Oh hai, octopi

So you guys may recall that I made my first long-sleeved Kielo a little while back, in a pink leopard print fabric. And I loves it. I loves it so much that it made me want to make ALL THE KIELOS. But I struggled to find more jersey fabric that I liked – I looked everywhere (literally EVERYWHERE, including some proper dodgy-looking overseas fabric websites) and I even asked the wonderful Instagram sewing community to recommend the places that they buy jersey from. And I checked out each and every one, and came away with nothing but a sad face.

Named Patterns Kielo Wrap Dress

A couple of people had suggested designing my own fabric, but I was under no illusions as to my graphic design skills (hint – I don’t have any). Spoonflower was also suggested by a few people – I’d looked at Spoonflower before, but never bought anything – I was worried about the print quality, the shipping costs (it’s a US website and that usually means paying mucho Dollarzzz – capital D – to Fedex), and generally just dropping a chunk of money on something that I had no real idea of what the product would be like when it turned up.

I reached out to Spoonflower to talk about my Kielo dramas (their team member Meredith has made Kielo’s…. SIX… #KieloGoals) and they offered to try to ease my problems by letting me test out some of their fabric. They were confident that there would be a design on their website that I would love as much as my previous Kielo.

If you haven’t heard of Spoonflower before, it’s a US website where talented people from all around the world upload their designs. You can then have these designs printed on fabric, wallpaper, or gift wrap. So, if you really wanted to, you could make an outfit using the fabric of your dreams, photograph it in front of a wall which has been papered with the same design, holding a gift wrapped in matching gift wrap. I don’t know about you, but that idea is totally giving me Garden State vibes to the max. If you’re not really in to sewing, wallpapering or gift wrapping, you can get the designs printed on home décor stuff (curtains, cushions, that kind of thing) through their Roostery shop.

But back to the fabric (because let’s be real that’s the bit us sewists are really interested in) you choose your design, and then you can get it printed on pretty much any weight or type of fabric that you like. No more finding your dream fabric and then wishing it was available in knit/chiffon/denim instead. Hurrah! Here’s just a couple of their woven options:

They give you the weights and recommended uses – you can also read the reviews from other people that have bought the fabric and see what they’ve made with it.

In order to pin down the design I wanted, I started to put together a mood board of some of the designs that I liked. Now Spoonflower isn’t like your average fabric shop, you don’t filter by fabric type/weight/use because every design can be printed on whatever fabric you like. The search function is design based –  so colour, style and type of design become your starting points. I know that I was complaining that I couldn’t find jersey that I liked online, but Spoonflower goes totally the other way and has over 500,000 designs. FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND. Just take a moment to appreciate just how many that is (pro tip: a lot). How on earth do you begin to find designs that you like amongst that lot? Well, you can filter by colour, but as I’m quite picky on patterns, I found that filtering to just ‘pink’ brought back too many designs that weren’t ‘me’ – florals, solids, and stripes to name a few. I decided that the best approach would be to search by design types.

I had a think about what designs I like on fabric, and searched one by one on these to see what came back. My searches consisted of:

  • Ikat
  • Damask
  • Gothic
  • Geometric
  • Indian
  • Ethnic
  • Bohemian
  • Rococo

I would have usually searched for ‘animal print’ or ‘leopard print’ but since I made the last Kielo from leopard print fabric I wanted to use something different for this one. (and to be fair, I do sew with leopard print A LOT). Each search brought back several pages of results, sometimes too many to look through. I would have found it slightly easier/quicker if there was a subsequent colour filter on the side, so that I could have searched and then filtered the results to narrow it down a bit. There are colours that I don’t wear and it would have been nice to be able to filter these out, but nevertheless I managed to find several designs I liked. Here’s the moodboard that I created, of my shortlisted designs:

You can see that it’s very typically me – subtle solids in pastel colours. Lolz just kidding, of course its an absolute riot of colour and pattern, mostly based around red, pink and purple.

I wasn’t sure on the weight of jersey that I wanted for the Kielo, so I ordered samples of five of the prints from the collection on a couple of different fabric options. When these arrived, I could see instantly the weight of fabric that I wanted – the Sport Lycra. From the name, I was a bit worried that it would be too Lycra-y to want to make a dress from (it’s actually not though), but the other fabric that I sampled – the Perfomance knit – was definitely too thin for an unlined winter dress. There isn’t a lot numbers-wise in the weight differences (7.25 oz for the Performance Knit vs 8.4 oz for the Sport Lycra),  but there’s definitely quite a difference in real-life weight when you’ve got it in your hands.

