My Named Kielo Dresses, one woven, one knit

Although I’ve never sewn one of their patterns I’ve always been intrigued by Named. I like that they release collections bi-annually rather than just one pattern here and there. I’ve never actually sewn one up though. I think (like other pattern companies and the fashion world in general) tall models makes me subconsciously rule things out for my short stature. I seem to have developed a deeply ingrained view of what suits my (lack of) height. Magazine articles always state the law of shift dresses with matching tights and shoes to keep ‘the proportions right’ and ‘elongate the silhouette’. I have spent the past thirty years avoiding maxi dresses just so my proportions are in proportion!   Their Kielo dress was released this Spring and since then I’ve seen quite a few versions popping up around the t’internet. Just the uniqueness of the design made me want to give it a go. My initial fear was that the maxi length could drown me and the ties could create unwanted bulk around my middle, but I decided to throw caution to the wind and just jump in.

The Kielo is a maxi wrap dress with waist ties and a vent at the back. It has slightly angled fish eye darts at the back and diagonal bust darts. The description mentions it’s ‘interesting shape’ opened up it looks just like a Manta Ray!


The pattern calls for a light fabric with good drape and between 20% -60% of stretch. I was a bit stuck when looking for something in the stash, I had a length of lightweight poly which didn’t have any stretch whatsoever. On the other end of the scale there was a length of knit, plenty of stretch but medium weight. I didn’t want to commit to buying anything especially for it and risk it being wasted if it didn’t work out (I’m also on a serious stash diet!) After a few days pondering I wondered what would happen if I used the fabric I had. Would the pattern work on a non-stretch woven? I decided to experiment.

I’d bought the poly fabric last year, cream with a ditsy black floral and very slightly sheer. I liked the print but as with all poly fabric, didn’t really care for the feel of it. It only cost £2 a metre so I was willing to sacrifice it.

My bust measurement put me into the largest size (UK 18 for a 41inch bust) so that’s what I cut. The pattern pieces were actually taller than me so after a bit of measuring I shortened the bodice by 3 inches and the skirt by 4 inches.

I sewed it up on my main machine and it came together really quickly. Before finishing the neckline and armholes I tried it on and found that I couldn’t quite fit my head through! I trimmed an extra 1cm from both neckline and armholes, tried it again and I was in. I’d made a big supply of single fold bias tape during the summer so used some of this to finish the openings. Unfortunately I stretched the neckline out a bit during sewing but it’s not that bad.









I could have done with a little bit more room across my high bust but other than that I was really pleased with the finished dress. The fabric has just enough body to emphasise the shape of the dress without sticking out too much. So my advice for making up the Kielo in a woven fabric:

Go up a size or two through the shoulders and bust.

Use a fabric that has a little bit of give on the bias.

Try it on before finishing the neckline and armholes!

Buoyed on by my first version I was curious to see what it was like made up in a knit.

For my knit version I used some equally cheap medium weight jersey which has around 60% stretch. To compensate for the extra stretch I sized down to a 16 (39 ¼ inch bust) and sa 14 at the sides where the ties were. Again I used my main machine to sew it up but added my walking foot and a ballpoint needle and used a narrow zig zag

This time the dress fitted easily over my head. I finished the hem, armholes and neckline with the same narrow zig zag as I was feeling too lazy to get out the twin needle. I just turned and stitched rather than using knit bias tape given in the supplies.










The knit version worked really well, although I could have maybe sized down a bit more at the waist as there’s a bit of overlap where the ties meet (It can be tied at the front or back but I prefer the front)

Although the knit version worked much better with regards to fit, I think I prefer the woven version, just having that bit of body emphasises the shape and design whereas the knit is a little too droopy and the detail is lost in the busy print. Next time I’ll maybe try it in a viscose, maybe a solid or small print so you can see the detail of the wrap.

The Kielo would make a perfect (and quick) evening dress in something silky of slinky . There’s also a free sleeve pattern available to download, pictures of a sleeved shortened version have been added to the site so I might just make another knit version to get me through the winter months.

I think my worries about the length and bulk have been dispelled, along with my pre-disposition about what ‘suits’ me. The experience has had a positive effect and challenged me to move out of my comfort zone and be a bit more adventurous. There’s a couple more Named patterns I really want to try but as I’m on a pattern and fabric stash diet at the moment I’ve added them to my Christmas list, with links, to make it easier for Santa to find them!


