Saturday, 30 July 2016
Anna Sui Floral Kielo Wrap Dress
Next up in my run of projects from Named Clothing is the Kielo Wrap Dress. This pattern was released alongside the Ailakki Jumpsuit (which I posted about last week) as part of the company's second collection and the combination of these two pretty much knocked me off my feet. I was hooked from then on. This simple but unusual design had instant appeal for me. I love a maxi and the wrap style slightly echoed the lines of my favourite RTW maxi dress which I have worn almost every week of the last five summers and still am despite it being on its last legs.
I'd ordered 2 yards of this stunning rayon crepe from Mood Fabrics a few months ago with the intentions of turning it into a simple summer dress. I'm not usually one for wearing a particularly vivid/bold print but for some reason I saw this online and it was in my basket in a flash. When it arrived I congratulated myself on the impulse order; the colours are vibrant and the crepe spongy yet fine. It's listed as 'Famous NYC Designer' but clearly printed in the selvedge was Anna Sui; how exciting! I was pondering which patterns to pair with the fabrics in my stash one morning when I was suddenly possessed by the idea that this print HAD to be turned into a Kielo, the pattern for which I'd been hoarding for at least a year. It's unusual for me to buy a fabric without a specific pattern in mind and this project is exactly the reason why; my mere two yards were nowhere near enough for the Kielo's maxi lengths. I did love the slim cut and back vent of that maxi skirt but had seen a couple of shorter versions around the blogopshere so opted to hack length off the pattern until my pieces fit! It was still a tight squeeze as despite being 49" wide there's a good couple of inches of unprinted white border by each selvedge and these winged pattern pieces are pretty wide. I didn't have enough fabric to even think about pattern matching that centre back seam which irks me a little.
As with the jumpsuit I cut the size 38 and made no alterations other than to remove some length. I cut 40cm off the hem at the cutting stage as this is the longest my lack of fabric would allow. Then when it came to hemming the dress I took off an extra 9cm, using 2.5cm for the hem. I wasn't happy with how it looked on me just above the knee so decided to go fairly mini and now I love it! I really like it with my new sandals as pictured but have also been wearing it quite a bit with ankle boots on those typical muggy but wet days of a London summer.
I'm really pleased with the snug fit across the shoulders, chest and armhole when the dress is tied. I usually have some problems in this area and I was concerned that this fabric would end up really misshapen around those curved edges but there's no unsightly gaping anywhere. The instructions don't suggest stay stitching but I added this in to both the neckline and armhole edges as this crepe is so delicate and prone to stretching on the bias. While I'm on the subject the sewing instructions are brief to say the least at just one side of A4 including illustrations but I can't say that they were lacking any information. There's a thorough glossary included which covers all the basics and this dress is an absolute breeze to sew; 5 pieces of fabric and lots of long seams! I would say that one point that needs careful attention is positioning the ties when sandwiching them into the side seams. You want them to sit right up against that corner when you turn the dress right side out.
Although it may look like a super simple style and you can't see them in amongst this print there are some clever darts giving just the right amount of flattering shaping to what otherwise might look like a bit of a sack. There are double ended darts in the back which help the dress when tied to skim the curve of your back and the diagonal bust darts are in bang on the right spot for me and I reckon are the main reason behind the lovely upper body fit.
If I have one complaint about Named patterns it's that the time before you really get started seems so long! I've been using their PDF patterns and although there are only two sizes nested together in each file the pattern pieces are overlapped so once you've taped all the sheets together you've got a fair bit of tracing to do (but seam allowances are included and clearly marked). There is a clear lay plan of the printed sheets included with the instructions so if you really hate tracing you could figure out which sheets are needed for each pattern piece and print each sheet multiple times but I didn't think far enough ahead with this one. Plus I would have had to print each of the twelve sheets at least four times! Couple this tracing time with the length of time it took me to cut this shifty viscose (I pinned the selvedges together in the end to keep things on grain) and it felt like it was about three days before I put needle to fabric! Having said all that, I love the Named designs and drafting so much I'm more than happy to deal with this extra bit of faff.
UPDATE! It appears that some of this faff has been to do with the fact that I am using a very old pattern. Named have since made changes to their layout and their last collection was released with layered PDF files so you only print the size you need and the pieces don't overlap as much.
Once I had my pattern pieces ready I made this dress from start to finish including cutting in just one afternoon. I started it around midday and wore it out to the ballet that evening! That was almost two months ago and it's seen a fair few washes and wears since. However, my delight with this dress turned into dismay during my little photoshoot for this post. Captured by my camera on timer here is the moment I discovered the disaster...
Along the edge of one of the ties the fabric has frayed away and the seam has come apart. I'm pretty sure this is not to do with the quality of the fabric but more me not appreciating just how delicate it is. I'm pretty tough on my clothes and always wash my viscose/rayon on a 30 cycle in the machine. I've not had a problem so far and this survived the pre wash just fine but it seems this particular fabric is quite a loosely woven crepe and needed more specific care. I think my aggressive trimming of the seam allowances inside the ties has exacerbated the problem. Perhaps leaving a wider seam allowance would have prevented the issue. At least it's in an easily fixable area. I'll either make the ties shorter or skinnier.
All in all this is a cracking pattern if you are after a comfortable yet unusual summer frock. It's perhaps not the best solution to really high heat as you've got quite a bit of fabric wrapped around your waist there but for British summer temperatures it's spot on. I think the key to keeping this design from looking too bulky around the waist and therefore perhaps a little unflattering is to use a nice lightweight fabric. I'm thinking about a breezy lawn or voile maxi version now. I love the sheer sample version which is worn over a shorter slip dress. I'm so inspired to sew up some more Named designs now I've have success with a few. Perhaps one day I'll make it onto a garment from the third collection or beyond...I've got Beverley Bikinis to share with you next!