ristretto dress tutorial

i’m still enjoying my stint as a Britex Guest Blogger, and today i’m sharing a dress i made using Britex’s Smoke & Coffee Stretch Cotton, which i reeeally loved working with.  this dress is actually a remix of my favorite dress pattern, Made by Rae’s Washi Dress, and though as i sewed it i was calling it “Frankenwashi,” i came up with a prettier moniker for this dress now that it’s all done.  named after one of our favorite coffee shops – i’m calling it the Ristretto Dress!

ristretto dress tutorial

my favorite sewing challenge is to take a proven, great-fitting, well-written pattern and modify it into something new.  i do it when i sew for my kids all the time, but haven’t ventured into doing it for myself too often yet.

ristretto dress tutorial

when i ordered this fabric, i expected to make a skirt.  but once i got it, i loved it so much i decided squeeze a dress into it.  this is made out of just 2 yards of (56″ wide) fabric!

i started with the Washi Pattern, since the bodice fits like Rae designed it just for me, and a million different dresses can be made once you have a favorite bodice.  for the Ristretto, I changed the neckline to a v-neck, lined and lengthened the bodice, added pleats at the shoulders, added a full gathered skirt, and eliminated the shirring at the back (though you could still shirr it for a more fitted bodice – mine is pretty loose without the belt).  i love the little extra cinch at the waist that a belt provides, though, and i think the dress is barely recognizable as a Washi!

ristretto dress tutorial

those changes may seem like a lot of extra steps…but i promise it’s not that hard.  in fact, eliminating the bias tape save so much time, i daresay this might even be a quicker sew than the original!  and i’m here to walk you through it.  let’s go.

ALTERING THE WASHI PATTERN

ristretto dress tutorial

use a straight edge to lengthen the bodice to hit you at your natural waist.  for me, that was about 3″ longer than the original pattern.  then angle your ruler to lengthen the bottom of the dart line downward to meet the new bodice line.  extend the fold line 3″ down as well.

ristretto dress tutorial

to create the v-neckline, i measured 1/2″ up from the bottom of the U cutout line on the washi pattern and marked it (i like a pretty deep v-neck, but feel free to mark higher up – whatever makes you feel comfortable).  then angle out from your point, gently curving up to meet the original shoulder line.  i played with this a bit until it seemed like the right shape.

for the back bodice, add 3″ to the last shirring line and taper the side seam to more of a right angle versus flared out, if you’re eliminating shirring like i did.  as a warning, i found the back skirt/bodice was too full to make my original idea – elastic casing – look right, and it might look similarly odd with shirring.  i opted to use the belt to cinch in the waist instead.  back darts may help if you don’t want to belt it – might take some experimentation.

SEWING THE RISTRETTO DRESS

ristretto dress tutorial

sew your lining’s darts and shoulder seams.  i could’ve taken my side seams in a bit more, and almost think i could’ve sized down on the dress entirely. i recommend making a muslin or using your lining as a quick muslin at this stage, to make sure the dress will leave enough room for you to slide it on, but isn’t too loose.

sew your main bodice like you did the lining.

ristretto dress tutorial

place the bodices rightsides together.  measure 1/2″ down from the point of the V and mark it with a disappearing pen.  this will give you a precise pivot point when you’re sewing the neckline.  pin generously and sew.  once sewn, trim straight down into the seam allowance at the point (not clipping the seam) and trim the rest of the seam allowance to 1/4″.  understitching is a good idea here.

ristretto dress tutorial

next, sew the shoulder seams.  because the Washi is not open in the back, you can’t just sew the shoulder seams flat – you won’t be able to turn it right side out (ask me how i know!).  instead, go watch THIS VIDEO SERIES by Rae on lining the Washi Dress.  video #4 is the one that addresses arm holes, and the one that taught me the amazing “sausage technique” that i’ll definitely be using again.  you can sort of see it above, but watch the video to fully understand.  then trim the seam to 1/4″ and clip into the seam allowance to release the curves.

