Knit Lonsdale Sundress; or, whatever, I make what I want

I tend to be a planner. Some of this stems from the fact that I basically plan things for a living, and some from the fact that I have more time to daydream about sewing than I have time to actually sew. So I generally plan out pretty precisely what I’m going to make next. However, I’ve realized that the things I like best and tend to wear more are the things I made on the spur of the moment, right when the inspiration struck. So.

Last month I was planning on entering the PR Mini Wardrobe contest. I like this contest. I had a lot of fun with it when I entered it a couple years ago. I even had an awesome plan for an old school throwback wardrobe based around jean shorts and a bomber jacket, and I went so far as to make the shorts right at the beginning of the month to wear on the 4th of July. But then I didn’t make anything else. For weeks. I dinked around, read like 5 books, went to work, did not sew. I knew what I was going to make but I couldn’t get excited about any of it. And then, with the end of the month in sight and no realistic way I was going to squeeze in four garments including a bomber jacket, I thought, screw it. And I made the dress I actually wanted to make, instead of the things I thought I wanted to make.

knit lonsdale

This is a jersey knit Sewaholic Lonsdale. I’ve been wanting to try the Lonsdale in a knit for a while (knitify all the things!) and wanted to make it in this specific lovely striped bamboo jersey ever since the green colorway arrived on my front porch (upon which I went back to Girl Charlee and ordered it in yellow). The only thing keeping me from making it as soon as the fabric arrived and was washed was my grand plan to make other things. I can be very foolish.

I feel like the Lonsdale is calling out to be made in a knit. It’s got a casual summer vibe that I don’t think plays as easily with a nice woven fabric like a voile; i.e., I think this knit Lonsdale will be appropriate for more occasions than the lawn version I made a few years ago. Case in point: I wore this dress to a friend’s bridal shower and it felt totally appropriate for that event, but so would the woven version. Then after the bridal shower we went out to a pizza joint, and later in the day I wore it to a movie, both places the knit dress felt right for where the woven dress would have felt too fancy. Knit dresses for the win!

I basically didn’t modify the pattern at all for the jersey fabric. I omitted the zipper, obviously, but I kept the back seams in the bodice and skirt for shaping. Rather than the waistband that goes all the way around, though, I cut two waistbands, front and back, constructed the whole front and then back of the dress and sewed the side seams last for fitting, like I usually do for knit dresses. I made the waistband a bit taller than the pattern, but that’s just a personal preference. I also omitted the pockets, sadly, because that style of pocket is hard to make work in a knit. Oh, and I chopped 4 inches off the length (really! why is it so long?).

knit lonsdale back

I self-lined the bodice, and while I didn’t feel that stay tape or elastic was necessary in the front bodice, I did sew clear elastic to the seam allowance along the top of the back bodice for a little extra support. I maintained the loop-and-tie strap design of the pattern, although in the jersey the bow is a bit heavy and floppy. It would probably have been neater to just sew the straps into the back bodice and dispense with the tying, but I like the adjustability that provides to the front.

Size-wise, I suspect you’d want to go down a size from what you would make in a woven. I can’t be sure, though, because the woven version I made sadly doesn’t fit me anymore. I ended up cutting about a size larger than I made last time (just in the waist and hips, though, not the bust), because I thought I might have to go up almost two sizes to get it to fit in a woven again. I also shortened the bodice almost an inch because I remembered thinking the bodice was too long for me in the other version, and it turns out I could have shortened even a little more on the sides. I think this is less to do with the length of my torso (which is very average as far as I can tell) and more to do with the fact that Sewaholic’s patterns are drafted for higher armpits than mine. Putting the top bodice line where I want it under my arms puts the waistband too low, which makes the bodice blouse and wrinkle on the sides. This will likely not be a problem for you if the Renfrew top as drafted doesn’t cut off circulation to your arms the way it does to me.

knit lonsdale 2

Overall I like this dress. Some minor regrets: I wish I had played with the stripes a little, because I feel like this dress could use some chevron action. However, that would have required a lot more fabric and been more wasteful because of the shape of the bodice pieces with those looooong straps. Also, the skirt is an A-line rather than a full 1/2 circle, but I kind of wish I’d gone with a 1/2 circle, which I feel is more flattering on me. But if I’d taken the time to think about and make those changes, it wouldn’t have been the instant gratification project I wanted.

sew more

Which leads me to my new goal (for summer, at least): Plan Less, Sew More. I’ve been letting myself get bogged down in obsessive thinking and planning, at the cost of my mojo. At this point, I’d rather make whatever tickles my fancy than what is required for this or that contest or sewalong. That said, I don’t object when, by happy coincidence, I can have my cake and eat it too. I have almost unknowingly created a dress for Heather B’s Summer Sundress Sewalong. If this isn’t a sundress, I don’t know what is. Which is probably why it makes me so happy, and why it called me to make. it. now. (Even though our version of summer here is overcast with temps in the high 60s… sigh. I know, I know, but I’d trade any of you with regular ol’ 100 degree summer weather right now.)