I needed 3.5 yards for the Kielo dress – I learned the hard way that the ‘2 yards’ quoted on the Named Patterns website was for fabrics that did not have an obvious direction. The cutting layout for the dress has you lay the front and back pieces next to each other, top to tail, which obviously isn’t going to fly if your fabric is clearly one-way. I find that 3 yards is enough to make a sleeveless version (on directional fabric) and you need half a yard for the sleeves – you might be able to squidge it out of less if your fabric is wider though.

You see that little sentence on their website that says ‘note that for patterned or napped fabrics the fabric requirement may be higher’? That appeared as a result of my little rant to them after I had to buy more fabric for my first Kielo dress because the fabric I was using was directional. You’re welcome 🙂

Based on my fabric calculations, I proceeded to add 3.5 yards of this awesome octopus fabric to my Spoonflower cart – and found that I couldn’t. I could only add whole yards. That’s slightly annoying if you want a half yard – especially if you’re buying one of the more pricey fabrics. To compensate, you could use the ‘fill a yard’ option – but you have to have both designs on the same fabric base. You can have two designs on your yard, and you can split it vertically or horizontally – so if you need that elusive half-yard for your project, this might help you out. Or at least help you get something else for (essentially) free. Bear in mind though you might (actually, will probably quite likely) receive this yard as a separate piece of fabric, so it’s no good if you need that half yard joined onto the full yards in order to cut your piece – with the Kielo though, you could use the separate half-yard to cut the sleeves.

**If you’ve not sewn this dress before, be aware that the sleeve template doesn’t come with the main dress pattern – it’s a free pdf file that you can get here**

The fabric arrived super quickly from the Spoonflower warehouse in Berlin – yes, despite it being a US website they ship to the UK from their EU warehouse. This is fabulous news for us EU peeps because it means faster delivery and most importantly NO IMPORT FEES. YAS. I must admit I was slightly skeptical about how the real-life fabric would compare to the digital image on the screen, but when it arrived I was super happs – the print was ultra sharp and did indeed look the same as what it did on-screen. I pre-washed, as always – 30 degree synthetic cycle in this case –  and I was interested to see if the pretty octopi would fade at all. They didn’t. WINNING.

I set about bringing the Kielo to life. This fabric had big shoes to fill – y’all know how much I loved my pink leopard version. First up was the cutting – being a slightly thicker knit and therefore more stable (I bought the thicker Sport Lycra over the thinner Performance knit because I didn’t want to have to line it) the fabric behaved very well and it wasn’t a nightmare to cut like most knits. It stayed where it was on the cutting mat and all the pieces were cut without any drama. Whoop whoop 🙌🏼🙌🏼🙌🏼

With the fabric being printed, and stretchy, this does mean that where seams and darts are and the fabric pulls slightly, it shows through a bit white (the reverse of the fabric is white, too). No biggie, and its only noticeable because my fabric is so dark, but I thought I’d mention it in case it critically matters to anyone.

Being a thicker knit, it’s not quite as ‘fluid’ as my leopard print version, but I’m ok with that, because I didn’t have to line it OR cut out the most slinky, shifty fabric in the world EVER. Honestly, even though I really love my leopard version, that fabric was horrific. The weight of the sport lycra gives a little more structure to the folds of the skirt than the more drape-y fabrics, but in the winter when it’s fookin’ freezing I put warmth before anything else.

I used my walking foot to help keep the jersey in place and not stretch out while I was sewing it, and overlocked all the edges. I only really overlocked to make it look pretty – the fabric doesn’t fray, so it’s not actually *needed* – therefore if you don’t have an overlocker, don’t sweat it.

I tried my best to pattern match those cute little guys down the back seam, and gave myself a mini celebration when I stepped back to admire the end result 💪🏼 #PatternMatchingGoals

You’ll want to use (or buy) a loop turner if you don’t have one – those ties are going to ruin your life if not. Insert loop turner, catch corner (see the little hook below?), pull loop turner out bringing corner with it. Simples!