ristretto dress tutorial

turn rightside out and press, and you’ll have perfect, frustration-free armholes!  glorious.

ristretto dress tutorial

next, separate the lining from the bodice and sew front to back lining and front to back main in a straight line.  turn right side out and press.  this is another good place to test fit.  if too wide, you can easily open it back up and sew another seam in from your first – i had to do this on mine to pull up the armhole and bring in the bodice a bit.

ristretto dress tutorial

now prepare your skirt.  i cut the fabric selvedge-to-selvedge in two 25″ long panels for this dress.  this particular stretch cotton is 56″ wide, so that is one full skirt!  i knew it’d look nice since it’s a cotton/rayon/lycra blend and those blends give it a lot of drape – with a less drapey fabric, a less-full skirt might be a better idea.  sew up the short side seams.  sew two rows of basting stitches on both the front and back, stopping at the side seams, and gather.

ristretto dress tutorial

match the bodice to the skirt, right sides facing, and carefully sew together.  press seam allowance toward the bodice.  remove basting stitches.  hem skirt to your liking (i folded up 1/2″ then 1″).

ristretto dress tutorial

fold your lining under and pin so it covers the raw edge of the skirt.  either stitch in the ditch on the right side of the dress (where bodice meets skirt) or handsew the lining down.  then, after trying on the dress, i decided the shoulders looked too wide with the v-neck, so I made a simple pleat, folding out toward the shoulder and stitching in the ditch (seam line) to secure.  the shoulder pleats add a nice formality to the dress that i love.

ristretto dress tutorial

this dress is very comfortable, since the stretch cotton has a lovely linen-esque feel to it, and has a weight and softness that makes it ideal for skirts and dresses.

ristretto dress tutorial

i love the smokey gray color with a hint of brown, and i love that the skirt is substantial enough that it doesn’t need lining.

ristretto dress tutorial

bonus: it’s perfect for twirling!  i want to go to a wedding now so i can dance in this dress!

ristretto dress tutorial

you can follow along with lots more projects from my fellow guest bloggers over at the Britex blog (my posts are here).  and if you want to get your hands on this lovely fabric, stretch cottons go on sale July 15!

thanks (once again) to my husband for getting these fun “magic hour” photos, and thanks so much for always sending me the most beautiful fabrics, Britex!

britexblogger

abstract scoop neck washi dress

this dress has been in my head for nearly a year, and it took quilt market to finally make me sew it up!

abstract scoop neck washi

it’s my third washi dress (four if you count mini washi!).  i feel like sewing the same pattern three (four) times officially puts me in cult follower status, and that’s cool with me.  the washi is flattering, doesn’t take long to sew, is super comfortable, and i actually wear mine on a regular basis all year round.  the washi dress and the wiksten tank both teamed up to shift my mental state from “i’m scared to sew for myself” to “i LOVE to sew for myself,” so i recommend both if you’re looking to dip your toe in.

abstract scoop neck washi

i scooped out the neck a bit (about 1″ on the bottom, tapering back to the normal shoulder width – make a muslin first if you try it) just like i did with washi two.  the shirring is much tighter this time because i got a new sewing machine in January (cough Bernina cough) and it makes me want to shirr all the things, it’s so easy.  i still sewed a medium, but it fits me better since it’s more cinched.  i’m smaller on top than on bottom, so i like the top to fit nice and snugly to highlight that, while masking the larger parts of me.  you know how it goes.

abstract scoop neck washi

i got the fabric from Britex Fabrics last August while on vacation with my husband in San Francisco.  i found it in the remnant area and it didn’t have any markings on the selvedge, but i loved it and bought it with the intention of making a washi dress.  it’s sooooo nice – it feels like art gallery fabric, sateen-y and light but still crisp and not see-through like voile can be.  it’s really lovely stuff, and i adore the print too – sort of messy-pretty.  and the colors are so saturated and rich.

