But what if you are outside the pattern's size range? The most important measurements with the Washi Dress are Upper Bust and Bust (full bust). The largest size - XXL - accommodates a 40 - 41" Upper Bust and 42 - 44" Bust.
Here we show you how to grade the Washi Dress pattern up.
Our example is for an Upper Bust of around 43-44" and Bust around 45 - 46".
First we made a basic muslin of the bodice in the XXL to check fit on our Washi recipient, and see how much more room was needed. (Old Ikea pillowcase = perfect muslin fabric!)
The back of the Washi Dress is cut all in once piece - bodice and skirt - so to make a muslin of just the bodice you will need to cut your pattern piece, or fold the skirt part out of the way, or trace off a separate bodice-only pattern. The side seam on your back bodice piece will need to be the same length as the side seam on your front bodice piece, once the bust dart is sewn.
When our Washi model tried the muslin on, the actual shape was good but it was a very firm fit all over, with no room at all for gathering with the back shirring. We estimated around 3 - 5" increase in the bodice width would provide her with a comfortable fit plus room to move with the back shirring. The bust dart sat too high (ideally the bust dart should sit just below and point up towards the bust apex). The bodice also needed extra length.
To grade the pattern up, we used this very helpful information found at the blog Elegant Musings. Please bear in mind we are not trained pattern-makers so we are just sharing what worked for us. Besides, if we can do it, you probably can too!
To put it simply, the bodice pattern pieces need to be cut and spread at each critical section of the bodice: armhole, shoulder and neckline. We also wanted to lengthen the bodice, so we cut horizontally and spread downwards too.
Start with your traced-off front bodice pattern piece. Place it on a larger piece of paper.
We added 1cm at 3 points on the front and back pattern pieces, which are both cut on the fold. Therefore in total we have added a total of 12cm (almost 5 inches) to the entire bodice measurement.
We then made a muslin of the graded-up bodice to check the fit. It was great! We simply decided to add an extra 1cm in the length adjustment (making a total of 5cm added horizontally above the bust dart).
Below you can see the original muslin laid on top of the graded up muslin.
The width adjustments then need to be added to the skirt pattern pieces. Since the skirt shape is very simple, we didn't need to make multiple cuts. In the front, to preserve the position of the pleats, we cut and added width between the outer pleat and the side seam. In the back, we simply added 3cm at the middle fold line.
If you are using all the one fabric for your Washi Dress you can then join your back bodice and skirt pattern pieces back together and cut the back all as one. We chose to make the bodice and skirt in different fabrics, so added an extra inch to the top of the skirt piece to make up the length of two 1/2 inch seam allowances at the back join.
Don't forget to also add width to your neckline facing pieces to correspond to the width you added at the bodice neckline.
And here we see the graded-up Washi Dress on its happy recipient (Jane's sister-in-law)!
Going through this process has certainly unlocked some of the mysteries of pattern grading for us. We hope you've found it helpful too.
- Jane & Fiona xx