adult’s clothing

Lekala 5974

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“.

Lekala 1584 line drawing

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.

Me according to Lekala

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.

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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.

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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!

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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….

Style Arc Toni Designer Dress

This is one of those styles that I knew I wanted to make the moment I saw it.  Style Arc released the pattern for the Toni Designer Dress last month, and it wasn’t long before I had a copy.  And then it wasn’t long before I was cutting it out.  And then sewing it up!

Style Arc Toni Designer dress in Thai cotton double gauze

I sewed this in Thai cotton double gauze, part of my Chiang Mai haul. This fabric is absolutely NOT the recommended fabric for this dress. It really should be made in silk, crepe, rayon, or a soft drapey knit if you want to maximise the effect of the side drapes as per the pattern illustration and original design.

Nevertheless, the dress still works well in my fabric of choice.  It just makes the side drapes much more architectural and triangular in appearance.  This dress isn’t actually all that hard to sew.  I think that perhaps Style Arc have overrated it a bit with a “challenging” rating.  You do need to be careful to get the collar points meeting nicely at the centre front seam, but otherwise it is a rather straightforward garment to sew.  Even easier if you leave out the side pockets like I did!

Style Arc Toni Designer dress in Thai cotton double gauze

I did have to pay attention to line up the squares, both when I was cutting out and when I was sewing. The unpicker was required more than once!

Style Arc Toni designer dress in Thai cotton double gauze

(The above photo was taken at night in artificial light – the fabric colour is more accurate in the other outdoor photos).  The collar can be worn up or folded back.  The rest of my family liked it down. I like it best up.

Style Arc Toni Designer dress in Thai cotton double gauze

There is a centre back seam that contributes to the shaping of the dress. The sleeves are cut on and are just turned to the inside and narrow hemmed. The dress hem is a narrow machine stitched hem as well. Simple.

Style Arc Toni Designer dress in Thai cotton double gauze

Style Arc describe this pattern as follows: The simplicity of this pattern is the key to this designer dress. The wide side drape falls softly into the narrow hemline. You will love the flattering collar that sits high on the neck and continues into the front “V” insert panel. This is such a comfortable, easy dress to wear with a designer look.
If you would like to shorten this dress, please see this tutorial – Shortening Designer Toni Dress“.

Now, I did follow the tutorial and I did shorten the dress. I sewed size 12, but took a total of four inches from the length by folding two inches out at each of the shorten/lengthen lines. I am 158cm tall. That was the only alteration I made.

Style Arc Toni Designer dress in Thai cotton double gauze

This is incredibly soft fabric. It took me some time to decide which side to use as the “right” side, as the square colour way is reversed on the other. I also tossed up using both sides of the fabric in different parts of the dress, but eventually decided to keep things simple and in one colourway.  I am definitely going to make this dress again.  The fabric – a rusty orange crepe knit – has already been chosen!

Style Arc Toni Designer dress in Thai cotton double gauze

Tessuti Gabby dress

Tessuti released the Gabby dress pattern some years ago – I think it was one of their first, actually, published back in June 2012 (thanks google for helping me to find that bit out).  I bought a copy when an updated version was released recently with a contrast band around the bottom.  The new version has a print at copy shop option as well as a print at home on A4 paper option.  You can probably guess which I did!

Tessuti Gabby dress in rayon from Darn Cheap Fabrics

My sewing mojo vanished last week, but watching a couple of episodes of The Great British Sewing Bee on youtube appeared to be the way to get it going again. This dress was cut out and sewn up in somewhere between two and three hours on Sunday evening. I am a little surprised that I hadn’t been interested in making this pattern sooner!

Tessuti Gabby dress in rayon from Darn Cheap Fabrics

As is often the case, much of the success of this dress comes from the fabric. It’s a rayon from Darn Cheap Fabrics, bought a month or two ago (not from the $2 table I’m afraid – and this print appears to have sold out very quickly). There are loads of great colours in it. When you look at it close up it almost looks as though the colours are imitating a woven print. My husband thinks that it looks like television static. Either way, it feels very silky to the skin and enables the significant flare of the dress to drape down nicely, giving a soft and slimmer silhouette. The contrast band around the bottom also helps in that regard. It’s a viscose/rayon as well, but an ever so slightly heavier weight.

