My First Washi: a wearable muslin?

I did it. I’ve finally become the trillionth person to make a Washi Dress. And friends, I got the buffalo checks to match perfectly on the sidesYou know how hard that is for me, and I feel like I need to celebrate.

But wait, not too fast. I may have reigned victorious with print-matching for this dress, but I don’t think the fit is spot on. Let me preface all this with the fact that Rae‘s directions are awesome. So clear, so helpful, so easy. The pattern pieces are ingeniously designed (love the pockets!) and really, the sewing went without a hitch.

A few things are going on here, I believe. Just as I couldn’t get the shirring to work well on K’s dress that I posted on Monday, the Washi suffered the same loosey-goosey shirring in the back. So that’s issue number one.

Issue number two: even with a more snug back, the dress would still feel too big on me. I measured and re-measured myself (so unpleasant), and cut out a medium. I’m thinking that this plaid linen fabric stretched out as I ironed it and maybe I just need to toss it in the wash to shrink it up a bit. I constantly have neckline gaping issues and you can see that it’s a little wavy on one side. I might have added to the problem by making the scoop deeper and eliminating the cut-out…

And issue number three: the darts seem off. I need to re-draft the darts, mayhaps? It looks more pucker-y in the photo than it is in real-life (I hope).

Here I am, checking to make sure I’m not expecting a second baby. And hey, my hem is looking rather rippled. Sigh. This is such a lovely linen…I feel like I’m not doing it justice.

It’s not a thick fabric, but I think for this dress, it’s adding bulk. I got the washed linen from here and it looks like they’re all out of the grey colorway. Also, because the fabric is pretty sheer, I fully lined it with white batiste, adding even more bulk.

So. In terms of sewing, it was a breeze, but I think I’m going to have to consider this a sort of wearable muslin. The Washi is back in the queue to be made again in something with a lot more drape. I can see why this is such a popular pattern, and now that I’m feeling cocky about pattern-matching, I’m sure to conquer the Washi fit for next time — famous last words, no doubt.

I leave you with my photography assistant, creatively using the camera remote to get some action shots of herself:

37 thoughts on “My First Washi: a wearable muslin?

  1. Oh my goodness, I know you are finding flaws with this but it looks amazing. Honestly, right out of a Brooklyn boutique. And, you look so stunning and peaceful. At least go out somewhere hip for one brunch wearing that dress. Please!? Also, do you think it’s a good pattern for *someone* who is small-breasted but still hanging onto a little bit of belly pooch from having had 2 kids? Just curious.

    1. Oh, thank you Melissa! High praise! You’re right, this would be a brunch-appropriate dress – I’ll have to wear this weekend (after I wash and dry it). I do think the pattern lends itself to a variety of body types. I actually made the scoop deeper to accommodate my big ole chest because I thought it would be too tight otherwise. And if you get the shirring right unlike me, I think it would fit you just fine :).

      1. I have the described boobs and belly and I love wearing my washis, I think it might be the most flattering dress I own

  2. Wah! What a bummer! Okay, it’s multiple things here… the fabric and the shirring would’ve made a huge difference. Overall, it looks great from here and you (as always) look stunning!!!

    1. Aw, thanks Venus! Your Washis look so perfect on you, I was inspired to try my hand at the pattern! I’m determined to get that shirring working!

  3. I agree with melissa q. Beautiful dress, looks great on you. Also, I somehow never realized that the Washi had a shirred back. Now I will have to be the trillion-and-one person to make it.

    1. Thanks Deana! I think the dress is a must-try with a lot of clever design elements. I’m sure there are a trillion more Washis getting made as I type this 🙂

  4. I’ve been messing with shirring (as I mentioned to you before). Do you have a drop-in bobbin machine? If yes, you need to wind the elastic very tightly for it to work. I read the gazillion tutorials insisting that the elastic be handwound on the bobbin, etc, and it didn’t work at all for me (maddening) until I realized the drop-in machines have to have the thread stretched. Now, mine shirs tightly, without needing to adjust the bobbin tension.

    Re the neckline – did you stay-stitch around the neckline? I usually do that as soon as I have all the pieces cut, or else it can stretch on the bias and cause waves.

    Stylewise, I’m on the fence about the Washi dress. The intent is loose/casual/comfortable, and it achieves that in spades, but to my eye, empire waists plus pleats tend to look maternity, even in drapey fabric. Tighter shirring will help suck in the extra back width and give it more shaping, but I wonder how it would look if you lowered the dress waist to your natural waist (not to belly button level; rather, wherever you indent the most – for me, that’s probably 3 inch above where I’d wear jeans).

    Great job on pattern matching! And your daughter’s happy bounce is infectious – I found myself smiling when I saw that image.

