick in a pinch.

I'm not sure if it's the most figure-flattering thing I've ever made though. When I asked my husband if it made me look especially small-chested and big-hipped, he very matter of factly replied, "It does, but I like that about you." My heart completely melted. I need a gentle reminder now and again that beauty and attractiveness don't need to have such narrow definitions. It's okay to let my hips out of hiding sometimes!

Overall, I'm really happy with the dress. It feels like a real turning point, with more challenging construction and finishing techniques. This is also first time I'm not worried that it's blatantly obvious the dress is handmade. Plus, it goes really well with my pink oxfords, and I am always looking for an excuse to wear them!

And so, on we go to even bigger challenges! I impulsively bought a plaid flannel (it was $4 a yard!) a couple of weeks ago, without really thinking about pattern-matching. This is going to be an adventure.


  1. Love all the details and I love how it looks modern with the slim cut. You have done a great job on this one.

    1. Thank you! I totally agree about the modern look. There are lots of cute 50s style shirt dresses with full skirts, but I really liked the clean lines on this pattern.

  2. I am so delighted to have found you! I just got here from Project Sewn, and not only is this my dream someday-in-the-future dress, we sew the same sizes with the same grading and even (mercy!) the small back! Which I learned about the hard way, when bunching handfuls of my first-ever dress bodice into gathers at the butt. That dress has been nobly retired. Anyway, this is so much fun for me - I was worried about the more tailored fit of this dress but now I know I like it! : )

    1. I have a size twin?! I am equally delighted to find you! I have never been able to understand why the fabric pools so much at the small of my back when my waist isn't particularly small, but it's reassuring to know I'm not the only one. I too considered butt gathers, unconventional darts and all kinds of unique (read: desperate) solutions before I realized I didn't have to take in the side seams evenly. Are you on pattern review or kollabora? I'd love to check out your makes!

    2. Me too! I spend my whole life being more or less medium in every other way and then here comes all this extra back fabric out of nowhere. I'm not on anywhere online for sewing but my fellow get a camera for Christmas, so maybe soon. : ) It snowed yesterday but I'm already thinking sundresses!