Tessuti Gabby dress in rayon from Darn Cheap Fabrics

It was pretty windy when these photos were taken, and it can be hard to see the true shape of the dress. There is a little more flare in the from than in the back. As I usually find with Tessuti patterns, the neckline sits smoothly against the body. I have a feeling that they might draft for the more “mature” body shape in some ways – my high rounded back isn’t a problem in most of their designs!

Tessuti Gabby dress in rayon from Darn Cheap Fabrics

This time I cut the dress out in size Small through the neckline and armholes, grading out to size Medium from the bottom of the armhole down. I did the same with the sleeve, cutting size Small around the top of the sleeve but Medium in width and at the hemline. This is something that I’ve actually been doing for years and years with my sewing, but I don’t do it every single time. It can really depend on the pattern and the cut. I think it might be a usual thing for me to do with Tessuti’s patterns from now on though.

Tessuti Gabby dress in rayon from Darn Cheap Fabrics

So, to the length. I made this exactly as per the pattern length for size Medium. It’s right on my knees – at the back it hits exactly in the bend. I am 158cm tall, and this is a great length for work. The pattern suggests that you lengthen or shorten at the hemline. Just remember that this will affect the total amount of flare and the hemline width of the finished garment. It is quite possible to shorten or lengthen at a different point in the garment, maybe halfway between the bustline and the hemline, if you don’t want to affect the total hem circumference. You’ll get slightly different results from either method. If I wanted to shorten this, I’d probably take a fold out of the pattern higher up so that I keep the fullness of the hem. It just depends on your personal preference and desired proportions.

Tessuti Gabby dress in rayon from Darn Cheap Fabrics

So overall I think that this is another terrific basic pattern from Tessuti. You could make it sleeveless if you wished, or lengthen the sleeves, add a ruffle to the bottom, make it in a mixture of prints, make it in different wovens (although I’d prefer to stick to those with drape), make it in a knit; there are loads of options and a great deal of potential!  If you google the “Tessuti Gabby Dress” you will find a huge number of lovely versions.  Of course there is absolutely no waist definition in a style like this – which suits me down to the ground!

Olivia and the Moss Mini

I work remotely from home a few days a week at the moment, logging in to a work server.  On Friday the server went down.  The downside?  No work for most of the day – and therefore no pay (I’m a contractor).  The upside?  I finished off a tee-shirt and skirt – as well as various domestic tasks!

Maria Denmark Olivia Oversize Tee with Grainline Moss Mini

The top is the Maria Denmark Olivia Oversize Tee. I have used this pattern a couple of times before with the 3/4 length sleeve. This time I chose the short sleeve. It’s an extremely straightforward pattern, all constructed on the overlocker. I used the same size as last time, a little shortened, and with all waist shaping removed.

Maria Denmark Olivia Oversize Tee

It’s a little difficult to get that neck band to sit nice and flat. The curve at the bottom is quite pronounced, so you really do ned to get the right amount of stretch – which of course varies depending on what fabric you are using. I find that twin needling around the neckline helps enormously with getting it to sit properly. I used two different colours in the twin needle to pick up on a couple of the different colours in the fabric. I really love the colours in this fabric, which was a gift to me from Anna. Except – and don’t you hate it when there is an except – it turns out that the fabric is quite delicate.

Maria Denmark Olivia Oversize Tee

After one car trip there was a pull on the teal section near the waist and marks on the teal sections near the left shoulder, both from the seat belt. My seat belt isn’t in bad condition, I must tell you! It’s just that this fabric is far from sturdy. Which is a little upsetting, because the colours and pattern are superb. I’ve washed and pressed it since without it improving things. Sob!

Grainline Moss Mini

So, to the skirt. It’s a Grainline Moss Mini, without the added band. This definitely does make it rather mini, but it is long enough for me to bend over without any unintentional exposure. The fabric is a twill from stash – I think it’s cotton. I used a lighter weight cotton for the pockets. And as you can see, I decided to topstitch in chocolate brown. Just to make my life difficult.