And then, to further solidify my pledge to not plan anything, at 10pm the night before the bridal shower I decided this dress required a new purse. Something casual but not informal, sort of like the dress. Into my quilting cotton stash I went, pulling out an ancient Echino camera print fat quarter which I decided needed to be a foldover-style clutch/purse. It took me a bit of thinking to make a fold over style work with a directional print, but once I realized I could just turn it on its side the thing came together in about an hour. I used a blue zipper, because why not?

foldover clutch purse

And I lined it in orange, because again, why not?

foldover purse open

And I love it.

It’s basically a big zipper pouch, which there are a bajillion tutorials for online if you’ve never made one. My pieces were about 14 inches tall by 9.5 inches wide (that’s what worked with the fat quarter in the orientation I needed). I added little tabs with D-rings to each side at about 9 inches from the bottom to hold the strap and encourage folding over at that line. For the strap I doubled up a piece of ribbon I had and edgestitched it, attaching a small dog clip at one end so I can convert it from a shoulder strap to a wrist strap. Instant gratification again!

So here’s to sewing what you want, when you want. Now I’m off to stare at my stash and see what else is begging to be made!

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23 comments
  1. sounds good, why plan when it is easier to follow the mood of the day. that’s how I do it and glad someone else does too! very cute dress and perfect for summer.

  2. Katherine said:

    Plan less sew more – those are wise words! I need to adopt this approach. Love the dress, it is perfect for summer.

  3. Love it, both the dress and the new motto! And I’m right there with you, I plan and plan what I want to sew next and what pattern to use for this or that fabric. I research on patternreview.com. I search through online fabric shops looking for perfect fabric for this or that. It’s definitely a problem.

  4. I love your motto and feel the same way! I spend so much time (primarily at work, oops) planning out my next garments, but once I’m at home, I don’t want to make them at all. Right now I’m on a knit top sewing binge, making tons of easy to wear (& make) tops and avoiding anything more complex. Plus, it’s so satisfying to finish something in a few hours!

    Also, I love your knit lonsdale dress – I’ve been eyeing this pattern to make for a wedding in September…and making it in knit sounds so much easier!

  5. misscrayolacreepy said:

    I really really love the Lonsdale in knit. So clever! I need to think about woven patterns I like and how they can be modified to work with knits. You’ve got me thinking…

  6. I never would’ve thought of doing the Lonsdale in a knit, but it totally makes sense the way you explain it! I do feel a little overdressed in woven cotton sundresses, and usually that doesn’t bother me, but it’s hard to argue with the comfort of a knit dress…

    I love this color and the stripes; agree on the chevron, but it’s still lovely the way it is!

  7. Genious. This dress in a knit would be totally awesome! Love your version 🙂

  8. Tiffany said:

    Love the pursue.

    • Tiffany said:

      Purse not pursue.

  9. I’m much the same. in fact, making sewing plans is a sure fire way for me to do something entirely against the plan! I’ve gotta be feeling it at the time, and for it to feel organic 🙂 Love your knit dress, and your post title totally made me laugh 🙂

  10. What a beautiful sundress. Now I need to make a sundress in knit… like now! I’m so with you sew more plan less.

  11. Hey, I love this in a knit! I’m wanting to take some woven patterns and make them knits, but also didn’t know how to size them. Yours fits great!

    • aleah said:

      Once you start knitifying you won’t be able to stop! I usually size down one size from what I’d make in a knit, unless I’m using a ponte/doubleknit, in which case I make the same size as I would in a woven. Or a good trick is to wrap the knit fabric around, say, your bust, pulling snugly, then measure the amount of fabric that took and compare that measurement to the finished garment measurements on the pattern to find the size you’ll need to make.

  12. MsMcCall said:

    LOVE IT! And love the “plan less, sew more” mantra. I have so many things I want to HAVE, but all I seem to want to make are super simple t-shirts. Maybe I should throw a 1/2 circle skirt in there and call it an outfit? I like the amount of fullness you have in your skirt actually. And why haven’t I bought some of that lovely bamboo fabric yet either?

    • aleah said:

      You nailed it – I want to have the things but can’t make them as fast as I want them! I’m trying to make an effort to bridge that gap by actually making less of an effort overall… we’ll see how that works out. It makes less sense when I write it out than it feels in my head.

  13. Nhi said:

    Love the dress. Interesting design and such a pretty color on you. I love knit-a-fy-ing stuff. Life is always better in knits. The purse is super cute, too. Did you score the Echino at superbuzzy?

    • aleah said:

      This Echino fabric is an ancient present from my mom, who probably got it a Fabricworm (in Paso, also awesome). But I did score some other cute Echino prints at superbuzzy (which I will probably get to in about 3 years, judging from this).

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