Thursday, 9 May 2013

Turquoise Washi dress

I've had a bit of an emotional roller coaster with this one. I've been obsessed with the pattern since day one, after seeing Rae's original. I finally dropped enough hints for my brother in law to get it for my birthday and then found the perfect fabric for it. It's a mystery fabric from the very random International Stock in Kings Heath which sells all manner of everyday goods and chavvy clothes but they have odds and ends of fabric too. Most of the time it's too gaudy to even bother with but I saw this in turquoise and brown a few months ago at £1.50 a metre and snapped them both up. No idea what it is, it's really soft and drapey and must have polyester in it as it doesn't crunch or crease. It's gorgeous and I only wish I'd bought more!

The only thing was that the fabric was a bit too sheer to wear on its own and I didn't have quite enough to self line. Looking through my stash, I found some similar material in a bluey-grey colour that mum gave me a while ago. I didn't know how to line this dress though, as it has shirring in the back - do I shirr both layers separately, do I not shirr the lining at all? Rae has tutorials for a partial bodice lining but I knew I couldn't do that - you'd still be able to see the rest of me through the dress in direct light! I did a bit of research and came across Adrienne's lovely version. She underlined hers - what a genius idea! - so I emailed her for some tips and she was very obliging!

So, I traced and cut out the pattern pieces (size XS), then the fabric, paying no heed to anything much at all. I'd looked at loads of other Washis out in blogland and knew that some people had minor fitting issues. But for some reason, that went out of my head while I sewed.

Just like Adrienne, I sewed the bodice and lining together at the neckline, right sides together, then flipped the whole thing right side out. I tacked the two layers together and treated it as one. The dress was fairly easy to sew and came together quickly. Shirring is completely new to me and I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it. My test piece through both layers was perfect, but when I came to shirr the actual dress, the elastic and fabric kept getting stuck in the machine. No idea why. Luckily it didn't rip the fabric but it wasn't looking very gathered. I read somewhere that if you steam the shirring, it gathers up more - and it's true! Tip of the year if you are into shirred garments!

I wish I'd done French seams but I stupidly forgot about them so I've finished all my seams with bias binding, including the pocket bags and hem. The best thing by far about the Washi is the sleeves. Lovely little cap sleeves that look really cute with a great method of hiding the raw edges, again using bias binding.

Anyway, for some reason I didn't really try on the dress much during the construction. When I finally did, there was only one thing I could see: I looked preggers! Combination of empire line and pleats. Hmm, isn't that exactly the same problem I'd seen with loads of other Washis and ignored? Damn. I took the sides in as much as I could but still I looked a few months pregnant. Cue sad emails to Adrienne telling her I'd probably relegate the dress to the cupboard until such time as I needed maternity wear....

But on Bank Holiday Monday, it was a gorgeously hot, sunny day and Mr Sabs and I were off out to visit Baddesley Clinton garden. A turquoise dress with cap sleeves seemed to be the order of the day. With a better fitting bra, make up and actual shoes (not slippers inside the house), the Washi was transformed! No longer did it look like maternity wear (well, only from certain angles). Nope, that day it looked like a summer dress. Really comfy to wear, perfect for a day out to a garden and it shines in the sun!

I've had a bit of a love-hate-disappointment-love again relationship with this Washi. After all that, I've decided I do like it and I think I will make it again. But next time, I'll lengthen the bodice by a couple of inches so it sits on or just above my natural waistline and I'll make the skirt less full.

I have to say a huge fat (turquoise) Thank You! to Adrienne for all her encouragement and help along the way. Again, she's a shining example of how brilliant the online sewing community is and how much I love being part of it. Go and check out her blog stitching on the edge, it's fab!


  1. l'Atelier de Flossy9 May 2013 at 21:43

    Well I think it looks really good and well worth all the trouble you went too. I must admit i do think the color of your fabric is just gorgeous.

  2. I love the bodice and the colour is fab! If you are worried about the drape of the skirt mayhaps you could work some rad pleats to give it more structure? The inside finish looks divine!

  3. I'm glad I could help - and that I didn't ruin your project with misguided advice or anything. :) I wish we could all meet in real life but it's nice to connect through blogging. And your dress looks beautiful on you. Great color choice!

  4. I'm glad you fell back in love with it! It looks so cheerful and summery!

  5. Thanks Katie! I will show you in more detail when I see you next weekend, can't wait!

  6. Your tip is great Amanda - but I'm too lazy to take the bias binding off and rejig it now!!

  7. I'd love to have an international meetup! If you are ever in the UK, we'll have to arrange it...

  8. Thanks Gail. I felt really summery on the day I wore it out...I couldn't believe I was in England, we're not used to good weather anymore!

  9. l'Atelier de Flossy12 May 2013 at 21:58

    Me neither only five days to go...

  10. A really nice dress and I love the colour


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