I’ve been meaning to try out a Lekala pattern for quite a while. The Lekala website allows you to enter your own body measurements and get a customised PDF pattern, designed to fit you. I generally make quite a few adjustments, particularly to tops and blouses, to get a good fit, so this seems like a fantastic idea to me.
I selected the classic blouse pattern (5446), which is a free pattern on the Lekala website.
I entered the three circumference measurements (bust, waist and hips) and also made some extra adjustments. I think these adjustments are critical for me to get a good fit. To explain, I have quite wide shoulders and I find that RTW shirts and blouses that fit in other dimensions, for example, arm length, body length will be far too tight across the shoulders. this is such a problem that I haven’t bought a fitted shirt or blouse since I was a teenage and first noted this problem. I did, of course, buy a few completely oversized shirts, but these just swamped me and were very unflattering. I don’t think that circumference measurements really sort my fit problems out totally. I can adjust for circumference and the fit can still be a little tight across the back, but sometimes too loose at the front. I’m guessing that this is probably because more ease is needed across the back than the front. I suppose when we pull our shoulders forwards, the distance across the back and shoulders can increase more, than when we pull our shoulders back, which is a smaller movement. I wouldn’t say I am a fit expert, do you think that makes sense? Anyway, back to the Lekala pattern, I therefore chose to increase the shoulder width and the back width measurements. I also decreased the breast width measurement. Hopefully, this will give the same bust circumference measurement, but with more ease available at the back.
After plugging in my measurements, the Lekala website supplied me with a rather unflattering “map” of my upper body. Hmm, do I really look like that?
I’ve very pleased with the fit across the back, no tightness here at all.
I used the PDF pattern produced, but I was unsure about the back darts, which didn’t seem to be very pronounced at all. In fact, I had to flare the pattern and add a 1cm width at the bottom of each dart, just so that I could sew the dart at all. I shall have to see if I can take this into account properly with the Lekala adjustments next time. Perhaps it was because I chose not to have seam allowances added to my pattern when I ordered it. It wasn’t too much of a problem though, because I could increase the back darts easily and this was just a minimal change at the cutting out stage. The sleeves and cuffs were exactly as per the standard pattern.
The instructions on Lekala patterns are fairly minimal, but as I have made blouses before I was able to follow them. I did make a couple of changes though. Firstly, the instructions mention a front dart, which was completely absent from my pattern and the line drawing. It was a bit mysterious. I decided not to add front darts in as I was quite happy with the fit as it was anyway.
I also wasn’t completely satisfied with the way that the cuffs were added to the sleeves. It seemed a very basic method – just folding over the seam allowance to the inside, instead of binding the edge or using a placket. I decided to bind my edges with bias-binding.
The final change I made concerned the number of buttons used. When I first tried on my shirt I noticed that there was a huge amount of gaping and I felt that the shirt was really wearable. There was about 10 cm between each of the buttons / buttonholes down the front. I hurried out on a Saturday morning to buy more buttons and placed an extra three between the original button placements. Just to show how it would have looked with only the five buttons, as per the pattern, I took this photo. I hope you’ll agree that the extra buttons are a must.
Overall, I have liked my Lekala experience. The shirt is a good basic design, and I would make it again with the adjustments that I made to the sleeves, the number of buttons and the back dart. I think though that the pattern is more a blouse than a shirt pattern and I’m not sure my choice of fabric was the most suited to the design. Perhaps a floral or plain cotton lawn would have been worked well. After the voluminous shirts I bought in the past, I can truly appreciate that here is one that actually fits. I have worn the shirt on a few occasions in the last week and it is definitely a winner. It’s not often I say that after such a short period of wearing time, but I really love the shirt’s relaxed fit and the fabric is so soft.