Frocktober in Australia is more than just an excuse to wear dresses (as if you need an excuse to frock up). Since 2007 it’s also been a month to raise money for ovarian cancer research. I’ve participated in Frocktober twice before (once wearing a different dress every day and once wearing the same frock the entire month) and it’s a cause I enthusiastically support. This year I’m not frocking up for charity, but my friend Liz is.
Instead, this year is a sewing Frocktober for me! I was glad of the TMS competitions because it was the final kick I needed to actually sew up the Lonsdale pattern that’s been sitting in my stash for a while.
As soon as I saw the Lonsdale I knew I had to have it – not for anything to do with the pattern itself but because of the name. There’s a Lonsdale Street in Canberra that’s full of gorgeous shops and fabulous places to eat and I frequent it, well, frequently. Obviously I had to make this dress.
(Yes, ok, the photo at the top is an edited version of this one…)
The fabric is a linen blend from Spotlight. I used the wrong side of the fabric as the outside because I like the way the not-quite-fully-dyed effect makes more casual.
I wasn’t entirely convinced the bodice style would actually suit me (and I’m still not) so I made up a toile of the bodice and waistband to check the fit. There was some unsightly bulging at the underarms which I fixed (more or less) by shaving a sliver off the side seams of both the front and back bodice – starting with about 1.5cm at the top and grading out to nothing about halfway down the bodice seam. It still gapes a bit if the straps aren’t pulled tight enough but I think generally it’s okay.
My favourite part of this pattern is the pockets. Pockets! They’re the bestest! I have become mildly obsessed with pocket finshings of late, to the bemusement of friends and family when I demand to look in their pants, and I applied that here by making the pocket bags with French seams. That is, after having to unpick everything because I’d attached the pockets sideways and to the wrong skirt pieces. Pro tip if you haven’t made a Lonsdale yet: the instructions don’t mention that the pockets are left- and right-sided and you’ve got to match them to the left and right skirt fronts. But it does make sense when it’s correct.
My second favourite thing about this pattern is the back. It’s so cute with the bow (which I realise you probably can’t see because spots have a wonderfully camouflaging effect in photos…) and I like the way the straps can be a bit adjustable.
My standard operating procedure with dress patterns now is to follow their instructions basically up to the zipper insertion and then do the final finishes my own way. In this case I used an invisible zip instead of a lapped one and machine stitched the lining along the zipper tape. I also took a good 10cm off the hem because the skirt length of the pattern was awkward on me.
I’m very happy with all the guts of this dress. The bodice is fully lined, as per the pattern, and the seams are all French except for the centre back, where I made my own bias tape and bound the edges either side of the zip Hong Kong style. The bodice lining at the waistband and the hem are hand stitched (ugh! but it does look better).
Between the linen and the spots and the bare shoulders, wearing this dress definitely makes me feel like summer is coming. I’m looking forward to wearing it more during Frocktober.