Lonsdale Sew-Along #2: Fabric Recommendations

Choosing fabric is one of the most fun parts of sewing! Today, I’ll share my fabric recommendations for the Lonsdale Dress. For this dress, a change in fabric can give it a completely different look! Choose a solid silk for formal occasions, printed cotton for the beach. It’s up to you!

For earlier Sew-Along preparation posts, check out these links:

Here’s what I recommend for sewing the Lonsdale Dress. The two main things to consider are weight and drape. A drapey fabric will give you a softer, flowier, clingier skirt. A crisper fabric will give you more of an A-line silhouette and a more structured dress.

For fabric weight, you want to be able to tie a knot at the front without too much difficulty! Also, consider the fact that the bodice is self-lined. Do you want this fabric doubled-up, or is that too heavy? Fold the fabric over itself at the store to get an idea of what it will be like double-layered.

Cotton lawn and voile.

iphone april 1 2011 333 Crescent Sew Along #2: Choosing Your Fabric

Cotton lawns and voiles are gorgeous, but hard to find. If you find a cotton fabric that you absolutely love, but it’s too sheer, consider underlining the dress! Or, just line the skirt for a little more opaque-ness. I have a fabric that I’m planning to use but it’s rather sheer for a skirt, so I’ll add a layer of lining fabric to the skirt part only.

Linen and linen-blends.

iphone april 1 2011 329 Crescent Sew Along #2: Choosing Your Fabric

Linen is gorgeous for summer!  You’ll end up with a crisper, stiffer version than if you used a drapier fabric, so keep that in mind when planning your project! A cotton-linen blend would be lovely, too. Careful though, it will get wrinkled!

Silk dupioni.

For an evening dress, silk dupioni is gorgeous! The subtle sheen and texture would look beautiful in the knotted bodice detail. Silk is lightweight, so it’s perfect for summer. I love the idea of wearing a silk dupioni Lonsdale dress to a summer wedding!

All photos above taken at Fabricana Richmond, mostly borrowed from this post on Crescent Skirt fabric selection.

Rayon and rayon blends.

This one isn’t listed on the envelope specifically, but it is a lightweight woven fabric! Using rayon will give you a drapier, softer, possibly clingier dress than cotton or linen. I have a rayon planned for the long version, it’s very flowy and soft. You may want to line or underline your dress if you’re using rayon for less cling, and a little more body. Most likely, I’ll be lining the skirt of my rayon dress for a little more coverage, but if your fabric is opaque, you don’t have to!

Here’s what I would avoid:

Stripes and plaids. Like the Crescent Skirt, I’d attempt these at your own risk. For one, you’ll need a lot more fabric, and this dress already uses a lot of yardage! It’s not impossible, if you’re up to the challenge and don’t mind matching plaids or stripes, then by all means give it a try. It might be fun to experiment with the stripe direction on the loops, waistband, and bodice pieces! For beginners, I wouldn’t recommend either of these, although the more adventurous seamstresses might give it a go!

Any questions on fabric selection for the Lonsdale Dress? Do you have your fabric already? I’m excited to see what you pick!

If you’ve posted a photo of your fabric on your blog, leave a link below so we can all check it out!

PS. Want your own Lonsdale Dress pattern? There’s still time to order your pattern for the Sew-Along. Click here to visit the store!

PPS. Still need to pick out your fabric? Save 10% on fabric orders at Sewtropolis, using discount code ‘Lonsdale! Click here for details.

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23 Responses to Lonsdale Sew-Along #2: Fabric Recommendations

  1. Sewing Projects July 26, 2011 at 6:30 am #

    I think I would prefer a “drapey fabric” for the “softer, flowier, clingier skirt” Thanks for the recommendations!

    ~Living Dailies Sewing Publisher: Joanna

  2. Laura July 26, 2011 at 6:45 am #

    I have this amazing photo-print vintage double-knit that I’m going to have to try a version of the Lonsdale in, mostly because it’s a one way print (and I am impudent) and it will look truly amazing even if it won’t be as comfortable, because it’s seventies polyester double-knit! I know the weight will make it look fabulous though, and I figured I’d maybe underline it in tee shirt knit.

  3. CGCouture July 26, 2011 at 8:05 am #

    I seriously need to buy this pattern, so that I can make it in some silk dupioni that our local store has for super cheap…but I also really need that dark purple butterfly fabric you have in the top picture, so pretty! And it’s right up my colorway! :-)

  4. Phoebe July 26, 2011 at 8:06 am #

    I just bought a couple of yards of rayon while in Seattle because I remembered you saying once upon a time that it was one of your favorite fabrics and I’ve never sewn with it. So now I have it and I’m wondering what you recommend to use as lining/underlining (it’s a bit sheer)? I was thinking a cotton voile or batiste. Would that work or do you have another recommendation? Thanks!!

  5. Rachel July 26, 2011 at 10:24 am #

    I am going to be using a rayon challis. Just as soon as my fabric and pattern arrives, I am starting. I can’t wait to see everyone’s dresses.

