From what I have read about the Willow tank and different people’s versions of it, it should have taken an afternoon at most, including pattern tracing.
Well…. Oh dear…. we’ve been on quite a journey, my Willow and I, so it took much longer than that for my version. Considering the mistakes I made along the way, it’s amazing that it turned out as well as it did.
First up I decided that because this was for a special occasion, I wanted a dress not a top. I had the fabric in mind which was in the stash, and I decided that it had to be longer than knee length (age and chunky knees!)
So the first difficulty arose when it turned out that I didn’t have enough fabric. This is often an issue with stashing fabrics…. It’s always a guess as to how much to buy. Too much and you end up with a piece which is too big to throw away but not really enough to do anything with; too little and you haven’t got the freedom to make what you want.
Anyway, the first hack was to cut the side seams straight, missing out the pleat of the dress version. But I didn’t want to cut the pattern pieces, and I thought that it could be done when I sewed up the seams, so they weren’t cut straight. Mistake number one.
The fabric is a lovely lightweight viscose. Another piece from Fabricland. 😁😁
Now I don’t have a figure like a super model, or the Duchess of Sussex, so I realised that perhaps this was too lightweight for a dress for me, as it would show every lump and bump. I also took inspiration from a dress I saw a friend wearing. Enter the idea of adding a lining, and if it was viscose as well, it would have enough weight to hold the shape of the dress. This would also mean not needing to bind the neck and armholes. Well, that was the plan.
I found exactly what I wanted on eBay. This time ordering a good length.
Brilliant! It was all coming together nicely.
Lining cut out; sewn together. Tick!
Then I had another brilliant idea….. I would add pockets in the side seams! I definitely had enough fabric. So I cut them out, and sewed them in, and tried it on.
The armholes were too wide, and low, so I took in at the side and took the shoulders up. Tick!
Then I added the lining, sewing neckline and armholes. Now this is where I think my brain went into meltdown. If there is a way of turning right side with neck and arms sewn, I couldn’t find it. In my head I felt that it should be possible, but I couldn’t do it. Mistake number two.
So…. the armholes were unpicked. And I finished them with binding.
Try on again and I was aware of a strange bulging around the pocket area. This probably was to do with not cutting the seam straight and then not sewing it on a straight line afterwards.
So I took in the seams and pressed the opening of the pockets. But it still wasn’t hanging right. I finally gave up on the pockets because their weight was pulling the sides down. Mistake number three.
So this hack had to go! My beautifully sewn pockets had to be cut off. 😓
And that worked. The seams sewn up and it was hanging nicely.
After adding the lining deliberately longer than the dress, I had another brilliant idea! I could give the hemline an interesting twist by cutting asymmetric lines!
At that point I realised yet another mistake… I hadn’t considered that the reverse side of the lining seams would be visible. Doh! It was also apparent that the lining was wider than the dress. Very poor cutting on my part. My mum is probably muttering from her sewing room in the sky.. “More haste, less speed”. Mistake number four.
Enter another brilliant solution… sew French seams in the lining half way up. It solved the width issue and the reverse seam issue in one go. I could then cut the asymmetric hemline, and that added extra length too – always a good thing.
Well, after all of that, it is amazing that I ended up with the dress I wanted.
The only thing I wish is that it had more swing. But that was the compromise of squeezing it out of such a small piece of fabric.
I really want to make another Willow, but next time it will be a top. If I ever make a dress again, I will buy the required amount specially, and it will be a heavier weight fabric.
It was the dress for my retirement party. I had a lovely night and received lots of compliments about the dress!