Kaste dress from Breaking the Pattern by Named Patterns

Review of the Named Patterns Kaste dress sewing pattern, from the book 'Breaking the Pattern'

I almost chose not to blog this make. It has taken me so long to complete that I wondered if I would be able to talk purposefully enough about it in case anyone else fancied it for themselves. but it is beautifully uncomplicated to wear. Also, I feel that it deserves a bit of attention as the pattern I see mentioned most from this book is the Solina dress (which was also my first stop), and this is an interesting design too, so here we go! I did make a few alterations so this isn't quite true to pattern, but I am happy with the final result (even if it did end up in my wip box for a while!)

Fabric

Another example of where I am very susceptible to appealing Instagram posts from companies I follow. Lamazi Fabrics have a beautiful feed and advertised their sale, which included this grey melange knit fabric. It was a remnant of about 1m which I originally had in mind for the Axel skirt as part of #sewmystyle2018, but I never got to making it. As you can see, I've had it a while so I can't remember how much it was, or link to it either. It's not a typical knit fabric and reminds me a little of scuba fabric, but not shiny. Though it has some stretch, it is quite firm. That is partly why I thought it would be a good candidate for a work dress. It looks like it will hold up to more rigorous wear!


Review of the Named Patterns Kaste dress sewing pattern, from the book 'Breaking the Pattern'

As adept as I am at getting patterns out of smaller fabric pieces, even I couldn't get a whole dress out of this amount! I decided though to try to use contrasting solid black suiting (exact provenance unknown, probably Minerva.com) for side panels to create what I hoped would be a flattering silhouette. It isn't a knit like the main fabric, but seeing as the melange is quite sturdy I wasn't concerned about problems and it was fine in the end.

Where I was working only in stretch fabric, I used a straight stretch stitch. Where the two fabrics joined, these were mainly vertical seams so I used a regular straight stitch. Given that this pattern isn't intended to stretch a lot or have negative ease, I'm fairly confident that the stitches won't pop. The main advantage for me is that even though it's not meant to stretch, it can, which is a little more comfortable! To sew with, these fabrics were not a problem. The melange didn't press brilliantly and can be bulky where there are lots of seams passing, but generally the fabric wasn't a problem.


Review of the Named Patterns Kaste dress sewing pattern, from the book 'Breaking the Pattern'


Pattern and Instructions

The Kaste dress is actually labelled as a cocktail dress in the Breaking the Pattern book. This book is by Named Patterns and features 20 patterns that you can adapt in different ways (usually about £25). At the back of the book you'll find multi - pattern paper which does mean you have to trace off the pattern you need. This pattern has a series of panels, so I just switched out the fabric on the side ones, using a line similar to a princess seam, which I find is always a good look. What I liked about this dress was the unusual diagonal stitching at the front and centre of the dress. There are darts here as well which gives nice shaping. There are various neckline and sleeve options available; I opted for the 'O' neckline and sleeveless version.

As far as the pattern and instructions go, I feel that the design details are thoughtful and the construction is straightforward. There is a lot of vertical stitching with the side panels which is not at all difficult. The version I made is sleeveless with an all in one facing that spans from the underarms to the neckline. This is probably the most complicated part but fortunately for me, it went together quite easily (as in I didn't have to unpick anything!). The instructions are clear and have helpful diagrams that I did need to refer to throughout.

Review of the Named Patterns Kaste dress sewing pattern, from the book 'Breaking the Pattern'


Alterations
Clearly, substituting a knit for a woven fabric was a major one. It worked because the knit is quite sturdy and I wouldn't do it with anything lighter or with more drape. I've been wearing it to work and washing it in the machine for a while now and so far, all fine.

I did have to make quite a few fit alterations though. Some of this may have been linked to the fabric having stretch, but I don't think that was it really. It's the main reason that after a solid start, the dress got relegated to the box of woe, where wips that I am becoming frustrated with have some time out. I think the root cause is that the patterns are drafted for people who are simply a lot taller than me. Most times, this isn't too much of an issue and I usually add a cm to shoulder seams to compensate if the fit looks off. I didn't do this in this instance because I had already constructed the all in one facing and messing with the shoulders would be a real pain.

Basically, the problem was where the waist was sitting. Again, the fabric is fairly stiff so instead of potentially flowing around, it was sitting on top of the waist and bunching up. It was clear that there was too much length here. The only option I had (seeing as I wasn't going to adjust the shoulders) was to cut the dress at the waistline, then sew it together again where my waistline actually sits. I compared with ready to wear tailoring that I had and these did have waist seams. This has created more bulk around this area, with extra seam allowances. It still sits better though.


Review of the Named Patterns Kaste dress sewing pattern, from the book 'Breaking the Pattern'

It was at this point the dress ended up in the wip box, as although I had adjusted the waist seam, the dress still was sitting oddly. I didn't have enough brain power to problem solve and it then wasn't returned to for nearly a year (I moved house in between so there was quite a long period without sewing). When I returned I tried it on and basted the zip in again, but at an extra 1.5cm away from the original seam allowance. This is therefore reducing quite a lot at the centre back. It fit quite well after this adjustment so I was surprised that was all that was required, especially after that long time out. Again, this may be due to the stretch in the fabric, but it isn't that stretchy. I made the same size as my Solina dress which only just fits so....?

Finally, I needed to raise the hem. For two reasons - 
1. It was too long anyway
2. I had not cut the black side panels long enough. (Probably due to poor tracing, which is another reason I hate tracing patterns).
This didn't pose too much of a problem but I did have to have a couple of tries of moving up the diagonal cut in the back vent that folds over in a beautifully neat manner. Got it in the end though.

Thoughts

Would I recommend this pattern?
Yes and I would use it again, but I would definitely make a toile, which I almost never do.
Level?
Again, normally I think that no matter what stage you are at, you can give anything a try, so long as you are determined and know where to find help. That said, this is not for a beginner. When I think of all the alterations I needed, and the all in one facing, I'd say it is a bit more intermediate.
Fabric?
Actually, I would use this fabric again in this pattern. It just makes for an easy wear and is relatively easy to sew with.

Also, btw,  black items are really hard to photograph!



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Welcome to Sewing and Other Stories; my journeys with sewing and knitting; pattern reviews, tips and guides for beginners. I'm also the designer behind West Beach Knits knitting patterns and I host a Knitting and Sewing channel on YouTube where you can see all of this in person. Come have a look!

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