As soon as I saw Sewaholic’s Lonsdale dress I knew I had to have it – not for anything to do with the pattern itself but because of the name. Over the past few years Canberra, like Hollywood’s dorky teenage girl taking off her glasses, has had something of a makeover and Lonsdale Street in Braddon has been central to that. It’s full of gorgeous shops and fabulous places to eat and I frequent it, well, frequently. The place is so achingly hipster cool now it even got a write-up in the New York Times! Obviously I had to make this dress, despite being unconvinced the bodice style would actually suit me.
So unconvinced was I that I actually made up a toile of the bodice and waistband to check. I was finding it hard to know what a good fit on this more blowsy bodice should look like and spent a lot of time scrutinising photos of others people have made and blogged. For me, 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. It still gapes a bit if the straps aren’t pulled tight enough but I think generally it’s okay.
The fabric is a linen blend (possibly with cotton – I really should take notes when I buy fabric so I can remember) I found at Spotlight while supposedly buying something else. I used the wrong side of the fabric as the outer because I like the way the not-quite-fully-dyed effect makes it a bit more casual. If a linen sun dress needs to be made more casual.
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, I finished them with French seams 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 pockets are left- and right-sided and you’ve got to match them to the left and right skirt fronts otherwise the whole thing is incredibly perplexing. But it does make sense when it’s correct.
I’m very happy with all the guts of this dress. In fact, these may be my most favourite garment insides so far. The bodice is fully lined (necessary because of the straps) and the seams are all French except for the centre back, where I made my own bias tape and bound the edges beside the zip Hong Kong style. The bodice lining at the waistband and the hem are hand stitched (ugh! but it does look better).
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. I am still not entirely convinced about this bodice style but I think wearing it with a belt to better definite the waist would help. Between the linen and the spots and the bare shoulders, wearing this dress definitely makes me feel like summer is coming.
Now if you’ve made it this far, your reward is the Tina Wheeze Mini Guide to Lonsdale Street. To find:
- coffee head to Lonsdale Street Roasters. I know everyone’s got their favourite coffee joint but you really can’t go past Lonsdale’s first hipster joint, or its spinoff second outlet further down the street.
- breakfast head to Elk and Pea. My staple go-to. Try the smashed avocado and mushrooms or the dolce to eat and the chai to drink.
- drinks head to Bentspoke. They brew their own beers behind the bar (plus a cider and a ginger beer) – what’s not to love? (Well, it’s not technically on Lonsdale St but it’s only about 10m around the corner)
- rugby head to Debacle. During Super Rugby season they put on a free bus to the Brumbies games and at other times they’ll show it on the big screens. Plus they’ve got good beers on tap and excellent pizza.
- greeting cards head to Hive. I know this is a random category, but they really do have excellent cards. Also jewellery.