Fibre Mood Kika Dress & A Bigger-Sleeve Hack
The Fibre Mood Kika Dress is one of the sewing patterns available in the new Fibre Mood Magazine Issue 21 which launches today. This was an easy choice for me to sew up for the Fibre Mood Link Party #25 because I instantly liked the V-neck, the gathered skirt and the best feature: big gathered sleeves set into a bodice yoke. There are also elegant curved pockets that continue from the vertical lines of the yoke. This was giving all the peasant blouse or dress vibe that is so trendy these days, so I jumped right in.
Even though the original sleeves are already quite large, I wanted to make them even bigger. The main hack here is making them more voluminous with the slash-and-spread method. Here’s how I did it:
First, I drew parallel lines to the grainline, dividing the sleeve into sections 2 inches apart. These sections were spaced between the front and back notches found on the top edge of the sleeve where it will meet the notches on the bodice. These notches also denote where the gathering stops. Then I numbered these sections to make sure I don’t lose the order when I need to put them back together.
Second, I spaced out these sections ½” - 2” apart. This was quite arbitrary, but I made sure that the spaces between the gaps would be the same between the front and back sleeves, and I made sure to mark the centre line of the sleeve clearly because this would match the shoulder seam of the bodice. This line appears on my sleeve pattern between sections 5 & 6.
Third, when I was happy with the extra volume I’ve created, then I taped this down onto drafting paper, making sure the horizontal line of the hem matched all the way through. The curve of the pattern on the upper edge of the sleeve would have to be trued so that the curve is one continuous line.
The end result is a poofy sleeve cloud, with much more gathering created. I like it! The only regret I have after sewing it up is that I should have added length to the sleeve as well, so that the elasticated hem doesn’t end at the ¾ length but all the way to my wrist. I reckon that maybe adding 4 more inches would do the job. It’s a matter of taste, I guess. I don’t mind the ¾ length, but I think the full length sleeve might be interesting as well. To add length, I wouldn’t just add onto the hem, but instead draw a lengthen/shorten line perpendicular to the grainline, then make a cut, and add paper there to create more length, true up the seam lines, and voila - an even more ginormous sleeve hack!
But I am happy with this version of the sleeve for now. I sewed up the smallest size available on the pattern which is an XS, and it fits my frame which has a bust measurement of 33 inches (84cm) when I am wearing a bra. This pattern has a very roomy fit though. I was debating between the small and extra-small and was glad that I chose the former. I think I would be swimming in the small size. Sizes for the pattern go from XS-XXXL. The finished measurements of the largest size is 150.75cm at the bust circumference.
With many other Fibre Mood patterns that I’ve sewn up, I seldom have complaints about the design, but I always have issues with the sewing instructions or construction. The Kika is no exception. I love all the design details, but there is one major problematic point with regards to construction, in my opinion. Namely, the bodice or yoke has to be stabilised before sewing on all these large gathered sleeves and skirts onto them. The instructions negate this step. While sewing, and when the garment is being worn, these relatively small yoke pattern pieces have to bear the weight of a lot of fabric hanging onto all sides of the yokes. However, the pattern instructions only ask for the front facing to be stabilised with fusible interfacing. This makes no sense at all because the front facing is only attached at the very end of the sewing process. And why only interface the front facing and not the back as well? I see other versions of the dress on social media right now, and some versions look like they would need more stabilisation, especially at the neckline, and especially when the fabric used is light-weight or has a lot of drape.
Then again, maybe it’s just me being picky, but it completely goes against my sewing instincts for stabilisation. What I did was to stabilise the front and back yoke pieces, numbered 1 & 2, instead of interfacing pattern piece 7 (front facing). In addition, after interfacing is applied, stay-stitching of the back and front neckline has to be done to prevent stretching out the curved and bias cut edges. I am surprised this wasn’t mentioned in the instructions at all. For more experienced sewers, this probably comes as second nature when sewing, and we do it without even thinking. However, this may be a step that beginner sewers are unfamiliar with. Stabilisation of these pieces in the form of interfacing and stay-stitching is crucial in a good finish, and I think it may be useful to mention it here for beginner sewers.
Stabilising the main yokes meant that it was unnecessary for pattern pieces 7 & 8 (the facing pieces) to have interfacing, and they worked more like linings to the yokes. I did stay-stitch the neckline of these linings as well, close to the stitch line. The other construction difference here when installing the facing/lining is that I hand-stitched the outer edges to the yoke, folding the raw edges under instead of serging the edges and sewing them down with the sewing-in-the-ditch method suggested in the instructions. I think this alternative way makes for a better finish on the inside of the garment. And although nobody else will ever know the difference, this is a huge improvement for me. It feels much better when that hand stitched edge is close to my skin compared to a serged edge chafing on my chest. Yes, it takes more time to hand-stitch, but it’s well worth the effort in terms of aesthetics and comfort.
The other thing I tried on this garment is underlining pieces 7 & 8 instead of using fusibles. You don’t have to do what I did, but I basically used a sew-on interfacing instead of an iron-on interfacing. For the yokes, I used scraps that were linen-cotton gauze, and to stabilise the pocket opening, I used a folded strip of silk organza. Basically, I just sewed on the interfacing to these areas by sewing them into the seam allowances. I am learning some couture techniques in an online class with Lynda Maynard, and wanted to try them out on this garment just as a form of practice. It added about 2 hours to the sewing process, but I like the result of it.
The advantage of underlining instead of using fusibles is that it gives the fabric extra structure or body without me stressing out that the fusible will contort or create extra bubbles when ironed on. I always have this fear especially with more delicate fabrics - it changes the texture of the fabric as well with the little blobs of glue. And that always bothered me. This is an alternative way of interfacing, and I think I like it!
Lastly, for a future Kika version, I would change the depth of the pocket. My small hands can barely fit in right now and it’s not really functional for that reason. But this is an easy fix. The pocket piece looked exceptionally large so I took it for granted that it’ll have enough room, but I forgot that the curve of the pocket would carve out a lot of actual pocket space. So the pocket looks very large on the dress, but it is only an illusion.
The fabric is a big highlight for me in this new make. This is a viscose challis and it’s one of the prints from the range of Minerva Exclusive fabrics. The print is made up of large ferns and lilies in vibrant colours of pink, orange and turquoise set against a black background. The fabric feels soft and light on the skin, and moves with the utmost grace and drape. It’s definitely a good pairing with this Kika sewing pattern. I was gifted this gorgeous fabric as part of the Minerva Brand Ambassador Program, so lucky me! And big thanks to Minerva!
It’s another successful Fibre Mood experience. I am enjoying this dress as I float around in it doing my daily chores and running errands. The days are starting to get cooler, and allow for the wearing of these bigger sleeves, which are beautiful and dramatic. If you are interested in purchasing the magazine or the patterns, please click on the Fibre Mood links on my blog. These are affiliate links and will earn me a small commission without any extra cost to you. Thanks so much for your support! I hope the sewing tips I mentioned above will help you when you are sewing up your Kika Dress. Happy sewing!