adult's clothing · Lekala · sewing · tween

Tangled

This is a way overdue post – I sewed this dress/costume for Clare some months ago, for a Girl Guides event.  The theme was Disney; Clare wanted to go as Rapunzel – specifically, the “version” from Tangled. For reference:

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with sewing costumes. They are often a great deal of work, and often a fair bit of expense in fabric cost. But once the girls are all dressed up in their costumes and grinning from ear to ear, it is SO satisfying! The costumes I’ve made in the past have all been worn until they’ve no longer fitted (and any that I make for Clare are then worn by Stella) so when I weigh it up they are actually a worthwhile garment to make. There may be some Cosplay sewing in my future, I suspect.

Rapunzel/Tangled costume McCalls 6420

So, on to costume details. We figured out the key elements of the costume, and looked for a pattern that contained most of them. McCalls 6420 included patterns for both Women and Girls, but nothing for tween/teen sizes. However, it did provided us with a basis to adapt.

Rapunzel/Tangled costume McCalls 6420

I took a look at the smallest Women’s pattern pieces, and knew that there was absolutely no way that the bodice was going to work on Clare. I could adapt the sleeve and skirt patterns without much hassle, but not that bodice. Over to Lekala I went! Rapunzel/Tangled costume Lekala 5017

Lekala 5017 provided the basis for the dress bodice and vest. We’d decided to sew the dress all in one with the skirt and sleeves attached to it, then the corset-style vest over it. I figured that I could use the same pattern pieces for both. I altered the neckline of the Lekala pattern pieces and redrew the hemline into a point to match the illustrations and the skirt piece on the pattern pieces, then cut into some quilting cotton to sew the vest.

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

Lekala is really wonderful for the non-standard shape. I could tell straight away that this was going to work without too much drama and alteration.

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

The front of the vest is quilting cotton, and the back is cotton drill. The vest is fully lined – I used the same quilting cotton as the central skirt panel. This costume was constructed in bits and pieces over a couple of weeks. The sleeves were fun to make. I used the McCalls pattern pieces as a base.

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

The purple stripes on the upper puffed sleeve are strips of ribbon sewn to the base fabric. The lower sleeve is pale pink stretch mesh. You can see how much I had to pin out of it to make it fitted to Clare’s arm.  I completed both sleeves, ready to be attached to the bodice, then laid them aside and moved on to the skirt.

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

I used poly satin from Spotlight for the skirt. There is a hell of a lot of fabric in that skirt, and consequently a hell of a lot of gathering! The centre front skirt panel is quilting cotton. The stretch lace trim used throughout came from Darn Cheap Fabrics.

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

The bodice fabric was also a poly satin from Spotlight, but was definitely much nicer quality (and was also more expensive) than the fabric used for the skirt. I used the same pattern pieces for the bodice as for the vest, except I placed the centre front line on the fold. It is self-lined, with a zip down the back. I have to say that sewing the zip into place in poly satin was NO fun at all. It is covered by the vest when she has the entire costume on, but I still wanted it to be fairly well inserted!

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

Then it was back to the vest!  Time to learn how to insert eyelets.  After a few experiments with the setting tool that came with the pack of eyelets (which involved a hammer and breadboard) I suddenly remembered that somewhere in my stash of handy sewing equipment I owned a setting tool that squeezed the parts together – it’s the one with the orange handles in the photo below.  The other very handy tool was the one that cut the holes for the eyelets – the one with the red handles.  I think that I bought it at Bunnings a while ago.

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

The eyelets set in much more nicely than I’d anticipated – the practice ones on scrap fabric were definitely worthwhile.  We found some purple ribbon to lace through them, and then the costume was almost complete!

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

That laces up quite nicely!  Clare had ordered cheap hair extensions from eBay, and attached them to the bottom of her plait to add extra length.  The flowers were a couple of bunches from a $2 shop that we cut up and stuck into her hair at intervals.

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

So, there you go!  I present to you all, Rapunzel!

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

She was VERY pleased with her finished costume, and I think she makes a highly convincing Rapunzel!  It looks as though this costume is going to get another outing again at Guides soon in a Halloween-related activity.  Stella’s pretty pleased with it in anticipation as well.  I’m now starting to wonder what might be a fun costume to sew next…

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

 

adult's clothing · Lekala · sewing

Lekala 4639 coat

This was the final garment I sewed at Sewjourn in May.  That was a highly successful Sewjourn – I sewed less items, but was very happy with nearly all of them!  It’s nice when it all works out that way.

Lekala 4639 coat in wool blend from Rathdowne Fabrics

Lekala 4639 is one of Lekala’s more recent offerings. I knew as soon as I saw it that I’d be making it! Their description of it is “coat”. Well, yes. They do suggest cashmere, gaberdine or tweed as the suggested fabrics.

