The Wonderful Woven Washi Dress

High quality fabric and quality finishes truly make the garment!

When Phee Fabrics started stocking Art Gallery Fabrics in 100% premium cotton OEKO-TEX certified fabric, I knew it was time to search for a new pattern.  I have a couple of woven dress patterns that I like, (blogged here and here) but they are quite similar, and I wanted something with a little more detail to showcase the pretty fabric.

One of my sewing friends who also likes dresses, suggested a few pattern companies to me.  She forewarned me that the patterns were not inexpensive, but felt that they were worth the money.  I scrolled through a few companies, and kept coming back to the Made By Rae Washi Dress.  The simple pleats, neck detail, and of course- pockets, spoke to me.

Whenever I get a new pattern (especially for wovens), I like to compare it to a pattern that I know fits me well, to see how similar or different the fit is.  Since wovens don’t have any give, making sure that you’ve got a good fit is very important!  Right away I could tell that this pattern was drafted for a much smaller cup size, so I knew I was going to have to do some work to get a perfect fit.  I traced the bodice and taped the dart together, and held it against my body to see how far off the fit was.  The dart ended up a couple of inches above my bust apex, and the bodice didn’t cover the bottom of my bust.  Sigh!

Washi bust

Since this is kind of a common issue for me with woven patterns, it wasn’t exactly unexpected.  I needed some length between the armscye and the dart, so the simple fix was slashing the bodice front and adding in a 1.5″ wide strip of waxed paper.  I also added 1.5″ length to the pattern back.

Washi pattern adj

I cut out a bodice front and the upper back of the pattern in some cheap fabric and basted it together to check my fit.  I decided another half inch added to the front at the shoulder seam would give me that extra little bit I needed, and cut into my good fabric.  I took some time with my pattern layout, because every sewist knows that if you’re working with a floral fabric, it’s nearly impossible to avoid having flowers on your bust.  And I wanted an intentional placement versus an awkward one! 🙂

The pattern tutorial suggests using interfacing on the front around the U-notch to help keep the corners laying smoothly.  Tracing around the stitch line gave me the perfect shape to iron on to the bodice front.

Washi interfacing

It also calls for facings at the front and back neckline, and bias trim along the armscyes. But a finished bodice lining is just so much nicer, and would also make it easy to stich a couple of lines 1/2″ apart across the back to make a casing for my elastic.  To make a bodice lining, cut another bodice front, and cut a bodice back by folding the pattern back 1/2″ below the bottom shirring line marking.  Sew the front and back linings together at the shoulder seams.  Sew the bodice front and dress back pieces together at the shoulder seams.  Place the lining over the dress, right sides together, and stitch around the neckline.  Clip the curves, turn right side out and press.

Then you will need to “burrito roll” the bodice to sew the armscyes.  If you’ve never done the “burrito roll” method, it’s almost magical how it works!  Basically you are rolling the garment up from one side, then flipping the opposite sides over and around (enclosing the rolled portion in the shoulder strap area) and stitching the armscye, then pulling it through.  There are plenty of video tutorials online if you are a visual learner.  Again you will clip the curves, turn the bodice right side out and press carefully.  Stitch the side seams and press.  Turn the bottom edge of the lining under 1/4″ and press.

You’re supposed to do 5 or 6 lines of shirring along the back, to give a nice fitted look.  Since shirring didn’t really sound fun, and wasn’t the look I was going for, I opted to use elastic in a casing.  Keeping your fabric smooth, stitch the bodice back lining to the dress back along the bottom two marked shirring lines.  This will give you the casing for the back elastic. To determine the proper length of elastic, measure your body around the bottom of the bodice.  Divide the measurement in two, and use 3/8″ wide cotton swimwear elastic, marked at that length.  Thread the elastic through, stitching it in place at both ends.  Then stitch the bodice front lining in place by stitching in the ditch along the front seam line.

