After making and blogging about my new teal ponte Washington Dress yesterday (HERE) I decided I wanted to have a go at using the correct fabric for the skirt section i.e. a woven cotton. I really like my ponte version but it does seem to be on the large side. And as I am a larger lady to begin with, I really don’t need to be adding any more width, especially around my hip area.
Please don’t think I’m criticising the Washington pattern, I absolutely am not, the pattern is brilliant. The issues were caused by my decision to go renegade and not use the correctly suggested fabric. Because I used a ponte knit I should have realised that the finished skirt would run larger than the same sized skirt made with a woven.
No surprises here, I’m sure you have already guessed that I used the Cashmerette Washington Dress pattern
I won’t talk much about the pattern itself as I discussed it in great detail in my blog post yesterday. This post is more about my experience of using a stable knit vs a woven for the Washington skirt.
As I was going to be using woven fabric for the skirt for the first time and also using smaller sizing around the waist / hips than normal for me, I decided to make a test muslin out of fabric that I didn’t much care for. That way if things didn’t work out and the dress ended up too small I wouldn’t be overly bothered.
I purchased this multi pink ITY jersey fabric from the US:
The composition is 96% polyester and 4% lycra. It has a four way stretch with 50% across the cross grain and 15% on the vertical.
I ordered 2.75 meters (147cm wide) and used approximately 1 meter for this project.
I loved the look of the fabric on the website but as ITY fabric isn’t very common in the UK I really had no idea what it would actually feel like. But as I was ordering other fabric from the website I decided to take a punt on it.
When the fabric arrived I was disappointed at how just slippery and thin it felt, nothing like the more traditional jersey knits that I’ve used for so long. As I didn’t love this fabric I decided that this test muslin was the perfect way to use it up.
I wanted a plain black skirt for this version of my Washington Dress. Much as I love the big, bold patterns I often see on other blogs, I feel I’m a bit too old to carry many of them off myself. The only black woven fabric in my stash was some cotton seersucker that has been there for longer than I care to remember so this seemed like a good opportunity to make use of it.
I didn’t pre-wash either fabric as my test muslin was originally planned just to give me guidance as to how small I could go with the pattern sizing for future versions. I didn’t expect that it would fit perfectly! Fingers crossed that it doesn’t shrink when I come to wash it for the first time
My measurements are Bust: 46, Waist:41, Hips: 52
For yesterday’s knit Washington Dress I used the C/D version of the bodice with a size 18 around the shoulders, bust and arms. I then graded out to a size 20 at the waist and 22 at the hips.
As I mentioned earlier, I found that my ponte skirt ran a little large on me so I decided to go down to an 18/20 at the waist and a 20 at the hips.
With my previous version the original bodice was too long for me, I’m only 5ft 1” and the pattern is designed for someone 5ft 5” tall. After removing 1″ on the ponte version it was a better fit. So before cutting out the fabric today I removed 1” from both the back and front bodice.
I used an 80/12 ballpoint needle to sew the bodice and a standard needle for the skirt/yolk.
All seams were sewn at 3/8” 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.
I used clear elastic on the shoulder seams and where the bodice attaches to the skirt yolk to strengthen and stabilise the seams so that they retain their shape over time.
I stabilised the neck, both front and back, with lightweight stretchable interfacing and then stay stitched over the top of this. This helped to keep the pink fabric in shape as it seemed to be stretching out quite a bit.
Things that went well
This dress sewed up like a dream . The instructions are straightforward and easy to follow. To be honest, once you have sewn up one version of this dress you probably won’t need to refer to them again.
The notches align perfectly – it makes everything so much easier to sew when the notches align when pinning pieces together.
The sleeves are beautifully drafted and fit perfectly into the armsyces giving a smooth curve. I really love being able to fit them in flat before sewing up the side seams and arms.
Things that didn’t go well or things I would change next time
Nothing went wrong it was a very straightforward construction.
I think the only thing I will change for my next version is to redraft the neckline, raising it up at the front by an inch or so. It is the perfect shape for someone younger but I just feel I ought to be covering up a little more now as nothing is as smooth or perky as it once was.
The finished dress
I started this project with the expectation that this was just a test muslin for determining the best size for future makes. However, just as I started to turn the finished dress to the right side I had this sudden thought pop into my head that it was going to be perfect and that I was going to love it.
Guess what? The second I put the dress on it felt amazing and I couldn’t stop looking at it and stroking the skirt – I know, a weird thing to do but I’m not used to skirts fitting me so well! The bodice sat perfectly, the yolk skimmed my waist and the black seersucker skirt hung beautifully.
I love the silhouette of this version so much more than my ponte version (and I really like that one). I feel that it slims me down far more than the ponte skirt.
In conclusion, I’ve learned a couple of things today:
- Follow the pattern designers fabric suggestions – it really does make a difference. If you decide to go renegade and change the fabric then think about how it will impact on the design and adjust accordingly
- Don’t start a project with pre-conceptions – something that you don’t expect to work often turns out to be better than you could have imagined
- Use a woven fabric for all future Washington Dress skirts!
Cost to make
Although the pink fabric was only £3.64 per meter with the shipping costs and customs charges it worked out at £9.09 per meter. I used approximately 1 metre
The black seersucker was from my stash but it still cost me something, even if it was a long time ago. I will guestimate the amount I used cost £6.00
The black ponte yolk was out of remnants that I couldn’t have used for anything else so I haven’t added a cost for those.
1 reel of gutterman thread at £1.70
Approximately 1m of clear elastic – 87p
Total cost to make: £17.66