When I first heard about Lekala patterns, I was impressed. Patterns printed to MY measurements! Patterns that hopefully wouldn’t need loads of alteration for my short and thick waist or for being 5’2″ tall. Maybe this would be the way to make a fitted dress that would actually fit me without a ridiculous amount of faffing around! I ordered a few Lekala patterns via their website, including Lekala 4199. They ask for your height, your bust measurement, your underbust measurement (presumably to get an idea of cup size), your waist measurement, and your hip measurement (although they specify that the hip measurement should take into account “all protrusions” such as your stomach etc). And they’re cheap. Really cheap. Around $2.50 per pattern. The patterns arrived via email less than 24 hours later. Yes, they are pdf patterns, so you do have to tape. But they are sensibly tiled.
I had ordered my pattern with seam allowances – you can also order them without. When I took a look at the pattern pieces, I was quite impressed. They did look as though they took my shape – especially my lack of waist – into account. So I taped, cut and sewed! The instructions are translated from Russian, so to an English speaker can be a little confusing at times, but once you work out what means what they are pretty sensible and are certainly adequately detailed.
This dress is drafted for stretch fabrics, and I used a thick poly/spandex knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics in the printed section, with ponte also from Darn Cheap as the plain contrast. I was hoping that the overall effect of the blocks of print and plain would be slimming.
I eliminated any closure at the back, having tested the neck band to see if I could get it on and off. I figured that the stretch of the fabric would take care of getting into the dress, and I was right. Most construction was done on the overlocker, with just the occasional bit of machine basting. So, how was it when I put it on?
Well, um, NO. Yes, it fits – Lekala definitely got that part right! But the style? Shorter than I am used to, and much more fitted than I anticipated. I should have remembered that as a broad generalisation Russian women do appear to wear their clothes very fitted, and that might translate to the ease built into their patterns. I feel that every lump, bump and roll is just screaming “look at these extra 7 kilos” when I’m wearing this dress.
That said, it’s not too bad in the photos. I think that the placement of the print and plain panels is quite flattering. I don’t think that the high round neckline does me many favours, especially with black so close to my face. It’s also rather tight through the arms.
So, my overall verdict for my first venture into Lekala? Despite my initial horror when I first wriggled into this dress, I suspect that it will get a little bit of wear in winter with a cardigan and scarf layered over it, as well as thick tights and boots. And overall it fits much better first time than many other patterns I have tried in the past. I would need to tweak this dress if I made it again, allowing more room in the sleeves and making it a little longer. But really, my problems with it are about the style that I chose rather than the pattern. So it is actually a thumbs up for Lekala – and since making this dress, I’ve made something else that worked very well.