Washi Dress & Top
A review of Made by Rae Trillium Dress and Top
The Washi Dress is a make that was decided for me, as I’ve been asked to teach it in a dressmaking workshop at Thimblestitch, a local fabric shop. The Washi Dress is the perfect project for a dressmaking workshop because there are a number of variations contained within the pattern. This means that everyone can customise their make to their own style and skill level. For example, you choose whether to have sleeves, a basic or cut-out neckline, and you can change the length to make a tunic or a dress in any length. You can also add extra pockets if you want to which is a win in my book.
As the Washi Dress is classified as an intermediate pattern it involves a couple of techniques – pleats and shirring. Whereas I had sewn pleats before, I had no experience of sewing with shirring elastic. In fact, I didn’t even know what it was – for reference, shirring is where a garment is gathered using more than one row of elastic.
The great thing about the Washi Dress pattern is that it makes sewing with new or unfamiliar techniques easier. All the big four sewing patterns I’ve used expect you to already know how to use different techniques, and don’t talk you through them in much detail. When I started sewing this was really daunting. It felt like sewing patterns were written in another language and my friend had to translate for me. Conversely, the Washi Dress pattern is much more clearly written, and has the best diagrams I have seen in a sewing pattern. The first time I encountered pleats I had a tantrum with the instructions and a friend had to come to the rescue. With Rae’s, I wondered what all my fuss was about. There are also these wonderful ‘tip boxes’ throughout the pattern which give you a bit of insight in to the techniques, to help you achieve a more professional finish. These and Rae’s blog post on shirring with elastic thread made attempting a new technique much less intimidating.
Because of all these features, I think the Washi Dress is a great bridge pattern – for more experienced beginners who are looking to expand their sewing skills – as Rae supports you as you learn.
The pattern says it is generous on the hips, but I didn’t find it to be so on me. Looking at the fit guide (supplied with the pattern, which is a big plus) I’m an XS round the bust and an XL round the hips. No surprises there. I measured the pattern pieces just to be sure, and the XS and the S would barely have fit round my hips. So I altered the pattern pieces. Using my trusty french curve I graduated the pattern from an XS to a L, starting at the bodice and finishing just underneath the pockets.
As you can see I went for the cut-out neckline, sleeves and standard length for my first Washi Dress, and I was really happy with how it turned out. I’ve made a second Washi a couple of inches longer, sleeveless and with a basic neckline.
It’s fair to say that the Washi Dress isn’t my usual style. It’s much more relaxed, and as a result incredibly comfortable and wearable. It’s also a pleasure to sew – I’ve made two in a week. It’s a really good basic for me for round the house or a lazy weekend!