Monday 6 February 2017

Olivia, or orange issues

So, here is one of the dresses I was freaking out about last week.

I was looking forward to making this dress. I wanted to try out Named because their reputation seems impeccable, but a lot of their stuff isn't really designed for my shape and I don't think I'm cool enough to pull off most of their patterns. I went for the Olivia because it seemed classic and wearable. The Kielo is definitely the more interesting of Named's wrap dress patterns, but I cannot find any photo examples of that dress on my body type (or on any body type that isn't tiny, really), so I wasn't prepared to risk it.

Pictured: far more orange than I'm used to. 

I bought the pattern and the fabric during a sale at The Splendid Stitch. I hadn't planned on using the two together; the fabric looked much brighter on the website and I'd intended to make it into the skirt part of a dress with a black bodice. When it turned up I decided that wasn't going to work, but it was still quite a lot of print and making it into a wrap dress seemed like the best way to break it up slightly. I got slightly more fabric than I'd ordered because I got the last of it and it had to be sent as two separate lengths. It's lucky that happened because this pattern actually did need as much fabric as it claimed to need, which basically never happens.

The pattern pieces were printed on one sheet of paper, all overlapping each other, meaning that the pattern has to be traced. I don't normally do that despite knowing all the reasons it's a very good idea, so I grumbled a bit. They also don't come with seam allowances, which was a new experience for me. Again I know the benefits of drawing stitch lines onto fabric and cutting a seam allowance on, but I tend to go on autopilot when I cut fabric so before I got started I spent literally an entire day instructing myself to remember seam allowances over and over again. I mostly managed it, though due to fabric constraints my seam allowances were pretty skimpy in places. Apart from the bit where I cut the top pieces out backwards because it was Shit January and I was doing that a lot, construction was fairly straightforward and I didn't run into any issues with either the drafting or the instructions.

When I first put the dress on, I hated it. Hated it. I hated it enough that it prompted my minor crisis.

Boyfriend: What's the matter?
Me: I don't want to make clothes. Everything looks bad on me. Skirts hang weirdly, nothing suits my shape, I have weird shoulders, I hate everything.
Boyfriend: Don't be ridiculous.
Me: [puts on dress]
Boyfriend: Well, it's... hmmm. I see what you mean.

The skirt as drafted was too long for me, which I'd known was likely going into it (I'm not short, but I'm definitely not the 5' 10" that Named drafts for either), but it was also heavy. It pulled the waist into a place that was slightly too low for me and made the whole thing look strange and disproportionate. And while one of things I'd liked about the design of this dress was that it had a full-coverage wrap and full-length sleeves, when it was on my body in a bright orange print, I was less keen. It was just too much.

The next day, I hacked about six inches off the skirt and three or four inches off each sleeve. It's still extremely orange but it's less overwhelming and much more wearable now.

It's growing on me, slowly. I hated the first set of pictures I took so much that I thought the dress would never see the light of day, but I put it aside for a week then wore it for a day, and I feel much better about it now. I'm still not completely convinced about the print, but the fit is great (I traced it in a mix of five different sizes, so the back pieces are smaller than the front, the waist and hips are a couple of sizes different, and the sleeves are bigger at the upper bicep). The actual design of the dress is fantastic - it's the most secure wrap dress I've ever tried by quite some way. There's no gaping at the neckline, it wraps over far enough that I'm not concerned about accidentally flashing people in a passing breeze, the waist is elasticated so the ties aren't doing all the shaping work, and it has pockets. I can't fault the design or drafting at all. I will probably try making another one later in the year, and in the meantime I'll let this one continue to grow on me some more.

(Also, I bought the Kielo. I'm going to try being cool.)


  1. I already caught you on IG, but that doesn't stop me from commenting again. I love this on you! I can understand how longer lengths would feel overwhelming in this print especially if you're not a regular print wear-er, but the shorter hem and sleeves definitely work on you. It feels/looks young, fresh, and sophisticated ... all at the same time.

    (I also want to know what is that metal looking contraption right outside your window?)

    1. Thank you! I'm definitely feeling better about it. I suppose this was bound to be a bit of a shock since I wear so much grey next to my face...

      What you see is our new portable wood-fired pizza oven. My boyfriend loves complicated cooking equipment (and making dough) and convinced himself that this was a necessary purchase. It makes amazing pizza, but I'm convinced he's going to set fire to his own face at some point.

  2. I might be biased because I'm an orange lover but this looks SO GOOD on you. You can totally work that print. Also you've sold me on the Olivia dress!

    I do keep meaning to blog my Kielo - I totally get what you mean about seeing patterns look good on people who are very straight up and down...I was convinced the Kielo would just draw a big bullseye to my rather round stomach but it actually concealed it very effectively. It's worth a crack!

    1. Thank you! I'm always drawn to orange fabric but tend not to buy it because I've got it into my head that it won't suit me. Next step: ENTIRELY ORANGE WARDROBE.

      The stomach thing was one of my main concerns with the Kielo too, so I'm thrilled to hear it has the opposite effect. I'll definitely be having a go at it once the weather here warms up a bit.

  3. Well I like it on you a lot! Also thanks for mentioning all the details; I'd missed that it has pockets.

    I think the Kielo is pretty universally flattering. Looking forward to seeing your version.

  4. Some clothes have that weird growing on you thing... I have a tshirt I hated when I first sewed it, and now it's one of my fav pieces of clothing ever.
    Anyway, this is a really lovely dress, and I hope it'll keep growing on you because it suits you real well!