adult's clothing · Lekala · sewing

Lekala 4403 – a formal dress for Freya

Last year I had a call from my cousin Freya asking if I had any ball dresses in my wardrobe that she could borrow.  Although I have a fair few formal dresses, none of them were quite right for Freya (although we are similar heights we are shaped quite differently) so I offered to sew her a dress, with the proviso that it was a Lekala pattern.  I knew that we wouldn’t have much opportunity for fitting so a pattern made to measure was the safest bet.

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We ended up choosing Lekala 4403, described as “dress with long skirt”.  I took all the measurements that we needed, and ordered the pattern (they arrive the same day via email – usually within about 15 minutes of placing the order).  I rummaged through my fabric stash and found some vintage red jacquard fabric – just perfect for a Fire Ball!  I bought matching silk/cotton fabric to line the dress from Darn Cheap Fabrics.  Then I went for it and sewed it up.

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I dialled Ada’s measurements down to better match Freya’s and tried the dress on the dressform.  An issue immediately became apparent – check out the depth of that neckline slash.

Lekala 4403 in vintage jacquard from stash

As always, I should have listened to my instincts that said, as I was sewing the neckline notch and slashing into it, “my goodness, this looks a little too deep”. It most certainly was! Neither Freya nor I mind showing a bit of cleavage, but as it was this dress gave almost full exposure.  The line drawing was definitely not accurate in that regard, and because I was in a hurry when I sewed the dress I didn’t stop to listen to that little voice that was trying to alert me. So it was time for a save.

Lekala 4403 in vintage jacquard from stash

I made a little insert from the same fabric and pinned it in place, but wasn’t able to get it just right until I tried it on Freya. Then we had a bit of an issue with the neckline corners. Would they sit flat against the body? Not really at that stage – they would have needed interfacing. There was a definite tendency for them to flop forward.  Unfortunately I hadn’t taken the time to think about that during the construction process.

Lekala 4403 in vintage jacquard from stash

Otherwise, the dress fitted Freya perfectly! I was really happy with all the other proportions on her, and it showed off her small waistline beautifully. That is one of the things that I enjoy about sewing for Freya – she has the little waist that I have never had, and I sew quite different styles for her as a consequence. It’s fun!

Lekala 4403 in vintage jacquard from stash

The invisible zip inserted easily and zipped up beautifully when she put the dress on.  It also sat nicely across her body, including across her back and shoulders. Getting the waistband seams and pintucks to line up exactly at the side seams was more of a challenge.

Lekala 4403 in vintage jacquard from stash

Not perfect, but not too far off either! So, what to do about those front neckline corners?

Lekala 4403 in vintage jacquard from stash

In the end, Freya decided that they looked good as an open neckline, a bit like a collar. Fortunately I’d matched the lining perfectly and had made certain to sew very accurately in that area. I only managed to get one photo of Freya all dressed up for the ball (she was on the organising committee so spent her evening dashing around being busy rather than relaxing for photos) but I think that she looks gorgeous!

Lekala 4403

Pretty good for a two week timeline with only one opportunity for fitting, I reckon! Having that Lekala pattern as a base was the key. I know that Nicole uses Lekala a lot for her daughter’s formal dresses – they have a terrific range of formal designs and it really does make a difference in getting that fit right.

children's clothing · kids clothing · sewing · tween

New Look 6444

Another garment that was finished (and photographed) a year ago.  Good thing I have these “archives” left to post on my blog, because my sewing output has reduced dramatically over the last year.  This is New Look 6444.

New Look 6444 in embroidered cotton from Chiang Mai

We bought this embroidered cotton on our first trip to Chiang Mai (you may remember the pink colourway that I used for a dress for Stella). Finding a pattern that could utilise the scalloped edge was a bit of a challenge, until we spotted New Look 6444. With this pattern we could use the edge along the shorts hem and along the edge of the ruffle.

New Look 6444

From the New Look website: Girls’ easy to sew dress and jumpsuit pattern features high low or maxi dress, and short romper or long jumpsuit with elastic at ankles. All have elastic waist with tie.

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We only had enough fabric for view B.  I used the neckline ruffle pattern piece as a guide for cutting along the scalloped selvedge.  Generally these “convertible” styles that can be worn on or off the shoulders only work well if there is plenty of elastic and gathering in the neckline (as otherwise the bodice gets distorted and there is underarm wedgie when the neckline is worn on rather than off the shoulder) – this pattern was drafted so that it can definitely be worn comfortably either way.

New Look 6444 in embroidered cotton from Chiang Mai

New Look weren’t kidding in their pattern description – this was easy to sew. The armscyes have bias binding as a finishing technique, and the waistline seam allowances form a casing to thread elastic through. I used both my sewing machine and overlocker for construction and edge finishing.

New Look 6444 in embroidered cotton from Chiang Mai

This was possibly size 12 (I’d need to locate the pattern to check). It’s a really sweet style, and I like many of the other variations in the pattern. New Look do a great job of tween/teen patterns, providing current styles with plenty of options.