    1. Wow, I feel so lucky to be privy to your expertise, June! Thank you! I remembered your comment about the bobbin, but alas, mine is not a drop-in. I read somewhere else about using an old, cheap machine just for shirring so you wouldn’t have to fuss with the tension, so I think I’ll try that with my old Singer from Target.

      Stay-stitching! I need to do that! I tell you, there’s an infinite amount to learn about sewing, I love it.

      And I’m with you on the empire waist/pleat combo, though I was pleased with my last dress in that style made with super soft, drapey cotton.

  5. I would wear the crap out of this dress! I think it looks really nice and relaxed. That said, I know how irritating it is to wear something that doesn’t feel quite right. I vote for washing/drying and seeing if the linen shrinks up a bit!

    1. Ha, this dress would look infinitely better on you, Morgan! I just tossed the dress in a laundry basket and will wash tomorrow – fingers crossed that it’ll do the trick!

  6. Woooow! You look just so great. I really love that fabric. I have been working on my first Washi for about a month.. it looked like I had another baby when I tried it on too! I will rip shirring and sew it all again.. P.S. I loove jumping K!

    1. Thanks Shino – with all the tweaking I’ll need to do, I can easily imagine working on the Washi for a month! Good luck with your dress!

  7. I also have the Washi pattern (which is so well written with great instructions) and am having similar fitting issues. I had to drop the bust dart by a full 2 inches to get it placed correctly because apparently I have a very long torso. I have made a myriad of other changes as well and am currently on my 4th (that’s right, 4th) muslin. After the second one needed a few tweaks I decided to go whole hog and alter the shape of the neckline and straps as well. I can’t wait to see what changes you make!

    1. I have a crazy long torso too, Sarah! Hmmm….I’m thinking of lowering the waist too, as June suggested. I’m impressed with your perseverance – four Muslims is no joke.

  8. yes!!!! it looks GREAT on you and i love the checks! i made one a few weeks back but i’m not happy with the fit…trying to decide if i have the patience to work it out so it fits correctly! Anyway, i love it on you!

    1. Ooh, I really want to see your version, Gail! I bet it’s gorgeous! Thanks for the sweet words. Fitting issues are so tricky, aren’t they? No wonder I keep turning to kid sewing!

  9. I have made 4 washi’s (one turned into a skirt! the shirring made a great waist)… and I’m having a hard time with the fabric in front not making me look prego… I ended up trying voile and taking out two tucks on each side (think I should have just taken out one on each side) and that helped. On one I also just took out the tucks and did some slight gathers. Also I am rather big on top and did a full bust adjustment and added about 1.5 inches to the length of the top. The last two have turned out a lot better… I was thinking about trying linen, but perhaps I will try the rayon challis Rae was talking about. just not sure if JoAnn’s carried it! 🙂
    I agree with the other comments, I think yours looks good… my elastic thread is sometimes fussy too… I just try in on sample fabric until I get the tension wound right.
    Good Luck!

    1. Oh, I bet the Washi would be so lovely in a rayon challis. I’ve never sewn with that because it looks fiddly, but my mom just brought me a huge suitcase full of fabrics and it looks like some of it might be Rayon Challis-esque. I’ll have to try it!

  10. Add me to the list of people who thinks it looks super cute on you! You could certainly redo the hem and eliminate the waviness pretty easily. I can see the rippled neckline but otherwise don’t really see any of the so called flaws you talked about. Maybe a size down in the top would help? I’ve learned from knitting to choose a pattern from my upper bust measurement (under my arms) bc I have small shoulders. Unfortunately this means I need to adjust things up more and more as I move down the garment, though. Anyways, overall, I love it, I love the fabric, and it’s totally wearable. Embrace the handmade imperfections, lady!

    1. Thanks, Robin! Yeah, I just recently discovered that things fit better when I use the upper bust measurement. When I first started sewing and was using my true bust measurements, I was cutting two sizes too large! And you’re right, I want to totally embrace the handmade imperfections! Besides, this is linen, so chances of it looking this unrumpled again are slim to none ;-).

  11. Love this dress! I don’t comment much but I always enjoy reading your posts. I agree with the other person who mentioned stay stitching around the neckline before sewing, especially on such a loose weave fabric like linen which will stretch a lot at the curves. I would stay stitch the armhole curves too. My pattern making teacher told me that linen has a tendency to grow (stretch) so maybe that is contributing too. Having said that, I LOVE linen and this print is gorgeous. I like the structure that a fabric with body gives to this dress so in that respect I reckon linen was a great choice!

    1. Thank you, Bella! The more I sew for myself, the more I want to take a pattern-making class! I should have definitely stay-stitched and yep, I do think the linen grew as I was sewing it. This print is awesome, right? I thought it would look like an Ace and Jig dress!

