Was there ever a time in your past when you felt singled out by the cool kid at school and welcomed into the soft, warm glow of their approbation? I was filled with similar rosy tingles when Jenny of Cashmerette fame asked me if I’d like to review a copy of her latest pattern: the Washington Dress.
I’ve fallen in love with her previous pattern, the Appleton Dress. (Reviewed on CSC by Meg and by Elaine.) The Appleton fits me like a perfect snug-but-flattering glove right out of the box, and I nearly swooned to think that I might soon be in possession of another pattern with similar qualities. Namely:
- Multiple bodice pieces so I never again have to face the dreaded FBA.
- Appropriately sized shoulders, because while my bust may be generous, I’m not a linebacker.
- Professionally designed pattern pieces, where all the notches line up correctly without fuss.
- Exactly proportioned for my 5’5” frame – hems and sleeves that fall perfectly in place.
Once I recovered by daubing my forehead and fanning myself in what I deemed to be a dainty manner, I crafted a positive, but classy, response to Jenny’s inquiry. I believe my exact reply via email was: YYYYYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSS.
Within a few hours, I had a PDF version of the pattern printed out and ready to try. The following review is what happened next.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of the pattern in return for an honest review.
Pattern name: Cashmerette Washington Dress
Size range: 12-28 (cup sizes C-H)
What are your measurements, height, and body type?
- Measurements: 48-44-53
- Height: 5’5”
- Body Type: Awesome
What size did you make?
Cashmerette patterns are designed with ease similar to RTW. However, they are also designed to be snug up top, with lots of negative ease. It’s recommended to size up (or go up a cup size) for a looser fit. Since my waist and hips were a perfect size 24, I went with a 24 E/F (same as I make in the Appleton). That still gave me 4.5 inches of negative ease through the bust, which was perfect.
What adjustments did you make and how long did they take?
I found the torso to be a bit long for me, so I ended up increasing the seam allowance to 1 inch on the top waistline between the bodice and the yoke. That brought up the yoke and skirt about an inch, which ended up fitting much more smoothly around my hips.
What was the construction process like? Did the instructions make sense to you?
Construction was super-easy. There are only a handful of pattern pieces. There are notches where notches should be. I carefully reviewed the instructions the first time around, but won’t need to refer to them again – it’s pretty intuitive. Things I especially loved about the construction:
- The neckline is PERFECT. It lays beautifully flat, but doesn’t require too much stretch. (Sometimes I end up having to stretch a knit so tight that it begins to look shiny – but this neckband has exactly the right amount of give.)
- The sleeves are flat-set. While I am more than capable of setting a sleeve in the round, it just goes so much faster to set them flat. (And these sleeves don’t much around with “excess ease” – you just match them up and sew. Bliss!)
- The entire side seams (from hem to wrist) are done in a single step. Not only does that make it super easy to match each side up, it provides a smoother line down the body (no lumps at side seams).
How do you like the pattern’s fit? Do you think the design works well for your particular body shape?
This dress is GREAT! The bodice is super flattering, the yoke is a perfect transition, and the skirt can be made from quilting cotton. For the scores of curvy ladies that came to garment sewing from a similar path (notably, buying tons of adorable quilting cotton only to realize that quilting cotton isn’t very accommodating for apparel, particularly for ladies with angles), this dress is going to be the savior of our sewing rooms.
I particularly like how the yoke made of “stronger” fabric (ponte or scuba) provides a little bit of structure through the midriff without being constraining. I took my Washington dress out for the ultimate test: Thanksgiving dinner (and two rounds of dessert) and I stayed comfortable-yet-contained for the entire day.
Will you make the pattern again? If so, what fit or design changes will you make?
The pattern promises to take you “from day to night” and I was keen to try a version that felt more dressed up. (My first version, with a bright orange bodice and patterned cotton skirt, felt very casual.)
I examined the pattern cover and noted that all three Cashmerette models looked more polished than I did in my version (which was adorable, but definitely casual). I particularly loved the version in the middle (is that sateen?). I had a couple sateen options in my stash, but didn’t have coordinating fabrics for the yoke and bodice. (Take note: since you need three coordinating fabrics, this is a dress you will likely need to plan ahead for.)
I pondered some more: how can I made this dress even more awesome? Tick, tock, tick tock. BING! The answer was obvious: vegan leather.
I whipped up a second version using a mustard yellow jersey bodice, brown vegan leather yoke (with about 15% mechanical 2-way stretch), and a Van Gogh panel print I had been hoarding for months. (I had to get creative with the panels, so the skirt is a little narrower than the pattern recommends, and has a seam down the back. But whatever, I love it.
Note: I omitted the clear elastic around the seam where the bodice and yoke meet for this version (and subsequent versions). I found that it added a little bit of bulk to the seam and didn’t really add that much support. So far, I haven’t been sad about its absence.)
By then, I was on a roll. I found a silver vegan leather remnant in my stash (you really only need about 1/3 of a yard if the fabric is at least 52” wide) and some silver chevron quilting cotton and whipped up a third version in under an hour. (Are you seeing a pattern? I might make a million versions of these dresses, just to clear out my store of quilting cotton…). I even used a sliver of the vegan leather to make a contrasting neck band.
At this point, I needed to pull myself back. The yoke is pretty distinctive, and I’m not sure how many more of these dresses I need. However, if I’m honest, I’ll admit that over the last two weeks I’ve been toying with the idea of a black bodice, gold yoke, and red velvet skirt for the holidays. I think the heavier velvet would really increase the luxe factor of the dress.
Other options I’m mulling include:
- Sateen skirt (I have a lovely home dec weight sateen from Amy Butler that would be perfect!)
- Chambray skirt (maybe with a simple cream bodice and grey ponte yoke?)
- Scuba? (I haven’t sewn with scuba yet, but feel like this pattern would be a great introduction…)
Do you have any advice on this pattern for other curvy sewers? Are there any resources (blog posts, fitting books, tutorials) that helped you sew this piece up?
I’m sure there will be TONS of other reviews popping up on the blog-o-sphere in the coming weeks. I always find a quick search of Google, Pinterest, and Instagram to be helpful in framing my thinking around fabric choices and construction notes. At the time I wrote this review, I had none of that, since I wasn’t privy to the testing feedback and the pattern hadn’t officially been released. I think it’s a strong testament to the awesomeness of this pattern that I was able to get three (and counting) versions that delight me with nothing more than the pattern and instructions.
My one tip would be that if you’ve sewn an Appleton that you love, stick with the same sizing for the Washington dress. I bet you’ll be pleased.
One Final Piece of Advice:
Washington Dress Pattern Rating:
- Size Range (1-5): 5
- Instructions (1-5): 5
- Construction Process (1-5): 5
- Final Fit (1-5): 4.5 (I’m knocking off .5 points for the too-long torso, but honestly, at this point I’m just being picky so that I don’t give a “5” for everything.)
- Overall Rating (1-5): 4.9