I’m super embarrassed about how long it has taken me to document some of my favourite sewing projects from last year. I made a few incredible things that I hung in our sample closet intending to photograph, and then just got busy and forgot about. When I finally got my act together this month, it was like discovering a whole new wardrobe.
This red silk Kielo wrap dress from Named is one of those “oh man I forgot how much I love this!” makes. I love the idea of a red dress (maybe it’s nostalgia for this song?) but I’ve always been nervous to pull the trigger since it’s such a huge colour statement. I dipped my toes in the game with this very soft, coral-ish red textured silk I got in San Francisco last year (I scored the last few precious yards from the bolt!) It’s got a sand-washed finish, so it doesn’t read as bold and bright as say, that bananas plunging gown Julia Roberts wore in Pretty Woman. Which is to say, much more my speed.
One of the best things about this pattern is that you can wear it tied in the front or back for two pretty different looks. Here it is tied in the back:
Tied this way, it’s much more of a straight column, with all the volume happening in the back.
For more of a party, you can also tie it in the front. This creates serious drama, in addition to a lot of tulip-shaped volume at the hips. I’m into exaggerated silhouettes so I love the shape, but it might not be for everyone.
And of course, the silhouette when unwrapped is practically iconic at this point. Here is my Kielo flying squirrel:
This pattern really exemplifies why I love so many of Named’s designs. It’s such a simple concept with minimal pattern pieces but the wow factor is very high. I made this to wear to a friend’s summer wedding, and I had fun switching how it was tied all night long. I may have done some tipsy champagne dancing in full flying squirrel mode.
I was so happy to rediscover this dress I brought it to California with me last week and wore it on our one fancy night out to the Dresden (which incidentally is a MUST VISIT in LA. They have this amazingly kitschy-great jazz duo named Marty and Elayne who play there every night, made famous by a scene in the movie Swingers. We ate in the gloriously old-school Hollywood restaurant first; the food was fine but the setting was worth every penny). After wearing it for a few hours I remembered its fatal flaw; it’s just a little too tight across the bust. This is 100% my fault. The pattern needs fabric with a bit of stretch, and this silk is stretch-less. I should have gone up a size or two, especially since I sewed the armholes higher than intended. I didn’t like how low they sat on me when I tried on a Kielo one of my students made during a past workshop. By sewing a smaller armhole I gave myself less width across the chest, so the fabric wants to pull up and sit on top of my bust. It’s not a major thing and I still love and plan to wear this a lot, but if I make another I will make sure I give my girls more room. I’d also raise the location of the ties; I find they sit just an inch or two lower than my natural waist when tied.
In terms of construction, I skipped the neck facing and finished the neckline and armholes with matching bias tape. It was a relatively quick and simple make and I plan on treating it casually. I’ve started washing and drying all my silk like normal clothing; not treating it preciously means I’m more likely to wear it day to day. And this dress looks great dressed up or down with my white converse high tops, so I’m hoping she sees a lot of daylight once the seasons change. I think I also have a few yards of the same silk in navy, so I’m brainstorming ways to use it. It photographs so beautifully.
Have you tried sewing Kielo yet? And would you ever consider wearing a red dress?