A clutch of Ida’s

A couple of months ago Kylie from Kylie and the Machine got in touch via Instagram and asked if I’d like to test her first pattern, a fold-over clutch bag she was releasing just in time for Mothers Day. I’ve never tested a pattern before, and I’d be pretty wary of testing a garment (I feel like there would be a lot of pressure involved in that, rightly or wrongly!), but a bag I could manage. The Ida Clutch is a simple sew, with nice clear instructions, and can be made in a variety of materials. I’ve used leather for all of mine, but there are some really cute versions in canvas and linen on Instagram, and Kylie has made an awesome version out of a coffee sack and some clear vinyl. Best of all, its a free pattern!

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I made my first clutch out of a piece of gorgeous cornflower blue Tory Burch leather which I got at The Fabric Store. I really love the leather pieces they have at TFS, I’ve amassed quite a collection of smaller pieces so it’s nice to have something to make out of them! I used some of that never-ending Liberty poplin remnant that has been showing up in all of my posts for the lining, I thought it was a good match. I made a couple of modifications to the pattern (bad tester!), to accommodate the thickness of this piece of leather. I trimmed the seam allowance off the top edge and just top-stitched the raw edge to the zip rather than folding it under as you would if using a thinner material, and I also cut the bulk of the darts out after I sewed them. I didn’t interface the leather, but I did use a lightweight fusible on the lining. Finally, I added a loop of leather with a D ring through it to the side seam just below the fold line, so that I could add a wrist strap. I love the idea of a clutch bag, but realistically I know that I’d never keep hold of a bag without a handle of some description!

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The second bag I made was a birthday present for a friend. I used some super soft and lightweight leather, again from TFS. This one I sewed up exactly as the instructions suggest, since the leather was so thin, including using both interfacing pieces on the leather. The lining is some cotton duck from Spotlight, which is probably a bit heavy for lining such a thin piece of leather, but I liked the way it looked with the gold hardware! I really like the metal zip and magnetic closure with the gold toned G-hooks and rivets, I think that everything matching helps to make the bags look more professional. I made a wrist strap for this one too, but somehow managed to not take any photos of it. Its just the same as the one on the blue bag though!

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For my third version I decided to do some very mild pattern hacking. I had this piece of nude patent leather (again from The Fabric Store, try to hide your surprise), and I had been wanting a small cross-body bag. The patent leather is thicker than the blue leather I used first, so I made the same modifications. My machine was deeply unhappy about sewing through more than two layers of this leather (even two was a struggle some times), but we managed. I ended up hand sewing the corner seams at the darts, because I couldn’t get my poor machine to punch through four layers of leather! I used leather needles in my machine, and used upholstery thread to sew the whole bag. The patent side of the leather was sticky enough that the feed dogs couldn’t move it under my presser foot, so I followed the advice of the internet and stuck some sellotape to the underside of the foot which fixed that issue!

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Initially I was going to have this bag fold over like the clutch versions, but the leather was just too thick for it to fold nicely, and I decided that it would probably be a more useful size if I left it upright! The lining is the same pink and gold flamingo cotton that I lined my Genoa Tote with, I still really like it! I do wish I had added a pocket though…

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I added a D ring to either side, just below the zip, to attach the shoulder strap. Cutting the strap was probably the hardest part of all, I had to cut six lengths of leather the same size, as my piece of leather wasn’t long enough for a single strap. I sewed the strips wrong sides together to make the strap stronger, and because it looks better not to have the napped side of the leather showing. I couldn’t decide how long I wanted the strap to end up, so I cut it 1/3 of the way along, and added the buckle so that I could adjust the length. It took me a wee while to figure out how I was going to secure the buckle and the loop of leather that holds the strap down, but in the end I decided to fold the whole lot into a sandwich and hammer a rivet through it! It’s not the most elegant solution, but it’s covered by the strap so I figured I could live with it. I also added two rivets to the join in the strap, just to add a bit of strength to it. I tend to be quite hard on my bags!

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I’ve decided I like sewing bags, they’re useful and there’s no fitting issues to trip me up! This one is big enough to fit my sunglasses and my phone and the handful of lipsticks/balms which I seem to need to have on me at all times, so I feel like it’ll be a useful bag for running around town. It’ll be perfect to take to the UK in a few months!

