Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Sew A Long - Washi - Post 1

Hi! And welcome to our Washi Dress (Made by RAE pattern) Sew A Long.

First a little bit about me and why I am doing this sew a long. My name is Chrissy Weeks, I am a wife, mom, volunteer and seamstress in Decatur GA. I have one wild little girl and an annoying dog. Somehow my sweet husband puts up with all three of us girls. When my daughter was about two I took back up sewing because nothing fit her. This is still the case and I still make clothes for her, my husband and myself.

A couple years ago I was looking for some friends to sew with and in that process I found "The Stash Bash". Though it was a group of mostly quilters they said I was welcome to come and sew whatever I want. I did and I am so glad! I have met lots of cool people and made a few really great friends.

Hopefully a few of those friends will be making guest appearances in the sew a long. Many of my quilt-y friends wanted help making clothes. And I was not able to help everyone at the last Stash Bash. So I offered to do this Sew A Long.

Just a few points I want to make before we get started:
- If sewing was easy, everyone would do it. Be kind to yourself if you "mess up". I have in my 10,000 hours. You may be in at 2,000 or 5,000 or 100. So encourage yourself as much as you would encourage everyone else. And I still mess up, such is life and sewing.

- I apply the first pancake theory to sewing. I have made hundreds (maybe thousands by now) of garments. However, I still make a muslin. Just like no matter how many time you have made pancakes, typically that first one needs some adjustments. Might need more butter or less heat. Your muslin is just that, your first pancake or rough draft. Whatever term you like it is practice.

- Sewing is not a cheap hobby. Well I guess it can be. But not the way I do it. I love great fabrics and customs fits. So I think all the money and effort is worth it but making my own clothes is not cheaper. Except that I do sometimes get Nordstrom level quality at Macy's prices. Really depends on what you want.

- My way is not the only way. But it is the way I know how to do it. I mostly learned sewing from my grandmother, great aunt and mother. I have taken a few classes but the bulk of my knowledge really came from practice (back to that 10,000 hours thing.) If you are not familiar with the theory of 10,000 hours you should Google it.

- This sew a long is not to teach you how to sew. This is to encourage you and walk you through the process of making this dress or tunic. You may learn things along the way but you need a basic understanding of sewing to be able to keep up.

This week we are putting together the pattern and gathering fabric and supplies for our muslin and the real deal.

Have you bought the pattern yet? If not go HERE and buy it. Not only is it tacky to "share" the pattern it is stealing. So let's not do that. We want to support small businesses who make great things.

First print page 14 and check the one inch measurement in the corner to make sure that your pattern will print the correct size. I have made this mistake. Do not skip this step!! Every time!!
Just sayin........

Next put your pattern together. I use a paper cutter and glue stick for this. The paper cutter gives you a nice clean edge. But cut as you go and leave one side with the margin so that you can glue them together.

We will talk "which size should I cut out" next week. But make sure you take your measurements. If you can have someone help you with this. Measuring yourself can be less accurate.

Once you have your pattern pieces all glued together you can cut the pieces apart but don't cut down to your size just yet....unless you are totally confident you know what you are doing.

I am going to tell you the truth that I start with an XXL and make adjustments from there. I cut out an XXL and made a muslin following all the directions, just for you guys. I will walk you through putting the muslin together next week.

That brings us to options. Sewing your own clothes is really all about options. You need to choose what options you would like to try and test those with your muslin. Keep in mind not everything looks good on every body. Some people look great in a cap sleeve, some look better in sleeveless.

Also your fabric will guide some of these choices. I have discovered that a bold pattern is too much for the cap sleeve and I go sleeveless with bold fabrics but I love the cap sleeve in a solid or more subtle print.

CHOICES to consider: 
Choose your fabric, neckline, sleeve or not, to shirr or not to shirr (I suggest the shirring), pockets or not, facings, lining or bias binding and length. I cant choose for you. And if you suck at decision making either get better or sewing may not be your jam.

I made my muslin using inexpensive quilting cotton from Jo-Anne's. I strongly suggest your muslin be of similar weight to your finished product. For example if you plan to make your Washi out of rayon you need to make your muslin out of rayon. And so on and so forth. I would suggest you stay in the mid - light weight fabrics. But this is your dress so do what you want.

I have made the Washi out of light weight denim, quilting cotton and rayon. They have all turned out lovely. It really is a simple pattern that is easy to adjust.

The Made By RAE website has some tips on the different options you can check out: Maxi or this Maxi tutorial,  The Washi expansion pack gives you more necklines and sleeves.

With the light weight denim I did a facing for the bodice.

I did a rounded neck that I ended up adding wee bit of a gather to the front, basically because it was too big. So I gathered it and then made the facing the size of the newly gathered neckline.

I did the pockets and cut them out as part of the skirt pieces. I did the shirring on the back. Which I love and the length is the pattern length which happens to be perfect on me.

The glasses fabric Washi is made with quilt weight cotton. It is sleeveless with store bought bias binding at the neck and arm holes.

I did the pockets, cut as part of the skirt pieces and again the pattern length.

I am currently finishing up a rayon maxi that will have either self bias binding or black I have not totally decided yet. I did not do pockets in the rayon because it was so light and airy I did not want to add any bulk to it. It will be ready to show you by post 2, I hope.

Next I want to try the tunic, but I am trying to find the right fabric for that one. I may go shopping or I may just dig through my stash. We shall see.

That brings us back to fabric selection. Which options you choose will impact how much fabric you need.  A tunic will need less than a maxi...etc. The fabric at the store may speak to you so keep all your options in mind.

I would suggest sticking to fabrics you know to start and then maybe your next attempts you could branch out. You don't want to be battling with your fabric while you are working out fit and general sewing issues.

My go to place in the Atlanta area for apparel fabrics is Fine Fabrics, thats where I got the light weight denim. It is on the access road at Jimmy Carter and 85 near the Rooms to Go Outlet. At $5-$6 a yard for 60"-72" wide it leaves you a lot of room for experimenting.

I have heard good things about the new Gail K location in Norcross GA. Fabric World out in Stone Mountain is really hit or miss. There is a Jo-Anne's a five minute walk from my house, however it is not my favorite, again hit or miss.

Online I buy a lot from (glasses fabric and my rayon where purchased there). And Beth who owns Stash Fabrics is great.

Whilst you are shopping, grab some elastic thread. I have used both of these and they both work fine. On the left is black Gutermann and on the right is Sewology from Hobby Lobby. Get enough to experiment with, you don't want to run out.

I have come around to not adjusting my bobbin tension because it just does not need to be changed. If you loosen the tension it does not put enough stretch on the elastic thread. It took me lots of experimenting to get here. But the Made by Rae tutorial on shirring says this so if I has just read it I would have been better off. However as she points out this may not be so with really light weight fabric.

If you end up ahead of the game go ahead and check out this tutorial and do some practicing.


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