The McGyver shirt dress: Simplicity Lisette Traveler

Traveler Front

One of my favourite Instagram accounts is that of the American designer behind ‘Poppy von Frohlich‘, who makes beautiful woolen womenswear, ranging from flannel shirts to winter coats. Her pictures really inspired me to finally try my hand at plaid matching, and what better project to start on than a plaid shirt dress?

I’ve been looking out for the perfect shirt dress pattern for some time now – a  design that could be made up into a cosy flannel dress for cooler weather or with more luxurious fabric for a smarter version (like this lovely velvet YSL dress).

Judging from the line drawings on the Simplicity (2246) Lisette Traveler pattern, it looked like it would fit the bill perfectly. It also helps that the pattern has gotten great reviews across a wide range of sewing blogs so there’s a wonderful selection of sewn-up versions to preview online.

Traveler Back Lady Stitcher

Sorry for the wrinkled back view! The only sunny window for taking photos was a few hours after I had put the dress on!

I sourced the brushed cotton from a UK seller on eBay and used it to make the Traveler dress in Version A. This version is supposed to have two lower pockets as well, but I left them off and cut the upper pockets and the plackets on the bias to shake up the plaid pattern. Matching that plaid takes a lot of effort! Hats off to all those people who’ve made several plaid Archers! Despite all my efforts, I didn’t quite match it across the side seams, but I’m happy with how well the front panels, plackets and pockets worked out. I made matching buttons out of one of those ‘self-cover’ button sets.

I have quite narrow shoulders and I think this falls just a little too wide for my shape. It would certainly fit better if I buttoned it right up to the top, but I’m not really comfortable wearing this style like that so I’ll just get on with it being the way it is! I’ll definitely measure the shoulders on the pattern pieces before trying version C, which is the next one I’d like to make from this pattern.

So, the McGyver connection. Well, when I was a child, that show was basically our ‘family viewing’ time. I hadn’t seen it since I was really young and didn’t really remember much about, so when I came across the first episode of it by accident recently, I had to check it out! It turns out that while I didn’t retain any of the storylines or general information about the McGyver character, his wardrobe has had an unconscious influence on me after all these years:

His Shirt

Nice plaid matching, McG.

 

Meet Murphy: the New Look 6000 dress that didn’t want to be made

Murphy

I’ve named this dress Murphy, as in ‘Murphy’s Law’, because everything that could have gone wrong while I was working on it did. I actually think the only part that was smooth-ish sailing was the side pleating, which was the one part I was expecting to be a headache.

I should point out that because this was such as stop-start project for me, I can’t honestly say whether the issues I had were my own fault or because of the pattern, though I’m inclined to think it a combination of the two! It was my first time working with plaid to I really took my time cutting it out. I bought the fabric a while ago specifically to test run patterns –  it came, very cheaply, from a remnant bargain bin (the shop owner actually had no idea how long it had been in there) and I really like its 60s vibe. I was holding out for a while for the ‘right’ fabric for this pattern but in the end thought I might as well use this stuff to test it.

Young Murphy

Originally I had wanted to make the New Look 6000 version you see in the photo on the front of the pattern – complete with collar and cuffed sleeves. After difficulties working with the extremely fraying fabric, inserting the zip (never usually an issue with me, not sure what was going wrong!) and matching the two back panels up while stitching the stretching fabric, I jettisoned the collar and the sleeves. I honestly couldn’t understand how to put the collar on at all and eventually chucked it. Then I dropped the sleeves because, by that point, I just wanted the damn thing finished!

Now that it’s done, I actually quite like it, though there’s a fair bit of neck gape at the back. I’m not sure how to fix that at this stage without totally mucking up the matching pattern across the back so I’m happy to leave it be – I can’t see myself wearing it without a cardigan in winter anyway.

As learning curves go, this was a steep one. I found it a really tough project to finish (most likely down to the combination of this fabric and my skill level), but I actually love the pattern designs so much that I can see myself having another go. I am pretty happy with how the back panels matched up across the zip in the end:

Matching Murphy

Skills learned: Pleating, working with patterned fabric, working with stretchy fabric.

Recommend pattern?: I found the instructions pretty vague for my first time around at some of the techniques, but think I will give it another go as the designs are really lovely (as so many other sewers attest!).