Monday, September 23, 2019

Pattern Review: the Kalle Shirt Dress by Closet Case, in Lithuanian Natural Linen

The Kalle pattern by Closet Case has been around for a couple of years now. The dress or shirt has a roomy fit with dropped shoulder and no bust dart, a lined back yoke and dramatic curved hem. It's lovely, and we've been meaning to make it up for ages.

By the way, the pattern name is pronounced 'Kal - ee' (rhymes with Sally). I checked that with pattern designer Heather Lou when it was first released. It was driving me crazy not knowing how to say it, either aloud or in my head! You can imagine how I felt reading the first Harry Potter book many years ago. Her-mee-ohn? Herm-yon? Hermi-oh-nee?

The Kalle has a fair few minor variations that can be mixed and matched as you please:

This Kalle, made in our heavyweight natural Lithuanian linen, is a shop sample. You can swing by and have a look and even try it on if you like. It's a straight size 12, dress length, in 'popover' style with box pleat and band collar.

Sewing went really smoothly and includes some intermediate techniques like a lined yoke, placket and collar attachment, with good instructions and diagrams. There's even a full online sewalong on the Closet Case blog if you need any extra tips and photos. When attaching the sleeve cuffs I switched steps around a bit so my final step was to attach the cuff from the outside with topstitching, which I find more accurate than the suggested method which was topstitching from the outside in order to catch the unstitched inside edge. The shaping of the cuff at the underarm seam is a really nice touch that helps stop the armholes from becoming a window-to-your-underwear.

I used the suggested flat felled seam finish for the side seams which means that the entire garment has clean finishes inside and out.

The lined yoke is attached with the 'burrito method' and I'd strongly recommend that unless your fabric is super-stable, you stay-stitch the neckline to stop it stretching out during the step where the whole garment is pulled through the neck opening. This is mentioned in the instructions, but not until after the burrito part which is, in my opinion, where it's most required.

And here she is on a human:
With half a day's worth of linen-y rumpledness

The back yoke and pleat create shaping and visual interest

There's that swooping hem

And here you can see a bit of the movement of this heavyweight linen even after only minimal wash & wear
The button placement as marked sits pretty much above and below the fullest part of my bust, unsurprisingly creating a bit of gaping in the middle. For the photos I put a safety pin in behind to hold it closed. I'm going to leave this one as-is for the shop, but if making again for myself (quite likely), I'd simply double the number of buttons, to secure where it pulls a bit. I'd suggest you try your Kalle on with the button markings pinned closed before committing to buttonholes, to make sure you're happy with the placement on you.

I've never sewn a garment in this heavyweight linen before but it was great to work with. It has a bit of shrinkage on first wash so (of course) please, please pre-wash. Due to the thickness I did a fair bit of grading of seams where several layers were coming together. I like the earthy, rustic vibe of this fabric. I don't want to sound too woo-woo about it but it's easy to feel more connected to the living plants that made this simple, lovely fibre.

It looks pretty creasy in the photos but we like to embrace that about linen - and this is the fabric after only one pre-wash and one garment wash. I can imagine it developing a lovely worn-in look and even greater softness over time. It also makes the best teatowels and yes, I'm fine with wearing the same fabric I wipe my dishes with, haha!

If making again I would consider how to add a functional pocket or two. I think hidden side seam pockets (or just one) would be best so as to preserve the standout features of chest pocket and curved hem.

In summary:

PATTERN: Kalle Shirt + Shirtdress by Closet Case Patterns

FABRIC: 100% Linen, Mid-Heavy Weight, Natural Flax, made in Lithuania, 1.8m

SIZE: 12, no alterations (current body measurements for reference: bust 39" waist 33" hip 43" height 5'3")

COMMENTS: A minimalist design dressed up with some statement shaping, easy to fit and comfortable to wear. It's easy to see why Kalle is such a popular pattern that has become a favourite repeat-make for many sewists. I am pretty keen to make myself one to keep, probably in our Blue Jean linen.

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