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This is actually a fully lined coat, with the lining pattern pieces provided.  I can draft lining pieces if I have to, but the lazy in me much prefers it when somebody else has already done that work for me!  I used some slippery printed fabric that a friend whose husband works in the fashion industry had given me – I think that it was originally intended for scarves.

Lekala 4639 coat in wool blend from Rathdowne Fabrics

The main fabric was a remnant from Rathdowne Fabrics. It is a wool blend, and was very pleasant to work with. It sewed easily and pressed well. I did have to keep an eye out for fraying, but otherwise it was terrific. There are quite a lot of different colours in the weave, but overall it reads as fairly browny green.

Lekala 4639 coat in wool blend from Rathdowne Fabrics

Being a Lekala pattern, it was drafted to my measurements. And wow, that fit is just great! The lengths and the proportions are just right for me. I really do love that about Lekala! There is not a great deal of structure in this coat – just interfacing through the front panels and back neckline, as well as the in the sleeve facings. I didn’t even include shoulder pads, although it may have benefitted from a small one. You could definitely add them if required.

Lekala 4639 coat in wool blend from Rathdowne Fabrics

I chose to use large snaps as the fastenings instead of buttons. I also found that I needed to hand-sew the coat hem and the sleeve facings in place, or else they bagged down, even with the linings. The linings were of course a big larger than the coat to allow for movement, but this also allowed the narrowed hemline to fall down at first. A bit of hand sewing fixed that right up.

Lekala 4639 coat in wool blend from Rathdowne Fabrics

There are darts around the hemline that give this jacket its lovely cocoon shape. They aren’t hard to do – in fact, this wasn’t a difficult garment to assemble. Not all that many pieces, and they were all logically assembled. Lekela provide an order of construction rather than hand-holding instructions, but with a garment like this one (and plenty of years or sewing experience behind you, or a few good reference books) that really is all that you need. And a bit of common sense!

Lekala 4639 coat in wool blend from Rathdowne Fabrics

Once upon a time I would have laughed at coats with half or three quarter length sleeves, but nowadays I really like them! The shaping in this one is really nice, with the curve up to the underarm seam.  It doesn’t sit quite a perfectly as I’d like on the inside there – maybe I needed a bit more clipping and grading. The back neckline and shoulders fit nicely and there isn’t any obvious fabric pooling due to my short back waist, which is always a win – although with this coat style choice it shouldn’t have really been a problem anyway.

Lekala 4639 coat in wool blend from Rathdowne Fabrics

Overall, this coat is a BIG win for me and for Lekala. It’s a very current style, and it fits me so well! If you haven’t taken a look at Lekala or Bootstrap patterns yet (they use the same software) I really recommend that you do. They release new styles regularly, and with a bit of trial and error regarding style ease (there’s generally not much!) you end up with fit that you can rely on. And did I mention the price point? Very reasonable – especially if you buy a pattern bundle.

Lekala 4639 coat in wool blend from Rathdowne Fabrics

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.

adult's clothing · Lekala · sewing

Lekala 4590 tunic/dress

I’m about 10kg into the overweight category, and most of that is firmly deposited around my middle, especially on my front.  This is where Lekala patterns are a godsend.  Enter Lekala 4590.

Lekala 4590 tunic in textured knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

Lekala patterns are ordered to your measurements.  How fabulous is that!  It does take a little while to figure out their ease – generally their drawing of the garment on a person helps with that – and it also takes a little while to figure out what tweaks you need.

Lekala 4590 drawings

For me, entering the measurements on the “main” tab – my height, full bust, underbust, waist, hip and full hip – seems to work quite well.  The “full hip” adjustment puts more of the waist measurement at the front, which is where I need it. It doesn’t just distribute the circumferential measurement evenly between the front and the back pattern pieces, so I end up with the back waist measurement smaller than the front waist measurement. Perfect!

Lekala 4590 drawings

I’ve tried some of the other adjustments on this tab, such as narrow shoulders, before, but through trial and error have discovered that I don’t actually need those.

Lekala 4590 drawings

Lekala  patterns are very reasonably priced, so it’s well worth trying out a few of these adjustments to see which ones you do and don’t need.  They have a few free patterns as well, so it really is minimal risk to order, print and re-sew with each of those changes to see what works best with your shape.  Even if you only go with the basic measurements, as I do, with Lekala you end up with a pattern that requires much less alteration than most.

Lekala 4590 tunic in textured knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

The fabric is a substantial textured knit that was a gift from a lovely sewing friend but originally came from Darn Cheap Fabrics. It probably isn’t my best colours – a much cooler palette than usual – but I really like the fabric and it is very cosy to wear. The neckband is meant to be interfaced for structure – I decided to leave out the interfacing as the fabric is pretty beefy.

