The sewing pattern site Lekala sounds too good to be true – choose from hundreds of patterns, input your specific measurements and body adjustments, and get a custom-made .pdf pattern for less than $4 in a few minutes.
I’m hardly one to throw a wrench into the gears of technological progress, so after a few sewists I respect were pleased with their experiences, I figured I’d try it out. I ordered “Jacket with Decorative Front #4653” – it’s a knock-off of an Armani jacket from a few seasons ago.:
Lekala uses software to adjust a standard-block pattern to your measurements. Besides the usual bust, waist and hip, you also can enter measurements for:
- Full hip (hip plus tummy protrudance)
- Upper arm
Also, you can ask the software to program in several common adjustments:
- Shoulder width
- Back width
- Bust points (width, height and distance between each bust point)
- Waist height (or, torso length, depending on how you look at it)
- Leg length
- Arm length and upper arm width
- Head and neck length
I programmed in narrow shoulders, long neck, wide back and long torso. I debated also using a low bust point, since I sometimes need to do this for Big 4 patterns, but I decided against it. Since the jacket has L-shaped darts in the front for shaping (not a princess seam) I figured I could manipulate that dart if necessary.
I had some qualms about these adjustments. Part of me wanted to get the standard block with just the usual bust, waist and hip measurements, so I could know how that block fits. Another part of me wanted to put Lekala through its paces. I decided to go for it.
You can preview the pattern instructions before you buy. I love this option! The directions are sparse and there are no diagrams, but they made sense, and at least I know what I am in for.
The pattern cost $2.99, and I added 50 cents to include seam allowances. (Yes, I will gladly pay 50 cents to avoid spending hours adding 1-cm seam allowances to everything!) I might not want this option for a pattern where I’d sew flat-fell or French seams, or if I was sweating the fit, but for this jacket that seemed like a great option.
About 10 minutes after I placed my order, the .pdf file arrived in my email. Oh no! The seam allowances were not included! I could have sworn I checked that box, but maybe I didn’t. Anyway, I emailed Lekala to ask if they could fix it, and the next morning they did, for no extra charge (although I was warned this was a one-time free fix and I should be extra sure to check the box next time). I thought this was phenomenal customer service.
The file made efficient use of the paper and it was a joy to tape together and cut, since there was only one size on the .pdf. It took me about 15 minutes to assemble and everything lined up nicely.
The .pdf had a couple of omissions, though. The front facing piece was not labeled and the three decorative swishy pieces on the bottom were marked in such tiny lettering I could not read them. I was able to suss out which piece was which based on the cutting layout.
I am disappointed that there are no special lining pieces. I will need to redraft the back and front jacket pieces, minus the facings, for a lining. Also, I will want a center-back pleat in the lining. I am not thrilled about this, but considering this cost $2.99, I am getting what I paid for. I mean, if I spent $18 for a Sewaholic or Vogue pattern, I’d be really miffed, but for so little, I am prepared to make do.
My plan, anyway, is to cut and sew the lining out of Bemberg rayon first as a muslin test-run for the jacket. This saves me the trouble and expense of a real muslin, which will go to waste, and if the lining needs adjustments, hey, it’s the lining so no one will see it. Maybe I am lazy, but that’s how I roll.
Assuming the muslin works and the jacket is a “go,” I am using this fabric. It’s an off-cut of gorgeous Armani wool suiting I bought from Mood fabrics in March. Mood was having a sale on odds and ends and the second the sale items posted, I was lucky enough to grab it. The lot is about 3 yards in all, but in two pieces, 2.75 yards and 1.3 yards. The whole thing cost only $37.50!
For the curvy hem pieces, I am planning to use some contrasting pique rayon suiting in black that I bought at B&J Fabrics in New York this summer. I am tempted to use silk dupioni, but I am worried that it will rumple whenI sit. I’ll see how it goes. I will give structure to the whole front with really nice interfacing I got at Steinlauf & Stoller, again in the Garment District.
If I have enough fabric left over, I plan to make a matching skirt out of Burda 6895, which I adapted to make a pencil skirt last year.
The skirt has princess seams, so I could do a two-tone look with the rest of the Armani suiting and the pique. Or, if there’s not enough of the Armani, I could do the whole thing in the pique. We’ll see.
Of course, if I am going to make a suit, I might as well make the blouse too…
Now I am getting way ahead of myself!