Ways to Save Fabric on the Lonsdale Dress

Hello, Sew-Alongers! Even if you’re not sewing the Lonsdale Dress with us, I wanted to share a few tips and tricks to save fabric on this dress. It uses a lot of fabric! If you’re anything like me, you have fancy taste in fabric but a limited budget. Or, you tend to buy fabric before you know what you’re going to do with it, and have to get creative with cutting layouts in order to make it work! Either way, here are a few ideas to save fabric on this dress or any similar dress pattern!

The trick is to find ways to save fabric that don’t affect the look and feel of the dress. After all, that’s what attracted you to the pattern! If you change it too much, it will look quite different from the original design.

Easy Ways to Save Fabric

These ideas simply involve cutting some of the pattern pieces out of an alternate fabric, no pattern adjustments required!

  • Cut the inside waistband of another fabric. You’ll see that the waistband is double-layered, and only one is visible! While this won’t save you a ton of fabric, it is one way to cut back.
  • Cut the inside bodice back pieces of another fabric. These pieces won’t show, either, so you can cut them out of a similar, less-expensive fabric if you need to save more of the main fabric.
  • Cut the front bodice pieces of another fabric, for a contrast look on the ties! This one I haven’t tried yet. It may look clever and contrast-y, or it may just look like you ran out of fabric. If you try it, let me know, I’d love to see how it looks! This will save the most fabric, and give you the most consistent look if you cut the whole bodice lining out of contrast fabric – saving yourself two bodice fronts and two bodice backs!
  • Shorten the skirt. Depending on how tall you are, this may be the look you wanted anyways! I love the contrast in proportions between the short bodice and longer skirt, but if you’re on the short side, or have fantastic legs, shortening the skirt is definitely an option!

Trickier Ways to Save Fabric

These ideas involve a little more work, perhaps some measuring, pattern adjustments, even math!

  • Piece the waistband. If you run out of fabric just as you get to the waistband, you can piece it together out of smaller sections of fabric! Simply slash the waistband pattern piece, and add seam allowances to both sides of the new opening. I’d suggest slashing at the side-seam notches, instead of at the centre, for a less-obvious piecing job. Sew together these seams and work with this new, pieced waistband just like you would if it was whole.
  • Create a pocket facing, and cut the rest of the pocket out of cotton broadcloth or pocketing fabric. Think of a pair of jeans – there is a pocket facing out of denim, and the rest of the pocket is sewn out of pocketing fabric.
  • Shorten the ties, eliminating the loop detail and sewing them straight to the bodice. If you don’t love the bow-tie at the back, this is an option! However, you won’t be able to re-tie the front knot if you sew down the straps. Something to think about if you’re considering going this route!
  • Cut your fabric open, instead of on the fold. You’ll need a very large cutting area to do this! But if you cut your fabric open, cutting each piece twice on a single layer, you may be able to squeeze the pieces closer together.

I hope this gives you some ideas on how to reduce your fabric consumption! Some of these suggestions will make more sense once you receive the pattern and take a look at the pattern pieces.

If you think of anything to add, please leave us a comment below!

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17 Responses to Ways to Save Fabric on the Lonsdale Dress

  1. Tabatha Tweedie July 18, 2011 at 6:16 am #

    Hi Tasia! I’ve bought crepe back satin for my Lonsdale dress and am wondering if it might be too slippy for the bow to stay tied at the back, so I was wondering about sewing the straps down and eliminating the loop detail like you suggested above. What do you think?

  2. Angela July 18, 2011 at 7:09 am #

    hi Tasia,
    I’m considering a fabric that is a mere 36″ wide. Are there any pattern pieces that won’t fit on that width?

  3. Annabelle July 18, 2011 at 7:12 am #

    My pattern came in the mail this weekend! (Yippie) One question that I have is on the muslin. With the large amount of fabric involved, would you recommend just doing a muslin of the bodice? Also, the finished garment measurements indicate that there is plenty of room in the bust area, I typically like to have a closer fit in the bust area if I am not going to wear a bra. Did you make the bodice more fitted for the dress that you wore without a bra? Or am I thinking too much into it? Thanks!