New Look 6444 in embroidered cotton from Chiang Mai

There is every chance that this won’t fit this summer – Clare has grown a little, as teenagers will!  This pattern goes up to size 16, so it could be worth a second go – maybe in a dress version. Clare has discovered that despite the trendiness of jumpsuits/playsuits, they really aren’t always practical. Going to the toilet is just that little bit more challenging!

New Look 6444 in embroidered cotton from Chiang Mai

adult's clothing · sewing

Esme the third

This is the third time I’ve sewn the Style Arc Esme top, but it’s quite different to the last two.  This time around it’s sleeveless, without the collar.

Style Arc Esme top in poly Anna Sui double knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I had a small amount of this poly Anna Sui double knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics left over after sewing a cardigan, and wanted to use it up. I did consider a sleeveless version of the Tessuti Mandy boat tee, but remembered that the Esme top has a nice high-low hemline with side slits, so just that little bit more detail.

Style Arc Esme top in poly Anna Sui double knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

From the Style Arc website: Square cut top with funnel or band neck options, sleeved or sleeveless, with a high/low hem. “The Wanted” garment of the season. This knit top has a fabulous bias cut collar that can stand fashionably high or turned over. Make it sleeveless or with sleeves for the cooler months. FABRIC SUGGESTION & DESCRIPTION: Ponte, Scuba or any fabric with a stretch component.

esme-top

Most of the versions I’ve seen of this top on the internet have the collar (most are the long sleeved versions too).  I think that the sleeveless version with neckband is definitely worth keeping in mind as well.  I love some pattern versatility!

Style Arc Esme top in poly Anna Sui double knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I’m happy with the fit across my rounded forward shoulders (that’s another alteration I should consider adding to my list) and there is plenty of ease through the body – most of you know that is my preference. I sewed size 12 without alterations.  Construction for this one was mostly on the machine, with the overlocker used for the shoulder seams and to attach the neckband.  I needed to be able to press the side seams open so that I could hem the sleeves effectively and sew the side slits.

Style Arc Esme top in poly Anna Sui double knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

It’s really more of a winter top than a summer one despite being sleeveless, because it definitely is polyester. I have worn it a bit as part of a twin-set, with the aforementioned cardigan (the pattern is the Style Arc Coral cardigan). I rather like it in this combination! Definitely an outfit for those days when I need a bit of psychological armour – plenty of colour and print. It gives me confidence!

Style Arc Esme top in poly Anna Sui double knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

children's clothing · kids clothing · sewing · tween

McCalls 6690

Oh my goodness, there are less than ten blog posts from last year left to write.  Of course, I have a fair few from this year to catch up on, but hey…..I’m making progress!

McCalls 6690 in printed cotton size 8

This pattern – McCalls 6690 – caught my eye because it seemed very fashionable. Like something that was in the shops – and that’s important to the kids. From the pattern website: Pullover, partially lined tops and dresses have side panels (sleeveless), no side seams, side-front/side-back openings for self-belt, back button, thread loop closing and very narrow hem. Purchased bias tape finishes neckline. A: Purchased trim. B, D: Ruffles.

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We decided on view A, mainly because this style is a major fabric eater and we wanted to get it out of the fabric that was available.  As it was I used another fabric for the inside lining pieces.

McCalls 6690 in printed cotton size 8

The fabric was a printed cotton lawn, and came to me I think from Spotlight via another person’s stash (thanks Anna!). It was lovely to sew with. We eliminated the trim that the pattern suggested for this view. I cut and sewed this in size 8 after measuring the pattern pieces – clearly it has ridiculous ease; I sew a girls 12 or 14 for Clare now.

McCalls 6690 in printed cotton size 8

We didn’t need the slit with button and loop opening at the centre back – Clare can get it on and off just fine as it is. It’s an interesting pattern actually. It’s basically a tank style with princess seams in the front and back – no side seam as such – with the sleeve attaching to the front and back princess seams. The main bodice pieces are lined as well, which combines with the flappy angel sleeves to mean that you need plenty of fabric.

McCalls 6690 in printed cotton size 8

This top is a little tricky to wear with anything over it – those angel sleeves mean that you can’t fit other regular sleeves on top. This means it’s definitely something that can’t be worn trans-seasonally. As it turns out Clare hasn’t worn it much, but she’s not sure why – maybe because she was wearing other things, she suspects, rather than something being “wrong” with this. I’m not sure that it will still fit Clare this summer. There is a fair bit that needs to migrate from her wardrobe into Stella’s at the moment!

McCalls 6690 in printed cotton size 8

children's clothing · kids clothing · sewing · tween

Boo Designs Sleeved Skater dress

I sometimes find it a little challenging to get sizing right for my kids.  Both daughters are quite slim for their height (I was the same at their age; up until my late teens really). To get the combination of style, ease, and fit preferences right is not always easy.

