Dresses, Pattern Review

Washi, washi, washi!

So we’re back! Arizona was good. The Ironman went great. The trip was long, and we were all happy to get home!

I was also quite happy to be reunited with Sally, my beloved Singer, who went for her yearly maintenance while we were away. She’s back and humming along better than ever!

But now down to business — Washi!

Creative Counselor: First Washi Dress
My first Washi dress — I’m in love.  And I can’t typically wear a short-sleeved dress in early December in Kansas, but the temperature was in the 70s yesterday. Rock on!

I finally sewed together my very first Washi dress (the pieces have been cut and sitting on the floor of my sewing room for about 2 months — bad Katie!), and I can say with absolutely confidence that it will not be my last.

Get ready for some gushing (apologies in advance). I love, love, LOVE this pattern. Seriously, this may be the best pattern I’ve worked with, both in styling and construction.

Creative Counselor: First Washi Dress
Another full shot of my Washi — just couldn’t resist!

I’ll go through my pros and cons on the pattern below, but one thing I just have to mention — bust darts! These bust darts are perfect. I love the dresses I’ve made myself so far, but I’ve never been completely happy with the bust darts until this dress. These darts hit me in exactly the right place and look so seamless. They add a ton to the professional “storebought” look. I remember Rae posting when she was drafting the Washi dress pattern about her agonizing and rewriting of the bust darts. Well, all that work paid off because they are perfect!

I also love the way the bust darts are drafted in the pattern. I’ve never seen them done this way before. Rather than just having you trace the dart on to the fabric and fold it, trying to line up your lines, etc., the Washi Dress pattern actually has a cut-out where the bust dart goes. This may not seem like much, but it makes for absolute idiot-proof bust darts. No way to place these wrong because the fabric is cut out where the dart goes! Love this. I sometimes have issues with lining up my dart lines (particularly if the fabric and my fabric pen are too close to the same color), or the fabric slipping as I sew, etc. I’m going to start doing this on my bust darts from now on so I can’t screw them up!

I also love the styling. I’m usually not a huge fan of empire-waist dresses. I generally think they make me look pregnant — probably because I wore a lot of them when I was pregnant. But this one is really flattering and actually makes my belly look flatter rather than pregnant. I think that may be because it’s not a true empire-waist dress. The bodice extends a couple of inches below the breasts, which gives nice chest definition and hits at one of the narrowest spots on most women’s bodies. The whole silhouette is really nice.

Creative Counselor: First Washi Dress
See? No pregnant pooch!

Pattern: Made by Rae Washi Dress

Fabric: A nice, drapey printed medium-weight linen from Joann’s.

Size: Small (For anyone who may wonder, my bust size is 35.5″, and the bust measurement is by far the most important measurement in this pattern).

Modifications: None

Physical Pattern: It’s a PDF, which isn’t my favorite but all that was available when I bought the pattern. I hate cutting out all the pieces of paper. Washi is now available in a paper pattern, which is probably what I would have bought if it had been available at the time. I think the extra $ for a paper pattern is generally worth it.


  • Bust darts! These are the absolute perfect bust darts for me! See my gushing above.
  • Pockets — the pockets are incorporated into the skirt pattern pieces, so there are no awkward seams where the pocket starts, it cuts down the sewing time, and you can’t screw up placement. I love that the pockets are seamless. You can barely tell that they’re there. I think I’m going to start making this modification to all my dresses and skirts with in-seam pockets, as long as I have enough fabic.
  • Sleeves — These little cap sleeves are the perfect size. They give some coverage if you wear the dress by itself but are the size and shape ensures that they don’t bunch up under a cardigan.
  • Pleats — Such a flattering alternative to the standard gathered waist.
  • Shirring — OMG. Can we say comfy? The shirring eliminates the need for closures (the dress just slips over your head), and makes the dress uber comfy. Not to mention that shirring is ridiculously easy.* This was my first time shirring, and I’m not sure why I was so nervous about it!

*Tip for those with top drop-in bobbins: Most tutorials on shirring (including Rae’s) will tell you not to stretch your elastic thread as you wind the bobbin. But, if your machine is like mine (a Singer 7470), that won’t work. You won’t get any tension in your thread and you’ll just end up with a wonky stitch that doesn’t gather up. Instead, you need to pull the elastic thread as tight as you can as you wind the bobbin. That way, the elastic thread will be nice and tight as you sew and will shir up nicely.

Creative Counselor: Washi Dress details
Check out those bust darts! Aren’t they awesome?


  • Cutout — I’m actually not a big fan of the cutout on this dress. I like the cutout with the right fabric, but my fabric was so drapey that the cutout makes the neckline gape in a weird way. I probably should have interfaced the bodice piece around the cutout in addition to the facings. I prefer dresses like this in drapey fabrics, though, so I’ll probably just omit the cutout next time.
  • PDF pattern — But now you can buy the paper pattern!
  • That’s it. Seriously, I can’t think of anything else that I didn’t like about this pattern.
Creative Counselor: First Washi Dress
Funny neckline gaping. Definitely omitting the cutout with drapey fabric.

Overall grade: A+. Rae hit this one out of the park. It has me really hoping for more women’s patterns from her.

Now my dilemma is whether to make a second Washi right away (I have seriously awesome fabric for it!), or try out another probably-awesome and yet-to-be-sewn pattern in my stash. Decisions!

Creative Counselor: First Washi Dress
For good measure. Before Albert finished with the lawn, I enlisted J to take photos of my dress. Not bad for a 3 1/2-year-old!

9 thoughts on “Washi, washi, washi!

  1. Looks great! I’m still hesitant to jump on the washi bandwagon. Unless something lays flush against my middle it really does make me look preggers – the curse of the big boobs. : / However, this looks so comphy for a summer frock (and heck put a turtle neck under that with some leggings and boots and wear it into winter!) I MAY have to give it a chance….

    1. It is super comfy! You would probably need a full bust adjustment on Washi since you are more graciously endowed than I am 🙂 Rae admits on her blog that Washi is designed more for the small-busted crowd. Since 2 kids and BFing has left my boobs all saggy and flat, they fit Washi just fine! Your bust measurement would probably put you in a really large size but I bet you’d actually need a medium like me just with an FBA. I think it would be cute on you!

    1. Thank you! If the shirring is all that’s keeping you from Washi, you can totally avoid the shirring by just substituting a casing. Rae mentions partway down in this post (http://www.made-by-rae.com/2012/10/tutorial-pattern-long-sleeve-for-washi-dress/) about how she made a casing in her bodice lining instead of shirring. You could also just use single-fold bias tape to make a casing. i’m sure that I’ll end up doing that at some point when I don’t have any elastic thread around! This pattern is really versatile that way!

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. I wanted to thank you for this wonderful read!! I absolutely loved
    every little bit of it. I’ve got you saved as a favorite to look at new stuff you post…

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