Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Washi Dress


I may be the LAST person on the planet to have discovered this pattern but I finally had some time between cleaning up flooding, work, new puppy, and normal life to make it!  I picked up the pattern at Fancy Tiger a few months ago and was trying to use a fabric in my stash.  This Amy Butler "Sketchbook Roses" fabric (in Fresh) from the Alchemy line is what I decided on.  Seems perfect for a dress like this.  For the piping I used the "Memoir" fabric in Zest (i.e. yellow) from the same line.

It really helped me to see all the different versions of the Washi as well as blog posts and the Made by Rae tutorials, really made it easier for me.  So I would like to reciprocate and provide some tips and issues I had.  I will also review the pattern on PatternReview.

What I'm covering in this post:

1.  Prepare the pattern 
2.  Make a muslin, bodice only
3.  Make the neckline a v-neck
4.  Add piping to the neckline
5.  Lin the bodice instead of facing
6.  Finish the seams (French)

Since the printed pattern (you can also purchase the PDF pattern but I bought the pattern at a store) has six sizes on it, each cutting line is delineated by a different type line.  Although this is very clear to see, I also like to highlight my size before cutting, just in case.  I used a yellow marker and drew on all the size L lines before laying out my patter.


Rae suggests making a muslin in the instructions which is a great idea.  I used to rush into sewing clothes because I didn't want to "waste the time' to make a practice version but after ruining some beautiful fabrics because the final product didn't fit, I know like to make a muslin first.

For my muslin I actually used muslin because I have a lot of it around.  Basically you're just cutting out the two bodice pieces and sewing them according to direction using cheap fabric that you don't mind throwing out.

I made the Large size to accommodate my bust size, per the back of the pattern.  I tried it on and it fit perfectly, I was lucky.  No alterations needed.  My dress form is smaller than me so it looks loose but it was very fitting on me and the end of the bodice came just to the end of my bust so it is a high waisted pattern which I like but you can adjust it to fit at the waist by lengthening the bodice pieces.

As you can see in the muslin photo above, another great reason to make a muslin is you can draw on it with a permanent Sharpie which is what I did to try out the v-neck.  Then I drew a line on the pattern itself

and cut the "real" fabric out using that line. 


I think piping really adds a polish to this neckline.  I didn't have any packaged piping and decided yellow was the best accent color.  I ended up finding some cording in my sewing room that's used to make piping and had just enough of it for the neckline.  I also had the Memoir fabric left over from an
apron I made from the same fabric line and it coordinated perfectly! 

If you've never made piping, it's easy.  Buy the cording, which is a white cotton that comes in different widths.  I probably got this at Joanns.  For the size of the cording, I cut a strip of fabric 1.5 inches wide and 36" long as I needed about that length for the neckline.  Fold the strip of fabric in half along the width and then I press it lightly so I have a line to place the cording.  Place the cording in that crease tightly and then sew, using a zipper foot, right up against the edge of the cording, not sewing the cording but right next to it.  I leave about a half inch of cording out of the fabric on either end. 
And here is the finished piping!  You will need about a 1/2 or 5/8 inch of fabric coming out from where the covered cording is to allow you to pin and sew it into a seam. 

To sew, pin the piping around the neckline of the dress, lining up the raw edge of the neckline with the raw edge of the piping strip.  Baste as close to the corded area (using a zipper foot).  Then place the lining (or facing) fabric on the dress per the regular instructions and when you sew, make sure you are sewing along the same stitch line that you used to baste the piping on.  One easy way to do this is to pin the lining or facing on, then turn the dress over and stitch from the side where you can see the basting and use that as a guideline.  Use a zipper foot for this sewing as well, it allows you to get the needle very close to the piping.  When you turn the lining or facing to the right side, your seam will have that nice round piping showing along the edges!

Sorry I did not take photos when I was sewing the piping on but you can probably find some tutorials online.  And of course you can always buy piping, they sell it at fabric stores with the seam binding and hem tapes.

