Sunday, 14 July 2013

Finished: Washi Dress with Birds

I'm not going to lie, this dress started life as a reversible duvet cover from Primark.

Despite all my efforts, yes, there is a bird looking at my crotch
On Friday night I got home after my third day of nine of hours of teaching in an unventilated room in unusually warm weather and as I was lying around in an exhausted heap I thought: I really want to make something. Really want to. The only thing was, I didn't have any fabric that I felt I wanted to play with (and potentially throw away if the project didn't work), and I didn't really have a pattern. All I have with me here in Ireland are a couple of envelope patterns, neither of which I wanted to make just now, three copies of Burda, none of which had anything that really grabbed me to make this weekend, and my accumulated digital patterns. I don't have a million of them because I loathe printing out and sticky-taping patterns. I'd rather trace Burda spirographs than print out and put together a 30 page pattern. Still, I went though those all again. Nothing really seemed appealing until the very last file, alphabetically, which was the Washi Dress by Made-By-Rae.

I have tried the Washi before. Months ago, I printed out the front and back bodice and ran up a muslin. I was totally unsuccessful getting a good fit with the bust dart. I discovered that the best shoulder fit was from a size XL, but I had a real problem doing a large enough FBA (7cm) without then having to take out a huge amount of width at the waist, and since it's an empire waist dress there's not a lot of room to push in a waist dart big enough to take up the width. I kept ending up with something that looked like a sack full of boobs, or else the waist was way too loose and it became a tent dress, neither of which is really a look I like. So, Friday night I clicked on the file and sighed at it. 'If only it were armhole princess,' I said to myself, because recently I've been able to get a good fit out of a few things using armhole princess seams. And then I slapped myself on the forehead because hi, if I want armhole princess seams, I can HAVE armhole princess seams. I just had to play with the pattern a bit. And buy some fabric.


One of the nice things about this dress: no zip or other fastening, just a bit of shirring.
I spent about an hour on paper pattern adjustments, including making it armhole princess instead of bust darted. I cut a muslin (in fact, I repurposed the last muslin I made) put it on and... it fit. \o/ Best moment of my sewing career so far, seriously. I did make a couple of further little tweaks during the muslin stage but I actually could have gone straight to fashion fabric and it would have been OK. This is the power of having a basic armhole princess bodice sloper, I guess. I used this Burdastyle.com tutorial in order to make the original front bodice pattern piece of the Washi pattern into two pieces with an approximate armhole princess seam, and then slapped my sloper on top of the new pieces. Hey presto, instant armhole princess! Spending time on slopers to get good bust fit from a couple of methods a few months ago is really paying off. The only reason my bust darted sloper didn't work on this pattern is that I wanted a tight curve under my bust and my darted sloper isn't really set up for that. I did use it on the camp shirt muslin I mentioned above, and although the shirt wasn't very successful it wasn't because of the boob part of the FBA. I still want to try out some knit princess seams and woven shoulder princess seams as well.

On this dress though, so far, so successful. However, it was then far too hot on Saturday morning for me even to consider trailing into the city centre to the fabric shops, so I had to improvise with what I could buy locally: hence, Primark duvet cover. If you're not European, the significance of Primark is probably lost on you. It's a cheap-as-chips clothing retailer, very much of the "three washes and you're done" school of clothes manufacturing. I usually try not to buy anything at all from Primark because they notoriously use the worst kind of sweatshops to produce their clothes, and the quality is dreadful. However, my options for local fabric sources are very limited. A king-size duvet cover nets you about 4.5m of usable fabric, but of course it's also extra wide, about 200cm, for €20. The one I bought had the same border print of birds and plants on a grey background on one side and on a cream background on the other. The cream side turned out to be too sheer to use on its own and I didn't want to go out again and buy something to use as a lining, so that meant using the grey side which is more opaque just by virtue of colour.

When cutting the fabric, I tried really really hard not to have a bird hovering around by my crotch or around my backside... and failed. I also pretty epically failed to match in any way at the side seams, or even in the height of the border print, because I'm an idiot who doesn't pay attention to my own damn cutting diagram. I have to be honest though, and say I really don't care that much about the side seam match fail or the bird hovering around my crotch, and I don't think it looks that bad.

Not very pretty insides: pinked seams, topstitched facing, bound armholes

I really missed my serger making this. The fabric turned out to be relatively loosely woven and so as I handled it it didn't stay in very good condition. I didn't dare do a lot of seam finishing because it frayed so badly and in the end just pinked all my internal seams, turned and topstitched my facings and hem, and bound and topstitched the armholes. I don't think this dress is going to last all that long and while I maybe don't care that much it would have been nice to be able to just zip along my seams with my overlocker to finish them rather than pinking.

You can read my proper pattern review of the Washi dress on PR, but in conclusion: I love it. I wish I had some lining fabric because I want to make a maxi dress version with the other half of the duvet fabric, and I would also really like to make a version with sleeves out of a very nice blue glazed cotton I have with me. I thought I wanted to keep the blue cotton for a different project, but now that I've made a Washi I think it would be a great fabric to use for a dress. It's more stable too, so I think I might have a go at flat-felling the seams to finish it.

Of course, now I've made a sundress, Dublin is blanketed in thick grey clouds. :| I hope that's not my fault...

14 comments:

  1. I LOVE this dress! So much good came out of thin air! Amazing really! Especially the fabric source - I'm doing that too at the moment.
    Great dress - hope the sun comes out again for you to wear it.

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    1. Thank you! The sun decided to come out around mid-day, and I lazed around in it for the whole afternoon :D

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  2. That is gorgeous - and you know I love a border print but find them difficult to come by - now I am going to look at duvet covers (or doona as we call them). Great work. Brilliant.

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    1. Thank you! The only problem is that the border print on duvet covers can be very big, both in terms of the scale of the pattern and the height of the print from the edge of the duvet to potentially the middle of the bed. There were quite a few options I had to think twice about because of the scale of the print in particular. And even with a smaller scale print, you definitely need a pattern with a long drape in order to make the most of the print.

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  3. Hooray for working with your sloper to make the pattern bend to your will! I love the dress - and wouldn't have noticed the bird if you hadn't pointed it out. Happy sewing.

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    1. It was such a great moment of success, when I managed to get good fit from something that I could NOT get to make sense fit-wise AT ALL previously. I'm so sold on princess seams as well, they are just so great for my figure type. :D

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  4. This is wonderful! I think it's my favorite of your makes.

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    1. Thank you! I think it's my favourite as well! :D

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  5. I love it. I didn't notice the bird until you mentioned it, and I am one of those people who notice things like this, and can find a every spelling mistake on a page by glancing at it. So believe me when I say it isn't noticeable.

    Great use for a Primark duvet cover. I loved Primark when I visited the UK several years ago, she said wistfully.

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  6. I'm still not that great at using my sloper for other types of patterns, but you seem to have cracked it! Well done, great dress! And it's funny, most times when you buy something in Penney's, you have to be prepared to see the same thing on other people all the time. No so, in this case!

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    1. It took me SO LONG to get the original princess seam thing I did to fit -- like literally 8 hours one day and another 4 the next -- that I am very glad to be able to use it like this!

      It's true I won't be in a position where I'll be wearing the same thing as four other women in the room, but on the downside, it's quite possible someone could say "wow, that dress looks like my bedsheets!" which would be pretty terrible.

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  7. This dress is beautiful! Your placement of the fabric pattern is just genius. I want to make one now!

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    1. Thank you! Gosh, I haven't thought about that dress in ages. Alas, it has longed ceased to be part of my wardrobe.

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