Presenting - the Washi!
I had been intending to make a maxi version of this until the sudden arrival of Autumn forced a re-think. This was actually a good thing though because I wasn’t completely clear on how to do it, despite Rae’s online instructions.
A couple of pointers about the pattern – generally, pretty straightforward, and I love the end result. However… beware the ¼” seam allowances.
Consider your fabric before cutting out the pattern. If the fabric has a tendancy to ravel or – like mine – is light and stretchy, extend the seam allowances to the usual 5/8”. While I appreciate that Rae is giving a streamlined experience, the ¼” allowances were a complete nightmare. It was a constant battle to keep the fabric from getting sucked into the feed dogs and there wasn’t any room for expansion.
You see – shock, horror – I never make a toile. With the home-designed wrap cardy, I did a dry run with an old sheet. That’s it though. Surprising really that there haven’t been more disasters.
Because I hate the way facings try to high jump over necklines, I took Rae’s advice and did a full bodice lining. Watch her tutorial if you want to do this.
Check out my arty pic of work in progress.
Those pesky ¼” seams (some are ½” by the way, so watch out for that too) again proved challenging. And I regretted using a polycotton lining instead of a stretch one because it made the fit a bit harder to get right. However, all in all, a good decision. I love the way the bodice lining sits neatly out of the way of the smocking, cleverly eliminating bulk.
Not to skim over the smocking. This was a scary, yet surprisingly easy process. If you haven’t done it before, I’d recommend that you return to Rae’s Tutorial HQ. My couple of trial lines didn’t seem to pull in enough but I decided to jump in, taking photos as I went to record the descent into hell or march to victory.
My bravery was rewarded with a truly delightful result. Smocking, it turns out, is easy and fun to do. It’s a very effective way to avoid zips and buttons, and looks pretty cool me-thinks.
Another challenge with this pattern – Rae and other reviewers do warn about it – is the cut out in the neckline. Be Careful of the Cutout..
Next time, I’ll err on the side of less being more. You can always cut out more but you can’t put it back in (our sad wish when Aisling first tried it on). No going back once it’s cut. Because the fabric was light, the edges also drooped out in a pretty unsightly manner (some hand stitching of the bodice sorted that out).
Completely unrelated to the pattern – I will never again chop an inch off a hem with the overlocker. Never again. Overly confident from my smocking victory and tired of the bodice battle, I decided to trim an inch and overlock the hem in one go, judging by eye as I went. Take a look at the result.
Yep. This is not a method to be copied and it involves a lot of pinning and re-pinning on the wearer to achieve a (semi)-straight hem.
Finish it I finally did though and I’m very happy with the final product. This is Aisling’s impromptu Washi photo shoot in Dublin Castle.
Next time I make the Washi (there’ll definitely be a next time), I’ll increase those seam allowances, use stretch lining, be cautious with the cut-out and exercise self-discipline with hem trimming. Easy peasy.
So, did no-one else have hiccups along the Washi way…?
The nitty gritty
Pattern: The Washi, Made by Rae
Fabric: A stretch cotton (I think) from Misan Fabrics in London (£30 for 3 metres, I used about 1.5m for this)
Location: Dublin Castle
Other blogs featuring the humble Washi: Caroline Niziol has very helpfully pulled loads together here