Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Lonsdale Construction Notes

Again, more for me than for you!  But maybe these notes will come in handy for someone - you never know!

I did indeed finish my dress today, but it took a lot longer than I thought it would, mostly because I decided to do a fair bit of handwork.  But as I mentioned yesterday, my Lonsdale adventure started over the weekend when I made my muslins.

I almost didn't make a muslin at all - Sewaholic's body measurements for size 6 match mine exactly, so my first tendancy was to just make up a size 6 in that Maasai Mara fabric I've been talking about (I'll show it to you soon!).  But I love the fabric so much I decided I'd better play it safe.  And wouldn't you know:  the size 6 was a bit large overall!  Whew - bullet dodged!  But not before I spent a fair bit of time pinning here and there, trying to make the size 6 work, LOL!

So on Sunday I started over with a size 4, and the fit there was much more to my liking.  I'd noticed the need for a swayback adjustment on the first muslin and was hoping that going down a size would eliminate that, but no.  So I went ahead and did the darn thing - a first for me!  Rather proud of myself actually . . .

During all this muslin-making, I started thinking it might not be a bad idea to make a test run of the dress first in a non-precious fabric.  My reasoning here was twofold:  of course I didn't want to ruin my cool Maasai Mara fabric, but I also had some doubts as to how well quilting cotton would work for this dress given that the bodice and straps are self-lined.  Then I remembered a piece of cotton lawn I'd purchased about a month ago and decided it would make a great Lonsdale:


When I started cutting out my fabric for the dress, I realized it was much more sheer than I'd originally thought, so I decided to underline the whole dress.  EXCEPT the straps - I wanted those to remain as fluid as possible.  In the top picture from yesterday's post, you can see that I extended the underlining up onto the straps only about 2", so there's a little structure where the knot is but the rest of the strap is very soft.

Because I changed my plan mid-stream, I had to run to the fabric store yesterday to pick up more batiste for underlining the skirt and the right color zipper.  I've really become a convert to underlining, so I bought 5 yards, which I washed when I got home.  And that meant that before doing anything this morning, I had to iron all five yards . . .   And then cut out the skirt and pocket pieces and baste them to the fabric pieces.

Instead of following the instructions from the pattern envelope, I followed the instructions in Tasia's Lonsdale Sew-along.  This is a very easy dress to construct and most of the information was not new to me, but I did learn about using stay tape on the top edge of the bodice to keep it from stretching - a really great trick!  The posts in Tasia's sew-along are so thorough that I think even a novice sewer could follow along and make this dress.

Before I decided to underline the dress, I'd thought I'd do a turn-and-stitch seam finish instead of serging, just for something different.  But once I had a couple layers of fabric I felt it would just be too bulky, so I went with serged seam finishes again.  I also wanted to keep as much of the length as possible on the skirt, so I serged along the bottom edge then folded it back just a little and worked a hand catch-stitch for the hem.


For some reason this fabric has a '70s vibe to me, so I thought a longer skirt would be fitting!

And finally, I did something I've been wanting to try out for a while:  a hand-picked zipper!  I really enjoyed doing this and think I'll be using the technique again in the future.  I've always preferred the look of invisible zippers, and they are the easiest to install I think.  But I've been so intrigued by the hand-picked zippers I see around the interwebs, so I'm really glad I gave it a try!


A couple other details:  it took me a while to figure out that if I was underlining the skirt, I also needed to underline the pocket piece!  I'm really happy with how the pockets came out - understitching used to be my nemesis, but I'm getting better and better at it.  And I stitched the inner waistband down by hand rather than do a stitch-in-the-ditch.  Somehow, having a fair amount of hand-stitching on a garment makes me feel like it's more special.


And here are a couple shots of the dress.  I realized once it was done that I couldn't hang it on a hanger to take a picture, so I laid it out flat on the bed.  Needless to say, I'm not ten feet tall, so I couldn't get the whole thing in the frame at once!  I will NOT be adding hanger loops - those things drive me batty!  I always cut them out of RTW dresses.  I'll have to figure out a good way to store this dress.




Now my only problem is that I can't actually put this dress on by myself to take pictures!  Well, I can put it on but I can't tie the ties in the back.  So I'll have to wait til Hubby is around to dress me, LOL!  I'm hoping to be a little analytical when I wear it, to really take note of the weight and drape of this fabric before deciding whether or not to make another with the quilting cotton.

