I’ve always admired this textile from afar, patting bolts in gorgeous natural and subdued colours in fabric shops, wistfully sighing whilst reading about other sewists’ linen creations (Ah, Morgan and Bella!). It’s a fabric that lasts (structurally sound), sustainable (the flax plant prospers in poor soil, AND pesticides are not required to separate fibres from the flax plant’s stem), is relatively inexpensive and breathable.
But, I’ve always liked to present as a neat person (I’m not actually neat in real life – ask my husband!!!) so the wrinkle crinkle factor I’ve struggled to get around. Sure sure, you have to go with the patina of the fabric, they say. To try and get the best of both worlds, I’ve been searching for (and continue to search for) Moygashel Linen (thanks to my resident Moygashel doyenne, Karen), but as that loom is now out of production, I have not yet come across any vintage pieces that take my fancy.
Perhaps its the getting older/having children thing that has pushed my style/fabric preferences in a slightly different direction, but I did just recently buy a linen knit top, which I’ve been wearing heaps (and un-ironed, too)… I figured it was time to just do it.
You know, sew with Linen.
And just in the nic of time, what, with autumn truly in swing down in Melbourne, it was only an Easter trip up north that meant I could get any mileage out of this before it gets packed away at the back of the cupboard, to wait for next summer. Chris Hemsworth obviously missed the memo that I would be in Byron for the week, as unfortunately I was unable to spot him out and about this time around…
The Named Keilo Wrap Dress is a pattern I’ve had my eye on for a long time. There was an instagramer who made a Keilo in linen that I just loved the look of (however they will remain anonymous because I can no longer find them or recall their handle) and the aesthetic of their make just really stuck with me – it did look just gorgeous.
So obviously I muslined it – a pattern designed for fabric with 20% stretch does not just translate to woven without any teething issues! Especially not when you’ve got a bust bigger than what is typically drafted for, and broad shoulders. And I do recall my inspiration version to be rather ill fitting despite its fabulousness – the armscye was too small and it was also a wee bit tight across the upper bust/chest.
Based on my measurements – the size chart says I should cut the Size 44 at the bust, and 40 at the hips. Due to working with the woven – I chose to size up, and cut the Size 46, grading down to the 42 at the hip mark. This appeared to work ridiculously well.
Positives – the pattern has markings for both hips, waist and bust. Negatives – the pattern’s largest size is a 46. I know enough about size grading to know that size ranges are typically split into two to ‘try’ to account for the proportion changes between shapes and sizes at either extreme, but I do think it a bit ridiculous that the 46 is the upper echelon in size for a pattern that is shapeless and so ridiculously simple to construct that I can sew together the muslin whilst half-cut (ok, maybe three quarters cut…) on sangria and champagne at 9pm on a Saturday night, then start cutting out and sewing together the real thing at 8am on Sunday morning with a hangover, and basically have it finished. (I spent the weekend at Sewjourn, and it was FAAAAABULOUS).
Seriously, this pattern is the most easiest of sews!
I shortened it by 13cm (which required the back split also to be raised by the same amount), and when muslined with the 1cm seam allowances, decided that this additional width at the shoulders was perfect for me, so technically I added new seam allowances to this area also.
I also removed a large wedge (about 5cm, tapering down to nothing at the side seams) from the back pattern piece, at the waist.
I was very quick and dirty with the construction of it, with nary a french seam in sight. There is probably more overlocking than regular machine stitching in this. As the dress has nada in the way of fasteners or openings, that really steps up the easy-ness factor.
I was nearly finished sewing it up when I realised a part of me inside was dying with the knowledge there is nothing inherently fabulous or covertly couture regarding this garment’s construction. So I whacked in some silk organza selvedge strips at the seam that finishes under the arm (I’d already noticed the Linen fibres at this point were pulling apart from being hoiked in opposite directions) and handstitched down the self-fabric bias binding around the neckline and armholes. There is also a wee bit of organza selvege at the back split, which I’ve done a zig-zag stitch over the top of, to help support that split.
And I immediately felt better.
Some of my stay-stitching is kinda visible there, but mostly it’s well hidden by the weave of the linen. I’ve listened to a few of the Love-To-Sew podcasts, and was really quite taken aback about the number of people getting hung up on sewing perfection. It rather surprised me as it’s not something I’ve ever put much energy into thinking about. Nothing is more soul killing than the pursuit of perfection! Embrace those imperfections, focus your energy where it counts the most (highly visible stuff – this is the reason I always avoid topstitching, ha!) and care less about the bits that need only be functional (like overlocking the armscye seam of a set in sleeve, in an otherwise ‘couture’ top, because I really hate dealing with fancy finishing’s here!). I don’t sweat the small stuff, and I try to keep my eye on the big picture – this dress is a great example of that.
This linen is from the Cloth Shop. I was particularly taken with the chambray effect of the two coloured fibres that make it up, and as is always with Linen, I immediately find myself wanting to incorporate the selvedge somehow. Is that just me?
I managed a bit of this by having the ties end at the selvedge (making turning heaps easier, as it was just an open-ended tube). I realise now though that I did eff up the ties – they were supposed to be folded over, not doubled up – so my ties are double the width. I prefer the shorter width and will probably unpick them and fix this. The extra bulk I think would be more flattering when factored out.
My instagram inspiration was in a delicious deep dusky pink, and there is a part of me that wishes I had gone that route… but the chambray blue is lovely. I keep hearing stories about linen breaking down and degrading pretty quickly (a result from using shorter than ideal fibres in the production process), so who knows, perhaps next summer I’ll need to make a pink version!
Let’s leave it there with the must-have Keilo wrap dress sugar-glider pose…
Except that I 100% forgot to take that particular photo. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Regular half-baked couture-ish programming will resume shortly ;)