Rae has excellent instructions (videos!) on her blog for doing a bodice lining so I won't explain anything here but wanted to show you what the finished dress looks like from the inside.  Also, I used a voile for the lining and since that is so light and the dress fabric was a cotton quilt weight, I lined the v-neck with iron on interfacing to make sure the neckline would stay shaped well and the lining would lay flat.
I cut some scraps of Pellon-ShapeFlex, which is a new favorite interfacing, to fit the neckline and ironed it on.  It's a midweight interfacing so it added some stiffness and stability to the voice,which is what I wanted.  I left the shoulder seams without interfacing only because my scraps weren't that long but also I didn't think it needed to go that far anyway.

I don't have a serger and although I have a serging stitch on my regular sewing machine, I often prefer to finish my seams using the French seam method.  It just encloses those raw edges and prevents raveling when you wash.  To sew a French seam, you first put the two pieces you're sewing together, in my case the side seams of the dress, WRONG sides together.  Stitch a 1/4" seam.  Turn the dress inside out and press the seams flat so there is no extra fabric in your next seam.  I use a bamboo point turner to flatten out the seam from the inside.  Then press well.  (Note, if your raw edges have  lot of threads loose, you might want to trim them.  Also, you want the seam to only be 1/4 inch so you also may want to trim anywhere that the seam was larger than that.

The final seam will then enclose your original seam.  Your fabrics are not RIGHT side together, so you are sewing while looking at the inside of the dress.  Stitch a 1/2 to 5/8 inch seam.  Again, you want to enclose the raw edges so make sure that happens.  When you're finished sewing, open the dress to the right side and press the seam flat again.  You are finished with that seam.  On the inside it's nice an neat. 

Sometimes you might not like having that extra "flap" of fabric inside but it doesn't bother me and when I was clothes, there is no unraveling of fabric.  There is another method where you sew the seam down after enclosing it (or even without a French seam, you can do this on a regular seam) but then you will have a stitching line on the outside.  For tops I sometimes do that but on this dress, I wanted a more formal look.

I love the pattern and do plan on making it again!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I (now) Love Paper Piecing

I joined the Lucky Stars Block of the Month group sponsored by Don't Call Me Betsy this year.   I really am enjoying the blocks!  Elizabeth, who is organizing this, does a great job explaining how to make each block.  It's $15.00 for the year and each month you receive a PDF of that month's star.  So far we have four (one was a practice).  There is a pattern for a 6 inch or 12 inch block.  I made the 12 inch.

L to R clockwise:  Practice Star, January (Funky Star), February (Exploding Star), March (Ninja Star)

String Quilt Block Pillow

My first paper piecing project was Ashley's (Film in the Fridge) string quilt block tutorial back in 2009.   I made just one full block for a pillow swap.

Then I did a paper pieced square in a the Bee-Stitched Quilting Bee and it was so difficult for me that after doing it, I made up instructions and published a tutorial on my blog!  I didn't really get the concept back then and am sorry that I didn't do a very good job but the person who received the blocks for this quilt bee made the most amazing quilt!

Then came the parade of quilt bees that were using paper piecing star patterns, love these!

Colorwheel Geese - red and aqua
Colorwheel Geese

Indian Summer Star Pattern made into a pillow.
I also made a complex star pattern and turned it into a pillow, love this one too! 

And here's a New York Beauty block, these are really fun to do.  This quilt block is now part of a quilt that was used as a backdrop at Quiltcon this year, and donated to a children's charity.

I'm so goofy that when I spotted it on a video I was watching (I didn't attend Quiltcon) I snapped a screen shot!  Once behind Amy Butler, and another time behind Jacquie Gering.  Both amazing lectures available to watch for free on Craftsy

Are you or have you considered joining the Farmer's Wife Quilt?  I started it cutting out all the tiny pieces when I discovered that there was a paper piecing option!  It makes them so much more perfect.  I know am using paper piecing exclusively.  A few of the squares.

Four Winds
Farmer's Daughter
Cut Glass Dish
Century of Progress
And just for fun, before I began paper piecing, here's an idea of how many tiny pieces you cut out for these 6.5" squares.