Meanwhile, if you've made this dress, did you use quilting cotton?  And if so, was it fluid enough?  I'm worried about the bow tie being too stiff and creating a huge lump in the middle of the back that would make it very uncomfortable to sit back against anything!

24 comments:

  1. Very pretty fabric! I'm so glad you mentioned the sewalong posts. It's always nice for me to have 'backup' since I haven't been sewing all that long. I love that you included the detail shots and construction notes. Sometimes my husband has to dress me too - he's pretty good at bow tying.

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    1. I tried to include as many detail shots as possible, but this fabric is so busy, your eyes kind of don't know where to look, LOL!

      Tasia really does some great sew-alongs - well worth a look!

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  2. I'm so envious of your dresses. They are terrific.

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  3. Your dress looks great! Can't wait to see the fit after all the mulin-ing!

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  4. The fabric is so pretty! I'm going to google "hand picked zipper" because I have no idea what it is :)

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    1. Hehehe - I guess it's more invisible than I thought then in the picture!

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  5. The fabric is glorious. You've worked so hard on this dress, looking forward to seeing it modelled :)
    Oh, my OH ties a mean bow too. I'll let him know he's part of a wider support network of home sewers!

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    1. Love that: support network of home sewers! My hubby will love that too!

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  6. I found out what a hand picked zipper is and I LOVE it! I love hand sewing so I'm definitely going to try this. Thanks for writing about it.

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    1. Isn't it cool? I don't know what took me so long, because I love hand sewing too, and this was so easy! And it took about the same amount of time as doing it on the machine!

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  7. I can't wait to see this on you. The fabric is gorgeous, it looks just your colours.

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    1. It is my colors! Now I have to decide what color sandals to wear with it: orange, camel, turquoise or burnt red - because I have them all, LOL!

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  8. It's really lovely, just to to see you modelling it now! I need to get WAY better with my hand sewing before attempting a hand picked zip - at the moment, my "skills" leave an awful mess! The fabric you've chosen is gorgeously retro - quilting cotton definitely works for garments!

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    1. Thank you Sabs! My only qualms about using quilting cotton in this dress is the straps - I think everything else would be fine. But if I don't use it on this one, I'm going to use it for another Hazel! That pattern works really well with a heavier fabric.

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  9. Beautiful !! But I wanna see it on ;)) personally I love quilting cotton especially for dresses. That fabric is gorgeous !! I like that you have I included construction notes as then not only can you refer to them, but we can too !! Xx

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    1. Thanks! I've learned that I need to do this. I tend to think: "Oh, I'll remember what I did and how I did it." But then I don't, and I have to re-invent the wheel! So I've started keeping these online notes in case they might help someone else too!

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  10. loving the fabric for this dress! i've hand-picked zippers twice: the first was a zip re-do of a failed lapped zipper, and i was disappointed how easily the threads disappeared into the fabric... i wanted to see the stitches! the other time was for my sister's wedding dress last year. for that i picked up a small bead with each stitch, and i just adored that little detail. oh and whenever i need hangar loops i sew them into the waist seam. they end up being fairly long, but way less bothersome since they hang down into the skirt when you're wearing the dress.

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    1. Those are both excellent ideas! I'll keep them in mind! Might have to do that long hanger loop thing - right now it's just laying on the guest bed!

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  11. Hi Gail, So much of this post resonates!!
    This was the first project I did after an apron (that my mom half sewed). I'm not sure if I could have done the lonsdale solely on my own at that point, but with the sewalong I definitely required a lot less help from my mom than with the apron!
    And I loooove underlining and hand-picked zippers, they both make life a lot easier (hiding hand stitches and control of zipper placement, respectively). I also would like to try using beads on a special garment some time.
    I hang mine by folding at the waist over the hanger, works fine.
    Hm, what else -- I used a quilting cotton and I think it works great with the bow design -- I think it would be poofy in any fabric so I think if it is going to stand out it might as well have a good bow shape. Buuuuuut, not being able to tie it on my own and it looking lumpy under a layer means I don't wear it much. would love to make another with flat straps.

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    1. Thanks for all that feedback! I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I still haven't tried the thing on, so I have no idea whether the fit changes I made were correct, or how the bow looks when tied! But I totally agree that this is a dress you can't really wear under a sweater or jacket unless you do away with the bow. But for me, the bow is one of the coolest design features! So I have a feeling mine might not get worn a lot either.

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  12. This is very lovely! I love all the little details you added, like the hand picked zipper, looks so pro!

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    1. Thank you, Jill! I love the zipper too - I'll definitely be using that technique in the future!

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