Candy Memphis Kalle

Spoonflower, the pioneering custom on-demand fabric printing website, are now shipping from a factory in Berlin. They got in touch to ask if I'd like to help them promote this, which meant I would get to use some of their fabric for free, and of course I said yes as I love fabric and I love Spoonflower. I've bought fabric 3 times from Spoonflower before, when they only shipped from the US. The drawbacks to the fabric travelling across the Atlantic were shipping cost, a lengthy wait for the fabric to arrive and uncertainty over whether a customs charge would be whacked on at the border, making your fairly costly but beautiful and unique fabric suddenly embarrassingly and bank breakingly expensive. Now they're shipping from Europe, custom charges are a thing of the past and shipping is swift and affordable. I am still wilfully ignoring the fact that the puny island I live on will soon be severed from the European collective. For now, I'll rejoice in Spoonflower's European base!

My boyfriend actually got me some Contrado vouchers for Christmas, and I'm mentally cooking up my own fabric designs to spend those on. What's great about Spoonflower is the huge bank of designs available through their site, as a million zillion people use it as a platform to create and sell fabric. I decided to dig into this world of user-generated creativity and pick something to print. I wanted to choose something subtle as I was thinking of making a work-suitable jumpsuit. Here are the final 9 I whittled it down to after about 5 hours (not an exaggeration) of research.

And yes, you may note that two of the designs are a lot less 'subtle' than the others, and that the one at the top right might be considered the very opposite of subtle. That one is called 'Candy Memphis' and it's a design by Season Of Victory. I couldn't resist including it - it almost feels like a waste picking subtle designs on Spoonflower - and everyone on Instagram seemed to love it too!

I thought it would be a bit over-the-top to make a jumpsuit out of it though. I'd probably feel more like a clown than usual, so I decided to make the Kalle Shirt Dress which Heather at Closet Case released around the time I was choosing my fabric. I bought the Pdf version so I'd have it instantaneously.

My cats love sewing, especially the pattern cutting part.

I ordered 2 yards of Spoonflower's Cotton Poplin Ultra, which was the amount the pattern advised I would need for my size, but as you lose a couple of inches either side as it's not printed on, it was touch and go as to whether I'd actually have enough. I cut the yoke and all the collar pieces on the cross grain as I didn't have enough width to cut them on the straight grain. I loved using every last bit of fabric, I'm usually an awful over-buyer so it felt really good to be left with only about 20cm square at the end of this project.

The construction of the Kalle shirt dress is brilliant. The only exposed seams are the two side seams, which I sewed with my overlocker. All the others are concealed, so I used my regular machine for the rest. The curve at the bottom hem is so dreamy. I actually would like to make this dress in a plain fabric now to really bring out the construction details.

I had some issues with the collar. I know that I prefer fairly skinny collars and I thought both the collar and the collar stand looked quite deep, so I sewed them with extra deep seam allowance to slim them down slightly.

Once I'd actually attached them and tried the dress on for the first time, even with my reductions in depth the collar sat so high up on my throat that my boyfriend suggested I looked like some kind of crazy art nun. I think this collar might be drafted high as you're meant to wear the top of the shirt open. I like to button mine all the way up though! I have really square shoulders and I think this definitely contributed to the position. I should probably do square shoulder adjustments on all shirts I make - my shoulders literally don't slope downwards at all which is not the model woman shape that patterns are drafted for - but who can be bothered with that!?

Anyway, I couldn't live with the position of the collar so I unpicked, cut the fronts of the neckline deeper and reattached. It did mean I had had hardly any ease as I'd made the neckline bigger through trimming, but you barely notice the little gathers that caused. Next time, I'm going to extend the width of the collar stand and cut the neckline much deeper. A simple hack.

I went out to wander round my neighbourhood and take pictures of the dress this morning. I was feeling quite awkward as there's nowhere near my house that isn't overlooked by at least 8 buildings.

As I stood uncomfortably in front of my tripod, a gentleman in double denim strolled by staring at me curiously and asked what I was doing. I explained that I'd made the dress and was going to blog about it, and I invited him to join me in a photo. His all-blue outfit perfectly matched the wall we were standing next to.. His name is Melbert, and here he is.

He cheered me up a lot and helped me throw caution to the wind, so thank you Melbert!

I made my dress with a popover placket, rather than a full placket. I love this design! The construction is really fun and explained very well in the instructions. I finished my placket with three pink plastic Prymm press studs. This is my new favourite fastening. I may never sew a button hole again.

Spoonflower's Cotton Poplin is nice and crisp but not too stiff. I didn't bother putting any interfacing in the collar or stand as I thought the fabric would hold it's shape well enough without it - and it did! It's perfect shirting fabric really, the only thing I hold against it is that wrinkles don't fall out of it, but that's the case with all cotton isn't it. Will I ever find a balance between fabric that doesn't wrinkle at all but feels like a carrier bag, and lovely natural fibres that wrinkle when you look at them? Oh my woes. Sigh.

Here you can see a good strong breeze whipping some folds into my Kalle.

The Kalle is great for strolling about it. I love the relaxed, billowy shape. It's super comfy and kind of feels like you're not wearing any clothes at all, which is my favourite kind of clothing.

House plant envy.

I'll have one of these flowers instead.

Hello weird grey wall, tell me your secrets. Here you can see the lovely broad box pleat at the back of the Kalle, which gives the dress the pleasing volume.

I love my dress, so big thanks to Spoonflower for existing and enabling me to get hold of this person's awesome, unique fabric design. In a moment of overwhelming Halle Berry-at-the-Oscars-like emotion I'd also like to extend my thanks to Tim Berners-Lee for inventing the world wide web without which Spoonflower could not exist. Thank you Tim. I'll be wearing this dress loads this summer and I hope to add more Kalle's to my wardrobe soon


  1. this is so great! and i love that you got melbert to pose with you! :)

    1. Ha ha thank you! Blogging can be lonely so very helpful to involve friendly strangers!!

  2. Your dress is absolutely wonderful! I love all your pics and the fact that you met Melbert whilst taking them. Another thing that gives me joy is that I would never have picked out the fabric you chose, and even thought it rather ugly in the swatch, but made up in to this dress I think it is really lovely and interesting and just makes a fabulous garment. So thanks for sharing the world through your eyes!

    1. Thank you! I think it is hard picking fabric from tiny digital swatches - I actually normally find it really hard to buy fabric on the internet 'cos I am often disappointed with texture or the scale of the print. There is definitely an element of risk involved. But this time I was pleasantly surprised! xx


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