i’m not a very selfish seamstress. frankly, it’s because i’m intimidated. i don’t like how much yardage adult lady patterns require, the patterns seem too complicated, and you just never know how the fit will work. i seem to have just as many failures at sewing clothes for myself as i do successes. i actually own a good number of adult patterns that i’ve never even opened. they just freak me out!
but not the washi dress. i LOVE the washi dress. i loved it when Rae posted about it the first time, and the second time, and every time thereafter. i knew i wanted to get my hands on the pattern as soon as possible. lucky for me, a well-timed email to Rae (where i just happened to offer my services as a pattern tester once again) turned into me sending her a couple very personal measurements and it just so happened i filled the size gap she needed. i got to be a washi tester!
it lived up to the hype. if you have always wanted to sew yourself a dress and you’ve been scared, this is definitely the pattern to try. Rae’s patterns are always clear and logical to follow, and she just keeps getting better! she has enlisted her sister to help with the technical pattern design parts and the washi pattern is so professional with great little diagrams instead of photos. Rae was definitely up to the challenge of making an adult lady pattern in a wide range of sizes, which i consider just incredible. she includes a fit guide that makes a lot of sense, when usually pattern alterations would scare me off. i made a medium, and the fit is pretty much perfect.
you can make the washi as a dress or a tunic, with sleeves (shown) or without, and once you have the fit down, it seems so easy to tweak a bit for different looks! and hey, it even has pockets!
i really enjoyed the process of sewing the pattern, too. you know how some have “that one step” that you dread or hate, maybe it’s the zipper, or 20 buttons, or a ton of bias binding? the washi has a little of many different techniques, so you never get bored or tired of what you’re doing. it’s a really fun sew! the ONLY thing i was worried about was the shirring. i have a basic brother machine and those are notorious for not shirring easily; i’d tried a few times and it had never worked.
but i figured it out – and to do it, you’ve gotta break a rule (see my evil smile?).
okay first, go buy gutermann brand elastic thread like Rae suggests. they sell it at joann’s, and when i went they had it on sale. the stuff just FEELS higher quality than other brands, and it seems to makes a huge difference. second, you need to wind it onto the bobbin with some tension – this is the rule you break, because everyone tells you to wind it without pulling. if i did that, it wouldn’t work – it just left me a mess of elastic underneath. but if i wound it with a little tightness, it seemed to work every time. don’t stretch it to the point of almost breaking, just pull a bit and wind it tighter than you should, like you’re rewinding a yo-yo. thirdly, if you have a drop in bobbin with the auto feed, don’t let the bobbin thread cut and retreat back into the “gully.” leave it so you can still see some tail out the side. if i cut the bobbin thread like normal, it snapped back in and wouldn’t catch when i started sewing.
finally, PRACTICE. i found i didn’t need to change my tension and i just increased my stitch length to 3.0. it worked! use scraps and try different things. what worked for me might not work for you, but i really didn’t want to mess with tightening bobbin cases and then loosening them the perfect amount again, so i was happy to figure this out without that.
and by the way – a dress with shirring in the back? SUPER comfy to wear. i’ve worn it to work, on a date night, playing with the kids, etc. i wished the bodice was just a tad longer and the skirt too, but Rae heard that from many testers and the final pattern will remedy both of those concerns.
this wraps up my washi post! keep your eye on Made by Rae for the official pattern release (any day now! i’ll update this post when it happens) and while you’re waiting, go check out Emily’s THREE washis, Cherie’s blue eyelet version, and Holly’s classy gray washi too! there’s also a washi flickr pool.
**UPDATE: WASHI IS HERE!! WASHI IS HERE!! GO BUY IT FROM RAE, YOU WON’T REGRET IT!!**
PS – the fabric for this dress is denyse schmidt for joann fabrics. i like that it looks a bit like a vintage feedsack.
PPS – I’m already most of the way through washi #2! i NEVER sew the same pattern so quickly, but i’m really excited about it so i had to!