Friday, 6 September 2013

My first Sewaholic Lonsdale

This pattern has been top of the pile for awhile...I chose the fabric from Fabrictales and got excited to do it right away.  Then I watched the sewalong and I got excited about sewing in general but it took some of the thrill out of the dress itself (so much work...)  Now I've realised I really want to do the Minoru before it actually becomes spring and gets too warm to wear!  So this is my first Sewaholics pattern, and hopefully I'll feel ready for the Minoru soon.  (I still don't feel anywhere near ready to make a whole jacket!)

I heeded the warning about this pattern requiring a lot of fabric - quite a difficult project to cut since the bodice pieces are longer than my cutting table...I barely fit everything on my 3 meters of fabric.  Also I spent hours perusing other people's Lonsdales to figure out my size and eventually settled on a size 6 based on the length of the waistband pattern piece.  This may be one of those cases where I could have graded for a better fit - do I have an abnormally thick waist?  I cut an inch off the length to make sure I had enough fabric for the waistband, and I ended up cutting off another two inches before hemming.

Once I sewed all the pieces together I was faced with a width discrepancy.  The waistband was about 3 cm shorter than the bodice, and the skirt was altogether about 2 inches wider than that...I was nervous about it fitting but I was also overwhelmed at trying to get all the pieces neatly lined up and properly in place along the zipper.  A few interesting trials ensued as my boyfriend tried to help me try on the dress full of pins.  Luckily I just barely had enough room to pull everything together at the bodice. 

I do think this is the first time I've actually tried on something nearly complete and had to make the final adjustments myself...the pattern couldn't advise how to make the zipper look pretty at this point!  I might have been wise to just cut out a wider waistband piece.  Others have commented that the interfacing shrinks the fabric and I guess that's what happened to me.  Since I noticed it right away I certainly could have made a new, longer waistband. 

Overall I'm pretty satisfied with the fit.  I am not sure whether I should have shortened the bodice slightly.  I'm really short waisted but I haven't done any bodice shortening on my patterns yet.  The skirt was big enough that I just hacked out about 2 inches in the midback to make it line up with the bodice, then I hand stitched about 1 mm of the waistband over so I would have a neat zipperline, and with those modifications everything lined up, more or less.  It's definitely not the most perfect of zipper installations. I also attempted to sew down one side of the zip, across, and back up.  As anticipated the result of that was that my back isn't quite even...if I were doing the bow across the back it would be hidden.

I also didn't understand that you're supposed to sew the dress to only one waistband, and then tuck the inner waistband in to hand sew it.  (I would totally have sewn in the ditch!  I love doing that!)  I sewed all the layers together and when I realised what I should have done I used my shears on the loose end.  It's still the neatest finish I've ever done!  I also really like how the double bodice gives this dress some structure.  Most of my hand sewn dresses have so far felt too flimsy.  I put a lot of effort into finishing this dress.  For some reason I put hem tape on all the seams (I didn't read that part of the sewalong closely enough and realise I could just fold them over for an equally nice finish, shown here.)  So now I'm a hem tape expert.  I can comment that putting hem tape on seams is stupid if you have also cut your seams down from 5/8" because at least I found that I had a very uneven edge to work with and the hem tape didn't always behave too well.  Anyway now I have a very thoroughly finished skirt : )

For the hem I just sewed hem tape along the edge and then folded it up and sewed a normal machine hem, fitting in wrinkles as necessary to make it work.  I have spent a few evenings hand sewing facings down in my previous projects but I'm still not ready to consider hand sewing a big hem.

I also planned ahead to make normal shoulder straps instead of the bow.  I left openings in my bodice and adjusted the straps to fit, then inserted them in and sewed them down.  I just sewed a fancy triangle to hold them down, no hand sewing here either, but this made me sure they would hold.  Of course it was hard to snip off 2 feet of my beautiful straps!  If I did this pattern again this way I could save fabric by cutting the bodice straps quite a bit shorter - if you aren't threading through loops and tying a bow, you don't need nearly as much length.

This dress is so comfortable once it's on!  That is something you don't know ahead of time, but it definitely makes me keen to repeat this pattern.

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