Grainline Moss Mini

I used upholstery thread in the needle and normal polyester sewing thread in the bottom. I also switched the needle to size 14 to accomodate the thicker thread. It was hard to get the topstitching super straight and the lines parallel to one another, but I think I did okay! Any slight sways and deviations are now declared to be “rustic”. I like the ease of the zipper insertion method in the pattern, but after having made this skirt four times I now think that it often gives a bit of a bump at the bottom of the zipper rather than allowing it to lie flat and smooth. In wearing it just forms to the body though, and curves over my stomach curves.

Maria Denmark Olivia Oversize Tee with Grainline Moss Mini

White skirts definitely do show all the sitting wrinkles. The fit is actually rather good over my hips and bottom. I sewed approximately size 8-10 in this pattern. The waistband is quite firm on me, but because of my relative lack of hips that keeps it fitting well. You can’t see my perfectly matched lines of back yoke topstitching in the above photo because my top covers them, but rest assured, they are there!

Maria Denmark Olivia Oversize Tee with Grainline Moss Mini

This is a fun and easy to wear hot day outfit, and I’m actually rather glad that I was game to get my legs out after all. My husband does think that the whiteness of my legs blends in to the whiteness of the skirt, but I don’t really care. This is me, complete with moon tan. I reckon I’m doing okay for someone heading rapidly towards 47!

Another Aeolian

Whenever I look at a knit fabric, I wonder how it would look as an Aeolian tee.

Pattern Fantastique Aeolian tee in knit from Clear It

It doesn’t take long to find out! I have stopped counting them now. This one is in size Medium, as per usual. You’ve seen the fabric before – I used it recently for a Tonic tee. The fabric is a double sided knit from Clear It. This time I used the finer stripe for the body of the tee and the wider stripe for the sleeves and neckband. There was still stripe matching required, and I really had to be careful to cut everything straight and on the grain.

Pattern Fantastique Aeolian tee in knit from Clear It

I decided to add some more detail and highlight the raglan seams by twin needle stitching alongside them, as well as around the neckband.

Pattern Fantastique Aeolian tee in knit from Clear It

I used a new-to-me tape to secure the hemline before stitching. This is Wash Away Wonder Tape – I bought it from Stitch 56.

Wash away wonder tape

It is a tape that doesn’t require ironing to adhere. You just pull it off the roll and stick it in place, then peel off the paper backing to expose the other adhesive side. I then turned the hem to the depth that I wanted and pressed the adhesive in place to secure it. No pins needed, hooray! It can be repositioned, and still stabilised the hem so that it didn’t stretch out.

Wonder tape to secure facing

Because this is a deep hem a marker like a sticky note on the sewing machine bed is usually needed to keep it even and straight. As this fabric is striped I was simply able to follow the stripe.

Pattern Fantastique Aeolian tee in knit from Clear It

Yes, I’m addicted to Aeolians.

Cambie for Freya

One of the fun things about sewing for my cousin Freya is getting to sew up styles that I really wouldn’t wear myself.  You know, those styles that show off a tiny waist.  I don’t have a tiny waist – but Freya does.  Despite having jumped on the Tessuti Sophie bandwagon quickly, I was very slow to jump on the Sewaholic Cambie bandwagon.  This pattern came out a couple of years ago, and was number two on the Sewing Review Best Patterns of 2012 list.  This meant that there were what seemed like a million reviews and tutorials on the internet, so there were plenty of resources available for reference.  Not that I used any of them actually – I just followed the pattern instructions.

Sewaholic Cambie dress for Freya

Oh it’s a good thing for me that Ada is adjustable and I could dial her down to Freya’s measurements! I chose to make the A-line skirt version, mostly due to fabric restrictions. The bodice is lined, and I used the same fabric for lining, but decided not to line the skirt.

Sewaholic Cambie dress for Freya

Freya’s measurements exactly correspond with Sewaholic’s size 10. Yippee! So that’s what I sewed. The invisible zipper through the back shows ever so slightly at the waistband, where the fabric is thicker, but otherwise it is basically invisible as per the name. When it was on Freya it was quite invisible at the skirt – the photo above is deceptive.  I wasn’t able to pattern match the florals, but didn’t actually try to. (I watched the first episode of the 3rd series of the Great British Sewing Bee yesterday and now every tiny imperfection in my sewing is glaring at me each time I sit at the machine or touch anything I’ve made). The seams do line up nicely though!

