You’ve probably seen the Washi Dress from Made by Rae. So cute! So easy to sew! So beloved by bloggers and sewists. And, apparently, so unsuited to my figure.

I’d seen the dress and tunic on so many blogs, always with great results. Now I noticed that many of the Washi’s I saw were being worn by people who were taller and less curvy than me. Then a couple of photos showed up in the flickr pool that looked a little more like me, so I had hope! Maybe I too could wear the fabled Washi. I bought the pattern.

Washi Tunic

A green Washi tunic.

The Assembly

The printed pattern is great. I love that the pattern sizes are each printed in a separate colour. Genius! Why doesn’t everyone do that? I love that each piece of paper is printed with a grid overlay along the sides of the paper. So easy to assemble! I liked the instructions, especially the part on making a muslin.

So I dutifully got out some (hideously ugly) fabric from my stash, and made a muslin. And then I did a full bust adjustment (FBA) which I had figured I would have to do. I used the instructions for a FBA on Megan Nielsen’s website, which Made by Rae lists on their site and which are very clear. It still wasn’t working. I went down a size, redid my FBA and lowered the darts. And anyway…. five muslins later I had something I thought looked fairly decent, so I cut my fabric.

There is only one thing in the printed pattern I would change: the way the bust darts are cut out before assembly. After just one muslin, it was clear that by basting and pressing the dart to start, you can get a much better fit, because you can adjust that seam. But if the fabric is already cut, and you need to fine-tune the dart, there’s nothing you can do. You are stuck with the dart placement, as is. The curvier you are, the more this matters.

Assembling the tunic was a breeze. The instructions are great. The smocking with elastic thread was so easy! Everything came together so quickly.

Washi Tunic

Sleeve detail on the Washi Tunic.

It just didn’t fit, at least not as well as I’d like. Boo!

The Fit

I’m pretty sure it has more to do with my shape, than the pattern itself, since so many people have had such great luck with this pattern. I am extra curvy (and a breastfeeding mama as well) and I just had a baby six months ago. Can we say problem areas? I figured the pattern would be good for midsection coverage. However, this pattern, like any empire waist look, requires an excellent fit in the bodice. I needed to do the FBA, make sure the darts were in the right place, and make sure that the seamline where the bodice joins the skirt fell at the very thinnest part of my ribcage. This last point is important for avoiding the pregnant look. My muslin did not include the skirt portion of the tunic, only the bodice. It was all a bit frustrating.

Washi Tunic

Side view of the Washi Tunic.

In the end I had to take the tunic apart, and shorten the bodice a bit to get the skirt falling at the right place. It’s wearable, but could be better. The front view is good. The side view is only so-so. There is a bit of gaping at the neck. I think this tutorial on avoiding neck gape with a FBA from the Naked Seamstress would help. I would also add a couple tiny under bust darts, as suggested by the Queen of the Flies in her review of the Washi Dress. And there is still some pulling at the shoulders. Maybe I should go down a size? Hmmmm. Suggestions welcome.

Me, looking at my Washi Tunic.

Me, looking at my Washi Tunic.

Oh, and as a side note… if you disassemble your washi and abandon it in frustration for a couple of weeks (ahem), you may find that the elastic thread has worked its way out, so that you have to resew it. Entirely my fault of course.

The Fabric

I also made a poor choice of fabric. I used quilting cotton. It’s a bit, um, crunchy? Something with a lot more drape would have been a much better choice, especially with sleeves. The pattern recommends “Light to medium weight cottons or cotton blends (e.g. shirting, voile, double gauze, quilting cotton, poplin, or cotton/linen blends)”. Voile, lawn or batiste would have been better choices, at least for my figure. I also would probably have been better off with the dress, instead of the tunic. I suspect the weight of the extra fabric would make for a more flattering line. The garment would hang a bit more straight.

Washi Tunic

Front of the Washi Tunic.

Would I make it again? Yes. The hard part is over. Now that I know how to get a good fit, and what fabric to use, I’d like to try this again. I would also prefer to line the bodice and there are instructions for lining a Washi bodice on the Made by Rae website. (Even though I attached the facing at the side seams, I find the facing pops out sometimes, which is annoying.) It’s such a cute pattern. Let’s call this a wearable muslin and move forward.

Washi Tunic

Not a bad first try, but I think I can do better.

Summary

Pattern Review: the Washi Dress from Made by Rae (PDF).

Fabric: quilting cotton. I made this in Flea Market Fancy Flower and Dot in Green by Denyse Schmidt from FreeSpirit. (I also used this fabric for my Christmas Rabbits).

Size: XL

Sewing Level: intermediate.

Modifications:

I did a 1″ FBA, lowered the darts by 1″ and lengthened the bodice by 1/2″.

Results: Needs work, but I would still make this pattern again.

Washi Tunic

Me in the Washi Tunic.

4 Responses to Washi Tunic: Take 1

  1. byCoconuts says:

    It’s a good beginning and good job.
    The following one will be better.

  2. Kathy G says:

    I bet if you went down a size and made it in a jersey it would be perfect. In fact, just get a t-shirt, cut it at the length and add a “skirt” (just a longer rectangle that matches your pattern piece). You can cut the sleeves shorter and adjust the bust so you have a longer piece in front so you can dart it or just gather at the side to give the bust more fabric. Use thrifted tshirts to experiment with. I recommend Pamela’s Patterns for flattering t-tops for women with a bust and a little extra in the middle. You can always change the design elements with a basic t. I think with this top, you nailed the dart. It almost seems like the top should be a little longer–about 1/2″ or so in front but like you mentioned, a little extra dartage directly below the bust and then the gathered bottom piece– which perhaps could have less gathering (cut the excess out). Kaye Whitt has some similar styles in McCalls patterns. The extra fabric in the chest you can wedge out of the pattern in a petite chest adjustment probably only 1/4″ pinch needed. Instead of using a facing try using self binding– make some bias binding out of your fabric and just turn at the seam and topstitch or understitch down. I still think this style would be more comfortable and drapey in a knit. You can experiment with the hem, making it a little longer in back or at the sides…..

  3. I pinned this pattern last fall and I’ve been wanting to sew myself a sweet summer dress. Maybe now is the time. Great job.
    Dorienne Fairbanks recently posted…Welcome to Double Decker FabricMy Profile

  4. em says:

    It looks really cute! But I agree that this pattern was optimistically drafted for flat chested gals. Even for them it seems to pull at the bust.

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