My Deer and Doe Belladone Dress

I’m playing catch up with my blog posts again, this is one I made way back at the beginning of July. I’d been making an effort to get on with projects that have been left on the back burner for one reason or another. Top of the list was a Deer and Doe Belladone dress. I made a wearable muslin in January last year which turned out to be unwearable. The main problem was cutting a post-Christmas dress using my pre-Christmas measurements resulting in a general all round tightness (I chopped the bodice off the dress and got a wearable skirt out of it so all was not lost)

Luckily I’d had the foresight to make a list of what changes I needed to make (thank you past Helen!) I really love the design, the cut out back is unusual and it’s got a great silhouette. The skirt is slightly A-line with diagonal pockets and a couple of little pleats (basically my favourite type of skirt)


The fabric is a cotton poplin, yet more from my Fabworks bundle win. One of the great things I remembered about the Belladone was being able to squeeze it out of a metre and a half of fabric.

My current measurements are 42-35-42 which is an inch or two above the biggest size (41-33-43) I’ll just list what I did to make it easier to read:

  • Cut a size 44 through the shoulders and back grading up to a 46 through the bust, waist and hips (I usually cut a size smaller as I have a relatively narrow back and shoulders in relation to my bust)
  • Did a 2 inch full bust adjustment
  • Shortened the bodice by an inch
  • Added two inches to the waist
  • Pinched out a 1 cm wedge from both of the back cut out pieces (there was a bit of a gape before, pinching this bit out helped it lay flat)
  • Brought the shoulders in by an inch (not a fitting issue, just personal preference)
  • I think I may have cut the smallest size along the hem, just a lazy way of shortening the skirt!

This time I made a muslin of the bodice before cutting into the good stuff and all my tweaks seemed to have worked.  I cheated a bit and cut the whole dress out with my scalloped pinking shears (from eBay, search ‘scalloped pinking scissors’) Finishing the seams before sewing saves so much time!


I had planned on using a contrast navy binding, I had two metres which seemed like enough but after pinning it on I realised I’d run out halfway through the second armhole so resorted to plan B and used a less contrasting china blue instead (my plan for contrast piping on the waistband also went out the window, need to remember next time that I need three times as much binding)  I omitted the hem facing and used some ‘rainbow’ blue bias binding instead (also from eBay)



As with all Deer and Doe patterns the dress came together surprisingly quickly. I must admit to being a bit of a Deer and Doe fangirl, their patterns have some lovely design features and the drafting is very good. I’ve never had a bad experience and they are always a dream to sew.




I’m incredibly pleased with the finished dress, the fit is very nearly there. I think for my next one I could add an extra inch to the full bust adjustment. There’s also some pulling on the back so I’ll try cutting a 46 next. I really love the skirt though, it’s very similar to the tweaked Peony I have used before, technically an A-line but not so sticky outy as some patterns. I also love the little pleats at the waist and would like to use that part of the pattern for some Autumn skirts.





Speaking of Autumn I can’t believe it’s September already! I should be able to get more wear out of the Belladone as I can wear it with tights and a cardigan (and possible a long sleeved top underneath for extra warmth) I’ve got a very autumny length of fabric in the stash that I bought specifically to make a cold weather Belladone (it’s a sort of bronzey brown with dark red flowers on it) hopefully I can fit it in while it’s still seasonally appropriate!

I’m actually looking forward to getting back into the old routine, I haven’t had as much time to sew as I’d have liked over the summer. The nights drawing in doesn’t seem so bad when I get a bit more time to sew in the evenings. The prospect of having to put all my summer clothes away ‘til next year is a bit sad, but then getting the winter ones out is quite exciting as there’s always things I’d forgotten I had! I’ve also just got a stash of winter fabric down from the loft, again there were things I’d forgotten about so it was like going fabric shopping for free! While we’re on the topic of fabric shopping I’m off to SewBrum again on the 24th September, this time I’m going to make a concerted effort to restrain myself and focus on finding things I need (yeah right!) I’ll be taking a couple of extra bags though, just in case I ‘need’ more than I think I do!

My Grainline Alder Shirtdress

The next instalment of my sleeveless summer dress sewing is the Grainline Alder Shirtdress. I’ve sewn many Grainline patterns but I was a bit on the fence when the Alder was released. I think it was the line drawing that deterred me, the illustration looks like it was drafted for someone tall and willowy and I struggled to see whether this would work for me (being the polar opposite of tall and willowy) The dropped waist also had the potential to hit at an unflattering level, possibly adding unwanted bulk to the hips. It’s been out for nearly a year now and the many lovely versions I’ve seen online have swayed my initial apprehension. I had a sleeveless shirtdress hole in my wardrobe so I thought I’d give it a chance to fill it.