On my last Kielo, I used bias tape for the neckline. Not even stretchy bias tape, as recommended by the pattern, because I didn’t have any of that. Just regular ol’ half inch bias tape. The neckline turned out a little sticky-uppy, so I knew that for this one I wanted to take a different approach. I decided to finally delve in to the world of the twin needle – Googling the proper way to thread up the machine because I have no idea where my sewing machine manual is (instructions are for losers, amirite? 🤣) I only had one twin needle, the one that came with the machine – I’ve no idea whether it was the correct type of needle (previously I was using a stretch needle to sew this fabric) but it worked ok so I went with it. I found it easier to baste the edge of the turned-up hem with a different colour thread, so that I could see my stitching line and make sure that I caught the fabric in the seam. I don’t know about you, but despite trying really hard there’s always that ONE BIT of bias tape or hem that escapes the line of stitching and hangs rebelliously loose.

I really love the finished dress – the octopus print is totally cool, yah?

So how would I rate my experience with Spoonflower? Actually, extremely positively. I’m definitely a convert. The print quality was great, and there are SO MANY designs available on their website that I could literally never be stuck for fabric ever again. I’m very particular with patterns and colours, and often get frustrated that I can never find fabrics that I like in the regular stores – everything is just a bit ‘meh’. Ok so Spoonflower isn’t the cheapest option out there, but I’m willing to pay that little bit extra for a print that makes me go WOW. I’m ridiculously excited to try something on cotton lawn – because OH EM GEE that is going to take my shirt making to the next level! Think of the crazy designs I can make! They’ve also just released a Dogwood Denim fabric, which I’m thinking might be good for another Victory Patterns Madeline skirt. Have you ever tried searching for patterned denim? I have, and let me tell you that the options are slim. In fact, slim doesn’t even come close – just don’t even bother looking because you’re wasting your time. There isn’t any.

Have you sewn the Kielo pattern yet? If you’re nervous about sewing with knit fabrics, or would like a little bit of hand-holding on working with the stretchy stuff, head on over to the Spoonflower blog to read my post which is chock-full of tips and tricks for working with knits –  you’ll be pro in no time!

Coming up next week on the Wanderstitch blog… Part Two of my Q&A – A Noob’s Guide To Starting A Blog: the guide I wish I’d had when I started blogging. Subscribe below to make sure you don’t miss out!  

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31 Comments

  1. Donna Bartlett
    February 18, 2018 / 9:42 am

    Love it love it LOVE IT!!! 😍

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 19, 2018 / 8:04 am

      Ahh thank you Donna!! 🙂 🙂

  2. February 18, 2018 / 9:46 am

    That’s a great looking dress! Nice twin-needling too… but that pattern matching down the back 👌
    (Good to know about the no-import-tax too 👍)

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 19, 2018 / 8:06 am

      Thanks! I was pretty proud of my pattern matching 😀 Bet I can’t manage to do that ever again lol. Ah, yes, no import duties to pay – I feel that this is dangerous for my bank balance!!

  3. February 18, 2018 / 9:59 am

    I love this pattern and the fabric it’s a perfect match. Nice post

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 19, 2018 / 8:16 am

      Ahh thank you! I’m glad you like it and enjoyed the post! 🙂 🙂

  4. February 18, 2018 / 11:18 am

    I didn’t think you could top your pink leopard one but i was wrong, though I’m slightly biased as I’ve got a thing for cephalopods! So good to know your experience with Spoonflower was good, it gives me confidence to try it myself in the future. You look absolutely stunning in your new dress, I bet it feels amazing to wear! Love the pattern placement and the matching, it’s definitely worth getting the extra yardage for such a special frock. Love it! 😍

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 19, 2018 / 8:10 am

      Ahaaa I’m so glad that you like it! That pink dress was always going to be hard to beat, but I think I might have a good contender here! I couldn’t resist those little octopusses 🙂 This dress is soooo comfy – it’s secret pyjamas! I could literally wear one of these to work every day (long sleeve in the winter, short sleeve in the summer) and I would totally be a happy bunny. I’ve actually got a couple more versions in the works – one good, one not so good – so expect to hear all about those soon! Yes Spoonflower was fabulous – it opens up a whole new world of crazy prints to make stuff with!!