abstract scoop neck washi

i didn’t have a relationship with Britex when i bought the fabric, but I’m glad I do now, because i was comfortable sending them a photo to find out what it is!  it’s called Abstract Dyed Cotton – 100% cotton and 57″ wide, and they still have 20 yards left in the store!  so if you’re interested in ordering some, you can email service@britexfabrics.com and they’ll hook you up.  tell them i sent ya.  😉

abstract scoop neck washi

so i made this dress to wear to quilt market, which was funny since the fabric was a mystery to me at the time and i was wearing it around a bunch of people that live and breathe fabric.  i think quiltmarketgoers walk around silently identifying fabric and pattern on each other’s handmades, so it was kind of ornery of me to wear something mysterious, though the washi dress pattern itself is VERY well known.

washi pattern designer Rae even saw this dress in person when she came over to my house for a bit!  i’m not sure if she saw it on me without a cardigan over it, though…so here ya go, Rae!  the full washi!

abstract scoop neck washi

thanks once again to my husband for taking these photos!  he’s getting pretty good, eh?  😉

 

full disclosure: i was a pattern tester for the washi dress (which means i got it for free) and Made by Rae and Britex Fabrics are now both sponsors of my blog (though this fabric was not free).  i’m just glad i have sponsors that make such great stuff!  

kcwc fall 2012: day 2:: mini washi dress

sew off challenge: Mini Washi Dress

mini washi dress

of all the items on Rae’s list that i narrowed down for our sew off, this is the one that jumped out as an immediate MUST MAKE. in fact, i believe i had started thinking about a mini version of her wonderful washi dress pattern around the first time i made it for myself! (here are my washis one and two)

mini washi dress

funny how a gal like Rae can finally make the leap to selling adult patterns and people immediately want to shrink it down for littles, right? well, that’s what happens when it’s SO DARN CUTE to make things in miniature.

mini washi dress

there is no washi pattern for kids, so i created one myself. and then i sewed it using the exact same methods detailed in rae’s adult washi pattern!

honestly i’m amazed and so proud that i got this to work. it feels like luck! i created every pattern piece that the original washi has – front bodice, sleeve, front and back facings, front skirt, and dress back. i started with the 3T flashback skinny tee pattern for the bodice, which i love to use as a basic pattern block for my slender little gal. i chopped it a bit shorter than i did for her amelie dress, since the washi is closer to empire waisted. i also curved it just slightly so it went up in the middle. obviously i omitted the darts. (!)

mini washi dress

i laid out my adult washi pattern on the floor and used it as a reference for how to shape the front skirt (with room for pleats) and to see how it related to the bodice. then i used the bodice and skirt pieces together to draft the one-piece back. i just kind of built the pattern up bit by bit like a puzzle. it was a super fun challenge that drew on every bit of my knowledge. sewing has such an amazing learning curve!! i couldn’t have made this dress even a couple months ago.

mini washi dress

the shirring in the back makes the front fit pretty darn well, but keeps it comfy for a little gal. the adult version has shirring too, which is one of the things i love about it – the comfy factor is off the charts!

mini washi dress

i did have trouble getting the neckline right. my daughter’s head is proportionately large for her body. i originally made the neckline too small, and it didn’t fit over her head. i trimmed it and kept trying it on her until it fit (interrupting her afternoon leaf-painting, but she didn’t mind too much). it was scary because i wanted it to pull over her head without struggle, but it was also really important that it remain appropriate for a four year old to wear and keep the look of the original washi’s neckline.

mini washi dress

it does gape a little bit when she lifts her arms, but hey – i got pretty close for my first go!

mini washi dress

best part is, she loves it! she really does! we’re calling it her “fireworks dress” (due to the anna maria horner shattered circus fabric). plus, who can resist a dress with pockets?

mini washi dress

not me, and not this girl either.

have you sewn a mini washi? i’d really love to see it! karen did! if we all rally together, i bet we might be able to talk Rae into releasing a mini washi pattern for sale one day. wouldn’t that be fun? a bunch of mini me washi dresses! 😉

Rae made hers in actual washi fabric, and had a different solution for the large head small child problem.  here it is!