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

children's clothing · kids clothing · Lekala · sewing · tween

Lekala 7080

This one was an impulse sew.  After the success of the Lekala dress, I had another trawl through the Lekala website and happened upon a pattern for a skort, Lekala 7080.

Lekala 7080 skort in pinwale corduroy from stash

I figured that it wouldn’t take long to tape together such a simple pattern, and it didn’t.  The pattern appeared in my email in-box within minutes or ordering.  Because it’s a girls’ pattern I only needed to enter height, waist and hip measurements.

Lekala 7080 skort in pinwale corduroy from stash

You all know what a skort is, don’t you?  Wordpress obviously doesn’t, because it keeps on trying to autocorrect the word to skirt.  It is a pair of shorts that has an overlay on the front so that from the back you see shorts, but from the front you see a short skirt.  Therefore, skort.

Lekala 7080 skort in pinwale corduroy from stash

The fabric is a printed pinwale corduroy from stash.  I have a feeling that it was given to me by someone having a clean out of an older friend or relative’s cupboards.  I love the muted sage greens and greys on black, but Clare hasn’t found it terribly easy to coordinate with her tops.  Oh well, I’ll just have to sew some more!

Lekala 7080 skort in pinwale corduroy from stash

Construction wise things were fairly straightforward.  I actually followed the instructions, which were quite logical and assisted in a highly satisfactory finished garment.  There are four pattern pieces.  Shorts front and back, front overlay, and waistband.  The waistband is interfaced and has elastic in the back only.  The line drawing suggests that there are darts in the back of the shorts, but there were no sign of these in the pattern thatI received for Clare’s measurements.

Lekala 7080 skort in pinwale corduroy from stash

The front overlay is supposed to be secured with a square of velcro, but I didn’t see the point and just stitched it down to the waistband.  All the stretch for getting the skort on and off is in the back waistband, not the front.  Overall this was quite a satisfying garment to sew, and it has turned out to be a highly wearable muslin.  Clare intends to choose another fabric from my stash for a second pair.

Lekala 7080 skort in pinwale corduroy from stash

children's clothing · kids clothing · Lekala · sewing · tween

Lekala 7058

I don’t think that I have EVER written as many blog posts in one day as I have today.  I’m not sure whether to apologise for the deluge or to just celebrate it!  The backlog of blog posts is still considerable but at least I feel as though I am making some inroads.

So, on to Lekala 7058!  This is a girls pattern, so the measurements required were just height, chest, waist and hip.  Nothing else fancy and no adjustments.

Lekala 7058 in textured Japanese cotton from The Cloth Shop

As far as I am concerned – and fortunately, Clare agrees – this dress is an unqualified success. It is a garment that appeared super quickly. One day I was at The Cloth Shop buying this printed Japanese cotton (which has a bit of texture to it, as many of the Japanese cottons do), then before I knew it I was downloading the pattern and sewing it up! I think that it was finished the next day.

Lekala 7058 in textured Japanese cotton from The Cloth Shop

This is such a simple dress, so is ideal for such a beautiful fabric. I pretty much ignored the instructions, and used my common sense for construction. The bodice is self-lined, so I used the “burrito method” to line it. That works beautifully in a sleeveless garment. The centre back seams were sewn, with a centre back slit at the top and an elastic loop on one side, and the shoulder seams of both the dress and the self lining/facing. The dress and facing are sewn together firstly around the neckline, with the facing under stitched so that it won’t roll to the outside. I actually remembered to try it on Clare before under stitching, and we decided that the neckline was too high as it was so scooped it out another inch or so at centre front. The next step is to “burrito” one armhole, then the other. After that the side seams of both the main dress and the lining/facing can be sewn. Got that?

Lekala 7058 in textured Japanese cotton from The Cloth Shop

The centre front pleat is actually the first part of the garment construction. I made sure to secure it with a V shaped row of stitching at the top. It was all pretty straightforward from there on. The hem was sewn by machine with a blind hem stitch that sunk into the fabric quite nicely.

Lekala 7058 in textured Japanese cotton from The Cloth Shop

The back has a vintage button from stash as a closure in combination with an elastic loop (stolen from the girls’ hair tie collection). As is often the case, the dress slips on over Clare’s head without needing to be undone. I suspect that we are a small-headed family!

Lekala 7058 in textured Japanese cotton from The Cloth Shop

I have a feeling that this is one of my favourite garments for the summer. Pretty, yet a little sophisticated. Young, yet not childish. And the colour is one of her favourites. I think that it is perfect.

Lekala 7058 in textured Japanese cotton from The Cloth Shop

Lekala · sewing · tween

What Clare wore to the wedding – Lekala 4416

By now you probably figured that I sewed a new dress for Clare to wear to the wedding as well.  She is just tall enough now to fit into Lekala women’s sizing – so we gave a Lekala women’s pattern a whirl!  Clare chose Lekala 4416, described by Lekala as “dress with Asymmetrical front”.

