I don’t like parties. I’d much rather be at home sewing in my comfy clothes. One party I did go to (albeit very late) was the Kielo wrap dress party – I made my first one earlier this year and fell in love with the pattern. The design is genius – it’s like a secret-security-blanket that’s acceptable to wear out in public. No fastenings, no tight waistbands. Over your head, tie round your waist and DONE. It’s the ultimate morning saviour for those of us that like to hit snooze ten times and then panic when they realise what they’ve done. Total dressing time is about 10 seconds.
At the time I made my first Kielo, I thought to myself ‘this would be awesome for the winter in a cozy fabric with long sleeves’ and then I saw on the Named website that there is indeed a free pdf add on for sleeves! Yay!
The dress is super flattering on everyone that I’ve seen wearing it – all shapes and sizes, you just tie the waist to however you’re comfortable with it. And if you over indulge in the office biscuits and/or donuts (hey, it happens) then you just loosen the ties a bit and carry on. Simples. You don’t usually get comfort *and* looks in the same bundle (high-heeled shoes, I’m looking at you) but with this dress you’re totally hitting the jackpot on both. No muffin top, no seams straining in their attempt to absorb that slice of cake/whole cake that had your name on it.
You can make the sleeveless version with pretty much any fabric that has a little bit of stretch to it (wovens included, it’s not just for knits!), but for the long sleeve version I would recommend a jersey/knit fabric so you can get a fitted look on the sleeves but still actually move. I don’t enjoy working with jersey – it’s just so shifty and slippery and so bloody hard to get it where you want it but I knew the suffering would be worth it to have another one of these awesome dresses.
I searched around for the perfect fabric – which took way longer than it should have, I’m so fussy – and in the end chose some pink (surprise surprise) leopard print (again, surprise) jersey from Fabric Godmother. I fell in love with the print – pink AND animal print! When it arrived, my first hurdle came into view. The fabric was a really slinky, very see through jersey. Ignoring the fact that it would be indecent when stretched around my bum, it was so thin that it just wouldn’t be suitable as a single layer cooler-weather dress anyway. I’m always cold, and wanted this dress to be basically the equivalent of wrapping myself in a duvet – and this thin fabric wasn’t going to cut it. I headed on over to Minerva crafts and bought some black stretch lining, which would serve a double purpose of making the fabric no longer see-through and also adding an extra layer of warmth.
If you’re thinking of making yourself a Kielo with sleeves (and you totally should), heed my warning – YOU HAVE TO MODIFY THE SHOULDER CURVE OF THE ORIGINAL TEMPLATES. Do not, as I did, think that you can cut out the same body pieces as for the sleeveless version and then cut out the sleeves and sew them together. Big fat nope. When you download the sleeve add-on pdf, it includes a template for you to trace round to get the right shoulder and armscye curve on the body pieces to take the sleeves. By the time I realised this, I’d already cut the body pieces the same as for the sleeveless version (yep, cosmic, fabulous, loving life right now) and there was nothing I could do. Those front and back pieces are cut full length, so they are massive, and had used up 80% of the fabric I had so I couldn’t recut them as this would have meant buying a couple of metres more fabric.
So, my only choice was to keep going. I’ve started so I’ll finish, as they say. I got the lining out and cut the (incorrect) body pieces out yet again. I then pinned these ginormous lining pieces to their corresponding outer pieces and ran all edges through the overlocker. That was NOT enjoyable, the leopard fabric was pretty lightweight and VERY shifty and stretchy – thankfully the lining was a bit more stable but the whole thing was a complete nightmare.
The pattern tells you to interface the straps, but I found that interfacing both sides made the tie too stiff and it didn’t hang nicely when tied – instead it sort of stuck out at a weird angle like I’d been stabbed in the stomach with a fabric-knife. I unpicked and trimmed the interfacing to just half the width (so an ‘interfacing sandwich’ if you will – one layer of interfacing in between a layer of strap on each side) and this was much better. I didn’t want to leave out the interfacing completely, as my fabric had a LOT of stretch and I could imagine the ties being a bit Stretch Armstrong and just going round and around my waist forever if they weren’t kept in check with some interfacing. I didn’t use a stretch interfacing, as the only ones I could find were iron-on and I really hate that stuff, so I went with regular sew-in non-stretch interfacing. Vilene medium weight, as always (the same stuff I use on shirt collars and cuffs).