Alder is a loosely fitted sleeveless shirt dress with two options. View A falls into an A-Line at the waist and features a curved hem, bust darts and two breast pockets. View B features the same bodice as View A but with a gathered skirt at the sides and back of the garment resulting in an incredibly flattering and fun silhouette. The Alder Shirtdress is a perfect breezy option to keep cool while looking great all spring and summer long or throw on a cardigan or blazer and you’re all set for fall and winter!’


I used more of my Fabworks Mill fabric, this time a Swiss dot shirting. Mine is light blue with a navy dot which they don’t seem to have anymore but there’s blue with a grey dot still available. I went for view B with the gathered skirt, cutting a size 16 which matched my measurements exactly (42-35-42) but I cut the length to a size 0 (too lazy to use the lengthen/shorten line!) I think I used just over 2 meters of fabric. After measuring the bodice I was surprised to find it wasn’t as long as the illustration suggests so I only shortened it by an inch.

The construction is pretty much the same as the Archer shirt to start off. I used Jen’s Burrito method for attaching the yoke and Andrea’s (amazingly easy) method for attaching the stand and collar. I finished the armholes with some readymade 13mm bias binding. I bought it from Plush Addict and I’m really impressed, it’s soft and malleable but sturdy enough to hold the shape of the finished openings. I also added in seam pockets along with the patch pockets on the bust, I really need somewhere to put my hands!



I was a little unsure about the high low hem but as I’d shortened the skirt when cutting had to go with it. The hem is very shirt like, raising up from the front (quite significantly) at the sides before dipping down at the back (which isn’t shown on the envelope) To finish it off (and following an Instagram referendum) I went with some navy Czech glass buttons which I think I bought from eBay.







I’m pleasantly surprised by the finished dress and I think it may have tamed my prejudice of hi-lo hems. It was enjoyable to sew and everything fitted together nicely. The finished measurements are given on the pattern and they were true to the finished garment. If anything I could maybe have done with an inch or two of a full bust adjustment. The proof of the pudding is wearability and it has been getting a fair bit of wear, perfect for sunny days when you need something light that allows the air to circulate! The sew along provides variations for a Mandarin collar, V neck and the option to add sleeves by combining it with the Archer so plenty of opportunity to play around with it. I think I need to be looking towards fabrics for the cooler weather though, maybe something I can wear through early Autumn and then layer up with a long sleeved tee and cardigan.

And speaking of fabric there is a new app out specifically for fabric hoarders:

‘Cora is an iPhone, iPad and iPod app that helps you sew your fabric stash.  With Cora, whether you’re out and about shopping for patterns or planning a project in bed, your fabric stash is always with you! Sort and search to sew up treasures you already have.’

I spent the whole of last Sunday logging my main stash (I’ve not ventured into the loft or bathroom cupboard yet) and so far I am up to 147 metres. It’s free to try for the first five fabrics and £4.49 for the full version (I must state I have no affiliation with the maker, I just think it’s brilliant!) The only problem I have is the urge to buy more fabric just so I have something new to add, like the fabric equivalent of Pokemon Go. I’m desperate to catch some Double Gauze for a Deer and Doe Datura but Cora tells me I already have 37 metres of suitable fabric!

My Marilla Walker Bennett Dress

Now the wedding is over I’m starting to get back into a routine. I’ve managed to squeeze in a few hours sewing time throughout the week and I’m pleased to say these hours have been very productive (and incredibly enjoyable). Since getting back I’ve been on a mission to sew some sleeveless dresses. This was the one big hole in my wardrobe highlighted by Me Made May, the weather was glorious while we were at the Lakes and my one solitary sleeveless number was my Southport dress.

First in the queue was Marilla Walker’s Bennett dress:

‘This dress is a lovely summer shift with flattering front princess seams, a large pocket and a choice of waist ties, front panel and hem length. View A finishes below the knee with waist ties, shaped shirt style hem and v-back neck. Ideal fabrics are soft, lightweight and drape well. The gathering at the waist is best suited to finer fabrics to reduce bulk. View B finishes above the knee with button front fastening on the centre front panel, loose A-line shape, straight hem and v-back neck. Fabrics can be selected according to your preferred silhouette. Soft lightweight fabrics for a nice floaty feel or fabrics with more body to emphasise the shape of the dress.’

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I was attracted to the loose silhouette and the ability to loosen the ties (which is the main thing I like about the Southport dress) One of the Sample garments Marilla made used a stripy fabric which contrasted the direction of the stripes on the bib section. I decided to blatantly copy her. The fabric was from my Fabworks Millshop giveaway, a denim blue stripe check cotton, available here. The finished garment measurements are stated instead of arbitrary sizing, I wish every pattern company did this as I find it so much easier to choose a size. The sizing is quite broad, going up to a 52 inch bust, 54 inch waist and 59inch hip. From the given measurements I cut a size 41 inch shoulders and high bust before blending to a 43 through the bust (adding 2 inches) and then blending back into a size 42/47 for the waist and hips. I chose view A with the straight hemmed skirt of view B.

It all came together very easily, I did make a couple of errors due to my slapdash approach at the time. I forgot to interface the facings, only realising as I had finished the dress. This hasn’t been a problem though as the fabric has enough body to hold their shape. I also ignored the instruction to baste the bib in place before sewing, which led to having an extra centimetre of width and some sheepish unpicking.


I made a couple of changes, swapping the patch pocket for in seam ones. I shortened the bodice by an inch as a standard adjustment for being short waisted. I also raised the armscye an inch as I found it a little too low on me, so it may be worth checking before cutting if you are on the short side too. I think next time I will also size down a bit for a more fitted look in the bodice.  I bound the hem with some yellow gingham bias binding.








I’ve worn this dress a lot, although mostly with a cardigan (the Sun seems to have disappeared since embarking on my summer dress sewing extravaganza). I like the nautical feel and the effect of the stripe direction which gives the impression of little capped sleeves. The fabric is wonderful, it doesn’t crease too badly so I can wear it all day and still look presentable if I get chance to escape for a quick pint in the pub in the evening. I’m pondering about using the pattern for the colder months, I think it would work well in a lightweight wool paired with tights and a long sleeved tee underneath, but I really shouldn’t be thinking about winter sewing plans, we’ve not had Summer yet!

My Deer and Doe Melilot Shirt

I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Deer and Doe patterns, their designs always appeal to me and the drafting is such that they’re a pleasure to sew. The Sureau is my go to dress when I can’t decide what to wear, the Chardon is practically the only skirt I wear and the Plantain tee is heads above any other pattern I’ve made. As they are drafted for an hourglass figure and a C cup they always seem to fit with minimal adjustments.

When the Melilot shirt was released I ordered it straight away. I’d been looking for an alternative shirt pattern to my TNT Grainline Archer and judging by the photos the Melilot seemed to fit the bill.


A couple of months ago I entered a giveaway on Instagram from Fabworks Millshop for a bundle of fabrics. I was over the moon when I found out I’d won, particularly being on a stash diet since the New Year. Opening the parcel was amazing and I was mentally matching patterns to each piece as I went through. They were nearly all blue too so it had to be destiny! This was the first piece of fabric I used, a Navy cotton with little pink arrows embroidered into it.


Looking at the pictures I decided to shorten the bodice by 2 inches, a usual adjustment for me being 5 foot 2 inch and short waisted. Going by the finished measurements I cut a 46 which is the largest size.

The instructions are quite brief but if supplemented with a couple of online tutorials could be tackled by an advanced beginner.

The button band had me puzzled for a while, I couldn’t figure out how it folded together. It was only when I looked at the picture on the envelope that I realised view A has a concealed button band which accounted for the excess bit of fabric. As I had some pink Mother of Pearl buttons in mind I went with the exposed one.


I opted for a mix of both views, using the collar of view A with the button band and sleeves of view B. I left off the pockets due to a combination of laziness and feeling they would upset the print if I didn’t match them perfectly.

I used Andrea of Four Square walls tutorial for attaching the collar. This is arguably the best tutorial ever written and I use it every time it comes to attaching a collar, Her method makes it so easy.

As I was making the short sleeved version I didn’t need the sleeve placket. I did however look over the instructions and if you’ve never done one before it would be difficult to follow. There are some good tutorials out there though, such as the one Tasia did for her Sewaholic Granville Shirt.



I checked the final measurements of the shirt and they correspond to those given on the envelope. It’s so much easier to pick the right size when looking at the finished measurements, I really wish more pattern companies would include these on the envelope.






Overall it’s definitely a winner for me. The rounded collar and darts give it feminine silhouette which will work well on curves. It’s also versatile, with the different variations and the potential to work with a wide range of fabrics. I’m glad to have found another wardrobe staple, especially as I have so much fabric now to choose from!

My Peggy Olsen inspired ‘Reneta’

I love Mad Men, I still watch it on a continuous loop, usually when I’m sewing. The wardrobe has been an endless source of fascination and inspiration. It’s easy to be drawn towards a specific characters sense of style, there’s Joan’s bombshell wiggle dresses, Betty’s classic understated chic, but for me though it’s all about Peggy. There’s many Peggy dresses I would love in my wardrobe but I’ve been particularly obsessed with the cowl necked Damson number for years.