  5. Brenda Kathleen Holmes
    February 18, 2018 / 1:25 pm

    Love your dress. I will need some summer dresses, but I wonder how this style would look on me – I’m a UK size 18 atm. Also, would the performance knit be OK for an unlined summer dress? I am used to sewing with knits, but usually stick to Art Gallery jersey, as I know how it will perform. Your blog is totally inspiring and is leading me out of my comfort zone 🙂

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 19, 2018 / 8:16 am

      Thanks Brenda! I’m really glad you like it and very happy that the blog is giving you ideas 🙂 I think the dress would look great on you, but if you’re unsure maybe whip one up out of a cheap fabric to test out the style. I’ve not yet seen a body shape or size that it’s unflattering on, and it’s soooo comfy! The Performance Knit would definitely be a suitable weight for an unlined summer dress – if you would like it, I’m happy to send you one of the Performance Knit samples that I ordered so that you can see the weight of it 🙂 Art Gallery jersey is cotton, isn’t it? More like a t-shirt type fabric? The performance knit is synthetic, and sort of feels a lot… smoother than a cotton jersey. Think of gym clothing and you’ve sort of got the feel. I’m not sure whether that helps… it’s really hard to explain!!

  6. February 18, 2018 / 1:36 pm

    The dress and fabric looks amazing! I literally just discovered Spoonflower yesterday when searching for jersey fabric with crocs on, the latest thing my little one is into, I wasn’t brave enough to order so good to hear your experience was a positive one!

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 19, 2018 / 8:19 am

      Aha! Perfect timing then! Croc jersey sounds super cute 🙂 Yes it was definitely a good experience, I will be ordering from them again for sure!

  7. cat
    February 18, 2018 / 5:30 pm

    Fabulous Sarah ‼️❤️Searching on Spoonflower is so difficult b/ c there are not enough filters otherwise so fun. I made up a print using clip art the very first year they started!

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 19, 2018 / 8:26 am

      Ah, YES! That’s my thoughts exactly, they need more filters. There’s so many designs on there that I feel like I only scratched the surface – I felt like I had to keep on searching in case there was that one amazing print which I just hadn’t found yet! I’m not brave enough to make my own print up yet… one day maybe!

  8. February 18, 2018 / 5:53 pm

    “it’s very typically me – subtle solids in pastel colours.” – If I’d been drinking when I read that, my beverage would’ve come out my nose.

    I remember waaaaay back when Spoonflower first opened and their only fabric option was generic quilting cotton stuff. I don’t think I’ve ever actually ordered anything from them, but I’ve seen several of my favorite bloggers raving about their knits lately so I might give it a go once I’ve gotten my stash down a bit. #NewYearsGoals 😉

    Oh, and when you mentioned the white showing at the seamlines, I was shocked that you didn’t say that you’ve taken a black marker to them. Overall, though, I love the dress – it is very you in style and print. Way to make another winner!

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 19, 2018 / 8:31 am

      Haha, but you know I’m so all about the subtle pastel colours 😀 😀
      They have a shed load of fabric options now – probably about twenty! They do a velvet which I’ve got my eye on, to replicate a velvet skirt that I have that’s just slightly the wrong style.
      Yes I need to start sewing up what I’ve got too… I’m doing pretty well, I don’t tend to buy a *great* deal but I’m thinking maybe I need to start a chart showing number of pieces of stash fabric sewn vs number of pieces added to the stash… I might not be doing as well as I think lol 🙂
      Do you know, I did actually consider taking a black marker to it! I did that recently on a skirt. Butttt as there were some orange octopus faces and legs over the seam I thought a solid black line through it might look a bit weird – so I decided not to risk ruining it!