Finally, Ginger Jeans!

Making myself a pair of Ginger Jeans has been on my to-do list since the pattern was released (seriously, it’s been on my 2014, ’15 and ’16 Top 5 goals list…), and I’ve finally knuckled down and made them. Just like with my Safran Jeans, they really weren’t any more difficult to make than any other garment with a moderate number of pieces, definitely easier than a winter coat (and 100% easier than the raincoat I’ve recently finished for my sister!)

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Check them out! These are view B, the high waisted/skinny leg version of this pattern, I like my jeans to sit at my natural waist and these are pretty much spot on. I didn’t make any major pattern changes to this version, I thought I should make them up as is for my first shot and then tinker with my next pair! To be honest, I was amazed at how well they fit straight out of the packet. I took 2” off the hem (next time I’ll take it out higher on the leg to keep the hem skinnier), and moved the pockets up 5/8”, and took out a bit of extra fabric at the outer side of each knee. For my next pair I’m going to play with a knock-knee adjustment, I think that should help fix the diagonal wrinkles at the knee that I have with this pair and my Safran jeans. I might also take a wedge out of each side of the yoke, there’s a wee bit of gaping at the back waistband. Other than that though, I think they’re really good!

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I put in the pocket stay option too, it does help to make the front feel nice and snug! I used more of that Liberty Poplin remnant that I’ve used for every pocket bag/under collar/yoke lining/bag lining since I bought it. There’s still plenty left, so expect to see it again! The denim I used is from The Fabric Store, of course. I bought it years ago, with the intention to make these jeans with it! When I pulled it out of my stash last weekend, I was surprised by how lightweight it was, I had remembered it being much heftier. It meant it was really easy to cut and sew, but these aren’t really winter weight jeans! It also felt quite rigid, and I was worried that I hadn’t bought denim with the right stretch percentage, but it turns out that next to the 30% stretch that my Safran Jeans have, this 2% lycra/cotton blend just feels stiff!

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I used a hardware kit from Closet Case Files (the gold colour way), and I really love the result. The zip is especially nice, the pull is really low profile compared to other zips I’ve used, and it helps the whole fly sit so nice and flat. I also love that the button and the rivets match, it looks all so nice and professional! I was really scared of putting the rivets in, I was sure I was going to ruin everything at the final step! I watched the video tutorial on the Closet Case Files Blog, and everything was really simple in the end. I just had to whack everything harder than I expected, and avoid stabbing myself with the awl (and the rivet posts, they were pointy!). For thread, I just used all-purpose Gutermann thread for construction, but I used Sulky thread for the topstitching. I’ve had so many issues with topstitching thread in my machine, and I thought that the slippery, shiny Sulky thread would show up nicely and my machine wouldn’t have a tantrum every time I tried to sew with it.

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I’m amazed at the difference moving the pockets made! They looked okay at the marked position on the pattern, but shifting them up 5/8” has made my bum look much better. I think the size and shape of the pockets is excellent, Heather Lou knows what she’s doing!

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I was a little bit worried about how firm and tight these felt when I first put them on, but after a few hours they loosened up nicely, especially around the knees (just as well, I thought I might have over-fitted them around there). I’m not sure how well this denim will hold up, to be honest. They’re comfortable now, but I have a feeling that they might keep bagging out and will need lots of washing to keep them in shape! I interfaced the waistband with the same hefty knit interfacing I used in my Safran Jeans, so hopefully they’ll stay up…

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Unfortunately, it turns out that Sulky thread really isn’t cut out for top stitching, especially not on a stretch fabric under stress! After a day of wear, I had popped several lines of topstitching on the pockets and around my bum. This morning I went back and re-did all that topstitching on the back crotch seam and pockets with normal thread in the same colour, and hopefully it’ll hold up better. I thought that since I had seen Sulky thread being used for topstitching on bags that it would be okay, but of course bags aren’t usually stretch fabric or being stressed like those seams, so I shouldn’t be surprised really! I have some heavier stretch denim in grey waiting to be made into another pair of Gingers, so for those I’ll use upholstery thread for the topstitching. I know my machine will sew with that, because I use it to sew leather!

