Last year, with my injury hampering my sewing, I was a bit late to the party when I made my Sew Over It Penny Dress, but, despite it being a bit of a rush , I was super-chuffed with the result and I’m planning another in some gorgeous Lady McElroy cotton lawn from Stitchy Bee, but that’s for another day!
This year I wanted to consider my options properly, as I’m not normally a huge fan of traditional wrap dresses and haven’t had huge success with making them in the past. Although they can look really flattering on an hourglass shape, I’ve found it really difficult to get the fit right so that it doesn’t gape on my bust, or look baggy on my waist, or both. So I wanted something a bit different.
I’ve seen several versions of the Kielo dress since it was released, both in jersey and woven fabrics, and have admired how great it can look, but it’s quite an unusual pattern
– it’s got ‘wi-inngs’! (sorry, couldn’t help it!) – and it’s not something I’d usually wear, but then I saw an Instagram post with a discount for Named Patterns especially for Sew Together for Summer and decided to go for it.
I love a woven maxi, but feel they can be a bit formal, so I wanted to make a jersey one that I could wear all summer long (apart from when I’m wearing all my other summer dresses, of course!) and dress up or down, but I just couldn’t decide on fabric; as we all know jerseys are NOT all created equal and some of them are dreadful quality! I’ve used Art Gallery jerseys before and, although they’re rather pricey, they really are fabulous quality and the cotton content makes them really comfortable to wear, so I had a good trawl through various websites and eventually decided on this Make Patches Shabby from Minerva Crafts – it’s different from my usual florals but the colours are very ‘me’.
(That plain pink beside it is a stretch denim I’m planning for a summer bomber jacket, IF I can ever find the right colour ribbing to go with it – watch this space.)
So, onto the making…
This is a very straightforward pattern, with just three pieces to cut out – front on the fold, back x2 and tie x2 – which all fit nicely onto 2m of 150cm wide fabric, as long as the fabric print is non-directional, because you cut the front and back pieces in opposite directions. My fabric is actually directional, but thankfully it’s busy enough not to notice.
I cut a size UK10 everywhere except the bust, which I graded up to a 12.
The instructions are easy to follow and the diagrams are clear, although I chose to sew the centre back seam and vent after the side seams so that I could adjust the fit for my sway back. Otherwise I followed it all in order.
Once I’d sewn it together I found that the armhole sat FAR too low on me and the bust dart was also a bit too close my bust apex and looked a bit odd and pointy, which is probably because this is drafted for someone who’s 5’8” and I’m only 5’4”…
So I took it up at the shoulder seams by 2cm (so total seam allowance of 3cm there) which helped significantly with the bust dart, but it was still showing my bra under my arms, so I then raised the side seams by 5cm to close the hole.
Because I’d lifted the shoulder seams, the neckline was now sitting rather high, so I trimmed off 2cm at the centre front and centre back, and graded it back out to the shoulder seams.
I’d read various other blog posts where people have complained about the way the neckline is finished, but thought I’d have a go with some jersey bias binding.
With the first attempt I stretched it slightly, like you do with a neckband – logical, right?! – but that puckered up like crazy and looked awful! So, as I’d stupidly gone straight ahead with sewing it rather than tacking it first, I decided to cut it off! Next, I tried again without stretching it and it all looked good, so I went ahead and sewed it on. You’d think I would’ve learned and tacked it first, but no! It sewed on nicely, but when I went to turn it inside and pin it ready to topstitch in place it all puckered up again. ARGH!!! SO I CUT THAT OFF TOO!
I needed a new plan, as by this point the shoulders were now 2cm narrower than they were supposed to be! So, to solve the whole problem, I made a proper neckband. I measured the remaining neck circumference, deducted 20%, and added seam allowances, then pinned and TACKED it in place. It sat perfectly, so I went ahead and overlocked it on. I really love how the neckband looks and I think it’s much more professional than a simple hemmed/topstitched neckline, so I’d absolutely do that again.
For the armholes I went with a straightforward 1cm hem topstitched in place with a twin needle, and finally I shortened the dress at the hem by 9cm.
I wore it yesterday when we went for a walk around some local gardens (East Ruston Gardens near North Walsham – well worth a visit if you’re in Norfolk) and it was incredibly comfortable and cool in the sunshine. Hubby was very patient as we surreptitiously tried to get a good selection of pics to show it tied in various ways (and without other people in the background)…!