Country Path - Before

Country Path - Finished

Farmer's Wife Blocks
Here are a few sites that I've collected about paper piecing:

Free Paper Piece Star Patterns (my favorite)
Free New York Beauty Block templates
Free Colorwheel Geese block pattern
Practice Paper Piecing

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Last May I took my niece to Barcelona as a gift for her high school graduation.  
I took a zillion photos.  In Barcelona, they speak Catalan.  
The word for "red" in Catalan is "vermell". 
Barcelona was a magical city.  
The food, the Mediterranean light, the architecture and the way people live their lives outdoors.  
In 8 days we barely scraped the surface of this amazing place.  
I can't wait to go back
We took a cooking class one day and made this red pepper (ñora peppers) with bacalao (dry cod, rehydrated), olive tapenade and fried cod skin.  I can almost taste it as I write that.
Iberico ham is similar to prosciutto.  It's everywhere in Barcelona, we had it on bread for breakfast.  This is a photo from the famous Boqueria market just off Las Ramblas.
Mariquitas (ladybugs) - chocolate of course.

Above the city is Parc Güell designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí in the early 1900s.  His work is characterized by mosaics, this is one on the wall near his house in  Parc Güell
La Boqueria, someone's dinner.

Rooftop view
Bougainvillea on a fence
A window on the way up to Parc Guell
My feet, sitting by the Mediterranean sea
Roy Lichtenstein sculpture near the beaches
I have this weird thing for graffiti.  I liked this one with the red on the side and black in the middle

A day on the beach - Costa Brava

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Inspired: Part 1

L to R, Ty Pennington, Amy Butler, David Butler (photo courtesy of amybutlerdesign.com)
Thanks to Craftsy, some of the Quiltcon lectures are available to watch online for FREE, how great is that?   This weekend I watched a couple and WOW.  I'll start with David and Amy Butler.  They.are.the.cutest.couple.  You must see this video.  And this one of David Butler in his booth at quilt market 2012.  (FYI, the videos I linked to in this paragraph are so worth watching!)

Amy Butler fabrics were part of what inspired me to sew again, back around 2007-2008 when I joined Etsy.  I accumulated a LOT of Amy Butler fabric then and made a LOT of things.

I don't want to say too much more but I do want to say that what inspired me about watching the Amy Butler lecture was that she is an artist, a true creative soul.  That's what I tapped into.  She follows her creative passion and it has led her to an amazing life.  Not everyone with creative passion has an amazing life but I believe it's still important to follow it, wherever it may lead.

So please watch some of the videos.

I'm really excited that Amy is coming to Colorado next month for Makerie and she'll be making an appearance at Fancy Tiger so I hope to meet her.

Here are some of the projects I have sewn with Amy Butler fabrics and Patterns, starting with aprons, except for two, most are my design.
Fabric lines:  Lotus, Belle, Nigella, Midwest Modern and Love

Clothing from cotton fabrics, I'm really looking forward to sewing with some of the new base cloth like rayon and voile.
Fabric lines Belle, Lotus, Daisy Chain and Nigella

Here are some aprons and clothing I made using Amy Butler patterns:
L to R:  Apron pattern from "In Stitches", Barcelona Skirts Apron Overlay (side 1 and side w), A-Line skirt, Anna Tunic front and back and Mini Dress, Tunic and Tops pattern, last two.

Below are some curtains and other home products I made with an enormous stash of Nigella fabric, I still love that whole line!   You can see the first pair of curtains  were in the bedroom, then moved to the living room because I made them WAY too full (photo 4), later to the kitchen (photo 5) and today they are in our new egress windows in the basement!  I kind of have decorator and home improvement ADD.
Home projects

Sunday, March 3, 2013


Papier-mâché letters + cheater fabric = Mod Podge

Paper board letters + vintage sewing pattern paper

A corner of my sewing room
This was originally a wordless post but last night after attaching the SEW letters to the wall temporarily using that blue paint masking tape, I was in the basement and heard a loud THUD.  Sometimes the suction cup hook in the bathroom falls into the tub, I thought that was it.  About 15 mins later, another THUD.  Yikes, I was home alone so I rushed upstairs and Rosie was sleeping at the top of the stairs so I knew it wasn't her, she heard it and we both ran through the kitchen.  Just then I realized.  The letters were falling down, one by one!  I need to get some of that 3M double adhesive tape which is really bad for the wall but I can't think of any better way to stick them onto these old plaster walls!