Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Gilt Trip Washi Dress

copyright Allie Pesch
I mentioned in my Weekend Sewing Workshop post that my Washi dress saga started there. Here's the full story and the finished creation. Voila! And at the beach, no less. :)

First, the basics, because this is a long post:

Pattern: Washi Dress by Made by Rae 
Fabric: Dear Stella Gilt Trip in Buds Metallic Navy (with a cheap-o navy lining from Jo-Ann)
Size: Medium, with an FBA and other alterations, including the long sleeves and a partial lining. (Those two things aren't included in the pattern but are available as tutorials on Rae's blog here and here.)

The Short Story:
After three muslins, I had a pretty dress to wear to a dear friend's beach wedding in Nags Head, NC this November. Yay!

The Long Story: 
I printed and taped my pattern together before I left for New York. When I got there, I cut out a small (why I thought I was a small, who knows...) and whipped up a muslin the first morning of the workshop. Tried it on... way too small. I mean, I got it on, and it was okay, but my bust was totally squashed.

Annnndd, I hadn't traced the pattern before I cut it (does anyone trace a digital pattern?), and I didn't have another copy printed, so I was up the creek without a medium pattern to cut. (That's when I put it aside and worked on a Tova top instead, which I already knew would fit me.)

But thankfully, the next morning, Liesl ended up helping me draft/approximate the medium size from what I had. In the process, we made a few initial adjustments. We added about an inch and a half to the bodice length, and did a full bust adjustment. 

She also adjusted the shoulder seam, because in Rae's pattern the back and front bodice shoulder seam angles do not match, which Liesl (and her FIT training) disagreed with. You can sort of see it here. The front piece ends up wrapping slightly to the back towards the sleeve seam.

Liesl also likes to keep fabric in her darts, rather than having the dart cut out like in the original pattern (above), so we drew complete darts into my adjusted pattern piece. It makes it easier (i.e. possible) to adjust, and, with some fabrics, it's nice to keep the fabric in the finished dart, too.

Back at home, after my second muslin (pictured above), which I finished up just before the end of the sewing weekend, I moved the waist line back down, but lowered the darts (see below). Maybe you can see in the muslin picture, the darts are a little high on my bust.

I also moved the dart apex in and angled it down a little bit more to avoid "pointy boobs."

I'm still a bit of a novice when it comes to alterations, especially when it comes to darts, so I had to refer to some sewing books. My vintage Simplicity Sewing Book from my grandmother was actually most helpful.

I traced the sliced-and-diced pattern piece onto freezer paper and made one more muslin. (I only cut the front bodice this time. I ripped out the front bodice of muslin #2, detached the sleeves, and replaced it with the final version. This is why you use a basting stitch when sewing muslins...)

I didn't photograph this third muslin, but I went ahead and sewed my Dear Stella version without additional adjustments, except lowering the neckline and scooping it out a bit more, like Rae did here, and Kristin did here.

I'm still not 100% sure the waist line is where it should be on me. I think wearing the belt with it helped disguise the fact that it is hanging in an in-between zone right now. A little higher would be more true empire-waist and closer to the pattern's original design, but it might look too maternity on me. A little lower would be more at my natural waist, and perhaps more flattering, but would likely require me to draft vertical darts above the pleats. 

FYI, the belt was actually a J.Crew kid's belt from the outlet mall in Nags Head (Crewcuts Factory exclusive, $4), which is why it wasn't big enough to tie in a bow... but it was a nice finishing touch.

You might have noticed the sleeves on my muslin #2 above. I tried Rae's Washi sleeve and also the sleeve from the Tova pattern. The Tova sleeve actually fit pretty well, but I went with Rae's because my husband preferred it, and the shoulder-poofiness matched the look of the dress better. (Sorry it's twisted in the muslin picture, not doing it justice.)

I was making this final version the day before leaving for Nags Head for the wedding weekend, so I decided I didn't have time for a full lining (which Rae has a tutorial for here) so I did the partial lining, which was just fine because this fabric is pretty stable and not at all see-through.

For the shirring, I used the G├╝termann's elastic thread, which Jo-Ann's even carried in Navy!

Anyway, everyone at the sewing workshop had heard of the Washi dress (even Liesl and Heather), and several already had purchased it and were excited to see me try it out. Liesl even helped Jenny make an adjusted bodice pattern piece from my size small muslin, and a few others tried it on for fit, so it didn't totally go to waste. :)

It was a long time coming but I am happy with the final product and got lots of compliments at the wedding. Plus it is fun to be part of the Washi hype in the blogosphere. I hope my post helps some of you who might be doing major alterations to it.

And finally, one pic of the happy bride during the ceremony. Congrats and best wishes, and thanks for inviting us to the beach!


  1. This is such a helpful post. Thankyou. I have yet to start mine but won't hesitiate to do a muslin after reading this!

  2. Yours is adorable, and i love that fabric! I scooped my neckline out too and love how it looks. I think I'll do an elastic casing for the back next time around- that was the only part of the tunic that i thought looked a little funny on me. How wonderful that you had some professional help in NYC! Not every gal gets to draft a pattern with Liesl Gibson!

  3. I just saw this (a little late!). I think your Washi looks great on you. Well done!

    I'm curious -- any 2013 sewing goals? And big sewing plans?

    1. Thanks, Jen! I think my main sewing goal for 2013 is just to keep it up! Last year I really wanted to work on fitting patterns to me, which I suppose I achieved with this dress and my Sewaholic Lonsdale dress. There was another dress for me this year that I didn't blog because it was such a failure... it was a Cynthia Rowley pattern for Simplicity. That was a really frustrating project. I might try it again this year. I suppose another sewing resolution would be to sew with more knits for the kids, since they are more comfortable, and to be more realistic about choosing projects that Louisa will like (not sew things that I love but that I know she will probably not want to wear very often)... i.e. more twirly skirts. But really I just want to keep sewing fun. Sure would be nice to go on another sewing retreat, like Rae's in May! But probably won't happen this year. Loved your "zest" resolution, by the way. :)

  4. I just found your dress...I love the fabric you chose, and thank you for such a detailed review of your alterations! I made many similar alterations on my first washi (dart length, more length in bodice). It fits pretty well but I would like to tweak the fit a bit more before I make another. Can I ask you about the shoulder seam angles - do you think that affects the fit at all, or is it just something that needs to be lined up better? Mine is really tight across the front of the armhole and I'm just not sure what alteration I need to make there. I don't want to scoop it out too much because I like where it sits for a sleeveless version, but it's not comfortable to wear.

    1. Thanks, Adrienne! I think the shoulder seam adjustment I made mostly just makes the seam lie better along the shoulder, and maybe slightly adjust the drape there. I'm not really sure if it would affect the tightness you are having in the front of the armhole. My armholes are a little too snug, too, I have to admit. Good luck!

  5. I cannot begin to tell you how helpful your post is!

    I'm in the process of making my Washi. After having made a Tova earlier in the week, which was mostly plain sailing, I hadn't anticipated fit issues with the Washi, especially with it being one of the blogosphere's most popular patterns.

    While I'm still in the middle of adjusting my pattern to get it to fit properly, being able to use your post as a rough guide will definitely help me a lot.

    I think my being on the taller end (5'8") is one of the issues I'm having, and while I'm absolutely not endowed in the bosom area (and I may need a small bust adjustment, I'm still being squished, even when well within the pattern's measurements, but broad shoulders may be an issue there.

    Thanks so much for your post, hopefully I'll be able to muddle through and get a great result.


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