sewing

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….

another Hula Hoop skirt

One of the most often worn garments that I’ve made for my daughters have been their Hula Hoop skirts. I made two each for both of them back in 2012, so it was definitely time for me to get the pattern out again and reprint it to make a larger size for Clare.

Oliver + S Hula Hoop skirt (reversible, size 10)

The fabric was leftover from a Ruby dress I made a few months back.  It’s a very soft woven with a sheen to it.  One side is darker than the other.  One of the features of this skirt is that it is fully reversible, and no matter which side you have out, there is a little contrast from the other side showing in the folded back sections.

Oliver + S Hula Hoop skirt (reversible, size 10)

This skirt is very straightforward to sew.  There is elastic in the waistband, and all raw edges are fully enclosed.  It does take quite a bit of fabric both because of those large curved flouncy skirt pieces and because it is reversible.  I’ll be interested to see which side Clare prefers to wear as the “right side”.

Oliver + S Hula Hoop skirt (reversible, size 10)

I cut size 10 for Clare.  Because the waist is elasticised the sizing is fairly forgiving.  This pattern goes up to size 12, so I imagine that there will be a few years left of reprinting it ahead of me!  It is quite adaptable for different ages depending on the fabrics that you choose. It can also be layered with leggings or tights so is a year-round skirt option.

Oliver + S Hula Hoop skirt (reversible, size 10)

And did I mention that it twirls?

Oliver + S Hula Hoop skirt (reversible, size 10)

Seraphic raglan tee – now with added lace!

This is the second time that I’ve used the Figgy’s Seraphic tee pattern for Clare.  And after the success of this one, there are another two cut out!

Figgys Seraphic Raglan with lace front and back overlay

A few weeks ago Clare and I were in Myer checking out the autumn/winter fashions. Clare also needed a new dressing gown – normally I would sew one for her, but we/she decided that if we bought one instead (there was a lovely soft one on sale in a print she liked) then I would have more time to sew her more interesting clothing. There were loads of raglan sleeved tops there, many in mixed prints or textures. I had a lightbulb moment and remembered this remnant of vibrant fluro yellow/chartreuse stretch lace that I had in stash.

Figgys Seraphic Raglan with lace front and back overlay

Fortunately I also had a flecked stretch knit in stash that was pretty much a perfect match for the lace! I cut the size 8/9 out for Clare. Unfortunately that is the largest size that this pattern goes to. I cut the front and back pieces with the lace and knit as one. I also cut bands for the neck, sleeves, and hem. I think I cut them around 2 1/2 inches wide (could have been 3 inches).

Figgys Seraphic Raglan with lace front and back overlay

This was an incredibly straightforward garment to sew – raglans often are! Sew arms to body, sew sleeve/side seams, add the bands. All construction was on the overlocker, and I decided to skip topstitching the bands in place.

Figgys Seraphic Raglan with lace front and back overlay

Clare loves it and I can tell that it will be worn a lot as the weather cools down. There is enough room for her to layer something underneath, but it’s not too big that she can’t wear it as it is or easily layer something over it. Success!

Stella Sews

Last weekend Clare was busy out socialising, my husband was at the gym, and Stella and I were home.  Just the two of us.  She quickly seized the opportunity – “Mummy, can I sew something”?  And this time, I said yes! So often she asks when I am in the middle of things or am unable to supervise her properly – and for a seven year old, supervision is a good idea. I quickly located my copy of the Lucy La La skirt, and Stella rummaged through the cupboard to choose suitable fabric.

Stella sews: cutting out

I laid out the pieces, explaining grain line to Stella as I went, and pinned them in place. Stella did the cutting out. Then we decided to give the overlocker a try. After doing a number of practice overlocked seams she decided that she’d rather construct her skirt on the sewing machine. So after a little more practice, that’s exactly what she did.

Stella sews: removing pins

In the end I did the pinning and ironing, and Stella did all the sewing. (I did finish the edges on the overlocker for her too). She used straight stitches for the seams and finished the hem edge with a zig zag. The waist is a simple channel with elastic threaded through. She was extremely diligent at removing pins before she got to each one.

Lucy La La skirt sewn (mostly) by Stella
This was a great pattern to use for a first skirt – simple elastic waist, but a few seams to do and a bit of style with the slightly flared, flippy skirt. The fabric was also a good choice – it’s a twill with a slightly textured weave that made it very stable and straightforward to handle.

Lucy La La skirt sewn (mostly) by Stella

Stella is very proud of her skirt making and plans to take her skirt in to school for “sharing” time and to take it to Brownies as badge evidence.

Stella sews: the proud maker

I am very proud of her too! She showed real determination and patience, unpicking seams that went wonky without getting frustrated, and being prepared to practice techniques before embarking on the actual garment. I have a feeling that she might be more likely to take after me in the sewing department than her older sister. The most difficult thing about the process was for me to find the patience and self-restraint to just hold back and let her do things for herself, all the while knowing that I could have finished the skirt in about half an hour. It took closer to three hours for Stella to do it – but was absolutely worth it!

Lucy La La skirt sewn (mostly) by Stella

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

Vintage Style 2302 revisited

Clare put this dress on for church a couple of hot Sundays ago.  It has been languishing in her wardrobe since I made it for her birthday way back in 2012.  For some reason the photos that I used in the original blog post about the dress have vanished from Flickr, and are no longer anywhere to be found!  So here is the reprise.

Vintage Style 2302 in vintage floral fabric

When I made this it was way too big and dragged on the ground. That part was my error – I forgot to shorten the main part of the skirt before adding the ruffle. But now it’s a great cool longer dress! I’m going to steal other details from my previous blog post.  The pattern is vintage – Style 2302.  Looks like a 70s pattern to me.

Vintage Style 2302 in vintage floral fabric

The fabric is also vintage – from June’s stash. I suspect that it could be organza – it is very sheer and has a fairly open weave yet a relatively soft but crisp hand. If you can enlighten me further it would be welcome! It is quite narrow, around 90cm wide. I vaguely remember that width fabric from my childhood, so figure that this fabric is from the seventies or earlier. The bodice is self-lined, and I used some soft voile to make an underskirt. I really like the underbust gathers combined with a four-gore skirt, and the little frills along the edges of the shoulder straps.

Vintage Style 2302 in vintage floral fabric

I am so glad that it still fits her. It’s vintage size 8, but I’ve shortened the shoulder straps a little. The fabric is so pretty, and the style is really very classic.

Vintage Style 2302 in vintage floral fabric

I have managed to squeeze in a little sewing over the past week. Fingers crossed that I find time to take/crop/upload photos and get to blog posts on them soon.

Vintage Style 2302 in vintage floral fabric

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!