  4. Caroline July 18, 2011 at 7:45 am #


    I would love to know the answer to this too. There seems to be 3-ish inches of ease in the bodice…. does the tie detail allow some adjustment or does the dress need to be cut a size smaller if intended to be worn without undergarments?

  5. Corinne July 18, 2011 at 9:32 am #

    Some really good ideas for fabric conservation Tasia. This project is going to be filled with great ideas, I can already tell.

  6. Nethwen July 18, 2011 at 10:28 am #

    If you are cutting on a flat piece, pay attention if some of the pieces need to be flipped before cutting the second piece. I know this and I still frequently end up with identical pieces instead of mirror image pieces. Forgetting can be disastrous if you have limited fabric.

  7. Amy July 18, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

    Thanks, Tasia, for getting all these tips and tricks into one post. I’ll keep these in mind as we’re making the dress so that I can save on fabric for my next version.

  8. Tasia July 18, 2011 at 12:38 pm #

    @Tabatha Tweedie: Hi! That’s a very good question, on whether the bow will stay tied on slippery fabric. I’d suggest cutting a strip of your fabric and tying it in a bow, then tugging on the ends to see how easily it will slip. That way you’ll know what you’re up against!
    You could always tie the bow in a knot instead, for extra security. Or knot the straps, then tie the bow. Or go for the sewn-down straps instead. Or, get someone to safety-pin through the straps before tying the bow, so it stays put. I hope this helps you decide!

  9. Tasia July 18, 2011 at 12:42 pm #

    @Angela: I don’t think so! I used narrow fabric and because you’re cutting it on a crosswise fold – folded raw edges together, instead of selvedges together – you can fit wider pieces on the fabric. As long as none of your pieces are wider than 36″ (or 34 or 35, whatever the actual width is) you’re fine!
    One thing I’d suggest is laying out ALL of your pieces before cutting any of them, just to make sure everything fits!

  10. Tasia July 18, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    @Annabelle: Both dresses I made are exactly the same! I can wear either one with or without a bra. I would choose the size that corresponds to your measurements, the extra room is part of the knot. So if you’re a 32″ bust, choose the size 4 with the 32″ body measurements. You can tighten or loosen the knot after the dress is sewn, depending on the fit you want that day.

  11. Tasia July 18, 2011 at 12:44 pm #

    @Caroline: Nope, no need to cut the dress a size smaller! You’re right, the tie detail allows for adjustment.

  12. Tasia July 18, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

    @Nethwen: Very good point! Be sure you’ve cut a Right Front and a Left Front, instead of two Lefts. Thanks for the reminder!

  13. Tasia July 18, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

    @Corinne: Thanks! I like to save fabric myself, or want to use pieces I’ve already bought that may not be the right length for the project.. and I bet I’m not alone so I thought I’d share!

  14. Caroline July 18, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

    @Tasia: Thanks a bunch! I got my pattern today and am looking forward to sewing this dress. Hopefully along with you or shortly after.

  15. Sewing Projects July 18, 2011 at 1:39 pm #

    Your site is beautiful and your dresses are gorgeous!!!

    I found you through Amanda’s Adventures and am so glad I did. I have been sewing for a long time but it looks like I have a lot to learn from you. Good job for making your own sewing patters!! That is amazing.

    I look forward to following your site and dresses. Hopefully you drop by my site as well.

    ~Living Dailies: Joanna

  16. Volute July 19, 2011 at 12:48 am #

    Happy happy, since I got my pattern this weekend! I’m thinking of choosing the option whole bodice lining out of a contrasting fabric from my stash… but I’m not totally sure yet. I’d like to reach a decision by Friday to be ready for the sew-along. I’m looking forward to learn new sewing notions and make at the same time a beautiful dress!

  17. angela regan July 19, 2011 at 2:25 am #

    I have had this pattern for some considerable time and have hesitated to use it as I usually do a FBA. I will be interested to know if you feel that would be necessary.

    Your muslin looks good, can’t wait to see the finished garment.