Sunday, 3 February 2019

Viscose Chambray Maxi Kalle Shirtdress

I'm slowly working my way through the entire Closet Case Patterns collection as I appear to be able to find a place for all the designs in my life and wardrobe! Each time I make one I realise I like it even more than I expected. The process of making each one reveals just how clever and well thought out the cutting and construction is. I must admit I didn't think the Kalle Shirtdress was my kind of thing when it was first released but I've since seen many versions in person and online that have swayed me to give it a try and now I can't believe I didn't make it sooner.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sand Washed Viscose Chambray Closet Case Patterns Maxi Kalle Shirtdress

Abolaji in particular has posted a few beautiful versions on her Instagram, especially this lengthened plaid version. I adore how she has really made the pattern her own with fabric choices and styling. I took inspiration from her and decided to go almost maxi length with mine and maximise the glamour! It is quite an oversized style which I was hesitant about (being fairly petite sometimes these oversized looks can really swamp me) but the fabric I had in mind had a slippery drape and I knew would skim the body rather than overwhelm it so I felt fairly confident.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sand Washed Viscose Chambray Closet Case Patterns Maxi Kalle Shirtdress

It is hard to capture how wonderful this fabric is in a photo. I picked up a coupon of this stunning viscose in Paris Tissus in Montmartre when I was in Paris this time last year. It was on the corner just where you turn off of Boulevard de Rochechouart onto Rue d'Orsel where the main drag of shops is. There were big bins of coupons to rummage through all at bargain prices. I paid no more than 10 Euros for 3 metres so still have a sizeable chunk left. The weave and colour looks like a classic chambray but has the fluid, liquid movement of the softest viscose and has the most beautiful buttery, sand-washed texture. A great imitation of a fairly weighty sandwashed silk. It is not particularly fine which gives the garment an kind of expensive feeling weight. It is a true delight to wear and a voluminous garment like this which allows it to move and billow is the perfect match.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sand Washed Viscose Chambray Closet Case Patterns Maxi Kalle Shirtdress

That movement did make the fabric a little tricky to work with as it liked to shift about. The hardest part was probably cutting and making sure everything stayed on grain. I cut almost everything out on the floor which is carpeted and can be really useful to keep slippery fabrics like this in place. It is a little tricky to get things laying out smooth to begin with as the carpet grips onto the fabric but once you've got everything straight it will stay put. I used lots of pins within the seam allowance to ensure accurate cutting.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sand Washed Viscose Chambray Closet Case Patterns Maxi Kalle Shirtdress

Once I had the pieces cut the sewing up was pretty straightforward and I was surprised by how quickly this came together for a shirt. Perhaps my practice making quite a number of shirts now is paying off! I like that this design is contemporary and unique but still incorporates a number of classic shirt elements with front placket, collar stand, breast pocket and back that has a central pleat into the yoke. I love constructing all these little details and really enjoy all the top-stitching too. The sand-washed texture of the fabric made it a lot easier to sew than cut as it grips on to itself slightly and stays put as it feeds through the machine. It also responded well to heat and holds a neat pressed edge which always makes those fiddly bits so much easier. I think half the work of sewing is a the ironing board sometimes. Putting in the effort there to shape and mould the fabric and get things just so results in a much more professional looking garment.

In terms of the instructions and techniques used, as usual with Closet Case Patterns I could tell that careful choices had been made to enable you to get the best finished garment possible. The yoke is cleanly finished with the burrito method, the sleeves with cuffs and the front with plackets so the only seams you have to finish are the sides. You could do a flat felled or faux flat felled seam but I chose just to overlock mine and leave the seam plain.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sand Washed Viscose Chambray Closet Case Patterns Maxi Kalle Shirtdress

