When the new Washington Dress pattern and photos were released on Monday I thought how gorgeous the three models (including Jenny) looked in their versions of the dress. However, I’m in my early 50s and I just couldn’t picture me wearing anything like the designs being shown. But I am a true Cashmerette fan and I adore the Appleton dress so I had to order a copy of the pattern even if, at the time, I wasn’t sure I would actually make it myself.
Luckily Elaine quickly posted a review and photos of some of her Washington Dress makes – a gorgeous lacy top version and a two pattern hacked tunics.
Elaine is in a similar age demographic to myself and once I had seen her versions I realised that I could make this dress work for me. Hooray to all of the other bloggers out there who take the time and effort to show what they have made. I find it really helps me to see the endless possibilities of any particular pattern
So back to the pattern. It is available both as a PDF download or as a traditional paper pattern. I bought mine as a paper pattern as I do like to have the actual envelope in my hands – does anyone else feel the same way?
The pattern is designed to have the comfort of a knit bodice and with the wearability of a woven skirt. Anything that has a knit bodice as far as I’m concerned is bound to be a winner.
One of the things that I love about Cashmerette patterns is that they are specifically designed for ladies of the fuller figure and come with bodice options which already have a FBA included. You can choose from size 12 to 28 and three cup sizes, C/D, E/F, G/H.
I purchased this teal ponte roma fabric from Abakhan
It is a medium weight stable knit with a really soft luxurious feel which belies its very modest £6.55 per metre price.
The composition is 76% polyester, 19% rayon and 5% spandex and it has a fabulous 70% crosswise stretch which is a huge amount for a ponte. The Washington requires fabrics with a minimum of 50% stretch so that made me confident enough to use it on the bodice, even though the fabric suggestions were for a lightweight knit.
I bought 2 metres (150cm wide) and managed to get the bodice, sleeves and skirt easily out of that amount.
I used some black ponte that I had lying about in my stash for the waist section and some black stretchy lightweight jersey for the neckband (again from my stash)
I pre washed the fabric on a cool program and tumble dried it afterwards. I also traced out all of the pattern pieces onto Swedish tracing paper as I prefer to leave my original pattern intact if it looks likely I will need to do any adjustments.
My measurements are
And I am only 5ft 1” tall
I don’t fall into any of the standard sizes for the pattern so I decided to use the same sizing as my Appleton dresses which fit me well. The sizes I chose to use were:
Use the C/D version of the bodice
Use size 18 around the shoulders, bust and arms
Grade out to size 20 at the waist
Grade out from 20-22 at the hips
The grading process is very straightforward on this pattern and it was heaven not having to draw in the larger size before I could even begin to grade up.
I asked Jenny if the pattern would work with a ponte skirt rather than a woven one and she confirmed that it would be fine so I decided to use this teal ponte for both the bodice and skirt.
I decided that as the pattern was designed for someone 5ft 5” tall and I’m on the short side of 5ft 1” that I would take some length out of the bodice. One of the pattern testers had commented on their blog that they had shortened the bodice by 1” as it dropped too low on them. So I used the lengthen/shorten lines to remove 1” from the bodice front and back.
I normally need a sway back adjustment but I thought I’d go with the bodice design for this first version and then decide whether to make an adjustment for future versions. I’m not 100% positive if this is true or whether I just dreamed it, but I do think I read on another blog that Cashmerette patterns have a sway back adjustment included – please correct me if that is wrong.
I normally need a large bottom adjustment but as I had gotten away with this on the Appleton Dress I thought I’d see how this one turned out and adjust in the future if required.
I also normally need a narrow shoulder and forward shoulder adjustment but after a quick tissue fit they looked like they were falling in the right place.
As you can see, I barely made any adjustments – now that is what I call brilliant pattern drafting #lovecashmerette
I used an 80/12 ballpoint needle to sew the dress.
All seams were sewn on my sewing machine using a zig zag stitch set to 2.5 length, 1.4 width. I then overlocked the raw edges to neaten and strengthen them.
Seams were sewn at 3/8” as per the pattern instructions
I used clear elastic on the shoulder seams and where the bodice attaches to the skirt yolk. This was to strengthen and stabilise the seams so that they retain their shape over time.
Things that went well
The sleeves fit perfectly – probably the best and smoothest fit I’ve ever achieved in any knit bodice – and I’ve made many different ones over the past few months. I can see me pattern hacking and using the Washington dress sleeves and armsyce designs on my other patterns.
The sleeves have a comfortable amount of fit, not too tight and not too loose.
The neckband fitted straight from the pattern piece – again something that doesn’t very often happen with a knit pattern
The skirt back hangs beautifully straight – even my very ample derrier hasn’t made it ride up.
And I definitely didn’t need a sway back adjustment – look no creases or crinkles!
Things that didn’t go well or things I would change next time
I decided to make a quick test bodice out of some scraps of a lightweight knit I had lying about. When I tried it on I was surprised how short the bodice was, literally just underneath my bust – it just looked very odd. So against that sensible voice in my head and all my instincts I decided to re-lengthen the bodice back to its original size. I dumped the test bodice and proceeded to make the teal dress. After basting the skirt and yoke onto the bodice I did a quick check in the mirror and could see that it wasn’t right for me – it just didn’t hang right and there were odd curves where they shouldn’t have been. After much head scratching I pulled the skirt yolk right up underneath my bust – to the exact same position it had been on my test bodice and instantly the dress was transformed. Instead of hanging strangely it fit and the curves lay perfectly just where they were supposed to lie.
I do think that perhaps the dress is a little large on me in the waist and hip area – this may well be because the pattern is drafted to be made with a woven skirt and I chose to use not only a ponte knit but a very stretchy one at that (70% stretch). I think for my next version I’ll go down to an 18/20 for the waist and stick to the 20 around the hips.
The finished dress
Love it, love it, love it – honestly I love it – it is comfortable beyond belief.
I have plans to make a red version and a deep plum version in the same design as this teal one. And now that I’ve made and worn the dress I think I might be brave and try mixing bolder patterns either on the bodice or the skirt. I’m seeing some lovely ideas pop up on the internet.
Cost to make
2 metres of fabric at £6.55 per metre
1 reel of gutterman thread at £1.60
Approximately 1m of clear elastic – 87p
Total cost to make: £14.57