Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Pattern Review: Named Kielo Wrap Dress

You know this dress, right? Named  Kielo Wrap Dress pattern has been kicking around the traps since it's release in 2014. So many bloggers have busted out Kielos in a variety of fabrics, stretch and woven. It's fun to make, fun to wear and really versatile what with all the wrapping options.

So why are we only just discovering our love for it now? Well, we have no answer for that! In the past month we have made three Kielos between us. And since I just made two in quick succession, one from a light and drapey jersey and the other from washed linen, we thought it might be interesting to compare the pair here.

The Kielo is intended to be made from a fabric with 20-60% of stretch, woven or jersey. I had planned to make mine from a distinctly non-stretchy linen, so muslined a size 42 in a old (clean!) sheet. It fit, but with little wriggle room since I'd forgotten to add the seam allowance (earlier Named patterns require the addition of seam allowance, so check the directions).  

In the meantime, I got waylaid seeing Rachel's lovely version in navy knit on Instagram. I wanted a comfy knit Kielo too! So with some of our Hemp/Organic Cotton jersey I forged ahead and sewed the same size as my muslin, but still without seam allowance instead of sizing down to accommodate the drapey knit. Although this hemp jersey is light, its weight and drape of course made the whole dress head south. The armholes pulled down and gaped, which I "fixed" by sewing the side seams up a further 5cm toward the underarm than the notches on the pattern were marked. The downward pull of the knit also means that the ties hit lower than my waist, limiting the number of ways I can wear this one, so I tend to just tie it loosely at the front instead of going for the full-wrap experience. If you compare the width of the shoulders on both linen and knit versions you can see how much the knit pulls down by the narrower straps on my black version. 

I hope this doesn't sound like laundry list of complaints, because it's definitely not. It's just a natural consequence of having not taken the time to muslin a knit version. Had sensible past-Fiona done so, she may have decided to size down. She also may have chosen a more stable jersey to work with. (Note for future Fiona who hopefully learns from experience… stay away from knits with spandex too). So, live and learn. It only took a couple of small deviations to make this wearable. For me this is the perfect summer dress, and I'm already wearing the heck out of it. 

By now the charm and ease of this pattern had got me under its little wrappy wings. I was on a Kielo high. We were also in the middle of a heat wave, and I couldn't resist the washed linen any longer (this one is "Blue Jean"). Since I was reasonably happy with the fit of my woven muslin, I just cut a generous 2cm seam allowance at the side seams between underarm and where the ties meet the wide wrap section at the waist. Everything else was sewn as per the instructions. It's amazing what a difference fabric choice can make to fit. 

As I was sewing this linen version, Jane tried it on and caught the Kielo bug too. Another washed linen Kielo is born. We love how versatile this pattern is - how great does hers look tied at the back?

Pattern Notes
The Kielo is supposed to be maxi-length to emphasise its interesting cocoon shape, with an added back split. That length just doesn't suit me me so I cut off the hem at the top of the split. I'm 5'5"/167cm for reference. For this length I cut both Kielos from 2.1m of 160/150cm wide fabrics.

On their scale of difficulty Named rate the Kielo as "Simple" - and we'd have to agree. With three main pieces and no closures I think this would be a great pattern for a beginner with a few projects under their belt.

There's also a downloadable sleeve pattern on the Named website if you're keen on a Kielo for cooler days. So, if you need us, we'll be partying like its 2014 right through to next Summer.

- Fiona & Jane xx

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Pattern Review: Fen Dress by Fancy Tiger Crafts

The Fen Dress pattern was released a year or so ago and for some reason did not grab our attention much at the time. But suffice to say it's grown on us, a LOT, and we now rate it as an absolute winner!

Fancy Tiger Crafts is a fabric and yarn shop in Denver, USA. They have released a small range of patterns and we've just stocked the Fen, Sailor Top and Adventure Tank.
I made the Fen dress in a washed linen (sold out but lots more linens here). It works beautifully in linen, and we can also imagine this versatile dress made up in a woven wool for winter, a breezy seersucker for summer or a light denim or chambray for year-round wear.
To test the fit I made a quick muslin of the bodice in size 12, which most closely matched my measurements. The fit (such as it is, in a loose-fit pattern) was great and the only adjustment I made was to narrow the neckline, curving it in about 2cm on the front and back pattern pieces. It really is quite a wide neckline and I didn't want to have bra strap issues.

The other change I made to the pattern was to make a neck facing instead of binding with bias. This was a personal choice - I'm fond of stitched down neck facings at the moment - and I also thought it would help stabilise the wide neckline in this soft linen. I had admired a large scooped stitched-down facing on the back of a RTW garment recently and made one similar. It gives a neat finish when the garment is on a hanger, which I guess is a RTW requirement, but I also like the look of it on the outside back.
I added a small strip of fusible interfacing just at the seamline on the neck facing, and also on the inside edge of the pocket openings, to prevent stretching.

Things I love about the Fen dress:
- oh so comfy, and great for bicycling
- pocket perfection
- bodice darts front and back make this shapely-casual, not baggy-sack
- slight high-low hemline sits right where I want it (for reference I am 5ft3"/163cm)
- layer-ability, I can see myself wearing this year-round
- easy-fit and easy-sew, truly beginner-friendly
- good instructions
- as others have noted, the skirt gathers are placed so they don't puff out over the hips
- this would work in so many different fabrics! Fiona and I are walking around the shop at the moment saying 'I could Fen the heck out of that!'

There are just two things I would caution about with this pattern:
- the round neckline, as drafted, is very wide. Easy to alter though, and I recommend you make a bodice muslin to check this for personal preference as well as general fit.
- the fabric requirements stated on the pattern are on the generous side. I managed to eke this Fen out of 1.75m of 140cm wide linen - BUT I did have to narrow the back skirt a couple of cms (not a problem with the gathers) and I made a neck facing instead of using bias. The stated fabric requirements would have had me cut 2.7 metres - almost a whole metre more! If I had not cut the skirt pieces side by side (which I did to save on fabric and help me match the plaid across the side seams), I would have needed about 2.2m. So be aware of requirements if you have pattern matching to do, or if you need the width for larger sizes. But use a bit of common sense and you can probably get away with less fabric than stated.

There are many variations you can choose with the Fen, including a shirttail hem (may account for extra fabric needs), a long sleeve, v-neckline and a lovely simple top. Personally I'm currently blinded by my love for this dress version and can't see past that but never say never....

PATTERN: Fancy Tiger Crafts Fen - view B dress
FABRIC: Washed linen, 175cm x 140cm wide (see notes above)
SIZE: 12
ADJUSTMENTS: narrowed neckline, made neck facing
COMMENTS: Can I wear this every single day?

- Jane & Fiona xx