Friday, 8 September 2017

Floral Viscose Lonsdale Maxi Dress

When you can sew it's very tempting to make endless beautiful dresses in gorgeous prints and fabrics. Despite being all for sewing being about the process and the enjoyment you get out of that rather than the end product, over the last couple of years I've had to come to terms with the fact that my wardrobe and day to day life really don't need any more pretty dresses. It's just not what I wear on a regular basis. The old I need more cake but I want to play with frosting dilemma. I do, however, make the most out of ANY excuse to make myself something more extravagant (see for example the dress I made for my stepsister's wedding). Cue my 30th birthday and just the reason I'd been waiting for to make myself something more frivolous. I'm not having a big glamorous party or anything and was actually working up in Newcastle over my actual birthday so an all out show stopper of a ball gown or cocktail frock wasn't exactly the ticket. But I could certainly treat myself to a beautiful summer maxi of the sort I haven't made in a while to celebrate the big three oh. I didn't have any particular plan for the dress pretty much right up until the moment I bought the fabric and started making it!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Yellow Floral Viscose Lonsdale Maxi Dress

The keen eyed among you may spot that this dress has been rather heavily influenced by this stunner made by Miss Make using the By Hand London Kim bodice. I fell in love with the dress and it's effortless, bohemian glamour the second I saw it and have had my eyes peeled for a similar yellow print ever since. I believe Devon's fabric came from Blackbird Fabrics or at least they had the same viscose print stocked for a while. I'd sort of given up on finding anything similar here in the UK when I arrived at the Sewing Weekender at the start of August and spotted Sarah from Like Sew Amazing sporting a gorgeous jumpsuit in a very similar print. In some weird twist of fate I then came across the exact same fabric in my local fabric shop (Lewisham Rolls and Rems) just a few days later! And for less than £5/m! It's a lovely matte viscose challis which has the perfect movement and weight for this style of dress. They also stock a beautiful vibrant orange which was hard to resist as usually when I find a print I like in a viscose there's no stopping me. It's my absolute favourite fabric for dressmaking.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Yellow Floral Viscose Lonsdale Maxi Dress

Now to pick a pattern. I obviously had maxi in my mind after being inspired by Devon's dress and was thinking that I would draft my own fairly straightforward skirt. I did have a moment of hesitation as I'm not sure I've ever had yellow in my wardrobe and wasn't sure I could pull off a full yellow floor length ensemble but I swathed myself in the viscose and decided this particular shade of egg yolk yellow was surprisingly forgiving on my skin tone. So I dove into my stash to find the ideal bodice pattern. I do own the BHL Kim so could have done a flat out copy of Devon's but I wasn't sure it was quite what I wanted. I wanted the snug fit around the waist but perhaps something with a bit more detail going on up top to make the most of the drape of the viscose. I finally hit upon the Sewaholic Lonsdale which I used to make my very first two dresses way back in 2012.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Yellow Floral Viscose Lonsdale Maxi Dress

There's something quite nice about the fact that I am returning to the first dress pattern I ever used to celebrate this milestone birthday too! I do still have both of my original Lonsdale dresses but must admit they haven't been worn a lot; not because of the quality of sewing or fit (boy I must have had a lot more patience back then!) but because I never felt very 'me' in that a-line shape of skirt, which was probably emphasised by my slightly stiff fabric choice. I'm much the same size as I was back then so stuck with the size 6 which I have always felt was a great match for me in Sewaholic patterns. It does fit well but now that I've learnt a bit more about fit and am slightly more particular I would probably take just half an inch off the bodice length if I were to make it again. The Lonsdale is a great pattern for a beginner seamstress as because the bodice ties at the front the fit is very forgiving around the bust.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Yellow Floral Viscose Lonsdale Maxi Dress

