Last summer, I decided to try the Kalle Shirtdress
from Closet Case patterns. My daughter in Texas had made one and we both came to the same conclusion: one great pattern!
The one above was made dress length using a printed cotton that was in my stash. I think I bought it at a quilting store in Nova Scotia, but I really can't remember. The cotton is a wee bit on the thick side for this dress, but it works. My only reservation is that the wrong side of the fabric looks too different from the right side and that shows when the collar is open and also on the hemline. Not a big deal, but something to keep in mind. You want this dress to be flowy and light.
The second version above was also made with a quilting cotton bought at Stedmans' here in town. It is slightly lighter in weight than the black version and the contrast between right and wrong sides is not quite so remarkable.
Heather takes a somewhat simple design but gives it some quality finishing touches that make it different from other shirt dresses. For one thing, all the seams are finished as flat felled seams, so there are no raw or serged edges inside the dress. She finishes the sleeve with a kind of cuff that mimics the angle of your upper arm so that it doesn't stick out when wearing it. A little thing but important. The thing I like the most is the hemline, which is not serged and topstitched, but is bound with self bias. This takes more time to do, but gives the hem a weight that it wouldn't have otherwise and makes it hang very nicely. Again, a nice finishing touch.
The third version I made is the blouse, which is a very cropped shirt. I lengthened it by 3" in both the front and back so that it comes below my waist which is non-existent at this point in my life. Again, Heather takes the pattern one step further and finishes the hem with a deep 2-3" facing; once again this is a fine finishing technique and gives the hem weight that makes the shirt hang very nicely. This version I made up in a shirting bought from Blackbird Fabrics
last summer. It is the perfect weight and I highly recommend the shirtings that Blackbird carry; they are fine cottons, just perfect for shirts, blouses and shirtdresses. They also get some cute prints, the one I used has an all-over pattern of little bicycles.
I also have a rayon with pink flamingos that I bought last year from Fabrics.com
and I think I might just have enough for another Kalle dress. If not, it might become the tunic length version.
This pattern is written up all over the internet and it now has the honour of being copied by MimiG, Mimi G's shirt and wide-legged pants
, - a high honour indeed. Mimi's version is just the cropped shirt length which she finishes with a deep facing as well, but her version has set-in sleeves which give a slightly different look to the shirt. I bought that pattern when I was in Texas last week and will give it a try and can then compare.
But the Kalle shirt is great, a few tweaks and you have a cropped shirt, a tunic, or a shirtdress. Heather also has a long sleeve add-on on her website, if you want to lengthen the sleeves. Personally, I think the pattern is great just the way it is.
I think my daughter has made 2 Kalle dresses now and 2 cropped shirts. Her tastes run to more dressy-type dresses, but the Kalle is a nice casual option for daily wear. It is fun to be sewing along with my daughter and comparing notes on different patterns. She has made the Ginger jeans four times, I think, and she has only been sewing a little over a year. I told her that I am going to make the Kelly Anorak next and she wants my opinion on it as she thinks it might be the perfect casual coat for their Texas winters.
Before leaving for Texas, I bought wine red cotton poplin and a red/navy/green plaid flannel from Mood Fabrics
to underline the Kelly, but I am thinking I would prefer a bright crazy cotton as the underlining, something fun to see when you take the coat off.
And remarkably, I found some lovely fabrics at Joannes' in Tyler Texas. A gorgeous 4 ounce denim that is 100% cotton. Hmm, another Kalle? And a beautiful deep red linen/rayon blend. My most favourite fabric in the world is linen and, when it is combined with either cotton or rayon, it is even better. Don't know what that will be, but I have managed to increase the stash with some lovely fabrics. I tend to buy printed fabrics and these two are solid colours, which are more versatile in a wardrobe. My problem is that I just love prints and love to sew something that is printed. I find solid colours boring to sew, but these two are lovely fabrics and will be a pleasure to handle.