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.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Pattern Review: The Assembly Line Box Pleat Dress

Please don't mind us as we slowly sew our way through every Assembly Line pattern on our shelves. After great success with The Puff Shirt, Hoodie Dress, the Wrap Jacket and Almost Long Trousers (unblogged) we’re kicking on with the Box Pleat Dress.

A note about these patterns. We sometimes hear from customers that they find the price of the Assembly Line patterns surprising. At $38 a pop (that’s everywhere, not just us by the way!), they are indeed pricier than the average of $30 for other indie patterns - so we understand the surprise. But frankly, we have trouble keeping up with the demand for these, despite the higher price point. We suspect that’s because these patterns are classic, simple shapes with some extra added interest. The kind of wearable things you can sew a few times to get your money’s worth. Plus they’re printed on nice sturdy thick paper. All this makes for a most satisfying sewing experience.

So! The Box Pleat Dress. It’s an a-line frock with a gently exaggerated sleeve and - hence the name - a nice big box pleat at the back.

I’ve seen a number of these made up and they often fit quite loosely all over, but I decided that I wanted mine to fit more snugly - at least across the shoulders. So I used the finished garment size to give me a good 5-6cm of ease in the bust and cut accordingly.

Fabric & Preparation
This version of the Box Pleat Dress is made from Robert Kaufman Essex blend (55% linen + 45% cotton) in ‘Espresso’. It’s a light to medium weight fabric that holds the a-line on this frock nicely, not to mention the shape of those sleeves. As the linen component of this fabric softens with wash & wear, I expect the drama to die down, somewhat. :)

Since Assembly Line patterns only give quantity suggestions for 140cm wide fabric I needed extra to accomodate for the 110cm wide Kaufman. So, for any of you wishing to sew the size M, here’s a PSA: this dress used 2.8m of an 110cm wide fabric (as opposed to the recommended 2.1m for 140cm wide).

As with other Assembly Line patterns, the drafting is reliable and the directions are clear. The Box Pleat dress has a slight high-low back hem which is separated by a split, all with lovely wide mitred corners which were very pleasing to sew.

pockets in action

For a fairly simple silhouette, there are a few things that lift this frock above your simple A-Line dress. There’s those sleeves for one. Then there’s the nice spacious side-seam pockets, and some lovely feature topstitching down centre front. For my money though the best take away trick I learned from this pattern was the triangular support stitching that lies under the box pleat. It really makes the pleat feel nice and, well, trustworthy. That's important since said pleat sits right at the middle upper-back where seams get subjected to lots of movement and stress.

creases courtesy of a days wear 

There’s a definite whiff of Gilead about this frock (I’d be careful not to make it in red!) Its exaggerated a-line and sleeves make it incredibly roomy - which is fine by me, but may not be for everyone! A relaxed washed linen would drape nicely and soften those lines if it’s too much for you. The Box Pleat Dress is super comfortable and layers well. A solid Spring frock, and it layers well too. I think I’ll be reaching for this quite a bit.

- Fiona xx

The Assembly Line Box Pleat Dress pattern can be found here.