Lekala 4590 tunic in textured knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

Lekala 4590 tunic in textured knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

There are pockets in the angled side seams. I made them from the same fabric as the rest of the dress, but they would have been better in something more lightweight.

Lekala 4590 tunic in textured knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

Although Lekala patterns (and Bootstrap patterns) are drafted to your measurements, you still need to choose patterns that you feel most work with your shape. Their patterns will fit, but will they look and feel good on you? I still don’t choose patterns with a fitted waist; it’s just not my style. If you haven’t given Lekala (or Bootstrap Fashion, who use the same software) a go yet, I highly recommend them.

Lekala 4590 tunic in textured knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

Lekala · sewing

Lekala S4006

Every now and then Lekala put a Beta garment on their website.  Something that is still in testing, so is being offered free of charge.  Recently it was this pattern, Lekala S4006.

Lekala S4006 drawing

Hmmm. It’s a back view. And that’s all. These Beta patterns come with this disclaimer: Attention! This pattern is available as a BETA download. While every effort has been made to provide a good fit, and the pattern itself is based on the same algorithms as the ones you are used to, there might still be improvements desirable re markings on the patterns blocks, instructions and ease. You are welcome to download a free copy of the pattern and we would kindly expect the sewist to estimate the accuracy of the pattern pieces. Happy sewing!  

They also come without instructions.  I took a look at the pattern layout diagram to get a vague idea of what the front was likely to look like, and figured that I had nothing to lose – after all, the pattern was free!  So I entered my measurements, downloaded, taped, admired the pattern pieces, chose fabric, cut it out, sewed it up, and ended up with this dress.

Lekala S4006 in Japanese cotton

Oh, I am SO pleased with this dress! The front has a notched neckline, fully faced. There are bust darts for shaping. The front and back have curved hemlines, with the front a little shorter than the back, and both are finished with a facing. There is a back shoulder yoke and a small inverted pleat in the centre of the back dress piece where it attaches to the yoke. The sleeves fit into the armscye perfectly.

Lekala S4006 in Japanese cotton

Yes, there is still that fabric pooling at the centre of my back waist area. That is clearly an ongoing issue for me and one that I think might require a variety of approaches. Otherwise, that fit is WONDERFUL! There is plenty of room for my stomach – I made certain to measure that part accurately and use all the options so that the drafting software would do a FGA (full gut adjustment) for me. This is something that I am trying to remember to do to most patterns now – it’s basically the same as a FBA, just centrally at stomach level! Allows for my pot belly. If you were pregnant and sewing for yourself you’d make basically the same adjustment.

Lekala S4006 in Japanese cotton

The fabric is a beautiful Japanese cotton that my delightful sister-in-law Jeanette brought back from Japan for me. Fabric gifts are the best! I’ve recently convinced her of the pleasures of sewing your own clothes, and she’s starting to amass her own sewing stash. It’s great to share the joy! I decided to use pink fabric for the facings and for topstitching them in place (and hemming the sleeves). The topstitching was all done in a triple stitch with regular polyester thread.

Lekala S4006 in Japanese cotton

This was a very simple garment to sew. The lack of instructions wasn’t really a problem – it was pretty obvious. I shared construction between the overlocker and the sewing machine. Facings were under stitched before being topstitched into place to ensure that they didn’t roll toward the outer garment.

Lekala S4006 in Japanese cotton

I’m very pleased with the amount of ease in this garment too. Although Lekala (and Bootstrap) draft according to your measurements, working out how much ease that includes is often trial and error. This is pretty true to the illustration – which is actually usually the case with Lekala. They tend to draft to a more closely fitted silhouette, which I assume is an Eastern European preference, the the pattern illustrations do reflect this.

Lekala S4006 neckline detail

The more I play with Lekala and Bootstrap patterns, the more I like them. Yes, it’s a bit of trial and error, but that is the same with any pattern company. I reckon I’ve almost got it figured out now. Pay attention to the ease included in the illustrations. Choose pattern styles that you know you generally prefer on you – because although they can draft anything to fit, that doesn’t mean that a previously “unflattering” style will now magically look terrific on you! Measure yourself accurately. Take advantage of all the helpful videos and tutorials and FAQs on the website. Order the pattern in the pdf output size that suits you (there are a wide range of options). And just GO FOR IT!

adult's clothing · Lekala · sewing

Lekala 5264 skirt

Sewing this skirt has convinced me that Lekala truly are the answer to the straight woven skirt.  As far as my body is concerned, anyway.  This is Lekala 5264, also known as the “Two-Seam Skirt”.

Lekala 5264 two-seam skirt in vintage wool check

Okay, as part of an outfit photo you really can’t see why this is so great. So here are some more photos.

