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Dumb and Dumber - or how not to make a Washi Dress...

[Note that I believe all the dumbness in this post is to do with my newbie status as pattern adjuster, some carelessness, some overconfidence and some just plain idiotic moves - not the Washi pattern!  I found the pattern itself really easy to follow and sew; and if you don't totally screw it up then it's quick to sew too!]

So like everyone else that moves, I really liked the look of the Washi dress / tunic.  I bought the pattern and then ummed and ahhed about the FBA part.

Dumbness #1:
Clearly, I have to accept that I always require an FBA.  Why would I think otherwise?  I guess partly it was the measurements on the pattern; but the advice was clear and for my circumstances, an FBA was needed.  So here is attempt 1 - it was supposed to be a muslin and then I started loving the fabric was gutted when it didn't fit.

Dumbness #2:
Making a muslin out of a fabric I liked, then being crapped off when it didn't fit.

Mmmmm squeezy!

Happily my friend Danika selflessly stepped into the breach and took my ill-fitting muslin away and made it into a very lovely dress for her (I am not jealous...much!).

Then I got temporarily un-dumb (or indeed clever, as it is more commonly known).  I made a muslin of the bust area of the bodice.  Out of actual muslin.  Then I went a step further and bought some fabric I liked less than my next dress fabric, and made a sample top (without facings and so on).  Not pictured because I didn't get clever enough to remember to do that before I unpicked it to model the pattern pieces on...

Significant adjustments made in those muslins as follows:
  • FBA (a rather large one)
  • Dart repositioning
  • Addition of extra width at the side seams
  • Redfrafting of the front arm scye to be less gapey
  • A bit of additional length to front bodice (half an inch)
  • Remodel of dress front to fit the altered bodice piece
  • Two extra shirring lines (it just felt better)
  • About half an inch extra on the shoulders (both back and front, so nearly an inch)
  • Removal of significant amounts of the added width, once we were past my rib cage (I had a bit of a pregnancy tent going on, and am definitely not preggers!)
The picture below shows the extent of the adjustment - it's quite disturbing how much extra bodice there is, though some of that got removed again.

So after all that, I transferred my second (well, technically third) muslin make to a new pattern piece and felt very happy and virtuous with myself.

Dumbness #3:
Believing I was very clever to have muslined prolifically and all the hard fitting brain work was over.

So I set to work making my new dress in Valori Wells Nest fabric, which I got on special in a local quilt shop. I love the soft shade of blue and subtle print.

I laid everything out to make sure I had enough fabric, taking care to remember to make the new front skirt piece, which is of course a lot wider to match the new front bodice.  As I laid it out, I recalled how much of the additional fabric I allowed in the side seams had to be removed again on my brown spotty muslin tunic top version (not pictured, except when being cut out, above).  I decided an obvious rationalisation of the process of fitting while I sewed and re sewing and so on was to omit the additional width on the back bodice piece - because I didn't need that much additional width in the end (and I couldn't take it off the front piece easily without altering the bust area to be smaller).

Dumbness #4:
Not thinking about whether altering a side seam alteration, would result in a non-side side seam...

Yes, my hands are reaching around behind me there, to find the pockets which now live somewhere in the territory of buttock rather than hip.  While I am flexible and into yoga, I don't necessarily want to do a full back bend to put my hands in my pockets...

Dumbness #5:
Not remembering that I didn't remove the excess width at the side seam evenly along the dress length.
It's now too tight again across the chest, because I lost a good 1.5 inches there when I didn't add the extra width on the back bodice piece.

[Please note:  I am now swearing under my breath].

I didn't realise most of this until the dress was nearly finished (bar arm hole binding and hemming). I was kind of rushing as I realised that I had a good chance of finishing (being practiced after sewing this multiple times...) in time to wear this out for dinner with my girlfriends on Saturday night.

Dumbness #6:
Rushing it and totally and utterly fucking it up.

No other way to say this one.  Did you notice above (you may have been distracted by the dumbness of the pockets) that the bodice not only looked too tight but a bit off?

This is the (now unpicked) bodice piece folded in half.  See how the cut out bit is totally on one side of the centre front, rather than nicely straddling it?

Check it out again below, for full effect:

What the bejesus did I do here then?  It's so off, it's not even funny.

So all the crying and swearing aside...where to from here?

I just have to:
  • Either recut the bodice or make the cut out bit even somehow (it would be a lot bigger than in the pattern, but that might look OK and it's probably what I will try first).
  • Widen the bodice again at the bust to make up for not cutting the back bodice larger.  I think I will do this with a triangle / wedge of fabric as I don't really need to add the width back in on the rest of the side seam.
  • Sort out the pockets.  I likely want to remove some width from the front skirt (which got widened to match the front bodice).  So I will unpick the pockets and remove some of that width from the front piece only - hopefully I need to remove just enough to pull the side seams and pockets back to the side...If I need to remove less then I would have to insert into the other side and if I need to remove more, then I will need to unpick both front and back pockets and then resew once I have the right sizing.  I will need to do this bit first I think so that if I need to add fabric I can add a continuous strip with the bodice widening in point 2.
Phew!  It certainly takes a lot of effort to be dumb...

Wish me luck :)


  1. OMG! A sewing saga for sure. I love that you're still looking forward.

    ... and I must be dumb too... because I can't work out FBA?


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