  6. Julie Rae July 26, 2011 at 10:46 am #

    I have a huge piece of blue and white striped seersucker (similar to this: http://www.fabric.com/apparel-fashion-fabric-stripe-fabric-classic-seersucker-fabric-classic-seersucker-turquoise-white.aspx) that I was hoping to turn into a Lonsdale dress. Now I am a little nervous about the stripes. I think I will still give it a try since the piece was free from my grandma’s stash. It just reminds me so much of the similar J.Crew dresses

  7. Tabatha Tweedie July 26, 2011 at 11:04 am #

    I’m using crepe back satin for my dress as I want to wear it to a wedding in September! I’ve chosen navy because I can accessorize the dress with lots of other colours (my first choice would be red!). If it turns out nicely though I will no doubt make at least one other version, perhaps in a light cotton lawn. It’ll be good to see how everyone else’s turns out.

  8. Caroline July 26, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    Okay … now I’m wondering about my cotton sateen – it’s a shirt-weight fabric so I’m thinking it would work but be more structured. Also it has a touch of lycra I think …

    The dupioni sounds wonderful … I’ve never worked with it though – how would you care for it? can it be washed? off-topic I know, thanks!

  9. Kat July 26, 2011 at 11:20 am #

    I am using a lovely summery white cotton with a green print…i actually show a picture in today’s blog post if anyone wants to take a look :)


  10. Manda July 26, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

    Such pretty fabrics! I am a total beginner and I am looking forward to this quilt along!

    I’ve totally fallen for this fabric even though its probably one of the most expensive ones I could find lol!

    Would this work?
    Thanks for putting this all together!

  11. Tasia July 26, 2011 at 5:10 pm #

    Hello, everyone! Let me jump in and answer some of your questions here…
    @Manda: That would definitely work, that sure is a lovely cotton print! You may want to line or underline it, especially because it’s such a light colour, to avoid sheerness.

    @Caroline: I wouldn’t wash the dupioni if you can avoid it – it starts out lovely and crisp, and if you wash it the fabric gets soft and wimpy. (I once had an awesome dupioni silk skirt, but when I washed it it lost all of its body and became soft and limp.)
    Wash a little piece of the fabric and see if you like how it turns out! Or buy 0.1m extra to test out.

    @Kat: Very pretty!

    @Tabatha Tweedie: Navy sounds like a lovely, classic choice!

    @Julie Rae: You should be OK to use the seersucker – just be aware of which direction the stripes are running when you cut out the pieces! Think of the waistband and loops and other straight pieces, and decide how you want the stripes to go. (Try sketching out different stripe placements for ideas!) The stripes will follow the direction of the grainline on each pattern piece, unless you use a different cutting layout.

    @Rachel: Yay for rayon challis! What a pretty choice.

    @Phoebe: You could use either a voile or batiste, or rayon lining fabrics. (We call it bemberg lining here) Voile or batiste would feel cottony and soft next to your skin, and lining would be slicker and slipperier. Both would work! See what colour options are available, that might help you decide! (Sometimes the batiste colours are limited at my local store, while there are more colours in the rayon lining.)

    @CGCouture: It’s an Alexander Henry cotton lawn print – this one! http://www.ahfabrics.com/products.php?cat_id=1162 buy it here:
    Expensive, but very pretty and wonderful to sew with!

    @Laura: You can totally use a one-way print, it just uses way more fabric! It’s worse with 45″ fabric, 60″ is not so bad. This polyester print sounds fun!

    @Sewing Projects: Great! Glad the suggestions helped, and that you totally ‘get’ my descriptions of flowier and clingier dresses! :)

  12. Tasia July 26, 2011 at 5:10 pm #

    Back tomorrow with my sew-along fabric choice! :)

  13. daiyami July 26, 2011 at 6:40 pm #

    I have yards of embroidered eyelet that might be perfect for this dress—I fear my first time with a pattern is going to have fitting flaws no matter what, so I’d like to avoid a solid that would make those more visible, but most of my prints are one-way and only 3 yards. But I think the eyelet—lightweight cottons, have 7 yards of brown and 4 of turquoise so I could use either one—would be busy enough, and since the pattern calls for lining, might as well use something that needs it.

    I have a striped gauze I think would be great, but don’t want to try stripes my first time with a pattern.

    @Caroline: I pre-wash my silk dupioni and really like it, largely because that means I can wash the made item instead of dry cleaning. I found that it wasn’t as stiff and shiny, yes, but the color was still deep enough and dressy enough to feel formal, at least for me. The dupioni was not that hard to work with, but a bit complicated because all the websites suggested underlining with silk organza because the seams shred. Google turned up a bunch of info on sewing dupioni. I did a demo project (the simple tote from Vogue 8466 used one yard of dupioni) just to get used to sewing it and underlining, which really helped me feel more comfortable.