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I really enjoyed making these, even though there were a few setbacks at the last moment! I like the precision of doing that  top stitching, and all of the other components like the bar tacks and rivets and fly make these a really fun project to work on, especially as I sewed them up in short bursts between writing an assignment. Best of all, I’m really happy with the final product! Stupid that it took me so long to make them really…

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Finally, I thought I should get a picture of this tee shirt, as it hasn’t made the blog yet! It’s a Molly Tee, from the Sew Over It City Break Capsule Wardrobe e-book. I really like the shape of it, especially the curved hem and the wide scoop neckline. I turned the sleeve hems up and hand stitched the cuffs rather than just hemming them, just for something a bit different. I keep meaning to make the dress version, but it keeps getting bumped down the list. Maybe for summer!

A toasty sweater

Well, winter has arrived a month early in New Zealand! There’s snow on the hills around Wellington, and a savage southerly is whipping through the city. Time to sew some of my stashed merino!

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I really wanted to make the Toaster Sweater pattern from Sew House Seven after seeing so many versions made up during the northern hemisphere winter, I love the split hem with its mitred corners and the funnel neck of version 2. I know I’m in the minority when it comes to the online sewing community, but I really hate turtle necks. I just hate having anything snug around my neck, even tightly wrapped scarves make me feel like I’m suffocating. I thought the funnel neck on this pattern would be wide enough not to freak me out though, and I was right!

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I used some merino interlock from The Fabric Store, and it is the softest, cuddliest merino I’ve ever sewn with. It has a bit more heft than most merino jersey I’ve sewn (obviously, as it’s a double knit), so I thought it might have enough body to keep the shape of the neckline but still drape nicely. I think I was mostly right, the funnel neck does sag a bit in the centre front, but I think if I had interfaced it it might have ended up too stiff.

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I cut it out in a single layer so that I could match the stripes, which was pretty successful. The merino is so soft and stretchy that it was pretty forgiving, but it was a bit tricky to keep it square as I was cutting it out. It also wanted to grow and shift as I sewed it, so I used about 15 times as many pins as I usually would when sewing a knit!

That mitred hem is possibly my favourite part. It was simple enough to sew, but looks so nice and clean! I think I’ll definitely be borrowing that part of the pattern for other tops, it will be easy enough to graft onto another hem.

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So there were a few things about this pattern which I found a bit odd. I had never heard of a double stitch before, which is the method recommended for constructing this top, but it’s when you sew a row of straight stitches and then a row of zigzags next to it. I’m sure it probably works (otherwise it wouldn’t be in the instructions, right?), but I was weirded out by it enough that I just used a narrow zigzag stitch to sew the shoulders and neckline, and then overlocked the side seams and sleeves. the hems are all top-stitched with a twin needle, as usual. I also thought it was weird that the neck facing which folds under to give the funnel shape didn’t extend to the shoulder seams, it means that it’s a bit messy around the shoulders on the inside. Its also super short! I’m really short waisted, and this is the shortest length I would want it to be. Tall sewers beware!

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If I make another Toaster Sweater 2, I think I’ll extend the facing piece so that I can catch it in the shoulder seams when I sew in the sleeves, just to keep it neat and hold down the facing a bit more securely. I think I might go down a size as well. This is the Medium, which is where my measurements put me, but I wonder if it would be a better fit in a Small. In this drapey knit I think the slightly oversized look is fine, but I have a more structured cream wool tentatively earmarked which I think would be a bit tent-like in the bigger size!

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I do like the slightly 1960’s beatnik vibe this top has, especially with my Safran Jeans and some flats. I just need to find a poetry slam or something (I wish I could find a poetry slam, does Wellington have such a thing? I so desperately wanted to see Kate Tempest in September, but she’s only doing one show while we’re in the UK and its the day before the only other thing we have tickets for. Such a bummer!) Zelda also gives it the cat-fur seal of approval, so it must be good. A few more snuggly wool tops, and the southerly can come at me!

