I have been sewing quite a bit recently! Not as much as I would have liked, because Jared was pretty sick for a while, & was thus commandeering the bedroom, where my sewing & cutting tables are. But I am finally, FINALLY, getting back into the swing of stitching.
I’m plugging away on my capsule wardrobe. My plans continued to expand & got a little unwieldy, so I went back to the drawing board & divided by ideas into two capsules of thirteen pieces each. First up: spring (even though it’s almost June). I actually have seven of the thirteen spring pieces completed or close to it, so it’s not as crazy as it sounds. What is crazy is that one of them is a knitted piece & I don’t know how to knit. But I did finally sign up for a class! It’s worth mentioning that I’ve never taken a sewing class because I was too intimidated to seem like an idiot in front of the ladies at the fabric shop. By the time I finally felt like I “knew enough” to avoid embarrassing myself in a beginner class, they told me I was really too skilled for their classes to be valuable to me. So I’m going the other way & walking into this knitting class with absolutely zero skills.
Anyway! Let’s talk about this dress. This is the Kielo dress from Named Clothing. This has been all over the sewing blogs in the last few years. I never sewed it before now because, frankly, it just didn’t interest me. The Named aesthetic never really grabbed me, & until recently, their size range was fairly limited. But I came across this Tetris print while dicking around on Spoonflower one day (for reasons unknown, as I generally consider Spoonflower too rich for my blood) & I couldn’t shake the idea of sewing it up as a Kielo dress.
I chose the classic cotton jersey substrate, as I wanted to avoid polyester & I’d heard the “modern jersey” had opacity issues. The Kielo is designed for a stretch fabric, & especially because it is not one of the patterns available in the larger size range, I didn’t want to mess around with trying to grade up for a woven. According to the size chart, the largest size for the Kielo can accommodate a 34″ waist. Mine is 38″. You’d think it doesn’t matter because the cut is so huge at the waist anyway. I’m probably the only blogger that isn’t giving you a photo of the dress untied, but you can Google it & see that it is shaped like a manta ray. The big wings on the side wrap around & can be tied front or back, & so, in that respect, the waist is adjustable & ostensibly accommodates larger sizes. I’ll come back to this.
As far as the fabric goes: yes, it definitely faded a lot after the first wash. & it doesn’t have that cool, drape-y hand that I prefer in my jersey, even though it’s the same fabric content as something from Riley Blake or Art Gallery. It still feels a bit stiff & “sticky,” almost, even after a couple of washes. But I think the print I chose is bold enough that it works even without a true black background to set it off, the fabric is opaque, it’s light enough to wear in hot weather, & it will only soften up with age & wear, so I give it a thumbs up. You just really need to make smart choices when buying from Spoonflower. It might not be the best source for fabrics newbs, you know?
The pattern required approximately all the paper in the world to be printed & taped together, but that’s why we have podcasts, right? I caught up on a few back episodes of “Ask Me Another” while I worked on it. Everything went together really sensibly, & the sewing was a breeze. It’s really a deceptively simple design. There are darts & s a back seam for shaping, so it’s not purely relying on negative ease to fit. The whole wrap-&-tie situation looks interesting & complex, but it could not be easier. This would be a great beginner pattern for anyone who isn’t afraid to sew a dart in a stretch fabric (& you shouldn’t be; it’s pretty easy).
I harbored a dream of cutting this so the density of the Tetris pieces was along the “wing”/wrap part. I also fully intended to go with the maxi length. But because my fabric was a one-sided border, I had to go with the more traditional density at the hem, & that meant I didn’t have the length I needed to go maxi. I guesstimated where to cut it off to make it knee-length & I feel I went just a little bit too short. It’s wearable as-is, but it did inspire me to add another piece to my spring capsule: a coordinating black ruffled underskirt, which I shall blog another day. I thought it was finished, but it was the victim of Ramona-related hijinks & needs a bit of mending.
I cheated the bust a little (Named drafts for a B-cup, I am a D-cup) by adding 2″ to the bodice front, which wound up being pretty much perfect. I also added two small darts at the neckline because it was gaping like crazy up there. I think I just cut too big a size for my shoulders, which are proportionally narrow. The darts solved the problem nicely though.
I finished the armscyes with black fold-over elastic because I just didn’t want to deal with little hems or self-bias. I had just enough of the glittery black fold-over elastic to finish the neck with it. It looks great & coordinates spectacularly with my glittery black Toms, but holy hell, is it itchy. I will never use that stuff against bare skin ever again. I blame the fold-over elastic baby headband industry, which has resulted in impractical elastic finishes, as well as the mass marketing of ruffled or otherwise decorative elastic being marketed as fold-over when it cannot in fact be folded over, but that’s a rant for another day. (Looking at you, misleading Etsy shops!) Also: anyone who puts glitter elastic anywhere near a baby’s head is a monster.
& as for the waist issue I mentioned? Look, this dress, which I did not alter at the waist in any way, does fit. But if a size for a larger waist had been available to me, it would have been nice, because the width of the waist affects the width of the wrap pieces & the length of the ties. Having a couple of extra inches there would make the skirt fall a little better, & I’d be able to wear the ties the way I wanted, which was to wrap them to the back & back around to the front to tie them. I can do that, but I just have little stubs of ties. I’d like to have the length to double-wrap & still be able to tie a nice bow. I definitely make these alterations for myself whenever I use this pattern again (next summer, maybe?)
pattern: Kielo dress from Named Patterns
size: straight US 14 (my current measurements are 42″ B, 38″ W, 45″ H, D-cup)
fabric: about two yards of Tetris print cotton/spandex jersey from Spoonflower
notions: jersey needle, black thread, very lightweight black knit interfacing (for the waist ties), black fold-over elastic, black glitter fold-over elastic
total cost of all supplies: around $70–yikes!
alterations: lengthened front bodice 2″, grading to nothing at the side seams (cheater FBA); added two 3/4″ darts at neckline to address gaping; shortened from maxi to knee-length, maybe 16″ altogether?
next time: go down a size in the shoulders, grade up at the waist, lengthen ties, try maxi length, maybe add a secret pocket to the wrap section?
remarks from the public: (to Ramona) “Your mommy’s dress reminds me of Tetris. Man, I played a lot of Tetris in the 90s. I was all about that Game Boy.” — one of Ramona’s preschool teachers
photos: I took the photos of Miss Mackrelmint 1942 modeling the look, & Ramona took the photos of me