Now, I may not have finished many garments in the past, but I’ve begun a new phase where I try to focus on one item at a time. And I try not to jump onto a new project just because a new amazing sewing pattern has been released. So I was part way through another make – my Storybook Overture dress – when Heather-Lou from Closet Case patterns released the Kalle Shirt Dress. It really tested my resolve, but I managed to wait until I’d finished the dress I was making before beginning on this.
A little about Heather’s patterns before I begin…
Closet Case Patterns is possibly my favourite sewing pattern company (they are Canadian after all!). When new patterns are released, the designs are always the thing that I want to wear. The garments are modern and wearable whilst the sewing methods provide a good level of challenge and are always well explained in the pattern instructions and sewalongs.
I’ve already started a pair of Ginger Jeans, and have another two Closet Case patterns on my #2018makenine list, including the Charlie Caftan and the Carolyn Pyjamas. Actually, maybe three as I love the Ebony tee too and it’s pretty chilly up here in Scotland at the moment. Maybe the Sophie Swimsuit too – it’d look great on my trip to Greece… And the Sasha trousers would be great in New York…hmmm.
Anyhow….the point of this small diversion is simple – I love a good Closet Case Pattern and highly recommend them if you haven’t already used one. Heather-Lou was recently chatting on the Love to Sew podcast – it’s definitely worth a listen if you haven’t already.
Onto the Kalle shirtdress…
So many options
So the Kalle shirtdress is beautiful and there are so many options:
- three different lengths from a cropped to full length shirt
- a traditional or band collar
- the option of a popover placket, traditional button down, or a hidden button placket.
I decided to go for a popover placket and band collar as I’d never tried these techniques before and coupled these with the tunic length.
Sizing and fabric
I was a bit unsure about which size to go for – most of my measurements matched the size 10, but my bust was between the 10 and 12. As I’d read on the sewalong that there’s lots of ease in the pattern, I thought I’d take my chances and use one of the cheaper fabrics in my stash to make a wearable toile. It’s a gorgeous mustard print, loosely woven cotton that I bought in Sri Lanka when I first started sewing. I love the print, but I’m pretty sure because of the loose weave it might not withstand many washes.
Sewing it up
Despite the new techniques, the construction was a bit of a breeze as the instructions and sewalong are really comprehensive. Having already made a couple of shirts/blouses before, I’m familiar with techniques like the burrito method (I actually don’t know any other method of attaching a yoke to shoulder seams).
The popover placket was a new technique for me, but thanks to the great instructions and photographs on the sewalong, I managed to do this quite well, other than my wonky cutting. One thing about Heather’s patterns is that they’re very precise and scientific…my cutting is not and so it’s not quite a perfect placket, but hey! I’m pleased with the result.
The only fit modification I made was to lengthen the sleeve opening width by an inch. I have pretty chunky arms, and often need a wider sleeve, so I just extended the length on the front and back pieces. It worked out really well as, whilst baggy, the sleeve opening has the relaxed fit I was going for.
The shirt fits me really well, much better than I’d expected, especially on the bust. I’m glad that I decided to just go for the straight size 10 with no FBA, but there is a touch of gaping, and so for the full button placket versions, I’ll ensure to do the FBA.
The most frustrating thing about my new shirt? Some of the markings from the ‘washable’ marking pens have not fully come off. I’ll need to make sure that I test these out in future to stop this happening again. I’ve recently invested in a chalk pen too, which is easier to wipe off and should result in non-permanent markings.
I’ve also had to do some mending already – the fabric ripped a little when I was hanging the shirt to dry. I applied some interfacing to the wrong side of the shirt front, then used a bar tack to secure the edge against fraying. I wasn’t sure whether to use yellow or white thread, and after trying both out on a sample, went with the white. It’s not ideal, but as you can see in the photos of me wearing it in Cuba, it’s noticeable when wearing.
The Kalle shirt in action – a horse ride in Vinales, Cuba.
I’ve already made the cropped version of the shirt, and I’m planning to make quite a few more Kalles. I’ll do a longer length with a different placket and traditional collar in chambray for my 2018 holidays, and another with the sleeve option for winter. If I’m feeling generous, I may even make it as a gift for my sister…