Double Denim

At the end of last year, Emma from Emma’s Atelier organised a sewing challenge for the Wellington Sewing Bloggers. We were going to finally stop procrastinating and sew jeans! Now, I got my jeans finished by the end-of-challenge date in March, but the date was pushed back a few times to accommodate others who were still sewing. Eventually the 6th of May was decided on, so I decided to sew up something else for the challenge as I had already blogged my jeans

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I was going to have a crack at some Ginger Jeans, but I didn’t get organised in time. Instead I decided to use the rest of the stretch denim I had left over from my Safran Jeans to make another version of the skirt from v1247. I really liked my first version of this skirt, but it is pretty short, and the fit is all a bit squiffy because I was more worried about pattern matching than the trifling matter of accurate seam allowances…

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This version does fit much better, I don’t have the odd bubbling above the pockets like I did with my first version. Guess those seam allowances do matter huh? I added 3” to the hem of this one, and I prefer the longer length. I also added an exposed zipper up the back (I thought sewing denim and using a metal zip made this skirt enough like jeans to qualify for the challenge!). I used Megan Nielsen’s tutorial for the zip, and it worked fairly smoothly. It isn’t as neat inside as I would like, due to the way the seam allowance gets clipped, but I can live with it! I bound all of the internal seams with Hug Snug, to keep the bulk down (and because I couldn’t be bothered making bias tape). It looks a bit dodgy up close, but if you aren’t looking too closely it looks pretty good!

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I’ve been wearing this skirt heaps since I finished it, I didn’t realise I needed a denim skirt but it has obviously filled a gap in my autumn wardrobe!

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I’ve also made a long sleeved version of the Deer & Doe Melilot Shirt, in a Robert Kaufman chambray from fabric.com (I think it’s this one, but I’m not 100% sure). I love my short sleeved one, so I thought a long sleeved version would go well in my wardrobe, and I was right! I really love this shirt. I’ve seen some mixed reviews of the Kaufman chambray around, but it’s really hard to find lightweight chambray in store in Wellington, so I thought I’d give it a go. It’s really nice and soft, and it pressed and sewed up nicely. Hopefully it’ll wash well, because I’d like this shirt to last.

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This is the first time I’ve sewn tower plackets, and I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out. There was a little bit of head scratching as I tried to get everything to fold correctly, but it all suddenly fell into place and looked like what I was expecting! I put a bar tack right across the top of the split to reinforce it, as I’ll be wearing these sleeves rolled up most of the time, but next time I think I’ll use a shorter vertical bar tack to strengthen that area. The long bar tack is just a bit clumsy looking! I am happy with the way the cuffs turned out, the curves on the cuffs, collar and pockets look really nice together.

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I hemmed this one with some grey bias tape, as I’ve never been happy with the turn and stitch hem treatment on my first shirt. Bias tape just sits so much flatter around those sharp curves at the side seams. The buttons are my favourite mother of pearl shirt buttons from Made Marion Crafts in Wellington.

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I’m not entirely sure what the deal is with those big wrinkles above the pockets on this shirt, I wonder if that just happens with dropped shoulder seams? Any suggestions? I have so many versions of this planned now, I’ve got some rayon for another long sleeved version, and some more cotton for a long sleeved dress hack, and some linen for another short sleeved summer version… I need a job with a smart/casual dress code so I can wear them all!

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In the end, only Emma and I had finished items for the challenge reveal, so here we are in matching denim (she used the same stuff for her Safran Jeans), and with our matching Ida Clutches, before we had delicious chips and soda at Six Barrel Soda Co!

Finally, does chambray count as denim? Is this outfit double denim? I really like both pieces, so I’ve decided not to be to bothered about wearing them together. Double denim is in now anyway, right? I’ve seen the hipsters wearing it for years! Either way, down with fashion rules…

 

Traditional New Year Sewing

If you do something three years in a row that makes it tradition right? This is the third year in a row that I’ve started the year with a post showcasing a new pair of shorts and a summer top, so I’m going to say it’s now traditional! My first year was a Grainline summer outfit, last year was my weirdly constructed Panthea shorts and an Emmeline tee, and this year it’s a True Bias party.

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I’ve already posted about the Ogden Camisole, so I won’t talk about that too much. This one is also rayon, a lovely rayon crepe which I bought from Tessuti in Melbourne when I was there in November. I find rayon crepe can be so variable, I’ve worked with some which is really drapey but loosely woven and which seems to grow as you work with it (or wear it, alarmingly), and also some which has been stiff and scratchy (but which holds it’s shape). happily, this stuff has the best qualities of all of the rayon crepes I’ve used, it’s smooth and drapey but hasn’t sagged out. Even still, I was careful to stay stitch everything, and tried not to handle the pieces too much until they were sewn together! I really love this top, I’ve worn it lots since I finished it at the end of December. It was a good thing to wear to casual festive parties.