The interior back bodice:

Washi int backThe interior front bodice:

Washi int front

Can you see why lining the bodice is worth the effort?  There is just something so satisfying about a garment that is as nicely finished on the inside as it is on the outside!  You can always feel proud about making a quality garment that will last!

Washi frontWashi back

I love my new dress!  And it has pockets!  It’s cool and comfortable, and can be layered under a jacket or cardigan for year round use.

Washi pocketsWashi down

Using a blind hem stitch on my sewing machine was the only way to do the hem.  It’s a nice deep hem, folded under an inch, zigzagged and pressed, then folded under another two inches.  It reminds me of the type of sewing my beloved grandmother used to do. ❤  High quality fabrics, quality finishes, and a nice deep hem.

Now that I’ve got my pattern perfected, I need to decide on some more Art Gallery Fabric so that I can make another dress!

 

This post may contain affiliate links.  This means that at no extra cost to you, I may receive a small commission/credit if you purchase through my link.  As always, I only give my honest opinion.  After all, it is my blog, which represents me! 🙂  Thank you for reading and sharing my love of sewing, patterns, fabric, and pattern hacking. ❤

 

 

The V&A Mary Quant Style Minidress

I’ve never had the opportunity to visit the Victoria & Albert Museum, as I’ve never been to England.  A visit to any museum of art and design sounds fabulous!  I spent hours and hours wandering through the Chicago Art Institute about 10 years ago and would gladly visit again.  Being able to stand mere feet from priceless Monet’s and other treasures is fascinating.

A post on one of the Facebook sewing groups I belong to noted that as part of a Mary Quant exhibit at the V&A, there was a free Mary Quant Style Minidress pattern and tutorial available, designed by Alice & Co Patterns.  A-line dresses are a generally flattering look, so I thought I would give it a try.  The pattern includes plenty of options, so you can personalize it to suit you.  A keyhole neckline or zip front; a rounded or pointed collar, or necktie; curved or angled pockets; and sleeveless, or fluted or gathered sleeves.

It’s warm pretty much year round where I live, so I went with sleeveless, and adapted the front to be a slight V, rather than zip.  The angled pockets are a unique look, and more than large enough to hold my phone.  Taking care to line up the stripes on the pocket pieces with the stripes on the dress paid off.  The pockets are nearly invisible!

VAMQ pocket

My measurements fell between two sizes, so I printed the larger size, knowing that I could take it in as needed.  I definitely should have gone with the smaller size.  Even using extra large seam allowances wasn’t enough to make it fit.  Putting the dress on inside out and pinning and sewing the excess fabric gave me a much better fit.  And tracing the change onto the pattern gave me a reference for next time.  Since I have long arms, lowering the pocket placement 2″ worked out best for ease of use.

VAMQ pattern

I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t need to lower the bust dart.  I was unsurprised that I had to make the same shoulder adjustments as I did when using The Tunic Bible pattern.  Namely, narrowing the shoulders in the front and changing the angle from the top of the shoulders slightly in the back.  Using a smaller size would have helped, but I still think I would have needed to adjust.

The pattern includes an all-in-one neck and armhole facing when making the sleeveless version.  It gives a clean finish, and you get to practice your burrito roll.  Since the fabric I used frayed terribly, I was glad that I had taken such large seam allowances.  It meant that I could trim off the frayed edges, and wrap them in bias tape.  This gave me a clean finish, and kept the fabric from fraying further.  A wider bias tape probably would have been easier, but I just used what I had on hand.

VAMQ frayedVAMQ biasVAMQ bias wrap

The fabric is an unknown blend, probably some combination of polyester and cotton, that my Mom gave me when she was clearing out her house.  It was quite old, since the tag that had been stapled to the selvage was from a store that hasn’t been around in 30 years! 🙂  The fabric is rather stiff, and had probably been purchased to make curtains, rather than a dress.  Whatever!  It was on hand and it worked.  And I think it suits the style of the dress just fine!

VAMQ back

It’s a fun dress pattern, and will give you a chance to use up some of the woven fabric in your stash.  Happy sewing!