Sewaholic Cambie dress for Freya

There are side seam pockets, which were straightforward to construct. I stabilised the angled pocket openings with stay tape before stitching. It’s always worth remembering to do that on seams that are cut on an angle to the grain.

Sewaholic Cambie dress for Freya

Unfortunately when Freya eventually tried her dress on it fit perfectly everywhere except vertically through the upper bodice. The perils of sewing for someone else without having them available for fitting! We have finally decided that she is proportionately shorter from the bust to the shoulder, which leads to bodice gaping in styles like this one.  As it turns out, lately she has been getting ready to wear clothes altered to shorten them in that area, and she’s going to get her alterations person to alter this dress too (I could have done it but Freya lives half an hour’s drive away from me and this way she’ll have her dress back much sooner). The sleeves/straps need to be shortened, which in this case means unpicking the bodice lining to access the straps, unpicking them from the top of the bodice then pulling them through an inch or so before restitching. That will eliminate the bodice gaping that is currently there. I will now remember to do this with future garments I make for Freya. We are similar heights, but interestingly for me I usually make the petite adjustment through the body between the bust and the waist, and rarely between the bust and shoulder.  Different proportions and alterations are needed for different bodies, even when their heights are similar and often even when their circumferential measurements seem similar!  We are three dimensional, and simple measurements don’t always reflect our similarities and differences accurately.

Sewaholic Cambie dress for Freya

I’ll add a modelled photo when one becomes available.  ETA – a photo just came through!  Hooray!  It looks fantastic on Freya!  Construction was shared between the sewing machine and the overlocker, and I used the machine to blind hem the skirt. This was quite straightforward to make, and does end with a pretty result. The cotton (a gift) was easy to sew, and I was pleased to move this pattern from the unsewn pattern drawer to the sewn pattern drawer! (Don’t you organise your patterns like that too?)

Sewaholic Cambie for Freya

Another Ruby

These last few blog posts have had a definite theme – they are all garments sewn from Tessuti patterns.  This one is a pattern repeat for me – the Ruby dress.

Tessuti Ruby dress in Chiang Mai cotton

Now I know that my pose in that photo is weird, but it shows off the shape of the dress beautifully. And hey, I found a new backdrop for you! However, I discovered that it was wet when I leaned on it. Ew. Just water from the building’s air conditioning, luckily. So, back to the dress. I sewed this in size Medium without alterations. The length is as per the pattern, simply overlocked then turned up an inch and blind hemmed on the sewing machine. For reference, I’m 158cm tall so you might want to take that into account if you are taller.

Tessuti Ruby dress in Chiang Mai cotton

Now can I rave about this fabric? I love it for quite a few reasons. The colour way is superb. Dark olive green with mustard flowers; just perfect for me! It’s quite loosely woven yet isn’t transparent, and is super soft. And the best bit? It’s a holiday souvenir, bought on my fantastic fabric shopping trip with Gaye in Chiang Mai last year. Wonderful memories!

Tessuti Ruby dress in Chiang Mai cotton

Side seams and shoulder seams were sewn on the overlocker. I applied the binding to the inside of the dress first, then turned it to the outside and topstitched it in place. The facing around the back slit was cut twice and then sewn right sides together around the edges before turning to the right side. This acted as self-interfacing and left me with lovely edges to the facing. Then once it was attached to the dress I top-stitched around the slit for extra strength. The button closure is a flat shank button from stash, and I used hat elastic to make the loop to secure it.

Tessuti Ruby dress in Chiang Mai cotton

So there you go! This dress does need a strapless, racer-back or cross-back bra underneath, so you might want to keep that in mind if you make it. The armholes are cut in, but not too far and I think it’s a great cut on me. I loved wearing this in yesterday’s heat. Just wish that I’d remembered to put my lipstick (and bracelets) on for the photos!