  9. February 18, 2018 / 6:28 pm

    This Kielo suits you so perfectly it’s a delight to see (and of course read!) I’ve never bought any fabric from Spoonflower for all the reasons you mention…I’m in Canada and buying ANY fabric from the US these days is just crazy spendy. I pretty much have to double the cost when I factor in the difference in the dollar (about 30% these days), the shipping costs which are often insane from the US (much cheaper from the UK) and the customs which is going to nail me for sure (typically about $25). So no. No US fabric shopping for me. I would imagine those US fabric shops are noticing that us Canadians have come to an abrupt halt! I’ll order from France or Germany before the US. Your fabric choice is so vibrant I love it 🙂

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 20, 2018 / 8:01 am

      Thanks Kathleen, I’m glad you enjoyed the post! 🙂
      That’s so surprising about the shipping costs from the US – you guys are just next door so I would have thought the shipping rates would be quite reasonable… though I guess the geographical size comes in to play, southern US to Northern Canada is quite a distance. What is the import tax percentage that you guys pay? We pay 20% here in the UK on imports, plus an £8 ‘handling fee’ on any package that is subject to the 20% charge.
      Which French/German shops do you buy from – any good recommendations?!

  10. February 20, 2018 / 4:11 pm

    Hey Sarah – fabulous dress and I also love the Kielo! I’ve known about Spoonflower for quite a long time and have been on the cusp of ordering sooo many times, but I’ve seen quite a lot of bad reviews of their knits – in particular the jerseys. Most of the criticism has been directed at the print quality, if memory serves, in terms of both the initial printing and the longevity of it (fading fast etc.) so it’s GREAT to see a positive review. I think the knit you picked is a little newer, so thanks for the detailed pics – it looks good! I’m pretty tempted to check out all those designs again!

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 21, 2018 / 7:51 am

      Thank you Claire! I’m glad you like the dress 🙂
      Ohhh that’s interesting to hear about the print quality – mine was super sharp when it arrived, and it’s been through a couple of washes now and still looks good. I’m definitely keen to try a few of their other fabrics now! They do have a huge amount of designs to choose from don’t they, I found so many that I liked!

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 21, 2018 / 7:51 am

      🙂 🙂 🙂

      Thank you!

  11. Karen
    February 22, 2018 / 3:22 pm

    What a brilliant read! I’ve been dreaming of making a kielo for, well forever…this will really help when I grow a pair 😁 Thank you for an awesome blog x

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 23, 2018 / 7:51 am

      Ahh thank you Karen! I’m really glad you enjoyed the blog 🙂 I can’t recommend the Kielo enough – it’s SO comfy, and pretty easy to make too! Would you make a patterned or plain one? I always make mine in patterns, but I keep thinking about making a plain one – a black one would suit all occasions, and a hot pink one would be pretty cool too! I can never bring myself to buy the plain fabrics though… 🙂
      All I can say is go for it and make one! You can do it and it will be awesome!

  12. February 23, 2018 / 3:01 pm

    This is amazeballs Sarah! Good to hear how great Spoonflower is to deal with too.

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 25, 2018 / 3:04 pm

      Thanks Diane! I’m really pleased with how it turned out 🙂 And yep, I’m pleased to report that my first experience with Spoonflower was a positive one!

  13. Brenda Kathleen Holmes
    February 25, 2018 / 10:04 am

    Yes, Art Gallery jersey is cotton/lycra. As an older lady (66 tomorrow!), although the WHO has decided that middle age now extends until the age of 80, I am more comfortable in cotton or viscose. Thank you for the offer of the sample, that’s very kind, yes please. I checked out Spoonflower – oh so tempting! I have ordered from them before, but that was from the US and cost me a fortune in fees, lol.

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 25, 2018 / 3:24 pm

      Happy birthday for tomorrow! 🙂
      Age is just a number, I still feel like I’m 18 but the years keep on rolling past haha.
      Yes Spoonflower now have their Berlin warehouse so no import fees – yay! I’m more than happy to send you the samples, drop me a note with your address to hello@wanderstitch.com and I’ll pop them in the post for you 🙂

  14. Amanda Ostermann
    April 8, 2018 / 1:03 pm

    Love this dress – fab fabric choice! As a top-heavy fatty I prefer a lower cut neckline, do you think this pattern would be simple to adjust?

    • Sarah
      Author
      April 9, 2018 / 7:10 am

      Thank you Amanda! 🙂 Yes, it would be super easy to adjust the neckline, the front is cut as one piece so you can just retrace the neckline curve to however you prefer it! I’m actually thinking of making one using a cami vest for the bodice… let’s see 🙂

  15. Amanda Ostermann
    April 9, 2018 / 2:26 pm

    Thank you so much! if I’m feeling brave I’ll have a go 🙂

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