Anyone who knows me, will tell you that my favourite 'me-made' garment is a floral dress. I have rather a lot of them I am slightly embarrassed to admit. But like shoes and handbags, I truly believe that you can't have too many!
It's fair to say that I have a huge list of sewing patterns that I would like to try. The Washi Dress from Made By Rae has been on my radar for quite some time and I was determined to make it this year.
It's a gorgeous tunic/dress pattern with a scoop neckline, pleated or gathered waist and shirring at the back. Pockets are included and different sleeve finishes are your choice. As I have had my eye on this pattern for a while, I have been enjoying spotting the versions that have been made using the expansion pack that you can pick up from Made By Rae, particularly the option with the small bow at the neckline. So I jumped in right from the start with this expansion pack small bow version and used the little cap sleeves from the original pattern.
My fabric choice is this adorable navy blue Cotton Poplin Fabric. I really wanted the dress to have a cute vintage feel and this tiny ditsy floral print was just what I had in mind. It has a navy blue background and is covered in tiny pink flowers with green leaves. So pretty. The poplin is a fantastic fabric to work with. It's a smooth light-medium weight woven fabric which doesn't crease very easily and a certain amount of crispness which shows off the pleats at the dress waistline perfectly.
I couldn't wait to get started on the shirring detail. The six rows of elasticated shirring running across the back of the dress ensure a lovely fit and also enable the dress to slip on and off over your head with no other fastenings needed. It's great fun - simply hand wind your shirring elastic onto your bobbin and use your regular thread in the top of the machine. If this is your first time using shirring elastic, there are lots of tutorials online which you might find useful to take a look at before you start. It might also be helpful to test out your technique on a scrap of fabric before you start.
As mentioned earlier, I purchased the expansion pack from Made by Rae to enable me to make the version with the small bow at the neckline. This came out so well - the length and width of the bow were just perfect. I did find however that for some reason the opening at the neckline where the bow ties up was a little 'droopy'. I'm not sure why this was - did I sew it up incorrectly I wonder? However this problem was easily corrected when I simply hand sewed up the small neckline openings together (it still pulls off and on over my head), and now lays nice and flat.
The in-seam pockets are nice and roomy and are placed at the perfect height for me on the skirt. Often I have to raise the height of the pockets because of my short arms, but not in this case. I made this pattern in a size medium straight out of the packet with pretty much no alterations at all! 
So the only alteration that I did make was to adjust the armscye on the bodice a little. The bodice pattern piece from the expansion pack allows you to use either a long sleeve, a pointed cap sleeve or sleeveless option. Because I wanted to use the sleeve from the regular pattern, I just had to trace the armscye from the regular pattern onto my tracing of the bodice piece so that the original sleeve would fit. The result is a mix and match of the patterns which works really nicely. I must admit I am looking forward to making all sorts of variations of this pattern - there are lots of possibilities!
A huge thank you to the team at Minerva for providing me with the supplies to make this pretty dress. As usual it was a really enjoyable sewing project which I have thoroughly enjoyed.
Take care,
Kathy x