Lekala has become an ongoing journey for me. Although the first garment I made from one of their patterns wasn’t a success (due to my failure to choose an appropriate style) as time goes on and I make more of their patterns and they continue to improve and tweak their software, the better and better things get. My most recent Lekala garment is #5974, also known as “dress with decorative front“.
This dress is designed for knits, and I thought that it would make a good winter work dress. When I was in Darn Cheap Fabrics recently I spotted a spotted (hah!) ponte that I thought would be perfect for it and rapidly bought a couple of metres.
Lekala have recently added an extra measurement to the usual main measurements of height, bust, under bust, waist and hip. They call it “full hip” – but what that actually means is belly protuberance. They have a great photo and description of how to take that measurement. Hip measurement is taken around hips and the measurement tape is put to your skin. This is the actual hips circumference. Full hip measurement is measured taking into account belly protuberance and is always more than hip measurement. You can take the full hip measurement while holding something vertically next to your tummy (e.g. a ruler) and measuring at the same level as you would when measuring hips, around the buttocks and hips and than to the ruler, which means you take the measurement tape off your skin and it passes around the ruler in the air. It’s worth checking this on the website so you can see the photos.
Now for me, that is a measurement that takes my fat distribution into account! Most of my circumference is actually located on my front. Generally a circumferential measurement will be split equally across front and back pattern pieces – but no longer! Now there is less on the back pattern piece and more on the front. Hip hip hooray! I also tweaked my measurements by specifying high for waist height and reduced for shoulder width. When you place an order, Lekala also provides you with a little 3-D model of what your body is shaped like, based on the measurements you have provided and the way that they interact with their drafting system assumptions. This is mine.
I have to say that it is remarkably like me! I was actually quite stunned by the similarity – and very impressed with their software. The diagram really does show how my fat is distributed, and how little waist definition I have. And the proof was in the pudding, so to speak, once I sewed up the dress. It fits me very, very well. I’ll deluge you with photos so that you can see for yourself.
Now remember, this pattern was drafted to my measurements, but I made absolutely no other fitting adjustments or alterations during sewing. There is a little excess in the back waist length, leading to some folds and pooling through the back waist area, but that is about all that needs changing. And in a pattern like this one, that has a centre back seam, it shouldn’t be too hard to fix that in the future. Construction was all on the overlocker, with the machine used mainly for twin needle stitching and for securing the pleats at the shoulder seam.
I did endeavour to match the print across the pieces, but you can see that it was off in a few places. Note to self – try harder and go slower next time. Rushing leads to a reduction in quality! These photos were all taken at the end of a long work day, and the dress performed beautifully. The fit just FELT right. Nothing pulled, twisted or tugged in any way. Of course that was partly a function of the fabric type, but a lot of it was due to the fit. Can I give a huge thank you to Lekala for adding the “how big is your belly” measurement to their standard list. It has definitely been a plus for my sewing. I now have a simple straight woven skirt cut out with these same measurements to try out (it’s one of Lekala’s free patterns so well worth using to see what their fit is like for you) in addition to a woven princess seamed sheath style dress – something I usually shy away from because of fitting issues. Looking forward to sewing both of them up and seeing how they fit!
In my opinion it really is worth giving Lekala – and/or Bootstrap Fashion, who use the same software and have a lot of identical patterns – a try. They are very reasonably priced, especially if you buy their patterns in multiples. There are a myriad of styles, many that I would describe as “Eastern European” which is not surprising since Lekala is a Russian company, and loads of basics in addition to special occasion garments and lots of office wear. They also have men’s and children’s patterns. You do need to measure yourself, and be honest with those measurements, and experiment a little bit to tweak which adjustments you need. This can easily be done by using their free patterns until you get a better handle on what the adjustments mean and on the amount of ease that is included. I have started getting some of the patterns on AO sheets and having them printed at a copy shop rather than getting them on A4 and printing and taping at home, depending on how large a pattern it is. Don’t anticipate that they will be a miracle that instantly fixes all of your fitting, but at least with Lekala you are starting with a base that is much closer to your shape than patterns from other companies. That said, I have recently received some fantastic patterns from Hot Patterns and from Style Arc….