Monday, February 10, 2014

Wishy-washy on the Washi

I really want to like this pattern.  I don't know why I want to like it, but I do.  And that is why, after looking at every single Washi dress in the Washi Dress Flickr group, and concluding that the pleated skirt was not the most flattering for my shape ... I still bought the pattern and made a dress.  That was back in June.  I was four months post-partum, had been asked to sing the National Anthem at the Embassy Independence Day reception and I had nothing to wear.  I was good and made a muslin first.  Then I made a second muslin.  In the end, I made the XL with a few modifications - I lengthened the bodice by 3", added tiny pleats at the neckline (because it was gaping), added small vertical waist darts, and took in the skirt by 1.5" on each side. I also made a festive red and white striped ribbon bow belt using this tutorial.

And I wore it exactly once.  The neckline is plenty low, but bodice just seemed frumpy to me.  Frumptastic, as a matter of fact.  And the dress looked kind of weird from the side.

And I just didn't find the pleats flattering.

Sad, because I really liked the fabric (Kaufman dobby stripe shirting, now on sale for half price at

And yet, I recently found myself back in that Washi Flickr pool, looking at long-sleeved Washis.  Rae looks so cute in hers.  I keep reminding myself that she has a different body type than me, but darn it, I want to look cute in a Washi dress too.

So last week, I decided to try again.  I had three yards of this Kaufman Railroad shirting in a black and white houndstooth.  I had bought it to make a tunic but it is a much heavier fabric than I had expected, and it's a good weight for a winter dress.

I tried on my July 4 Washi and noted it was much too big in the bodice (yay!).  I should have started from scratch and fit it again, right?  Made another muslin and all that?

Yeah, no.

I just sliced about 1/2" off the side seams of my existing pattern pieces and soldiered on.  I wanted sleeves, so I downloaded Rae's free sleeve pattern.  I made a bodice lining out of white cotton sateen, pinned everything together and tried it on.  Looked pretty good.  So then I basted it together and tried it on.  I used the same mods Rae used in this dress for the neckline - sewing it with a 1/2" seam around the back and down the sides, and then increasing to a 1" seam at the front neckline.  I was reasonably happy with the fit, but when I got everything properly sewn together, the bodice just looked frumpy.

I concluded that it was still too big, and spent a day thinking through how to make it fit better without having to cut a whole new bodice.  

I ripped everything out, took the bodice in a bit on the sides, shortened the front bodice by 1", and made two 5/8" underbust darts.  Better.  I was happy.  I went to show my husband.  He looked up from his iPad and said

"I like it!"

... wait for it ...

"You look Amish."


Not what I was going for.

OK, so there is a bit of the horse-and-buggy about the width of that free sleeve pattern.  I went back and took the sleeves in a bit, and finished them with a band at the bottom.

I sought the husband's opinion again.

He said "It looks better!  You still look Amish, though."

OK, so I don't think this dress looks Amish.  But now the thought is in my head and whenever I look at myself in the dress I feel like I am missing a bonnet.

One other issue here is, erm, the variety of undergarments I currently possess.  My still-nursing son is almost a year old and my underpinnings vary greatly in their supportiveness.  I was dumb and fit the dress while wearing a nursing bra - even though I don't wear them all the time anymore - now I'm stuck wearing that one every time I wear this dress or it fits weird.

Lesson learned.

I quite like it with this belt.

And actually, I do really like the dress.  I don't feel my sveltest in it, but I think I can get a better fit out of the pattern. Next time I will do it right and make a muslin (again).  I also think it might work better for me in a drapier fabric.  I recently acquired a very vibrant floral rayon challis with enough yardage for a sleeveless summer version, so I'm guessing you'll see another Washi here in a few months.  Either there IS more potential to be squeezed out of this pattern, or I am just a glutton for punishment.  I guess we'll see.

(Note: These photos were taken around Tbilisi on our way home from church - on the street where we park, in front of our favorite shwarma stand, and on a bridge over the Mtkvari river.  I kind of like the variety ... maybe Sundays will become modeling days for us!)


  1. Well, my hat is off to you for all that you did with both dresses. The Washi dress pattern is not for my body type either, and I am not anywhere near skilled enough to do all that you did to make it work for you. The 2nd one is very flattering and I like the length. I say it looks much more Anthropology than Amish. I am not seeing the Amish look at all! I hope you get to enjoy wearing it.

  2. Beautiful dresses. The 2nd one does not look Amish at all and actually looks quite stylish. I love the sleeves, fabric, and how you accessorized.

  3. I had to laugh about Jeremy's comment. Matt is the same with compliments :) But I want to say I do like the second dress. I am not seeing Amish at all and it's a dress I would totally wear!

  4. I have had the exact same thoughts & tribulations with this pattern. I've made two and I actually do wear them quite often to work, but I don't really like them. They are in regular rotation simply because they're comfortable. The style/shape is just not right for me.

    1. I am sorry you had the same frustrations, but it does make me feel a little better to know that I am not the only one!

  5. I really like your Washi dresses, and they look pretty flattering to me! Especially belted and accessorized with the scarf. Definitely not Amish. I am currently muslining this pattern and trying to work out the kinks. We'll see how it goes. I held off for a long time because I didn't think it would be flattering, but I dunno, the many online versions just finally broke me down!

  6. I think it looks it looks great! I like what you did to the sleeves :)

  7. I get exactly the same feeling about homemade cotton dresses. I feel like I've just been abducted into a conservative Christian cult and given one of the standard issue frocks!
    Yours doesn't really look Amish. At least not with the Boho accessories. It's a tricky dress isn't it? I've seen versions I've loved but have decided (without trying) that it won't work for me. For what it's worth I think yours looks lovely, especially with the belt.

  8. I just have to say that the first washi I made was in a blue polyester as a wearable muslin with the free sleeve pattern and it also (so said my Mom and so say I) looked very amish! So we had the same sentiment the first time around. I've made it since and taken a good bit of ease out of the sleeves as well- and the result was better. But just thought I'd let you know that someone else out there also feels very amish in her washi!

  9. I love both fabric choices! And I never bought the pattern even though there were do many amazing versions out there. I just feel like it will end up looking frumpy on me. Not sure why! I think they look cute with the belt and boots!

  10. Amish? Not at all. I actually like both versions on you - and love the fabric that you have used.
    I now have 4 Washis, and I do like how they look on me - from the front - however, the back is another issue entirely.

  11. well i think it looks great!
    and the pleats do look good, but i particularly love the sleeves and their bands

  12. While crediting your criticisms, I have to say that they look cute on you.


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