Well, to start off my May stashbusting, on Friday night last week I decided I wanted to make myself a winter Washi. Well, that’s not precisely how it came about. I was getting ready for uni the other day when I felt a sudden need for dresses I can wear during winter. My standard winter uniform is normally jeans, a singlet, a long sleeved top and a jumper (it rarely gets below 8 degrees down here in Perth!). But I’ve been wearing leggings a lot because a) I don’t have any jeans that fit me at the moment, and I don’t have enough money to get more, and b) I wear leggings even more because they’re way easier to get around in in my prac classes at uni. So leggings it is. But some days, you just want to make them look a little bit nicer, you know? Enter the idea for a winter dress:
This way, I can look nice on the outside and hide a singlet and leggings underneath so I can just whip the dress (and probably jumper) off for my classes, and then whip it back on again when we’re done. Win? win.
So, on Friday night I sat down, um’d, ah’d and then made my boyfriend listen to me umming and ahhing, about whether to size my washi pattern down one or two sizes. I don’t know why I talk to him about these things, since he has absolutely no idea, but to his credit he listens, and then tells me that whatever I’m thinking is right, which is normally all the reassurance I need. My gut said to go two sizes, and then I remeasured myself, and discovered that I should be making a size down these days anyway… And that decided me. I cut this two sizes down from the dresses that I’ve already made, and I’m glad I did, because it still runs a little big.
I, of course, put myself on a time limit, because I instantly decided I wanted to have it done in time for the craft fair the next day, which I was going to with my mum. It’s just as well this pattern pretty much makes itself. Honestly, why do I always do that?
I used Rae’s free Sleeve pattern, and just graded it up ‘about that much’. I think it was about half an inch- somewhere between what was recommended for an L and an XL. I didn’t even read the instructions, I just did it. It was pretty straight forward.
I hate hemming knits, so I threw some big 1″ hems on the sleeves and around the bottom and put some elastic in them- what was that? It doesn’t matter at all how wiggly my hems are now because they’re gathered by elastic?? It’s just like sewing magic. If the look didn’t remind me slightly of a pumpkin, I’d probably do it more often.
This was the most unstable knit fabric I have ever worked with, so I took the time to do a few ‘good sewing with knits’ techniques that I don’t normally bother with. I stabilised the shoulder seams with some mint coloured ribbon. So now they’re stable AND pretty on the inside. I stitched all my seams with the lightening stitch on my machine, so no popped seams for me! It took a little longer doing that, but I like that I can roll around on the floor in my dress and I don’t hear that horrid ripping noise we all know and love. Because, you know, I always roll around on the floor when I’m wearing dresses.
Finally, I did an awesome thing when I finished the neckline. I used some inspiration from Megan Nielsens blog where they talked about easy finishes for necklines for the Briar. Seriously, I have been meaning to try this for a while, and this fabric was so unstable there was no way I could do my normal self binding trick. I basically just ironed on a 1/4″ strip of lightweight fusible interfacing that I had cut, folded the neckline in once and triple-zig-zag stitched it down. Seriously, it took longer to cut the strip of fusible interfacing than it did to sew this neckline. Easy peasy. I don’t know if it will last as long as other methods, but we’ll soon find out!!
I also added a few extra lines of shirring to the back, to try and help the shirring cope with the bulkiness and heaviness of the fabric. It worked ok:
I swear my bum isn’t really that big. But this is the only photo I have of the back, so I’m putting it up anyway! Next time (or maybe sometime with this one when I can be bothered) I think I’ll stabilise the front underbust seam with a bit of elastic too. And I’ll definitely remove the pleats. I put them in because they were there, but they were a bit half assed from the very beginning. They just don’t work with knit fabric. The shirring works well, but the front gets a little boxy and weird from being stretched round to the back by all that shirring. It’s a minor thing, but if you’re thinking about making this dress in a knit fabric, you definitely need to give that seam a little more support! You can see in the photo below how the fabric doesn’t tuck in under my bust, it just sort of hangs out under my boobs in no-mans land… Not the most flattering look, that’s for sure, and at the wrong angle, it makes me look a bit pregnant- also not something I’m going for.
Overall I’m pretty stoked with my warm little dress. It’s a polyester and wool blend, which makes it pretty toasty. And soft. Did I mention warm? And the fabric was on sale at Potters end of season half price sale last year, so this dress cost me $12.50. Ultimate win. (Aside: Does anyone know when Potters is opening it’s doors at their new location? I went to the shop front in West Leederville with my lovely friend Julie the other day (HI JULIE!!) and they had a sign on the door saying they had moved and would open up again soon, I was a bit devastated to say the least, they were the only fabric shop I could easily get to on the train line)
Anyway, I hope you’re all coping with your transitional weather sewing, and keeping warm and or cool depending on what hemisphere you’re in!