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I’ve also made the True Bias Emerson Shorts! I’ll say straight away that I really like these shorts. The elastic back waistband means they are really comfortable, but the flat front waistband stops them looking too casual. I like the slash pockets and the front pleats too, and they were a really quick sew. What more could I want in a pair of shorts?

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I could maybe want a less crush-able fabric. I made these with the remnants of linen from my McCalls shirtdress, so they’re really cool and soft to wear, but man do they crease! I ironed these just before putting them on, but I made the mistake of sitting down to put my shoes on, and this is the result. Oh well, linen!

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I’m happy with the fit, though looking at this picture I can see that there are drag lines towards the inseams. I don’t know if I need more room for my bum, or if I’m just standing a bit funny! I’m not too worried about them for basic shorts, but if I make them again I might have a fiddle with the crotch depth. I do like the length and the width of the leg, I think they’re quite flattering!

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These are a really quick sew, they only took me a few hours one afternoon to put together. Actually, both pieces are really quick projects, nice and easy for the slow days between Christmas and New Year! I really like how the cami looks knotted (this is me ripping off the outfit from the True Bias sample photos…), but I find that there isn’t quite enough fabric around my hips to get a decent knot that doesn’t just fall out. I might have a play with some future versions, I could either grade it up a few sizes towards the hem, or I might try adding some cut-on ties to the hem. There are so many things I want to do with this pattern, expect to see a few more before the summer is done!

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I was wearing this outfit the other day, and I managed to get horribly sun burnt on my 10 minute walk to the shops! I have very itchy/sore shoulders, in a lovely shade of raspberry striped with white (cami straps and bag strap). I’m really hoping it’s faded by Thursday, it’ll clash terribly with the yellow dress I want to wear to the wedding I’m attending…

Also, it was my third blogging anniversary on Sunday! Thank you all for reading and commenting and offering so much help and inspiration, I do love the sewing corner of the internet ❤

A very French shirt

I really like Deer and Doe patterns, and when they released their spring/summer 2016 patterns I immediately bought both the Melilot Shirt and the Zephyr Dress. I meant to make the Melilot shirt up during the winter, but I just never managed to get it done…Happily I like the short sleeved version even more than the long sleeved one, so making it up for spring wasn’t a hardship!

  

I’m so happy with the way it turned out! I think its such a flattering shape, and the little round collar and the sleeve cuffs are so cute. I was a bit worried about the very curved side seams not hitting me at the right point, since I have a fairly high waist, but I threw caution into the wind and made it up as is in my good fabric. Thankfully it worked out pretty well! 
  

I had a bit of trouble getting the hem to sit nicely around those extreme curves. The instructions tell you to hem the fronts and back before sewing the side seams, but I was a bit wary of the length so I wanted to be able to try it on before I committed to hemming it! In the end I decided to leave the length as it is, though I might play around with it next time. I ended up sewing a line of basting stitches at 1/4 of an inch to help me fold it up, then folded it up the same again and topstitched it. Maybe I’ll try bias tape next time, I’m always happy with that finish!
  

There are some really lovely details in this pattern. The pockets are lined! I’ve only ever lined the pockets on a coat, but it does give a lovely smooth edge and makes it easier to get both pockets the same. Though in this busy fabric that isn’t such a major… I also really like that the collar on this shirt is a proper two piece with a collar stand, it sits really nicely and fits really well. I noticed when I was looking at the pictures of my M7351 shirtdress that the collar is really too big for my neck to be worn buttoned all the way up, but this one is a good size. 
  

One thing I wish I had done better is matching my thread colour to the fabric. I sewed the majority of this one in the evenings, and it wasn’t until I looked at my topstitching in daylight that I realised that it was really really white against the much more cream fabric. And then, instead of fixing it, I just carried on, and sewed the buttonholes in the same white thread. And of course, the button holes look even whiter and shinier than the topstitching… I wish I had waited and matched the thread, or that I had gone and fixed it before opening the buttonholes, but I’ll live with it! Those glaring white buttonholes will be a good reminder not to be lazy next time. I know you can’t see them in these photos, but I can definitely see them when I look down at the shirt!
  