Lekala 5264 two-seam skirt in vintage wool check

Lekala 5264 two-seam skirt in vintage wool check

Lekala 5264 two-seam skirt in vintage wool check

Firstly, the fabric. This is a vintage wool that was a gift, and I had JUST enough to cut the front and back with checks matching. But as you can see, there wasn’t enough to make the waistband match as well, unfortunately. But since it will never be seen again outside of this blog post, it doesn’t matter all that much. It was lovely fabric to work with – ah wool, such a dream. And that lovely wool smell when you steam it!

Lekala 5264 two-seam skirt in vintage wool check

This is a super simple skirt, with a front piece that has darts for shaping, a back piece also with darts for shaping, and a waistband. There is a zip set into the side seam. That’s it. I chose to do a lapped zipper, and sewed it by machine. I also decided to line the skirt.

Lekala 5264 two-seam skirt in vintage wool check

The back darts were much deeper than the front ones, as appropriate for my shape. The waistband could have been a fraction longer, to give a bit more overlap to do it up at the side. I also added lace to the skirt hem before hand-sewing it to secure it. Mum always used to do that to her skirts, all of which had hand-sewn hems. I think of her whenever I catch a glimpse inside this skirt.

Lekala 5264 two-seam skirt in vintage wool check

This is a free Lekala pattern. Enter your measurements – and be accurate when taking them – and the pattern is emailed to you in whichever sized pdf format you specify. I love the pot gut feature – actually known as full hip or belly protuberance. It gives me that extra room that I need in the front of my skirts. Lekala, you win again.

Lekala 5264 two-seam skirt in vintage wool check

adult's clothing · Lekala · sewing

Lekala 4114 – jacket with bell sleeves

Okay, this jacket was sewn and photographed last June.  How did it miss being blogged?  It’s a good thing that it’s never too late.

Lekala 4114 in wool from Darn Cheap Fabrics

This is a great jacket. It’s Lekala 4114, described only as “Jacket with bell sleeves”. Andrea also has a blog post on it here.

Lekala 4114 jacket with bell sleeves 180_technical_drawing_894

Those fantastic sleeves were what drew me to the pattern. As it is a Lekala pattern, it is ordered to your measurements. The instructions were mostly adequate, but I did have to think quite a lot when I was doing the lining.

Lekala 4114 in wool from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I used wool from stash (originally from the Darn Cheap Fabrics $2 table – it’s pretty scratchy, so needed to be used for a lined garment, and I still have loads of it left). The lining was a polyester satin remnant, also from Darn Cheap Fabrics.

Lekala 4114 in wool from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I needed to refer to reference books to do the lining. The instructions simply had you use the same pieces as the front and back, but it also included front and back facings and I knew that I’d need to remove fabric from the lining pieces to match up with the facings. Is that as clear as mud? I cut out front and back pieces from the lining, with added length to allow for wearing ease. I then traced the facings onto the wrong side of the front and back lining pieces, then added twice the seam allowance and drew another line closer to the edge of the fabric. You really do need to refer to a good tailoring book to really know what I mean here, I suspect! These sections were then cut off, and the lining sewn to the facings. From memory I constructed the lining with slightly smaller seam allowances than the main jacket – wearing ease once again!

Lekala 4114 in wool from Darn Cheap Fabrics

The sleeve lining was treated in a similar way. I used the sleeve pattern pieces to cut out sleeves in lining, shortening them a little to accommodate the sleeve hem but allow for wearing ease in the lining so it would form a little fold when sewn to the sleeve hem. Oh boy, this is hard to explain. I then bagged out the lining, after reading instructions from a variety of reference books and tutorials. Sometimes it’s good to get information in a number of ways to see which one clicks best with you! I particularly referred to this and this and this tutorial to sew that inside corner when the hem, facing and lining come together.

Lekala 4114 in wool from Darn Cheap Fabrics

In this next photo you can just see the topstitching that I did either side of the sleeve seamline and above the front and back yoke seamlines. The sleeve hems were also topstitched down. The front and neck edges were under stitched to stop them rolling to the outside, then were topstitched in place and they are sitting crisply. The bottom hem is interfaced and sits well too.

Lekala 4114 in wool from Darn Cheap Fabrics

This is certainly a jacket that stands out! The colour is vibrant and the sleeves have added drama. Once again, the cropped sleeves actually work quite well in a Melbourne winter.

Lekala 4114 in wool from Darn Cheap Fabrics

Whenever I work with wool wovens I wonder why I don’t do it more often. They respond so beautifully to steam and can be shaped beautifully, and there is that lovely smell whenever they are pressed. Most wool wovens aren’t as scratchy as this one, but that easily be overcome in lined garments. Maybe I need to sew myself a skirt from some of the remaining fabric? Although maybe wearing a suit in this colour would be a bit too vibrant even for me…

Lekala 4114 in wool from Darn Cheap Fabrics