Hey team! I’m back with my final project for the Summer of Basics, the Kalle shirtdress. As I predicted in my previous post, I didn’t manage to write a blogpost about the dress before the deadline, but I did put up a picture on my instagram. Here you can find my blogposts about the previous two projects for the Summer of Basics, the Ninni Culottes and the Yari jumpsuit. If you follow me on instagram you will have seen that I posted some pictures of my makes on a hanger to wrap up the challenge on the 30th of August, the official deadline. I didn’t have time to take any modelled pictures of the Kalle before that date, but last week we had a couple of late summer weather days so I took advantage of that by going out to take some photos of my more summery makes that were still waiting to be documented.
The Kalle was one of the patterns that I was already gravitating towards when I set out my initial plans for the Summer of Basics. Throughout the challenge, I mostly stuck to the plans I made before hand. I say mostly, because I swapped the fabric I had allocated to this project: I originally meant to go with a bordeaux red patterned fabric, but then I spotted this black viscose with calla or arum lilies and once I pictured it as a Kalle shirtdress, I really couldn’t get the idea out of my mind. I think the fabric gives the shirt a very pretty drape. Perfect for an airy summer shirtdress! I really like the print of the fabric and it is definitely the sort of thing I can see myself wearing a lot. That being said, I do feel I had to be careful when handling it: it damages and tears easily. In fact, I had to redo the patch pocket because of this. Truth to be told, it’s not high-quality fabric. I didn’t expect it to be, with what I paid for it, it just mean I should probably not wash this dress unnecessarily much, and I should probably expect to patch it up a couple of times in the future.
Before I cut the pattern pieces, I wasn’t sure whether I had to lengthen the dress. I had seen some warnings online that for some people the length was on the short side, particularly at the scoop at the side. Since I also want to wear this without tights, I wasn’t sure whether I had to modify it. In the week I was going to start this project I just read a particular post of someone I follow who panicked because the dress length really was scandalously short and I guess my feelings of doubt were influenced by that. Since I am a bit on the short side myself, garments being too short is not really a problem I encounter often! In the end, taking measurements confirmed that I would be fine on the length department. Just goes to show that it’s best to keep in mind that someone else’s fitting issues of are not necessarily problems you will encounter as well.
Even though the dress has generous ease, the instructions still recommended doing a full bust adjustment if the difference between high and low bust was is more than three inches. Closet Case provides instructions in their sew along on how to do this (as well as a bunch of other helpful adjustments). I did get some mixed signals though, because it is also mentioned that most people won’t need it and you probably can get away with not doing such an adjustment? If I remember correctly I was just on the cusp of needing one, but decided to not do it, mostly because laziness. I think the fit is fine, so I’m not regretting not doing an adjustment, and probably won’t do one when I make this shirt again.
Making the Kalle took far longer than I anticipated. I had a disastrous attempt at making shirtdress a long time ago, so I kinda knew what hurdles to expect. I mostly anticipated issues with the collar, but in fact that didn’t turn out to be too bad. Instead I had loads of problems with the bias band finishing at the hem. Even with a bias band foot I had to redo it multiple times over multiple days. I can confirm that swear words were used at this stage! The bias band was on the narrow side and, as I mentioned, in very lightweight fabric, so perhaps increasing the width slightly would have helped. The pattern does suggest using a rolling hem foot with lightweight fabrics as an edge finishing, which I want to try next time I’d make this pattern in a similar fabric. My biggest problem however was that even parts of the project that went right on the first try, still took ages. I’m not sure why, but all the sewing went at a snail’s pace.
I often like to complain about sewing buttonholes, as with my machine the 1-step buttonhole function is a bit hit and miss. Either it’s quick and easy, or you’re left leaving offerings and praying to the sewing gods for months before it will let you make those goshdarn button holes in that particular project. This time, me and the button hole maker were on good terms. It was an almost surreal experience, getting so many buttons sewn on without problems! I initially picked different buttons for this project, but while they looked nice they also made the project a lot more dressy-er than I was going for -I wanted this to be an everyday dress. These brass buttons gave it just the vibe I wanted!
This was the first time I used the ‘burrito method’ for a yoke, and folks, I totally get all the raving about this now. While I was doing it I felt a bit sceptical and had no idea what I was doing, but I trusted the instructions and -O.M.G- it looks so clean! I am definitely a fan now! I thought the instructions for this pattern were pretty good. Even though I had a few problems in the process, I don’t think they had much to do with the instructions. There is also a really informative sew along on the Closet Case blog, which was particularly helpful when sewing the collar and explaining the burrito method to this collar rookie. I also like that the pattern has pointers depending on your preferred way of wearing shirts (buttoned all the way or not) with regards to finishing. Personally I prefer the “all buttoned up look” but this shows the amount of details and though that went into the instructions.
After all those struggles, I had some doubts about whether the style would even suit me and through the frustration of moving at a snails pace I didn’t have high expectations when I first put it on. At this point I hadn’t put the buttons on yet and just pinned the dress close, because I wasn’t convinced I even wanted to put in the effort if the whole project turned out to be a flop. Imagine my surprise when I put it on and instantly liked it a lot! On the aspect of technical sewing, this is definitely not my best make, I fudged a lot and I think my collar making skills can improve a lot with time and practise, but it’s also not the worse and to definitely not to the point that it is unwearable. I think this will get a lot of wear, possibly the most of all my Summer of Basics makes as it is better suited to layering when it gets colder. All in all, surprisingly pleased with this in the end and will probably return to this pattern in the future!