Boo Designs Skater dress in cotton lycra knits from Crafty Mamas

I sewed this Boo Designs Sleeved Skater dress in a mixture of sizes to accommodate Stella’s wishes. She wanted a tight bodice with a fuller skirt. Stella chose all the pattern elements – which sleeve type, what skirt length, and which fabrics went where.

Boo Designs Skater dress in cotton lycra knits from Crafty Mamas

It’s interesting to me when I look at photos – it appears that Stella has the same issue as me of fabric pooling a bit at the back waist area while the front bodice is still quite fitted! When I look at this dress on Stella I think it looks too small. She thinks entirely differently and really likes it.

Boo Designs Skater dress in cotton lycra knits from Crafty Mamas

Now I am trying to cast my memory to last year (that’s when I sewed it) but I think that I sewed the width quite a bit smaller than the length for this dress. I kept the armhole depth and bodice length appropriate for Stella’s height, but the body width was a few sizes smaller in accordance with her measurements. The shoulder width was something in between.

Boo Designs Skater dress in cotton lycra knits from Crafty Mamas

The fabrics are superb European quality cotton/spandex knits from Crafty Mamas Fabrics. I finished the sleeve edges with a very narrow zig-zagged hem, and did the same with the skirt. Construction was primarily on the overlocker. The neckline is bound with the printed knit.

Boo Designs Skater dress in cotton lycra knits from Crafty Mamas

From the pattern website:

  • 2 lengths: Regular (above knee) or maxi (slightly above ankle)
  • Also interchangeable with skirts from (sleeveless) Spandex Skater Dress
  • 2 hem styles: even or hi-low
  • 4 sleeve styles: long, short, mini or flutter

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We’ll see how much wear this dress gets when the weather warms up again – and if it in fact still fits her! Stella looked over my shoulder while I was typing up this blog post and did say “oh, I do like that dress” so maybe it will be a winner after all.

Boo Designs Skater dress in cotton lycra knits from Crafty Mamas

adult's clothing · sewing

Style Arc Bianca knit top

This time it’s not a pattern repeat!  It is a garment that I sewed last year, though.

Style Arc Bianca top in knit remnant and tencel woven

The Style Arc Bianca knit top is described on their website as follows:  Great spliced top, make it in knit with contrast angled side panels and hem bands. The flattering “V” neck along with its long sleeve or short this is a great versatile top. FABRIC SUGGESTION: Knit Jersey with woven trim (such as Rayon or silk).

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I used a printed viscose/spandex knit remnant from The Cloth Shop for the body, with navy woven tencel from Clear It for the inset panels and sleeve and hem bands.

Style Arc Bianca top in knit remnant and tencel woven

This was mostly sewn on the overlocker, with the machine being used judiciously for topstitching and for elements like attaching the neck band. I sewed straight size 12.

Style Arc Bianca top in knit remnant and tencel woven

There is lots that I like about this top, yet I have only worn it a couple of times. It continues to survive wardrobe purges though. I suspect that one of the issues is that the tencel creases terribly, and this really does require ironing before wearing. I do iron my clothes before putting them away, but whether folded or hanging, the tencel panels on this top get very creased in the wardrobe. The sleeves could be a fraction too long as well.

Style Arc Bianca top in knit remnant and tencel woven

I think that I need to pull out this pattern again and try it in all knits, in a different colourway, and see if it gets more wear. I really like V-necks, and this has the loose body fit that I prefer in my clothes to accommodate my belly. I should possibly pass this version on, but I still give the pattern a thumbs up. I just need to get the fabrics right for me.

Style Arc Bianca top

Don’t you always interrupt your ironing to do some hula hooping in your ugg boots?

adult's clothing · sewing

Ethel the third

Another repeated pattern, another of last year’s garments – Style Arc Ethel, in printed cotton jacquard leftovers from another project (fabric originally from Darn Cheap Fabrics).  Because this top is pieced you can really make the most of strangely shaped scraps!

Style Arc Ethel top in printed jacquard cotton from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I’ve sewn this top in size 12 (the same size as both previous versions). It’s a roomy style, and super comfortable to wear. You know I wouldn’t wear anything that wasn’t comfortable!  The pants I’m wearing it with are the Ethel pants.

Style Arc Ethel top in printed jacquard cotton from Darn Cheap Fabrics

From the Style Arc website: This gorgeous boxy shaped top with angled design lines gives your wardrobe a new and fashionable look. The wide facings give this top structure and style. This pattern has been cleverly drafted to cover the top of the arms whilst not losing any of the design elements. FABRIC SUGGESTION: Linen, Crepe, Silk, light wool.

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Other information about this pattern can be found in my previous posts here and here.  It’s a great one – highly recommended.

Style Arc Ethel top in printed jacquard cotton from Darn Cheap Fabrics