At SewBrum in October I set myself a mission to find the perfect fabric for my own version. Possibilities arose in Barry’s but they were either too purple or too red. There was nothing on the Rag market (I think the reason I bought so little fabric at was because I was so intent on finding ‘the one’) I prepared myself for disappointment but struck gold at Guthrie and Ghani, hiding under the cutting table was the holy grail, one of their Luxury Jerseys (A blend of Silk and Model) the colour was spot on, it draped beautifully and was so soft, it really lived up to its name.


I used the cowl version of the Sewaholic Renfrew  which I planned to morph into the Colette Moneta skirt. I was initially going to be good and make a muslin but in the end decided to live dangerously and dive straight in (my justification was that I knew both patterns fitted, it was just a matter of how to fudge them together)


Renfrew in red Moneta in green

The cowl on the Renfrew is quite deep, I wanted to get as close to my inspiration as possible so I raised the neckline by 2 inches and shortened the cowl accordingly. There’s a big difference between the two patterns, particularly around the shoulders and armscye. The best course of action was to keep things simple so I used the Renfew until the bottom of the armscye (sleeves and cuffs included) then measured the length of the Moneta bodice and drafted that onto the bottom half. The skirt was all Moneta.


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It came together without a hitch, there’s quite a bit of weight to the fabric and I was worried it may pull the skirt down as it did on my last Monetas. Just in case I shortened the elastic in the waist seam to keep it snug. When I tried it on it fitted but I felt something was lacking. I’d contemplated attaching a waistband during construction but decided there was far too much chance of making a mess and ruining the whole thing. Instead I made a tube of fabric, gathered it at the side and l hand stitched it to the waist at three inch intervals to allow for stretch.


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(This is the third outfit taken on my windy day photo shoot!)




 (I’ve just noticed that I hadn’t pressed the hem after sewing!)

It actually turned out better than I’d imagined, the gathered waistband really balances out the drape of the cowl. The fabric feels lovely to wear, very cosy and perfect for the colder weather. Unfortunately I don’t have a cardigan that works with it (I could really do with a black one but it would be so boring to knit) it does need something to break up the large expanse of boob though! I’ll definitely make another but not until the Autumn as my head is full of Spring sewing, I expect yours is too!

Helen x

A Snowdrop Deer and Doe Sureau

As the Camas blouse was the last thing I made I thought I’d show you the first this year. The fabric was a Christmas present from my Mother in Law, it’s one of Liberty’s 2015 collection called Hesketh (I can’t find it on the liberty website but it’s available here) This is the black and white colourway, it does come in navy and white (as well as grey) but I am trying really hard to move out of my blue comfort zone.

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I decided not to risk using a new pattern and stick with my TNT Deer and Doe Sureau. I made it up exactly the same as my other ones (tried one of my other ones on to check it still fitted first!) cutting a 42 at the shoulder and grading to a 44 through the bust and waist.   I used a 9 inch zip instead of the 16 inch one suggested on the pattern and added side seam pockets underneath. Again I added a little cuff to finish the sleeves. I also remembered to curve the waist darts which seems to make a big difference to the fit underneath the bust. Instead of the gathers on the front placket I added two tucks.

Once the dress was finished the print was so busy you couldn’t actually see the placket. I thought adding buttons would look odd and after an Instagram poll agreed I left them off.



It was so good using an old tried and true pattern. Being able to just cut straight out and sew without all the hassle of working out sizing and fitting was a perfect way to start the year.

It’s a lovely (and very seasonally appropriate) dress.  Snowdrops are one of my favourite flowers and I have a snowdrop necklace which goes perfectly. While we are on the subject of Snowdrops mine in the garden have been behaving strangely this year. They are usually the first things to push through in January but they’ve been really late, only coming into flower at the end of February (I’ve even had Daffodils flowering before them) I think they must need a period of sustained cold before they start to grow and the mild winter we have had has confused them somewhat. Anyway, I digress! My other Sureaus have had so much wear, with boots in the cooler weather and sandals when it warms up.  I know this one will get year round wear too.  All in all it’s a lovely little pattern I’m so glad I gave it another outing!



And then the wind got up….






If I look rather dishevelled here, you should see the next ones!


This was a wonderful Christmas present and one which will last for years to come. I gave her a similar present this year, some beautiful Malabrigo yarn (which I really wanted to keep myself) and the Casu Cowl pattern as a ‘knit your own Christmas present’ thankfully she was pleased, so much nicer than perfume and pyjamas!

Helen x