  12. I love your fabric choice and think the style looks great. I would definitely try shrinking/ pulling in the shirring to see if that helps with your fit issues because it would be such a shame for you not to wear this dress as it looks so good on you.

  13. Hi Sanae,
    the washi is a wonderful pattern for you, but i’m honest, i love you more in slightly darker colors. The grey linen is beautiful but in my opinion (i hope you don’t mind) a more drapey, cheerful colored fabric would suit you even better. Maybe a rayon challis? I just bought some in a blue and white ikat and it’s itching me since to make a top or even a dress out of it. No matter, you look beautiful and i especially love the last photo of you and the very last of k. She’s turning 7 next week? My son is seven on august, 3rd.
    Best wishes

    1. So many summer babies! I hope you have a wonderful celebration for your son, Marit. And I’m so glad for your honest appraisal! I tend to wear darker colors regularly (the number of black clothes in my closet is overwhelming) and I think you’re right that my coloring is more suited for darker, saturated colors. I’m also feeling like the style might be a bit girl-ish for me, but this is the point of my sewing adventure — to see what works and what doesn’t 🙂 So fun!

  14. Oooh, I love the Washi. I haven’t sewn it (yet), but it’s just so flattering on everyone. I loved this right away, and while you’re right with your little bits that aren’t juuuust quite right, it’s definitely a wearable first-try kind of dress! I wonder how much it shrinks back into place on the first wash/dry… My machine doesn’t shir tight enough either, and I don’t particularly like shirring, although it’s growing on me on a case-by-case basis, ha! I think I’ll watch you sew through another Washi and then I’ll try!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    1. Thank you, Monica! I’m with you on not normally liking shirring that much, but I was surprised at how subtle it looked on the dress (probably because my shirring is so loose). Washi #2 with adjustments will definitely show up soon!

  15. Yes, this one is a great first washi!! I think the linen might be a lot of the issue, my favorite washi is in a crisp Art Gallery-esque cotton. It keeps the a-line shape better and holds the pleats….and I really do think shirring tightness is key to a good Washi fit. The tighter the shirring, the better it looks (hugs your bust area/ribcage area but remains comfortable). Maybe try belting this one if it doesn’t shrink in the wash?

    Looking forward to washi #2! 😉

    1. Good suggestion with the belt, Kristin! I do think the linen is the main culprit too…I think I have some Art Gallery-ish cotton fabric and will try to hunt that down. Maybe there will be three Washis! 🙂

  16. I think it’s definitely wearable! So cute. One thing you might want to do next time is to try an elastic casing in the back instead of the shirring- pretty sure Rae has done that on at least one of hers….I always felt like my washi needed to be pulled back with a clothespin after an hour of wear. Also, I know several ladies, including myself and Kristin up there, lengthened the bodice at least an inch so it’s not too maternity looking. Anyway, I’m picturing this with a cozy cardi in the Fall- really cute!

    1. Oh, I love the idea of an elastic casing — a little more control on the fit that way. And yes on lengthening the bodice; because I have such a long torso I might need to add a couple of inches! Thanks, Erin (p.s. love your Washi tunic)

  17. I was helping a friend fit her Washi dress and we found a lot of the same issues you were having. Her dress also had gaping at the front neck (with stay-stitching!). I think the cut of the front just doesn’t work with everyone’s body structure. The overall size was too big for my friend despite taking her measurements and the side seams didn’t really land on the sides and instead pulled a bit forward if I remember correctly.

    In any case, you’re not alone, but I do think your dress looks lovely, and it’d be a shame if you couldn’t wear it. Maybe all it needs are a few tweaks to make it work?

    1. I hope that all it takes are some minor adjustments too, Adri! I’ve already started on a couple of muslins with adjustments and the neck gaping and bust darts are already looking better. 🙂 Thank you for letting me know that your friend had similar issues – at first I felt like I must have done something terribly wrong!

  18. Sanae, I think you look great in the dress and congrats on the matching squares (that stuff makes me really happy when the inside of a garment looks as good as the outside…OCD???). I have made two Washi dresses too and while I love wearing them they do make me look pregnant and I have been asked twice how far along I am. That was a bit depressing because I took to sewing clothes for myself to achieve better fitting garments and to look and feel better with my post-baby body…now I’ve gone back to sewing for kids as it doesn’t make me feel fat. Oh well. I admire you for all the fantastic self sewing you have been doing and I really look forward to seeing the alterations you make to make patterns work better for you. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Oh Laney, such a bummer that the dresses gave the pregnancy impression. I’ve been asked the same question on more than one occasion when I was so not preggers, so I totally understand. Getting the fit right for adult clothes is so much more challenging than I expected, but I think the rewards will be huge! I hope you’ll try sewing for yourself again; there are lots of patterns out there that could be incredibly flattering!

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