I adore the bias tape facing around the hem. It is absolutely the best way to deal with finishing such a dramatic curve neatly. I was nervous about getting this looking tidy with such a shifty, slippery fabric but the method in the instructions is great and it helped that this fabric was nice and malleable around those curves. If you're struggling with getting bias facings to sit neatly I recommend under-stitching the first seam before you turn the bias to the wrong side. It was a revelation to me when I first did it and makes the following steps so much more straightforward.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sand Washed Viscose Chambray Closet Case Patterns Maxi Kalle Shirtdress

The only aspect of the instructions I struggled with was the collar. I opted for the simple band collar rather than the turn down. A slightly different construction method to the standard is offered which actually does turn out great and is really simple when you understand it...but I just couldn't get my head around it with just the written instructions and illustrations in the pattern booklet. But I love trying out new techniques so persisted and luckily Closet Case Patterns write some fantastically detailed sew-alongs with colour photos of each step. Once I read this it made complete sense and I'm really pleased with the result. The method involves rolling the front edges of the shirt tightly up and sort of into the collar stand so you can stitch right the way around the front tip of the collar stand and part way along the join between collar and shirt before turning it through. To get neat topstitching around the curves I recommend reducing your stitch length for more control.

The buttons are from a big card of East of India buttons that my Mum gave me years ago and I have been slowly working my way through! I like how they look against the blue and I think the slight contrast of colour and sheen highlights the placket and lifts the dress a little.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sand Washed Viscose Chambray Closet Case Patterns Maxi Kalle Shirtdress

I deliberated sizing down as I was concerned about feeling overwhelmed by fabric but stuck with my usual Closet Case Patterns size of 8. This is fine as it is but when making again I think I'll go down a size as I'm quite small in the shoulders and this is the main area for fitting. Thinking back to my Fiona Sundress perhaps the size 6 should be my starting point for CCP from now on. To lengthen the pattern I simply cut along the 'lengthen/shorten here' line and added in the length of an A4 piece of paper (29.7cm)! I'm really happy with this length as I won't be tripping over it and I think the curved shape of the hem looks better slightly off the floor than sweeping it.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sand Washed Viscose Chambray Closet Case Patterns Maxi Kalle Shirtdress

I made this with my holiday in mind and am picturing myself swanning round a safari lodge on a balmy summer evening with beer in hand! I feel more comfortable in the dress belted but I think in the heat of a South African Summer I'm going to appreciate the breeze of wearing it loose! The beauty of the viscose fabric is that it is super breathable and should keep me cool despite the quantity of fabric. I'll definitely be making some cropped shirt versions of Kalle to pair with cropped trousers in the somewhat milder English summer. I don't often wear a shirt as the crisp tailored vibe doesn't feel right on me and neither does the feminine feel of a classic blouse. This design, for me strikes just the right balance between soft and sharp, casual and dressy.

10 comments:

  1. I love the fabric and the buttons, the kalle looks amazing lengthened!

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    1. Thanks! The idea of a long one just came to me one day! I'd been holding off making it because I wasn't sure the length would suit me as per the pattern or the cropped shirt but this maxi just feels so much more 'me'!
      The fabric is a real dream, a very lucky find. Such lovely movement

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  2. Thanks for sharing your experience with sewing this up. I love the design and I have it on my list to make this year. I will pin this post so I can go back and refer to some of your recommendations. Happy sewing!

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    1. Enjoy making it up! The instructions are written in such a way that you can really enjoy the process.
      Hope you find my post useful!

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  3. That looks really lovely, and your neat stitching is a joy to behold.

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    1. Ah what a lovely comment! Thanks very much. I'm a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to sewing!

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  4. Wonderful and thanks for sharing the bias tape facing with an image! I have this pattern and is on my short list to sew.

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    1. The bias facing is one of my favourite parts of the pattern so I had to photograph it! Love that neat and tidy finish.
      Enjoy making your Kalle!

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  5. Yes, you should be very pleased wit this dress. It looks fantastic and the fabric and colour choice are wonderful. Bravo!

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    1. Thank you very much, it is a little out of my style comfort zone but I've been really enjoy wearing it! I think I luckily had the perfect fabric for the pattern

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!