I went back to John Lewis a few weeks back to buy some of the Hemmingway Designs fabric which I had seen earlier in the year. At £20 a metre it was a bit of an extravagance. But when I got into the fabric department my head was turned by a range of fabrics produced for the John Lewis 150 year anniversary. The designs are all quite retro and by the fabric designer Lucienne Day who worked for John Lewis as a design consultant between 1962 and 1987.
Capped sleeve dress in John Lewis Lucienne Day fabric
Robin and Lucienne Day Foundation
The fabric I chose is ‘Symphony’ originally produced for Cavendish Textiles in 1954. I was thinking that £20 a metre was steep but this was £22. It’s 150cm wide so I bought 1.2mts with a sleeveless dress in mind. The fabric is 100% cotton with a bit more body than a quilting weight cotton.
Lucienne Day fabrics at John Lewis
The pattern I used is a self drafted fitted cap sleeve bodice. The skirt is just one full width of the fabric gathered onto the bodice.
When I came to cut out the pieces I spent ages faffing about. The pattern isn’t symmetrical and it doesn’t quite run in a straight line horizontally. So I just made sure the vertical lines were running correctly. I did have enough fabric to cut the back pieces so that I could pattern match the centre back. It sounds obvious but when doing this you need to match the stitching line and not the edge of the pattern, I’ve messed this up before by forgetting….
if you want to pattern match cut so the pattern matches at the stitching line and NOT the edge of the fabric
…so when the seam is closed with the zipper the pattern should match perfectly
I self lined the bodice bagging it out completely. See the method I used in this post on self lining a bodice.
The bodice only has a waist dart for shaping and I ended up taking much more in than the pattern had allowed. After the sewing the dart and realising I needed to still take quite a bit in I put the bodice on inside out, pinned the back opening and then pinched out and pinned the extra amounts from the darts.
the red tacked line shows how much I needed to take in after a fitting
My original plan was to have side seam pockets. Then I was thinking that with 150cm the skirt wouldn’t be that full so I dropped the pocket idea and decided not to bother with side seams and just have one seam up the back. At the time when I was thinking about this the total of 6cm width of fabric gained from not having seam allowances at the sides was make or break to the fullness of the skirt……..
I tried the dress on before sewing up the back seam and adding the zipper and the lack of pockets stood out. So patch pockets went on. I didn’t have enough scraps to pattern match but I was able to match the vertical lines.
The back opening is an invisible zipper, reasonably successful, I only had to unpick one side once.
I hemmed the skirt of the dress before I added the skirt lining. I measured the length of lining required plus seam allowances for waist and hem. when I attached the skirt lining I pleated it matching the centre front and then stitched to the seam allowance at the waist. To finish the dress I hand stitched the lining down both sides of the zipper and around the waist seam.
The only seams on show were the back seams of the skirt and it’s lining. I neatened them by folding under a tiny bit and stitching.
centre back seam allowances of the skirt and cotton lawn lining
The dress is lined in white cotton lawn which I bought on e-Bay from seller The Remnant Shop. £5.49 per metre, 150cm wide. I was really pleased with the quality of this lawn and would definitely recommend it.
We’re off to London later this week and it will get it’s first wearing on Thursday night.
Oh, and of course the skirt is plenty full enough but I think it was those 6cm that made all the difference…… 🙂