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.
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:
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!