  14. ms. modiste July 27, 2011 at 1:17 am #

    I picked out a butter yellow linen on sale at Fabricana. My plan is to underline the skirt (not sure yet) as it’s a little too sheer for my liking. I’m hoping that underlining rather than lining will mean that I won’t have problems with the pockets showing through! got so excited to get started on this and then came down with an epic, epic cold that knocked me out cold for more than a week. Still have to get back in the sewing routine!

  15. ms. modiste July 27, 2011 at 1:18 am #

    @Julie Rae: I’m so jealous! that classic blue striped seersucker is EXACTLY the fabric I wanted to use but none of my local fabric stores are carrying it at the moment and I don’t generally buy fabric online. I’m excited to see how yours turns out!

  16. Alexandra July 27, 2011 at 6:14 am #

    A lot of the fabrics that I’ve been looking at are 52″ wide or so… I’m wondering how many yards of fabric I’d need for that….. would it be okay to just add on a half yard are so, or is it going to be more complicated than that?

  17. Shannon July 28, 2011 at 6:31 pm #

    When using cottons, what is the difference between a garment cotton and a quilting cotton? I just made a skirt out of quilting cotton because I really liked the print, but it didn’t hang right at all. Is it necessary to stay away from quilting cottons when making garments? There isn’t much choice at my local fabric store for prints…

  18. Tasia July 29, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

    @Alexandra: Whenever it’s less than 59/60″ – I always buy the 45″ width fabric requirement. If you want to be more exact, the best way is to take your pattern to the fabric store and test laying out the pieces. Hope this helps!

    @Shannon: This is always a debate, whether to use quilting cottons for clothing or not!
    http://www.blogforbettersewing.com/2011/07/quilting-cottons-for-garments-yea-or.html – 186 comments and opinions to check out!
    It’s up to you, if you find a print that you love, go for it! It will hang more stiffly than lighter weight cottons, but you may not mind the look.

  19. Vicki Kate August 5, 2011 at 3:20 am #

    Would it be OK to use a fabric with a bit of stretch for this? The fabric I’m eyeing up is 97% cotton and 3% elastane. Thanks for any advice!

  20. Tasia August 5, 2011 at 9:25 am #

    @Vicki Kate: I think so! Sometimes fabric with stretch is slightly stiffer, and doesn’t drape very well. The spandex makes it stiffer and less soft. That won’t really matter for this dress, you just may have a crisper, more A-line silhouette rather than a soft drapey skirt.
    Grab a big piece and drape it over your legs like it’s a skirt – and see if you like how it looks. I haven’t used a stretch fabric myself for this dress yet, but I wouldn’t be against it if I really like the print or colours!
    Hope this helps!

  21. Amanda November 10, 2011 at 3:43 am #

    Hi there! I know I’m super-late jumping in this conversation – but better late than never! ;)

    I’ve chosen the Lonsdale pattern to make our office Christmas party dress – I think it will be super-elegant and a change of pace from typical formal dresses. I’d like to attempt the long version, and have chosen a dark purple crepe rayon. However, I was looking at your lining recommendations – I think I will line the skirt for a little coverage, but being the beginner I am, I’m a bit scared of drafting my own lining.

    Would you recommend underlining the skirt instead? Would that give me the same results as lining? And if I do go the underlining route – what fabrics do you recommend I use to do that? Do you think I’d get better results with the rayon lining, or do you think it’d be ok for me to use a cotton batiste or the like.

    Thanks Tasia, for creating such a lovely pattern to work with! I plan to reference every step of the sew-along as I go… ;)

    Take care!

    • Tasia November 16, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

      Hi Amanda! Sorry for the slow reply, I hope you still have time to make your dress!

      The Lonsdale dress would be lovely for an office Christmas party dress. Dark purple sounds elegant, you’ll stand out among the black suits and dresses!

      For the skirt, I’d suggest lining it! It’s easier than underlining (no worrying about the pockets) and it will provide that coverage you want. Just fill in the pocket ‘holes’ with the pocket pattern piece, to fill in the cutout and complete the skirt front. Use that to cut your lining fabric!
      Here’s a post that shows how to fill in that front bit:

      Underlining would mean you’d need to sew that layer of fabric to your main fabric, and it’ll get sewn as one from that point forward. Lining will let both layers move freely, which will probably be more comfortable.

      Rayon lining will drape and feel soft and comfortable against the skin. Plus it’s more similar to your main fabric! A cotton might ‘stick’ to nylons or tights, and it might be a bit too crisp for your fabric. However, it might add body and structure to the skirt if that’s what you’re after. Rayon lining would be my choice though!
      I hope this helps!

  22. Juliette June 24, 2013 at 6:08 am #

    Yeah, I know, the sewalong took place 2 years ago…but better late than never, amirite?
    I’m currently sewing a Lonsdale, and even though I haven’t found such fabric and am currently making it in another, I was wondering, for a future version of the dress, if it would look good in an (underlined, of course!) eyelet/broderie anglaise fabric?
    Thanks very much for your answers!