I was really lucky that I chose this pattern as one of my first as the instructions are very thorough plus there is an excellent sew-along on the Sewaholic blog so I remember I learnt a huge amount about how to make garments well. I still love the way the bodice is finished being full lined and the only hand sewing involved is slipstitching down the bottom of the waistband. I wouldn't usually insert the zip through both the fashion fabric and lining as one (I would instead insert it into the fashion fabric then turn under the seam allowance on the lining and hand stitch it to the zip tape for a clean finish) but it works for the style of the dress. I finished that back seam on the overlocker so it was nice and tidy.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Yellow Floral Viscose Lonsdale Maxi Dress

Following the sew-along instructions I added stay-tape along the top edge of the bodice to stop it stretching out and gaping away from the body. This is a really important step with a delicate, shifty fabric such as viscose which will easily stretch out along a curved or bias edge. Under-stitching this top edge is also particularly important as that lining will want to roll out and ruin the nice clean lines of that neckline.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Yellow Floral Viscose Lonsdale Maxi Dress

The two things I did differently to the pattern instructions are actually the same as I did on my third version of this dress which I made in 2013 and completely forgot I had made until I went to look back at my posts on the first two! Firstly I changed the regular dress zip to an invisible as I just prefer the look of them and secondly I omitted the loops and tie of the straps at the back and sewed them down instead. This detail is just a bit fussy for me. The straps were actually the one thing I wasn't happy with on my third dress as the width of them at the back looked a bit clunky. This time around I kept the tie width the same but folded it in half when I attached it to the back of the bodice to add a bit of detail and create a more delicate look.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Yellow Floral Viscose Lonsdale Maxi Dress

I also secured the straps differently to how I did before as last time I ended up sewing them down on top of the lining as a bit of an afterthought. Because of the design of the dress you need to tie the knot at the front before you can secure them in place so the bodice has to be pretty much finished. To achieve I clean finish when attaching the lining to the bodice around the neckline I stopped sewing and left a gap where I thought the straps should be (I used the notches for the loops which I wasn't using as a guide). I then did all the under-stitching and stay tape around these gaps. Once the bodice was assembled I then slip the ends of the straps into these slots and stitched them closed. I even put the zip in before I did this so I could wear the bodice properly and get the length spot on.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Yellow Floral Viscose Lonsdale Maxi Dress

The Lonsdale does actually come with pattern pieces to make the skirt a maxi but I still wasn't sold on that a-line shape, even in a softer fabric and thought it might end up feeling far too wide around the hem. I also was a little bit in love with the leg slit in Devon's and felt a straighter style would be the way to go. I'm not usually a fan of a gathered skirt as I don't like too much bulk around the waist but in a viscose as light as this one it works. I ended up making the most straightforward skirt possible. I used the full width of the fabric and cut a piece the length of skirt I wanted plus seam and hem allowance. If you didn't want to put a slit in the skirt you could simply gather up one end of the piece and attach it to your bodice, using the selvedges for the centre back seam. I wanted a split so I worked out how far I wanted that to come around at the body and cut the piece in two at roughly the point where this would be when the skirt was gathered up. I sewed the two pieces back together just from the waist to the top of the slit then turned and stitched those raw seam allowances like you would a hem. Then gathered and attached to the bodice, voila! Using the full width of the fabric in the skirt was a bit of a gamble but I'm really happy with the amount of fabric and fullness in there because the viscose is so light.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Yellow Floral Viscose Lonsdale Maxi Dress

I had bought 3 metres of the fabric to be on the safe side as I wasn't at all sure on the design of my dress when I bought it and probably have enough left to make a top or blouse. The Lonsdale bodice does need a surprising amount of fabric because of those ties but if you are turning them into straps like me it needs a lot less! I self lined my bodice as I had plenty of fabric to do so. The viscose was a little shifty to work with as most are but I used plenty of pins and patience. I wash my viscose on a 30 degree machine cycle and use a cool to medium iron. I tend to use a microtex or size 70 universal needle on something of this weight.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Yellow Floral Viscose Lonsdale Maxi Dress

I never would have thought I could love a yellow dress so much. I put it on to take photos this morning and just wanted to swan about in it all day! I'm willing summer to come back with all my might but might have to resort to booking a beach break somewhere just to get some wear out of it!

