The Kalle shirt from Closet Case Patterns burst onto the sewing scene a while back, and it isn’t going anywhere. Everyone who makes it loves it, and from looking at my most-worn shop-bought clothes, the shirtdress was up there among my favourites, so I knew the Kalle was one for me.
This pattern is awesome, especially if you’re on a budget. There are three options so you can make a cropped shirt, a tunic or a shirtdress, each with a high-low hem detail, and you can go for a full button placket, hidden placket, or a popover placket, and a band collar or standard collar, so there are 12 variations from the one pattern even before any pattern hacking.
I had my eye on this lipstick print Robert Kaufman fabric for ages; it’s bold, gold and a whole lotta silly. Perfection. I don’t normally go for fabric on white backgrounds it case it’s a bit transparent, but this is really good sturdy cotton so you could make a dress or skirt and (as long as it’s not skin tight) have no fear for your pants being seen by the world!
The fabric is so bold that I decided to go for the cropped shirt rather than the dress version, with the full button placket. I’m 5ft 6” and by holding up the pattern piece to my body the cropped shirt was looking very cropped indeed, so I added 2cm to the length, but other than that I cut a straight size 4.
I squeezed a toile of the shirt out of 1.2 metres of fabric, but to pattern match this print I used near enough a full 2 metres, so it’s one to bear in mind when buying your material.
And on to the sewing…I cocked up at literally the first step. The instruction says to ‘Trim right side of shirt as indicated on the pattern piece’, so I checked the pattern but could see where to trim:
I went back and forth but couldn’t work out what they meant, so I just cut down from one of the notches and hoped for the best. This was an almighty mistake! I cut in the wrong place, and it turned out I was looking at the pattern piece for the popover placket! Luckily this happened on my toile, but I just want to put the lesson out there – with a pattern that offers lots of variations, double check you’re looking at the correct piece!
The instructions are, however, really clear and the construction is fairly straightforward, plus it has kimono sleeves so you don’t have any fiddly sleeves to set-in. The collar stand takes a lot of manipulation so, as to be expected when making a shirt with a collar stand, it just needs to be taken slowly. The yoke is inserted using the burrito method and this was the only part of the instructions that I found a bit confusing. Luckily I’d made a dress recently that uses this method so I just did it the same way as that, but if you’ve never done it before you may need to seek help from YouTube! This method gives such a lovely neat finish on the inside though:
I tried my best to pattern match, and on whole I’m pleased with how it looks. The fabric has a directional print, so I cut the collar pieces upside down, and measured the placement of the lipsticks carefully so that the ‘bullet’ of the lipsticks would be showing once the collar was sewn together:
For some reason I felt that gold and red lipstick print fabric just wasn’t quite ‘enough’. I’d been really inspired by the Orla Kiely exhibition at the Fashion and Textiles Museum last year, and this look from her Spring/Summer 2018 collection made me want in on this ruffle thing. As you can see, the likeness is uncanny…
Using the gold as a theme to run with, I attached a ruffle to the pocket using some offcuts from a previous make. This meant a change to the pocket piece, so if you’d like to do something similar click here to download the shape I cut.
I wasn’t totally sure it worked, but committed to the ruffle! The piece on the collar measured 3.5cm width by 190cm length, which I double turned and stitched along the length then gathered. I sandwiched it between the collar pieces when sewing them together, which would work fine on a rounded collar, but as this is pointed I had to unpick the corners and cut them in to separate sections. I still wasn’t convinced I liked it, but in the name of balance, I added MORE contrast fabric to the cuffs!
I’m glad I committed to the contrast fabric because I have something truly unique and a little bit bonkers! This shirt is a fantastic pattern that offers so much variety. I’ve worn mine so many times already and can see many more Kalles in my future. If you don’t make it unnecessarily difficult as I did, the shirt is straightforward to make and uses a relatively small amount of fabric.
I’m so glad I finally made a Kalle; believe the hype, people!