First Lekala for Clare

I forgot to order the pattern with seam allowances included, so had to remember to add them when I cut out the pattern.  There was one interesting quirk to the pattern pieces that were provided – the back facing piece was completely twisted!

First Lekala for Clare

Lekala patterns are custom drafted depending on the measurements that you enter, and I figure that it plots out key points according to the measurements then joins them up. The back facing piece certainly didn’t join the appropriate key points! It wasn’t hard to fix though – a little cutting and drawing and soon I had this instead.

First Lekala for Clare

I think it’s always good to remember that sometimes there ARE errors in pattern pieces (and instructions) that are provided to you, no matter what company they are from! It’s worth trusting your gut instinct in these cases, and either fixing it yourself or contacting the relevant company. Most are very happy to help you solve your issues – after all, this is their business! Anyway, on to the finished dress.

Lekala 4416 in quilting cottons

The fabric is quilting cotton, I think from a Joel Dewberry range. The front flounce and the sleeves are lined in a coordinating fabric from the same range. I am trying desperately to remember if I fully lined the bodice or just used the facing – I have a feeling that I fully lined it with the coordinating quilting cotton (I’m not at home writing this so don’t have access to the dress to check).

Lekala 4416 in quilting cottons

The back closes with an invisible zip. I’m extremely happy with the fit of the back.

Lekala 4416 in quilting cottons

The front neckline is gapey, which is my only disappointment with this dress. Although we were able to customise the pattern with Clare’s waist and chest measurements, I suspect that their drafting software for Women’s patterns still assumes broader shoulders and upper chest than Clare’s, in addition to a longer chest to neck measurement. When I check the pattern illustration the neckline is fairly wide at the front, so I suspect that it is meant to sit a little further out across the shoulders, and actually it did sit flat if I moved the shoulders and sleeves out a little bit.  Clare didn’t find it problematic at all though, so we decided not to worry about it.  I will wait until Clare’s shape has changed more before I delve back into Lekala’s women’s patterns for her, despite her being tall enough.

Lekala 4416 in quilting cottons

And yes, the skirt was twirly!

Lekala 4416 in quilting cottons

Clare enjoyed accessorising as well. Pearly nails, matching pearl earrings and necklace, and a brooch that belonged to my grandmother Ada (yes, the one my dress form is named after) holding the front overlay in place.

Lekala 4416 in quilting cottons

She was very happy with her dress. The colours are lovely, and Lekala provided a pretty good fit. I think that she felt appropriately tween rather than little girl! And to finish, a few more photos from the wedding.

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adult's clothing · Lekala · sewing

What I wore to the wedding – Lekala 4141

Last year (it always sounds like a long time ago when I write that, even though it was only a matter of weeks) we went to my nephew’s wedding in Kingscliff.  The dress code was “formal”, so I decided that it was a perfect opportunity to make something for myself that was a little out of the ordinary.  Lekala 4141 presented itself to me as a worthy candidate.

Lekala 4141 This dress appeared to be fairly simple. There was a limited number of pattern pieces – only five, I think – and it was to be sewn in a knit. But of course it was Lekala, so the instructions did take patience. I was using a large scale printed poly slinky knit from the Darn Cheap Fabrics $2 table, and spent a quite a bit of time figuring out where best to place the pattern pieces on the fabric for the most aesthetically pleasing look.

Lekala 4141

The skirt was easy enough to construct, as it was just a tube. Similarly, the bodice front and back were easy to construct – a strapless top with elastic through the top of the bodice. But the overlay took much more time to figure out. The construction is rather ingenious!  It is self-lined and required quite a bit of pinning, marking, seaming, unpicking, rechecking, pinning again, seaming, unpicking again, re-reading of the instructions, draping on Ada, etc etc etc. Eventually though I worked it all out!

Lekala 4141 in knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

This was a surprisingly comfortable dress to wear. Other than it needing a strapless bra, there were no closures, it was held up by elastic and the overlay, and the slightly dropped waist was defined with an elastic casing as well.

Lekala 4141 in knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

The next photo shows you the construction details a little more. It’s really a strapless dress with an attached self-lined overlay. The armhole drape is very low – right down to the waistline – and the shoulder drape is much shorter.

Lekala 4141 in knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I don’t have anything else like this in my wardrobe! I accessorised with flat sandals, as the actual ceremony was beach side and I had injured my ankle not long before and didn’t want to risk hurting it again. I had crystal earrings and matching pendant that had been gifts from my husband for our 15th wedding anniversary, and had zebra-printed pearlised nail wraps on my toe and finger nails for a little bit more fun. I suspect that I have become the crazy middle-aged aunt who wears slightly outrageous things…

Lekala 4141 in knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I think that Lekala is a brilliant source of patterns for special occasion wear. This was customised to my measurements, and the lengths and widths were all perfect.

Lekala 4141 in knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I have no idea when I will wear this dress again, but considering that it only cost me around $10 to make (not including my time of course!) that doesn’t particularly bother me. I’m looking forward to making more formal dresses as the girls get older – I think that Lekala will definitely come into its own then.

Lekala 4141 in knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics