Finished – A Frocktails maxi! Again!

So it seems that I have a penchant for making maxi dresses for Frocktails! Nearly 2 weeks ago now Melbourne Frocktails was hosted by the lovely Kat, Libby and Renay, and as always they produced a fabulous event. I was determined to go – only premature labour was going to hold me back! I’d had my dress planned for ages…. It was a fabulous fun night, and Anna was kind enough to snap some pics for me before our grand entrance….

This late in my pregnancy I wasn’t about to go making something that I couldn’t wear again, and the Named Kielo Wrap dress seemed like a winner.  It really is a dress that needs minimal introduction – simple but stylish, a unique sugar glider shape with wings that can be wrapped to the front or the back, 2 lengths and the option for adding on a sleeve if you choose.

Like so many of the Named patterns it is chic, modern and unique – and hugely popular for good reason. It seems to be flattering to many body shapes, heights and ages, easy to wear and simple to make. I’d seen a couple of maternity versions floating around, and gambled that with minimal adjustment I’d have a fab dress to wear to Frocktails and post-natally. The fabric recommendations are a little… unclear…. not specifically for knits, but a fabric with stretch is the recommended fabric choice. I know many have made it in a non stretch woven, and if this was your plan I would highly recommend some flat pattern measurements to ensure a good fit across the bust.

In my stash was a couple of metres of a beautiful viscose crepe/lycra knit purchased earlier in the year from Tessuti. I’ve never seen a crepe knit before, so 2 metres went into the stash and was just about enough. I sized up from my pre-pregnancy measurements at the bust line and below, but kept my pre-pregnancy size at the neckline. The copy of my pattern was one of the older paper patterns, which of course required some tracing and addition of seam allowances. I know this irks a lot of non-European seamstresses, but with Named I don’t mind, because over the years I’ve found that their standard recommended 1cm seam allowances can be a bit stingy, especially when it comes to vents.

I’d noticed that many found finishing the neckline and armscye challenging with the recommendation to simply turn and topstitch the seam allowance. I elected to not add any seam allowance to these areas and instead finished with narrow self fabric bands, similar to finishing a t-shirt.  I know some may consider this not the most stylish finish but I was very pleased with the outcome. I applied them flat, as I was planning to have a key-hole opening at the centre back neck just to make it a little dressier, but in the end with the 4-way stretch and weight of the fabric it drooped disappointingly and I had to close that seam up. If I’d known this was the outcome I would have applied the band in the round instead. C’est la vie!

Again like many ladies I found the recommended armscye closure far too low and closed the side seams a good inch or so higher – even still my bra was just visible, so it’s definitely something to be aware of. I added some extra seam allowance to the slit/vent to be 3/4 inch rather than 3/8, just so it was a bit more substantial when top stitched (see above thoughts on stingy seam allowances! I had a similar opinion to the side splits on the Inari dress too). The only maternity-related alteration I made was to raise the “wings” about an inch higher to ensure I could wrap them over my bump (as of course my waist is non existent at the moment).

Length wise I ended up not hemming it for the event – I was very pleased with the unhemmed length (I’m 178cm for reference) and the fabric doesn’t fray. Once the bump is gone I’ll reassess where it all sits and decide what to do from there. The darts in the back add some nice shaping, especially for a fairly pronounced sway back!

I didn’t quite have enough fabric to make the ties without piecing them, but had been considering how to make it a little more snazzy for Frocktails. I can’t for the life of me remember who, but somewhere in the quagmire of my memory I had a scant memory of someone making a Kielo with contrast ties. I considered grosgrain or velvet ribbon, something with sequins or faux leather and took myself off to Jimmy Buttons, Melbourne’s foul-mouthed pureyor of all things trim and came home with some black and silver twill tape and some beautiful black and white grosgrain ribbon. Just to make life a little more complicated I also decided that I wanted to make the ties interchangeable – silver for night and the black and white for more casual day wear. I made thread belt loops and used some hand sewn snaps to be able to the remove them. I’m not certain that there’s great longevity with this plan – the weight of the fabric does put a lot of strain on the loops so I may need to make a permanent choice and incorporate them into the side seams…. Time will tell….

Conclusions – I love it. It was comfortable and I felt so stylish. The knit meant it draped beautifully over my bump, and was super easy to wear. It’s a terrific pattern for a maternity dress that can work post partum too – I’m nearly 37 weeks pregnant in these pics. Couldn’t be happier.  I’ve got no urge to make it in the shorter length – I think the proportions are much better as a maxi. 

What would you do with the ties? Sew in the razzle dazzle permanently? Tone it down with the black and white? Or get some black grosgrain ribbon? Thoughts and opinions very welcome!


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