The fabric is Atelier Brunette, French fabric for a French pattern! Last month there was a vintage fair in my local town hall, so I wandered down to have a look (hoping to find a pie dish, as I had just figured out that the one I was looking for in my kitchen actually belongs to my Mum, so was in her kitchen instead). Just inside the door was a pile of stunning bolts of French fabric, attatched to a stall that I realised was being run by Miss Maude. Thank god she was taking payment by automatic bank transfer (and thank god for banking apps!), because I would have been sad to miss out on this gorgeous cotton. I also bought a length of Atelier Brunette modal, so I’m sure that’ll be making an appearance this summer! The little black buttons came from my button stash, but I think they originally came from Made Marion, like most of my new buttons. I really like how they look on the fabric, though  sewing 11 button holes was a bit of a chore! 
  

Expect to see a few more of these over the summer! I really want to make a white silk version with sleeves, and I have a really lightweight cotton plaid that I’ve been planning to make into a button up shirt for over a year, so hopefully that’ll happen this summer too…

Grown up lady dress

You know how sometimes you get outfits that you can put on and immediately feel polished? Clothes that make you feel like you’ve got your shit together and can manage pretty much anything? I’m not exactly sure why, but thats how this dress made me feel when I wore it out yesterday. Like I was going to get stuff done! (I got lots of eating done, but thats another thing this dress is good for.)

  

This is the Kielo Dress from Named, with the sleeve add on they released earlier this year to make it winter friendly. I made it up in a cotton/lycra blend ponte from The Fabric Warehouse, I love the print! I realised when I was organishing my fabric a few months ago how few patterned fabrics I own (except for stripes, of course), so it was nice to use this one! 

  

The pattern was so simple to make up, once I got past the dreaded tracing/ adding seam allowance stage. The sleeve pattern incorperates a new armscye shape to trace as well, but it was all very straight forward. Sewing was simple as well, I didn’t make any changes for sewing a knit instead of a woven except for using my overlocker for the main construction. I sewed the darts with a straight stitch and used a twin needle for the hems and neckline. I really like the double ended darts in the back, it gives it such a nice shape. I thought I had increased their depth (and shaped the CB seam) enough to fit my sway back, but looking at these pictures there is still a bit of fabric pooling above and below the ties. Just as well I can’t usually see it!

I did make a few changes to the pattern itself, other than adding the sleeves and lopping about 10″ off the hem. For some reason I didn’t consider the distance between the shoulder and waist before I cut it out, so it did what every wrap dress I’ve ever tried on does and bloused terribly in the upper body if I tied it at my waist (or sat unflatteringly at the widest point of my hips if I tied it where the fabric wanted to go). Because of the shape of the wings I ended up with big scoops of fabric between my armpit and waist, not quite what I was going for! In desperation I ended up shorteneing the length of the wings by 2.5 inches on either side, tapering to nothing towards the hem. This helped reduce the excess of fabric, but does mean that they only just meet at the centre front, rather than the more dramatic overlapping shape they had before. But I’m much happier with the overall silhouette, so I’m ok with that!

  

Token blogger-in-a-Kielo-Dress shot! You can see that the wings look much shorter than every one elses…( I keep calling them wings in my head, how else should I describe them?) I felt like I was pulling a flasher pose here, hense the ridiculously hammy face!
  

I also changed up the neckline a bit, I felt it was too high with the long sleeves and relatively long hem. I just eyeballed a more scooped shape, about 2 inches lower at the centre front than how it’s drafted. I ended up drafting a facing for the neckline too, as I thought turning and stitching as instructed wouldn’t work on my now significantly more scooped out neckline (though I haven’t had great luck turning and stitching boat necklines either, to be honest). I treated the facing like I would a woven one, stitching and understitching it (though with a zig zag stitch rather than a straight stitch) and then topstitching it with the twin needle. I’m really happy with how it turned out, no waving or sagging to be seen!

   
 

The only downside to this dress is my incessant need to fiddle with it. I’m always smoothing the fabric under the wrapped sides, or adjusting the ties. Its not sitting perfectly in these photos either, probably because we’d just had lunch and I was full of delicious food and not worrying about it! I guess that makes this a more accurate representation of how it looks when being worn…

  

So there we go, my grown up dress! I think it must be the sleeves and the just below the knee length that make me feel like a proper adult… Does everyone else have clothes that make them feel like that? I’m sure it can’t just be me!