28 comments:

  1. Wow! What a gorgeous dress and happy 30th birthday!! This dress looks amazing on you...color, style, print, everything!

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    1. Thank you very much Shirley! I never thought I was a person who could wear yellow but I am loving this!

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  2. I love this so much!! The color is perfect, and so is the design. This definitely must get worn before next summer!

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    1. Thank you Kelly, I'm really delighted with how it has turned out! Someone needs to have a word with the weather as it's definitely not summer dress appropriate in London today

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  3. Ooh it's gorgeous, and looks fantastic with a split! I can imagine this is so comfy for swanning around in on a hot day, and now I am feeling the need for one myself for our upcoming summer. Happy Birthday too!

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    1. I love the split too Sheryll! Makes it feel extra glamorous!
      You're so lucky to be heading into summer, get on that maxi dress sewing pronto!

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  4. Belated happy birthday wishes Fiona! I hope you had a lovely time! Your dress looks absolutely stunning! The fabric looks amazing & works so well as a maxi. The colour is great too. I love the sound of the orange colour way too - did you buy it?!

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    1. Thank you very much Kathryn. I'm really pleased I took the plunge and went for the maxi despite being worried that the print would be too overwhelming. I love it!
      I have managed to resist the orange so far...but they still had it when I went in the other day and I'm thinking it would make a gorgeous Kew Dress from Nina Lee!

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  5. Oooh 30, what a great age to turn! Love the dress, which reminds me that I have this pattern, as yet unmade, sitting on my computer. You're right it does call for a lot of fabric. I might have to try your technique with the sewn in straps. If anyone is trying to source fabric similar to yours Stone Mountain Fabrics (US company) has a rayon challis that looks identical to Devon's for $11 a yard (http://www.stonemountainfabric.com/shop/Fashion-Fabrics--Quilting-Cottons/Rayon/Rayon-Wovens/p/Rayon-Challis-Floral-Print-Mustard-x26868474.htm).

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    1. O thanks so much Charlotte! That's great news for American readers! Can't beat a rayon/viscose challis. Sewing the ties as straps does save on quite a lot of fabric for the bodice. Enjoy sewing it, it's a great pattern!

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  6. Beautiful!!! You defintely need a beach vacay!

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    1. I 100% need a sunshine vacay! For a million reasons but this dress is the main one! Haha
      Thank you very much

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  7. Happy Birthday! I can't believe you are only just turning 30 (not because you look older, but just because I spend my life assuming everyone is roughly the same age as me!). Your dress is beautiful! Love the colour and I love the halter design of this dress. You look amazing!

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    1. Thanks very much Helen! I can't believe I'm turning 30 either but I love being this age!

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  8. Fabulous Fiona, love the colour and the neckline on you. Happy birthday and I hope you had a really good time to wear you dress!

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    1. Thanks very much Mags, I love this neckline and think it is probably my favourite of my Lonsdale's yet. The celebrations are still going!

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  9. It looks stunning! What an incredible dress.

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    1. Thank you very much! I'm in love with it!

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  10. This is stunning! Happy belated birthday as well!

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  11. I loved Miss Make's dress that I bought the pink colorway of her same fabric. I wanted something similar but not exactly as you described. I love, love this dress. I didn't even think of the Lonsdale, but I'm thinking making the maxi Lonsdale dress as well! Thanks for the inspiration! :)

    Happy belated birthday! :)

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    1. Thanks Kathy! It works so well as a maxi I love it! Especially paired with such a beautiful fabric. Have fun making yours!

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  12. This is stunning, I love everything about it. Happy belated Birthday !

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    1. Thank you! I love everything about it too!

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!