Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Lisette Continental Dress

You might want to take a seat - I actually made a wearable item!

Summer appears to have arrived in the UK, having pretty much skipped Spring altogether.  Forecasts suggests it will last about a fortnight, I'd like to make the most of it! 

So I needed a quick make that would be comfortable in the heat - I appreciate it's probably not that hot but there's been no gradual build up.  You've seen photos of me, do I look like I cope well in the heat?  I love it mind you, I just need to be comfortable and eat lots of ice creams.  Actually, eating a lot of ice cream isn't seasonal for me - that and cheese and I have my perfect diet!

Anyway, sewing ... I've had this pattern for ages and thought that the dress looked perfect for my needs.

continental blouse, skirt & dress sewing pattern

And here it is, modelled by Doris ...

You can see I couldn't match the pattern eactly at the side seams,
no matter how I tried, but the hem is 'matchy'
So here's my overview
Does my version look like the pattern?

What skills did I need?
This dress is easy, just a front and back and basically bias binding to finish.  There aren't even any darts.  Despite that I think it looks good on, the gathering at the front of the neckline gives it shape.  You can definitely make more effort if you want to, so this is a good base to practice French seams, make facings instead or line it completely.

Was the fabric recommendation correct?
Probably about right.

I had 2.5 metres of fabric to start with, I have at least 0.5 of a metre left - enough for a Sorbetto I think!  The pattern called for 2.5 yards of 45" wide fabric (about 2.2 metres) so I used a little less but it would depend on the size you cut and the pattern on the fabric. 

How was the sizing?
Big!  Boy do they include generous ease - and remember I was after a cool, loose dress.

I have no shame, I'm prepared to share my size/shape with the world! 

Bust - 34" (small back, E-F cup); Waist - 28"; Hips - 36" - oh and I'm petite, that throws stuff out completely.  So, according to the pattern envelope I should be a UK 12, grade out to a UK 14 at the waist and back in to a UK 12 for the hips.  In the UK I wear a size 8 or 10 RTW.

The ease looked generous so I decided to take a risk and trace the pattern for a size 10 (get me, tracing like a sensible person!) .  According to the pattern this would make it fit for a size 32.5"; 25"; 34.5".  It was still too big - bonkers!

So I took it up at the shoulders and in under the arms (graduating it in down the side seams).  I've now retraced my pattern pieces as Size 8 and it's about perfect (but still loose).

How long did it take to make? 
Not entirely sure, I worked at it on and off on Sunday - and faffed around with the pattern and fit etc.  Also, I'm pretty sure I'm a slow sewer, or certainly slow at cutting, pinning etc.  However, I reckon the actual sewing could easily be done in an hour or so when I make another.

Does it pass all the 'wearability' tests?
Certainly does, gold standard.  The dress is super cool and comfortable in the heat.  The scoop neckline is flattering but if you bend over to get something from the bottom shelf in the supermarket you don't flash your chest at everyone!  Oh, and the shape of the skirt seems to be modest too, even though it hits just above my knee I'm not flashing next week's washing at everyone if I'm weeding or trying to reach stuff in the shops.  I'm sure everybody will be relieved to hear that!

Did I learn anything from the process?
Not really, because it's very simple to make.  However, there's nothing wrong with that!

Total cost?
The fabric is lovely quality cotton that I bought in the John Lewis sale in February last year - just when I started making myself clothes.  I actually used a remnant in a different colour (black background) to make a Sorbetto and it's so lovely (washes and presses like a dream and doesn't get wrinkled) that I bought the red too.  It was £8 a metre in the sale (50% reduction) so £16 for the dress.  Plus thread I had already - that's it.

I was given the pattern so that's £0.00.

Will I make it again?

Absolutely, in fact I already have the fabric picked out and pre-washed, a lovely 2m piece I picked up for a song when we were in Tokyo, now I know I'll get a dress out of that quantity of fabric I'm raring to go.

My daughter has also asked me to make one for her friend - she's in the early stages of pregnancy with twins and is (a) suffering with the heat and (b) very nauseous and can't bear tight clothes.  We have the fabric already, so a stashbuster - very quirky but perfect for the recipient.  I'll share when it's made.

I just have my fingers crossed the good weather will last long enough for me to finish another version!



  1. Very Nice Dress Jacq, ANd Great Stash Bust Too! ;)

    1. Thank you, it's a deceptively good pattern :)

  2. That looks so nice! I made this dress about a year and a half ago, before I knew about the enormous amounts of ease in the Big 4 patterns. I'm about your size and I traced what I thought was the right size based on the envelope and it was enormous! Your dress is making me consider giving it another go!

    1. Thanks. It's my waist (or lack of one!) that means I can't generally cut one size but because of the shape of this dress it's very accommodating. It's madness though that I've ended up cutting a size that's so much smaller it shouldn't really fit at all!

  3. looks great. I feel that the ease is utterly annoying, especially since I am just learning. Nowadays I tend to go by finished dimensions when they've got them.

    Having said that when I look at Indi patterns I have similar problems, because they sometimes use a different seam allowance and they have different ease again.

    1. It is tricky and I don't always want to make a muslin. Nor do they always include info about finished size. I guess I should measure the pattern pieces :)

  4. Yes, I'm not quite sure how the Big 4 work out garment ease either - but I do know that if you assume a lot of ease, then you'll be caught out, and the thing won't fit!

    The dress is lovely, great review, and I can't wait to see what you make for your friend - that's really lovely of you:)

    1. You're absolutely right, never assume! I'm thinking I need to pick patterns I'm happy to make more than once so I can figure out the issues on the first go and then make a couple of easy pieces!

  5. I bet this looks great on you. It's perfect for the ridiculously hot weather we're having! You're so right about there being no build up to it - cold one day then too hot the next! We shouldn't complain I suppose.

    1. I'm trying to make the most of it but it's the extreme difference that caught me out - I was wearing tights and a cardi 10 days ago! Anyway, I do like the dress on (although red isn't technically my colour) - the straps are good and wide, I can wear a proper bra, I don't find strapless ones comfortable. I think it would be great for holiday to throw over a swimsuit to go to lunch. Can you tell I'm yearning for a break?!

  6. Cute dress. I really like the fabric. Red is a great color. Little dresses like this one are great for wearing in the summer heat.

    1. Thank you Lucy. The fabric for my second one is a slightly different drape, it'll be interting to see what difference that makes :)

  7. This looks like a perfect summer frock!

    1. Oh my Nainy always said frock, I love that word. Do you think it means something different to dress? I'm off to search ...!

  8. This is GORGEOUS! Just from looking at the pattern envelope I would not have seen the potential, but I love it - the pleated neckline & tie waist make it have lots of movement. Your fabric choice is lovely as well.

    1. Thank you Winnie, I finished my second one yesterday morning so that I could wear it! I probably need to make something different now - I do have a tendency to make the same pattern over and over!


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment :)