Fitting My Washi Dress

When Phee Fabrics started stocking Art Gallery Fabrics in 100% premium cotton OEKO-TEX certified fabric, I knew it was time to search for a new pattern.  I have a couple of woven dress patterns that I like, (blogged here) but they are quite similar, and I wanted something with a little more detail to showcase the pretty fabric.

One of my sewing friends who also likes dresses, suggested a few pattern companies to me.  She forewarned me that the patterns were not inexpensive, but felt that they were worth the money.  I scrolled through a few companies, and kept coming back to the Made By Rae Washi Dress.  The simple pleats, neck detail, and of course- pockets, spoke to me.

Whenever I get a new pattern (especially for wovens), I like to compare it to a pattern that I know fits me well, to see how similar or different the fit is.  Since wovens don’t have any give, making sure that you’ve got a good fit is very important!  Right away I could tell that this pattern was drafted for a much smaller cup size, so I knew I was going to have to do some work to get a perfect fit.  I traced the bodice and taped the dart together, and held it against my body to see how far off the fit was.  The dart ended up a couple of inches above my bust apex, and the bodice didn’t cover the bottom of my bust.  Sigh!

Washi bust

Since this is kind of a common issue for me with woven patterns, it wasn’t exactly unexpected.  I needed some length between the armscye and the dart, so the simple fix was slashing the bodice front and adding in a 1.5″ wide strip of waxed paper.  I also added 1.5″ length to the pattern back.

Washi pattern adj

I cut out a bodice front and the upper back of the pattern in some cheap fabric and basted it together to check my fit.  I decided another half inch added to the front at the shoulder seam would give me that extra little bit I needed, and cut into my good fabric.  I took some time with my pattern layout, because every sewist knows that if you’re working with a floral fabric, it’s nearly impossible to avoid having flowers on your bust.  And I wanted an intentional placement versus an awkward one! 🙂

The pattern tutorial suggests using interfacing on the front around the U-notch to help keep the corners laying smoothly.  Tracing around the stitch line gave me the perfect shape to iron on to the bodice front.

Washi interfacing

It also calls for facings at the front and back neckline, and bias trim along the armscyes. But a finished bodice lining is just so much nicer, and would also make it easy to stitch a couple of lines 1/2″ apart across the back to make a casing for my elastic.  To make a bodice lining, cut another bodice front, and cut a bodice back by folding the pattern back 1/2″ below the bottom shirring line marking.  Sew the front and back linings together at the shoulder seams.  Sew the bodice front and dress back pieces together at the shoulder seams.  Place the lining over the dress, right sides together, and stitch around the neckline.  Clip the curves, turn right side out and press.

Then you will need to “burrito roll” the bodice to sew the armscyes.  If you’ve never done the “burrito roll” method, it’s almost magical how it works!  Basically you are rolling the garment up from one side, then flipping the opposite sides over and around (enclosing the rolled portion in the shoulder strap area) and stitching the armscye, then pulling it through.  There are plenty of video tutorials online if you are a visual learner.  Again you will clip the curves, turn the bodice right side out and press carefully.  Stitch the side seams and press.  Turn the bottom edge of the lining under 1/4″ and press.

You’re supposed to do 5 or 6 lines of shirring along the back, to give a nice fitted look.  Since shirring didn’t really sound fun, and wasn’t the look I was going for, I opted to use elastic in a casing.  Keeping your fabric smooth, stitch the bodice back lining to the dress back along the bottom two marked shirring lines.  This will give you the casing for the back elastic. To determine the proper length of elastic, measure your body around the bottom of the bodice.  Divide the measurement in two, and use 3/8″ wide cotton swimwear elastic, marked at that length.  Thread the elastic through, stitching it in place at both ends.  Then stitch the bodice front lining in place by stitching in the ditch along the front seam line.

The interior back bodice:

Washi int backThe interior front bodice:

Washi int front

Can you see why lining the bodice is worth the effort?  There is just something so satisfying about a garment that is as nicely finished on the inside as it is on the outside!  You can always feel proud about making a quality garment that will last!

Washi frontWashi back

I love my new dress!  And it has pockets!  It’s cool and comfortable, and can be layered under a jacket or cardigan for year round use.

Washi pocketsWashi down

Using a blind hem stitch on my sewing machine was the only way to do the hem.  It’s a nice deep hem, folded under an inch, zigzagged and pressed, then folded under another two inches.  It reminds me of the type of sewing my beloved grandmother used to do. ❤  High quality fabrics, quality finishes, and a nice deep hem.

Now that I’ve got my pattern perfected, I need to decide on some more Art Gallery Fabric so that I can make another dress!

As always, I only give my honest opinion.  After all, my post represents me! 🙂  Thank you for reading and sharing my love of sewing, patterns, fabric, and pattern hacking.❤

Wandering Back Into Wovens

When I first learned to sew, it was with woven fabric.  I think most people start out using wovens either because that was the type of fabric their Mothers and Grandmothers used and taught them with, or because they gravitated toward garment making after learning to quilt.  I made myself plenty of cotton woven clothes in my teens, and so many pretty dresses for my daughter when I was in my twenties.  I also recall making a bathrobe for my husband (with tons of piping) and a dress shirt for my son (all those buttons and buttonholes!)  But sewing with knits seems so much easier and forgiving, so I had completely switched over to knits and didn’t look back.

Then two things converged that has me wandering back into wovens.  Phee Fabrics started carrying stretch twill, which intrigued me.  A local sewing store held The Tunic Bible workshop, which sounded sort of fun.  And it would have been fun, but it was way out of my budget range, so I put it out of my mind.  But then I started seeing the dresses the women made at the workshop on a Facebook sewing group I belong to.  And I needed the pattern!

It’s totally my style- a simple and straight-forward design, yet with the opportunity to personalize.  So I looked for “The Tunic Bible”, by Sarah Gunn and Julie Starr at a couple of local stores and neither had it in stock.  I probably should have driven to the closest bookstore, but it was easy enough to order the book online.  ISBN 9781617453564.  The pattern is included in the book as two large copy shop sized pages printed front and back.  I traced the basic tunic and all the placket options in my size, dug through my 25 to 30 year old stash of wovens for fabric to use as my muslin, and got started.

The book is kind of a “look book” with lots of photographs of the tunics to give you inspiration, and includes directions for basic tunic construction and for each of the placket options.  It recommends finishing your seams with French seams to give your tunic a more couture finish.  I chose to use flat felling on my shoulder seams, as it seems easier/cleaner to me.

I made a sleeveless tunic length top with a wide split placket as my first muslin, and like the basic look.  However, it was immediately obvious to me that it is too wide across the shoulders in the front.  Frankly, it’s too wide even if I were adding sleeves, even though I had traced on the sleeveless line.  Despite yoga class and trying to have good posture, years of deskwork and hunching over a computer have taken their toll and given me forward rotated shoulders.  While wearing it, I placed a row of pins in my top where I wanted the shoulders to end.  After taking it off, I laid the pattern on my shirt and marked my new cut lines adding in the seam allowance.

TB turq topTB turq side

Thinking that I had solved my fit problem, I moved on to a dress length muslin using the V-neck placket.  Although the pattern includes all the plackets, the tunic is NOT marked with all the neckline cuts.  You are expected to match up the center lines and shoulder seams and trim away the excess fabric on the front and back bodice after sewing on the facing.  If you are an experienced sewist, it’s easy enough to do, although it can feel nerve-wracking to not know for sure that you are cutting it properly.  This could be a bit overwhelming to someone that is just learning to sew.

Trying on the dress revealed my second fit issue.  The bust darts are not in the proper place for my body.  I am longer than average from shoulder point to bust apex.  This fit issue should not have been a surprise to me, since I frequently have to adjust patterns because they cut into my armpits.  Since knits are so forgiving and most knit patterns don’t have bust darts, I didn’t really think about the bust dart.  As you can see in my dress, the bust darts are way too high and too far apart.  Since that puts the fullest part of the bodice above my bustline, there is a bit of pooling there.

TB V dressTB V side

So I did a bit of research online to figure the best way to lower a bust dart.  I had determined the amount I needed to lower the bust dart by measuring from where the dart fell on my body, down to the bust apex, and ended up with an inch difference.  I also decided to make my bodice a size smaller, since my measurements put me between sizes and I had traced out the larger size.  A couple of sites recommend just cutting out the bust dart section of your pattern, moving it down to where you want it, and filling in the cut out section with paper.  Since I always keep my master patterns intact and trace out the size I need, I decided to move my pattern piece up an inch on the master pattern and trace the bust dart and smaller size bodice.

TB bust dart

I finally felt confident enough with the pattern to cut into my navy stretch twill and make a dress.  I loved the look of the wide split placket on my top, so decided to use it again.  The Tunic Bible recommends using petersham ribbon or bias tape for trimming your tunic, but since I had a vision of the look I was going for, I had ordered three colors of stretch twill and made my own “bias tape”.  Here’s where the beauty of stretch twill comes into play.  On my muslin top and dress, I had cut strips of fabric on the bias to trim the arm openings, etc.  Since stretch twill has spandex in it, and 10% stretch, I didn’t have to cut my trim on the bias!  I used Wonder Tape (a wash-away double stick tape for fabric) to hold my trim in place on the placket while I top-stitched it, and let me tell you- it is a total game changer.  I used to pin all my trims or pockets in place, then sew and hope that things didn’t shift or get a weird bubble from the pins.  Wonder Tape is awesome and so much easier.  I highly recommend trying it.

I love how my first dress turned out!  It reminds me of a dress my Grandma used to have when I was a little girl.  She was rather stylish, and very beautiful, and an all-around wonderful person.  ❤  I miss her so, and wish I had a photo of her in the dress I remember.  I swear a photo exists, but my Mom didn’t recall it.  Sigh.  Anyway, I have a beautiful new dress that reminds me of her, and I will wear it all summer long!

TB navy fullTB navy back

I decided to go with a solid color for my next dress, and used the ruffle neckline.  This is an unusual choice for me because I don’t “do” frilly.  Lady-like, yes.  Girly and frilly, nope!  I’ve put ruffles on the bummies I made for my grand-daughter, but what looks cute on a baby or toddler doesn’t equate to looking cute on me!  I don’t know what possessed me to try it, but I actually like the end result.  The coral stretch twill is so bright and summery, and it looks like something I would wear to a cocktail party.  (If I were one of those people who throws or gets invited to a dressy cocktail party, which I’m not. :-))  But I feel pretty in it and will probably wear it to my nephew’s wedding this summer.

TB coral standTB coral sit.jpg

I’m happy to have wandered back into wovens, and all it took was the intrigue of a new fabric and a few Facebook posts to do it!

Birthday Traditions

Going back as far as college, I’ve had a couple of birthday traditions. One which I have just given up this year is to color my hair the night before my birthday so that I wake up on my birthday without any grey hair, but this past year I have started letting my natural hair grow and letting my grey hair show. The second has always been to have a birthday dress. I started with buying myself a White House Black Market dress for the first few years, then things started changing. I would either buy a dress I absolutely loved and couldn’t live without, or make myself something something I would love just as much.

Picnic Dress Inspiration

When Phee got in the stretch twill fabrics, I could not have been more excited. I was back in my land of experience, and had so many ideas on what could be made with this fabric. I then ran across the Lila + June Picnic Dress and I knew this pattern was going to be it! One of my favorite dresses that I used to wear all the time was navy, so I knew I wanted to use the navy, but I also wanted to use the coral, so I did some color blocking on the skirt of the dress. This dress has darts, gathers, spaghetti straps, and an invisible zipper. I was ready to take all of these things on after not having sewn a fitted dress like this in far too long.

Muslins are Key

Anytime I’m making a dress with a fitted bodice, I’ll sew a muslin of the bodice first. I went with my measurements for my muslin, making sure to use the stretch twill. I only sewed up the lining without straps or the exterior of the dress, the lining is where the darts are. I found my measurements to be too large, so I sized down for my final dress to the next size down, although after getting the dress completely together I found some additional issues. I suggest completing both the lining and the exterior of the bodice for your muslin, as this will help you find any other things you can’t see with just the lining.


Finding Additional Fit Issues

After I added my zipper, and tried my dress on, I learned that I should have taken more in at the waist, and done some sort of hollow chest adjustment to account for a gapping neckline. I have had a gapping neckline on woven dresses in the past, but I’ve always just dealt with the issue in a different way and it didn’t occur to me that It would be an issue on a dress of this style.

Fixing the Waistline

I picked out the stitches on my waistline 1″ to both sides of each side seam. On the bodice I took a greater seam allowance toward the bottom of the bodice and blended this toward the original seam. I pressed my seam allowances on my bodice and bodice lining as directed by the patter. Since I had added pockets to my dress (yes, I added pockets), I decided to gather the skirt a little more along this area instead of re-sewing this seam. Then I re-did my waist seam.

Fixing the Neckline

I used some clear elastic, slightly pulling as I triple zig zag stitched it to the wrong side of the lining of the bodice between the straps. This was an easy fix for a big problem, and I didn’t have to take things apart or re-cut any pieces to make the fit better. To help keep the lining turned to the inside after the elastic was sewn in, I stitched in the ditch a few stitches between the center front panel and the side panel at the top of the bodice.


Other Things

I was working on adding a built in bra so that I didn’t have to wear a strapless bra with this dress. After making two fit versions of the Orange Lingerie Esplanade that weren’t quite perfect I ran out of time on getting a perfectly fitted strapless bra. I lightly attached the lining of the bodice at the waistline by hand so that I can easily pull that out once I have the best fit on my Esplande so I can attach it into the dress.


I added pockets to my dress! During the time I was working on this dress there was a sew-along happening around the same time. You can find the details on adding pockets over at Social Dee’s Part 3 Picnic Dress post. I did use a pocket I already had from another pattern, and made it a little bit larger, but I followed sew-along’s post on where to place my pocket.


I love Phee’s new stretch twill so much! I already have many more plans for it, including making some GreenStyle Moxies for my daughter for PE this fall. This fabric has so many different applications and I can’t wait to see what everyone does with it.

Note: This post contains affiliate links to products. All opinions and thoughts are my own. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Drama Dress + Rayon Spandex

I’m excited to tell you about this amazing Drama Dress made out of Phee’s Rayon Spandex!

On Thursday, I was trying to decide if I wanted to sew up a new dress for graduation on Saturday. I was eyeing the George + Ginger Facebook page, knowing that a new test was coming up for the updated version of the Drama Dress. Friday morning, I decided I was going to print off the pattern and sew it up during afternoon nap time. Thankfully, the Little took a nice long nap so I was able to finish this dress!

I looked in my fabric stash to see what I had in that would work. I always keep some Phee Fabric‘s Rayon Spandex on hand, and had a two yard cut of black that I knew would work great. I got to taping and cutting the pattern, then the pattern pieces, and started sewing!

I made the slimline version in a size 6 in the chest, graded to an 8 in the waist, hips, and down to the hemline. I am glad I went up to the 8 to make the bottom a little less form fitting. Those were the sizes I measured into, and once again I am glad I trusted the size chart!

I opted for the longer length. Partially because I don’t feel comfortable in anything too short these days and partially because I have a toddler. 🙂 I knew I wanted to do the tank option since summer is here. Plus, it’ll be a great layering piece with cardigans once fall comes! I chose to do the keyhole option to add a fun detail to the dress since I was choosing a plain black fabric.

The way the binding is attached was new to me. I am used to a single fold binding, but decided to follow to directions and try out this technique. The binding is sewn/serged on right sides together, folded under to the seam, and then folded back around the seam and topstitched on. I used my coverstitch machine for the topstitching and am happy with how it looks. The fabric is so smooth and my machine loves it, so that always helps!

The pattern finishes the neck and arms with bands. I almost attached bindings instead, but am glad I stuck with bands. Because the neckline is so high, I think the bands would be more comfortable. I did not topstitch my bands as I usually do, but that’s mainly because I ran out of time. Because the bands are my fitted on the neck and arms and the fabric is not too thin, I do not think topstitching is necessary. The bands stayed flat all day and I didn’t notice them at all!

Last but not least, I added the inseam pockets. If you’ve read any of my posts before, that should be no surprise! 🙂 The size, shape, and placement of these pockets are perfect! I have had some patterns where the inseam pockets are a bit awkward, but not these. I kept my phone in there all day with no issues.

This thicker Rayon Spandex from Phee was PERFECT for this dress! Because of the weight of the fabric, I did not feel the need to wear a tank or shorts underneath. A bonus for me on hot days!

I am really glad I jumped at the opportunity to sew this pattern up. This was my first George + Ginger pattern, and will not be my last. 🙂 The pattern updates should be on the website soon. I will come back and let you know when that happens!

What do you think of this dress? Which version will you sew up first? Sleeves or tank, keyhole, normal neckline, or the collar? Which color of Rayon Spandex is your favorite? Be sure to let me know in the comments!

Find the pattern here.
Find the fabric here.

As always, let me know if you have any questions or comments! Thanks for the opportunity to share my love of Phee’s Rayon Spandex!


*Some of the links above may be affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission from your purchase. There is no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!*

Tricot.. what’s that?!

Tricot pronounced tree-co is actually a blend of nylon spandex and the tricot refers to the knitting process. Tricot is made on a warp knitting machine that uses fine yarns to create wales (vertical columns of stitches) on the surface and crosswise ribs on the back. There is a horizontal texture on one side and a vertical texture on the other. Although this is invisible to the naked eye for us fabric inspectors you can see it haha.

tricot 2.jpgTricot is run resistant which means that is resistant to pulling and pilling. It also is stretch and shrink resistant so it has AWESOME recovery.

It is moisture wicking and anti microbial so it is perfect for bathing suits, sports bras, undies, all the things. haha I use it for leggings or hoodies for the girls and they totally love it and color blocking on leggings is perfect since it comes in so many colors.

Tricot is smooth, lightweight, breathable, soft, flexible but also so durable!Tricot 5.jpgTricot 4.jpgTricot 3.jpgtricot 1

New fabrics can be confusing but I hope this helps!


A Heavily Modified Summer Dawn and Phee Heavy Rayon Spandex

Today is all about a modified Summer Dawn Wrap Dress and this amazing rayon spandex from Phee Fabrics.  I have made a couple of Summer Dawn’s in woven during testing and I could not believe how much I loved them.  The pattern was originally written for knits so I decided to give it a try in this beautiful burgundy rayon spandex.

Phee Promo - 7
The Phee Rayon Spandex is very soft and has the most amazing drape.

For this dress, as stated above, I used the Summer Dawn Wrap Dress from Striped Swallow Designs as the base.  Since this is a heavily modified version, I would like to share a little about how I modified it.

First, I wanted a slim fit sleeve so I decided to use the Harbor Knot sleeves. I cut them about an inch above the 3/4 sleeve cut line so that I could add a flounce to give the dress even more flair.  I added the flounce from the Rulo pattern by George and Ginger.  Since I used the Harbor Knot sleeves instead of the sleeves from the Summer Dawn dress, I needed to adjust the armsyce.  In order to get the front and back bodices drafted correctly, I did not cut out my pattern after I taped it.  I placed the Harbor Knot pattern underneath and traced the armcyse and front shoulder as needed.  This is how the armcyse on my new pattern pieces look.

Adjusted armcyse for the Summer Dawn Wrap Dress.

When it came to drafting the skirt, I modified it by shortening the skirt by 3″.  Next, I drew a curve on the front “corners” of the skirt.  This will allow for a much smoother ruffle when attached.

Curved Hem for the front skirt.

For the ruffle, I cut my fabric 6″ long by 150″ wide for a size XS.  You will need 3 stripes of fabric, sewn together on the short ends.  Once sewn, fold in half lengthwise and then sew a gathering stitch along the long end through both layers of fabric.  Gather your ruffle to fit the bottom of the skirt and up the sides.  You could also cut your ruffle 3″ long and leave a raw edge

I constructed the bodice according to the directions provided, except for the sleeves.  I attached the sleeves to the bodice just like you would attach any sleeves to a bodice. If needed, reference the Harbor Knot pattern on how to attach the sleeves. Then I attached the flounce to the bottom of the sleeve.  I did this by finding the center of the bottom of the sleeve as well as the center of the flounce and attached.  Since I’m using very nice knit fabric, I skipped hemming the flounce.  Skipping this step doesn’t take away too much from the look of the dress.  After I attached the sleeves and flounces, I continued with the pattern instructions until the skirt construction.

I sewed the skirt sides together as per the pattern.  Then I added the gathered ruffle and attached the skirt to the bodice per the instructions.  And voilá…you are done!  Put on your new dress and feel beautiful.  You did it.

Phee Promo - 11
Flaunt it and enjoy yourself in your new dress.