I attached the sleeves to the dress, and they were SO short. Even before hemming! Eh? I don’t have particularly long arms, so I was really puzzled about this. I know I should have extended the shoulder a little on the bodice piece, but these sleeves were a good 2-3 inches too short and the amount you extend the shoulder by is only about 1 inch. I decided to hem them anyway, to see how they looked – I can always pass them off as bracelet length, right? Basically I just couldn’t be bothered to cut another pair of sleeves, after ballsing up the body pieces. Surely I wouldn’t have to recut the sleeves as well. After hemming them, I put the dress on. The sleeves were a tad short – but I could live with it – however the real issue was that I hadn’t lined them like I had the rest of the dress. I originally decided against lining the sleeves, because I really only lined the dress so it wasn’t see-through, and this wasn’t a problem on the sleeves. But… the non-lined fabric looked a little different against my skin than the lined fabric did, and my word was it COLD! The fabric is this slinky, breathable viscose jersey, and it felt like the air just travelled right through it. I stood in front of the mirror for ages, contemplating my options in order of ease/laziness:
- I could leave the sleeves as they are. Yes, they are a little bit short, and I probably should have lined them, but they are already attached. I could always call it an ‘autumn’ dress rather than a winter dress if it’s that cold. Or I could put a cardigan on.
- I could leave the sleeves as they are but try to do a narrower hem to add a bit of length, and still forget about the lining.
- I could unpick the sleeves, recut them with a little bit of added length, and also line them. Preferred option, but LONG.
I decided to go with option 2 – try to add a little bit of length but essentially leave them as they are. I began unpicking the hems, and at the point where I was halfway through the second hem I accidentally caught a thread of the fabric with the seam ripper. Well, carnage spiralled pretty quickly from this point – I stretched the fabric to assess the damage and that one broken thread ran quicker than Usain Bolt and immediately became a hole. Which got bigger with every stretch. Bugger. Option three then became the one and I had to unpick the sleeves at the shoulder seam (VERY CAREFULLY) and recut two more sleeves (thankfully I had over-ordered on the fabric, but I had to cut off-grain to get them on) with an extra two inches added to them and then cut some lining to go with it. I may as well just do it properly now that I’ve royally hashed it up.
For the neck opening, they give you the options of a double fold hem, or stretchy bias tape. I was worried that a double fold would be too bulky, as I’d lined the fabric, and didn’t have any knit bias tape to hand so I went somewhere in the middle with regular cotton bias tape. It looks really neat on the inside, but it does stick up a little bit because the bias tape isn’t as stretchy as it should be. The neck opening is also much wider than it should be, probably because of the aforementioned shoulder dramas and the sleeves pulling the shoulders outwards. What would be awesome is to put a high neck on the dress… perhaps a snuggly roll neck for when it’s proper chilly. I’m also thinking whether I could use the bias tape on the hem to help keep it straight… because mine definitely isn’t. Did I mention I hate working with jersey?
I have much respect for people who can wield unruly jersey into beautifully made garments. I’m not sure how I’ve gone wrong but my outer layer doesn’t sit quite flush on the lining layer and I’ve got this weird ripple effect going on at the bottom. I’m calling it an accidental effect – I probably couldn’t replicate it again if it tried. I’m not really that bothered though as I love the dress just the same, and it’s *super* comfy.
I’ll definitely be making more of these (in fact I placed an order with Girl Charlee just yesterday – watch this space), I love wrapping myself up in them and they are just the right balance of smart and comfy to wear to work. I literally would wear these to work everyday if I could without raising questions from my team as to whether I actually own anything else. I’ve also been looking at merino jersey and stretch velvet to make these from, and have been loosely thinking about kimono fabrics because the wrap around middle section reminds me of an obi…
For now, I’ll continue my love/hate relationship with stretch fabrics – love to wear them, hate to sew with them. I’ll leave you with some lovely autumnal pictures of Regent’s Park in London ?
Coming up next week on the Wanderstitch blog… more yummy autumn-ness (and MORE leopard print!) with my Republique Du Chiffon Charlotte skirt ? Subscribe below to make sure you don’t miss out!