A style departure - the Tessuti Lisa dress
I’m not sure what got me thinking I’d like to make the Tessuti Lisa dress. I definitely remember showing my husband my favourite version, this short black number by Claire, and it getting the nod of approval before Christmas. I think maybe I was vaguely considering the Sew Liberated Hinterland dress, then saw Tessuti repost someone else’s and I loved that curved front seam. I also saw a couple of similar styles at Obus and Gorman this summer and despite it not being my usual style I felt like the relaxed fit might make it easy to fit in the bodice.
Anyway it went onto the list and once I found a rather lovely cotton linen blend almost seersucker lightweight fabric from Darn Cheap Fabrics printed in navy, pale blue and pink painterly brush strokes I was sold.
It’s been a while since I made a Tessuti pattern. The impression I get is they are drafted for an older female figure, a bit oversized and factoring in a slightly rounded upper back and lower bust - I’ve always had to raise darts and size down. My current full bust measurement would have placed me at an XL however the size L would give at least a couple of cm of ease so I traced off a medium in shoulders and a large in the rest of the bodice. I use cheap interfacing for tracing, which is easily pinned and even sew, and makes rough tissue fitting pretty easy. It looked promising (with no changes to dart placement - clearly gravity and breastfeeding at play) and I figured the busy print would hide most fitting issues, and chopped right into my fabric. To reduce the volume of the skirt I cut a size S skirt. I have really large hands and felt that the pocket bags were a bit small, so cut them a little longer. (edited to add - forgot that I raised the armscye by about 3cm - way too much bra on show for my liking, tapering to nothing at the front and back).
Tessuti patterns recommend the use of tearaway vilene to stabilise necklines and armscyes instead of stay stitching. I’ve only tried this once, and didn’t like it. Maybe the stuff I used wasn’t the right thing. Anyway I staystitched carefully and all was fine. Before binding the armscyes and neckline a quick fitting revealed I needed to address some back neckline gaping, so I placed two very small darts in the back neckline/shoulder region and all was well. I pretty much high fived myself on avoiding an FBA. I did struggle a little with the binding, as the seam allowances are only 1/4 inch - maybe I'm out of practice!
Due to the business of my print I didn’t bother with some of the top stitching suggested in the pattern (CF and CB seams) and definitely didn’t bother with the slightly cumbersome pocket insertion method. Perhaps it looks nice in a solid fabric but it looked like a whole lotta faff for not much gain. I used the regular method. The other weird instruction was to hem the skirt before attaching it to the bodice.... who knows exactly what length they want their frock before they can try it on?! As it turns out I took around 19cm off the final length, and then hemmed it with a fairly deep hem to bring it just above knee length. The longer length was unnecessarily frumpy - I’m not winsome and willowy enough to pull such a voluminous sack off at that length.
I used my new(ish) Pfaff automatic buttonhole function and my new Clover buttonhole cutter for this dress and for once the buttonholes were a stress free delight to sew and cut. I used one of my Kylie and the Machine labels along the seam allowance of the CB seam. There's plenty of access for feeding the small person without stress.
I’m so very pleased with this dress. It’s lovely to wear on a hot day, and so nice to wear a slightly fitted bodice in a woven fabric. I’d definitely consider making it again in a solid next summer, maybe a black linen-modal....