I finally made a Wiksten Shift Dress!
The Wiksten Shift Dress was my most specific goal for Me Made May. I’ve been wanting to add more casual and comfortable dresses to my life. This seemed like it a good one! Since making a few tops already with this pattern, I had a slight heads up on fit. Plus I liked that it had pockets and waist thanks to the (optional) tie.
My modifications to previous Tops was mainly reducing the overall width. For the dress, I’d need to make sure that a width reduction could fit over my hips. As for the length, there would probably need to be changes there too. Some patterns tell you the height they design for, but this one doesn’t. Finished garment measurements are helpful, so I looked at that and the notes on the size of the model. The model is 5’11” and a size 4 but wearing a size 0 dress. This confirmed I’d need adjustments in both directions.
My previous width adjustments would fit over my hips–yay! As for the length, I subtracted 7″ based on the fact that I am about 5’4″. I like where the length hits the model, so the even subtraction made sense. There’s also the generous 2.5″ hem, which gives plenty of room to adjust after it is put together.
The only other thing to consider was the pocket placement. When adjusting that much length, the pocket placement might need to change too. I held the pattern up to my body for a rough idea. It all seemed to be in a good-enough range, and I could adjust if needed down the road.
It’s all put together! The dress came together fairly quickly. I did a quick try-on as soon as the shoulder and side seams were in place. This gave me a feel for the fit. It was fine, so I kept moving forward.
Fabric + Details
I used Brussels Washer Yarn Dye in Sage by Robert Kaufman. Oh is this a delightful choice for this dress! It washes up so beautifully and has the perfect drape, softness and texture. No notes on using this type of fabric for this dress.
I also personalized it by adding an I Love Linen label from Kylie and The Machine. Is there anything more fun than this?
Modifications Moving Forward
In scrolling through other versions online, I noticed several folks doing forward shoulder adjustments to their Shifts. After wearing mine a bit, I think that I could use this too. If the neckline is pulling backward as you move, this adjustment helps bring the shoulder seam to a better place so that doesn’t happen.
A google search turns up several tutorials for this, including one from Wiksten that can be found here.
My Bad Habits With Pre-washing
Sometimes I don’t prewash my garment fabrics. (Gasp!) And I’ll admit, it can be a bad habit. I get asked my preference on this all the time not just for garments, but for quilts too. The short answer is that yes, pre-washing is a great idea, pretty much all of the time. The longer (and highly conditional) answer is that I don’t always prewash…and sometimes I prefer not to prewash. This is a terrible habit, and here’s why.
Very important to note is that if I’m ever working with a fabric I’m unfamiliar with I will prewash it. Having zero knowledge of how a fabric will behave in the wash is not something I want to mess with. Since I work with Robert Kaufman fabrics so much, I feel confident knowing what I am getting into.
That said, I sometimes enjoy how not pre-washing gives me a little more shrinkage, especially on a garment where I am having to size it down fairly significantly–like in the case of this dress.
Of course, this is not smart for a bunch of reasons. First and most obvious, it can shrink too much. That would be a big bummer. Second, if it shrinks down to a great fit, that can be pretty tricky to recreate. (Ask me how I know this…) The problem here is that modifications made to the pattern pieces don’t fully reflect the downsizing that actually happened.
So which way did I go with this one? I didn’t prewash my fabric, which wasn’t completely intentional. When I was ready to cut out the garment, I realized the fabric that I wanted to use wasn’t prewashed. I ran the risk calculation in my mind and jumped into the unknown. As I figured, the fabric did shrink a bit after a wash and dry, and I loooove the fit so much more. Here are photos from before and after washing.
The problem now is that it’s not super easy to make another dress with this exact fit. What I need to do is to compare my finished dress to my modified pattern pieces in order to update the size. Laziness has prevented that from happening so far. But I will do it, because I’ve been wearing the dress, enjoying it and wanting to make many more.
Pattern: Wiksten Shift, Long Dress with Waist Tie
Fabric: Brussels Washer Yarn Dye in Sage
Label: Kylie and The Machine