Kalle Shirtdress

Remember this fiasco from a couple of months ago? Well, despite my best intentions to adjust the awful fit, I couldn’t save it, at least not enough for wearing in public. It has been relegated to house attire (with the occasional last minute run to the post office if necessary), and I don’t feel good about it; I was really looking forward to that silhouette having some heavy rotation in my closet! Anyways, you can imagine my excitement (and regret) when shortly after I posted the dress onto my blog, Closet Case introduced their newest pattern, the Kalle Shirtdress and Shirt. It is essentially everything right about the original McCalls dress I made with none of the wrong. Having lots of success with Closet Case’s past patterns in terms of fit and design, I knew it was going to fill the hole that Everyone’s Favorite Dress left in my life, but little did I know that it was going to add something that I didn’t even know I needed…more on that in a later blog post.

Here’s how the shirt dress of this pattern is similar to the McCalls version- square-ish short sleeves, an ever-so-slightly high-lo, hidden button placket (there are two other options for the button band included in the pattern), and a loose, breezy fit. But the hem isn’t ridiculously dramatic on the Kalle, it doesn’t include unnecessary side slits, the invisible placket actually conceals the buttons underneath (although I totally goofed this part of the pattern up during construction, but more on that later, too), and most importantly, it isn’t drafted bigger in the upper back than in the waist and hips, so the back pattern piece of the Kalle drapes beautifully, barely skimming the figure underneath.

After making the Hannah dress, I have been completely intrigued with so-called “sack dresses” that make me feel sexy while also providing ease and comfort (not sure sure if these patterns actually ID as “sack dresses” but I call anything that is short and slouchy in the mid-section a sack dress). Anyways, the Kalle shirt dress pattern felt like a gift from the Gods and a chance to redeem myself from my last attempt at that McCalls’ disaster.

And now for the fabric! I love this part! So I had recently tried my hand at sandwashing some turquoise silk crepe de chine from The Fabric Store using soda ash and a hot water cycle on the washing machine and was pretty amazed at how excellent the effect was. My once sleek, shiny silk was suddenly matte and soft and slightly sueded looking and it cost me like, 20 cents to create. The cool thing about sandwashed fabric is that it can be washed in the machine and dried in the dryer, so even though I was aiming for a casual Kalle, I figured that the fabric could pull double duty as a slightly fancy make, too. I love the drapey-ness of the pattern paired with this silk but I wished that I would have used my fabric stiffener on the silk before sewing it up. The fabric was much less silky and tricky to work with after it was sandwashed, but it still wasn’t as easy as working with a cotton- the stiffener would have made it even more manageable (and would have made my button band look a lot better than it turned out).

I didn’t run into much trouble until I was making the concealed placket, which requires some precise ironing and folding that was hard to achieve with my silk, which kept sliding around everywhere. Because of this, I don’t think that the folds are as straight as they could be, and on top of that, I made a VERY ROOKIE mistake when it came to making the buttonholes. The instructions suggest that you make them before attaching the placket to the dress but I prefer to make mine towards the end of construction, and I wish I had followed my instincts. Somehow I ended up not sewing the holes through both folds of the placket, and instead I made and cut out holes for only one side (like I said, rookie mistake!) Once I attached the band to the dress front, I realized I had messed up and had to do some weird MacGuyver-ing to make it work, which included adding an additional set of buttonholes on the band behind the one I had already made, which of course didn’t line up perfectly with the front holes and in turn makes the band sit a little awkwardly on the front.

But! I blame this mistake on the fact that I decided to make both the Kalle shirt (a future blog post!) and the shirtdress at the same time. Normally I love knocking out more than one project from a pattern at a time (done it a million times with the Archer pattern from Grainline and the Hudson pants from True Bias) but I now know it’s a better idea to save the multiple constructions for a pattern I have made at least once before. My two-for-one Kalle session ended up being especially tricky for me since I sewed up two different button band and collar options for the shirt and dress, and it was tough to keep the instructions straight.

Aside from the snafu with the button band (which, by the way, was still a million times easier to follow than the McCalls one), construction was easy and well described. I have made more button down shirts for my wife than I can count so I was already familiar with a lot of the techniques used in this pattern, and since this is technically a sleeveless garment, construction is pretty fast when not having to account for a set-in sleeve, cuffs and sleeve plackets.

So, in a word? YES! YES I LOVE THIS PATTERN (and I haven’t even talked about my Kalle shirt yet!) I love everything about it, and it really is exactly what I was hoping for when I initially made the McCall’s dress. I loooove the drapey-ness in the back, it’s just perfect. It’s sexy and comfortable, and it looks so effortless, even in this fabric. I already know exactly what I want my next shirtdress to look like- I see it in a smokey, dark gray (maybe a muted black??) sandwashed silk again, with exposed pearl snaps, and a slightly longer length, like right below the knee, but with the same slightly hi-low hemline. I haven’t even worn this turquoise dress out yet and I’m already planning my next one…sign of a pretty fantastic pattern, right?



10 responses to “Kalle Shirtdress”

  1. Saki Avatar

    Beautiful make! I was thinking the Kalle was too sack for me to pull off, but even with its sackness, it’s really figure flattering on you. My trick for pressing crisp creases in slippery fabrics is to actual sew a stitch down the fold… similar to a staystitch, but with long stitches and loose tension so you can pull it out easily. You can then use that stitch line as a guide to folding and pressing. I literally use this trick every garment— rolled hems, patch pockets, bias binding, waist bands…

  2. Gillian Avatar

    That gorgeous! I love the colour on you, and YES, so much better than the pattern that didn’t work!

  3. Sarah Avatar

    Lovely, and so cool that you sandwashed the fabric yourself. Wouldn’t, couldn’t have even thought it in the realm of possibility!

  4. Susan Avatar

    Your dress is gorgeous! Where do you buy soda ash and how much do you add to the wash?

  5. Tasha Avatar

    I agree with Sarah. I wouldn’t have even thought that sandwashing was a thing that we could do. so cool!!
    also, I really love that color on you! very spring-y

    1. Jasika Nicole Avatar

      Thank you! I will probably do a little tutorial on it for the blog soon since I have another cut of fabric that I need to sandwash!

  6. PsychicSewerKathleen Avatar

    I read this post avidly (in fact more than once!) because your dress is beautiful and because I am just now cutting out the Kalle which I plan to make in silk too! Seeing yours was truly exciting 🙂 I’m doing a muslin first though because I want the fit great (like yours!). I always throw my silk in the washer and dryer anyway before cutting into it but I’ve never tried this sandwashing technique. I’ve never heard of “soda ash”. What is it? Where did you purchase it? Some other great tips – I’ve bookmarked your post as I’m making up my Kalle in silk 🙂 Thank you!

  7. Linnie Avatar

    Hi! Thanks for this great post! Your version of this dress is awesome.

    I just bought this pattern and I hope to start sewing as soon as it arrives in the mail! I am also going to make it in silk crepe. I had a couple of questions that you may be able to answer given your experience with this dress. Did you interface the collar and the button band? And if so, with which material?

    Thank you so much again!

    1. Jasika Nicole Avatar

      When working in silks, I use organza to interface all my pieces instead of a fusible interfacing. I find that fusibles, even the ones designated for lightweight, silky fabrics, tends to show through to the other side of the garment (I think it’s the little dots of glue that show up bumpy on the other side and give the fabric a less-than-smooth texture). I cut out the silk organza with the interfacing pattern pieces and baste them to the fabric pieces within the seam allowance.

      1. Linnie Avatar

        Thank you so much. On my way to buy silk organza! 😉

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