achievement unlocked: Tetris print Kielo dress

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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& 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

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5 responses to “achievement unlocked: Tetris print Kielo dress

  1. Pingback: an apron-y Kielo dress | The Monthly Stitch

  2. I’m so excited that you’re going to knit. Can I see the knit piece you’re working on?

    • I literally just had my class a couple of days ago. I can say now that I know the very most rudimentary basics of how to knit at this point, & but I haven’t started my first project yet!

      • I’ll be curious to see what you choose for your first project. I started a “secret” knitting blog. Secret because much of what I’m knitting is gifts for family members, and I don’t want to ruin the surprise. https://froggingforbeginners.wordpress.com

        • I’m hoping to start with a really basic shawl situation, just garter stitch, nothing fancy. But knitting really isn’t coming to me as naturally as sewing has, so it’s slow-going. I haven’t even managed to create a gauge swatch yet because I keep messing up & having to frog.

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