Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Lekala 4345 - An instant TNT

I've found a new favourite dress pattern! I've been eyeing off the Lekala website for ages now wondering whether to take the leap with their patterns or not. If you haven't come across them yet you might want to get your credit card at the ready before clicking through. They have thousands and thousands of patterns to trawl through. Their point of difference is their sizing though. Instead of downloading a multi size pattern or even a single size pattern this site has you plug in your exact measurements. It then works some pattern making magic and emails you through your unique copy of the pattern based on those measurements. It's pdf only which I don't mind and every pattern on their site is around $3. I've had great success with their patterns fitting straight out of the "envelope" so I can highly recommend them so far.

The only thing I will warn you about is if you're pear shaped and /or have a flat belly. They make you enter a full hip measurement that needs to be higher than your hip measurement (which mine isn't because of my flat belly). Mine was basically the same but since I had to enter a higher number I made my full hip 2 cm bigger than my hip measurement. I ended up having to take this 2cm out of the dress when making it the first time. Not a huge deal as I'm pretty sure this would be a massive drawcard to anyone with a bit of a belly but something to think about when plugging in your measurements.

So let's talk about the dress! It's Lekala 4345 and as you can see from the line drawing below it has quite a lot of pattern pieces.

I was drawn to this pattern firstly because the shape of it is something I love to wear. Secondly it has princess seams across the bust which makes for a great fit for a small busted lady like myself. Although I'm sure they're good for a bigger bust too? I also loved that although it has a full skirt the fullness doesn't start at the actual waist. That middle panel across the waistline makes sure everything lies flat against your belly and only introduces all of the fullness gradually across that arc. I find this super flattering and it's the reason I found myself making 3 of these in quick succession.

The first version I made was back when the weather was a bit warmer. I used this bright and heavy cotton pique fabric which gave the skirt a bit more fullness. I initially made it with the little cap sleeves but they were an epic fail. They sewed on fine but they looked absolutely awful on and were so tight they would likely cut off blood circulation. I haven't had any problems with my shoulder width before (or maybe I haven't noticed) but my shoulders were most definitely way too wide for this pattern. Luckily the dress looks great sleeveless so I was able to sew bias binding around the arm holes and move on with my life. Also I have to mention just how great the armscye is on this pattern. The way it fits the body and the shape of it is really comfy and pleasing. I never thought I'd say that about an armscye but I bloody love this one.

I sewed a lapped zipper because that's my preference. I love how the back has the same shaped pieces as the front so it continues the fit round the middle and the same fullness in the skirt. I find this dress so fun and swishy to wear.

As soon as I started to wear this dress I imagined making a long sleeved version in ponte. As the weather cooled down I made a plan to sew up a bunch of warm winter dresses and this pattern didn't disappoint. I had to modify it a little bit to make it all work out but it wasn't very hard. Since I was going to omit the zipper I laid out my pattern pieces and figured out what needed to be cut on the fold instead. I laid the front side pieces over the Burdastyle Lydia (read Renfrew if you have that pattern?) which I use as my knit block. I redrew the front side pattern piece using the armscye from my knit block. I did the same on the back side pattern piece and then used my regular long sleeve from my knit block and everything went swimmingly around the armhole/arms. The only thing I hadn't figured out in advance was what seam allowance to sew it at seeing as I was allowing for some negative stretch. I knew since I was using ponte it would be more stable and less stretchy than a regular knit so I sewed the front top pieces and back top pieces with a 1.5 cm seam allowance rather than a 1cm seam allowance. This pretty much sorted out the fit. I did have to nip in the sides from the bust down to the hip on the side seams but this was super easy because I pinned, sewed and voila it fit. The only thing that didn't work so well was the neckline. Because I changed the seam allowance I made the neckline much wider than intended. This literally only just covers my bra straps. I couldn't turn it under to finish the edges so I left it raw. And when I say I left it raw I mean I left the hem and the sleeves raw too. Because solidarity.

I have to say that this version is my absolute favourite of the three versions I've made. I love the others too and they all get a LOT of wear especially since I discovered fleece lined tights (life changing!) but this one is the most me of the lot. The drape of this ponte is gorgeous and the whole thing feels so feminine while also being oh so very warm. Why have I not made millions of winter dresses before?? The thing that keeps me coming back to this pattern can be seen really well from this angle below. 

I made a black knit winter dress last year and love it to death. Seriously it's embarrassing the sheer amount of times I've worn that dress now. However it just hugs you around the bodice and that's about it. Whereas have a look at this beauty below. Those princess seams and that lovely arc of a seam is giving my bust, ribcage and waist great definition. It's more figure hugging and flattering than any knit dress I've made before. I really feel like it's winter knit dress mach two. It's taken flattering knit dress to another level. 

Oh listen to me go on!

So of course I couldn't stop there when I was onto such a winner. Third time around I made this floral number from some scuba fabric. Scuba. Did not think I would ever write that. What you see here is a floral wetsuit. Even though most people know I sew my own clothes this dress seems to impress them more than anything I've made. Maybe the fabric looks a lot more RTW than the stuff I usually choose?

The only change I made to this version was to add a 1.5cm sliver at the neckline of the front and back pieces to make sure the neckline wasn't so wide as the other one. Apart from that it's the exact same. I also didn't hem this one. Because solidarity.

As I've mentioned I really love this pattern and I know I'm not done with it yet. I plan to make another summer dress from it later in the year and then maybe I'll decide if 4 versions of the same pattern might just be enough to keep me happy forever.

Never say never though.


  1. If you like a pattern, four versions are not enough! :) I think also I like the version #2 of the dress: looks like a perfect autumn dress! I have bought a few Lekala patterns as well and can't wait to give them a try!

  2. Annoying about the cap sleeves, maybe you could try slashing and spreading the piece if you wanted to try on another version? Anyway that one does look great sleeveless. You really picked a great pattern out (I have a few earmarked!) and I love all the fabrics you used too ;o)

  3. Hah, good point! I'm interested to see which Lekala patterns you make, there are some gems on that site.

  4. Yeah it is but I've let them go now and I'm pretty sure I'd make it sleeveless again in the summer. I'd love to see which patterns you choose from Lekala, there are just soooo many!

  5. These are brilliant! I love the long sleeve jersey versions. Isn't it great to have a TNT pattern? Lynne

  6. Yeah I just love a long sleeved dress, they're so incredibly warm for winter! TNT's are the bomb!

  7. Wow I love the shaping seams on this dress! I'm off to buy it right after this ;) I wonder if Lekala know about that hip measurement problem, they might be able to fix it, have you left them feedback?

  8. ooh that is a dangerous website!! i will have to remind myself of my massive pattern collection before i click buy! i love the scuba version too! something about the floral or the body - its just looks so good!