On New Years Day I visited Stone Mountain & Daughter fabrics and I ran into my friend Beth, of Sunny Gal Studio. Beth had recently been asked to try some Lekala patterns and had good success with the one or two she had tried.
If you aren't familiar with Lekala, they are a Russian pattern company. You look through their catalog, choose your pattern(s) and add them to your cart. When you check out, you enter your measurements, in centimeters. You also indicate the size of your printer paper and whether you want seam allowances included. Most patterns cost around $2 and you can save 10% if you register. Once your order your pattern(s), you receive an automated email. Then, a day or two later, you receive a PDF containing your pattern. The pattern is generated by Lekala's software, based on your measurements, so these patterns are considered "made to measure." (This is an important point that I will revisit.)
When you print your pattern, you make sure to select either "no scaling" or "100% scaling" depending on your platform and software. The pages print with a border of about 1 centimeter. Two of the edges have a dotted line and the other two edges have no lines. Cut off the border along the dotted lines, overlap with the corresponding edges with no dotted lines, and tape or glue. Cut out each pattern piece and off you go.
For my first pattern, I choose Lekala 5458, a pair of capri pants. I chose pants because of my recent weight loss. Some of my TNTs are now too big. Some of my pants are falling off. It's problematic, especially when I work out at the gym. This pattern is for a cute pair of pants with interesting seaming. I lengthened them to full length by adding 12", though I should have added another inch as I had only enough for a scant 3/8" hem.
Now, before I go further, I should say that when using a pattern generated by software (rather than created by a human pattern drafter), the pattern is only as good as the software. When the programmers create the software, they make certain assumptions. These assumptions are "programmed" into the code. It is very clear that the Lekala programmers never anticipated someone with my dimensions. Here is the front and back pants pattern.
Even though my waist is finally smaller than my hips, it's only by one inch. The software doesn't handle this well. For one thing, the software is determined to put a back dart in the pants. I do not have much of a booty, so I really don't need much, if any, back dart. But let's take a closer look at the back pattern piece.
Note the weird shape of the dart and how it dips down at the top of the dart. Then there is that weird "wing shaped" extension to the left of the dart. Look at the really strange line that results for the side seam. This does not provide a good fit, though it might technically meet the measurements that I entered. There is also a shaped waistband that didn't fit me at all. Nevertheless, I cut the pattern out as shown. I used inexpensive black ponte that I always use to test out pants patterns. (I am almost out of it!) I sewed it up. (And I should add that because I used ponte, I eliminated the zipper.)
The resulting shape was very weird at the top of the side seam, as you can see in the following pic.
On the body, it looked truly strange. It dipped down at center front and center back and shot up at the side seam. I had to cut off a huge chunk from each side seam.
Once I removed these chunks, the pants fit ok. The back darts still aren't quite right, and rather than use the contoured waistband, I substituted a rectangular yoke.
The final pants fit pretty well! (Sorry that it is hard to see in the pics, but they really do fit pretty well.)
If you have a more conventional shape, I think these patterns will work well. If you do not, you could end up with a very strangely shaped pattern. I think in future it would work better if I entered a more conventional waist measurement and did my own waist alteration. Though it would be nice if they improved their software to detect these unusual shapes and compensated accordingly. If I make these pants again, I will remove the weird fit at the waistline as well as the back darts.
I was a bit derailed yesterday. I was toodling along on DD1's wool jacket. I was very happy with how it was going and I was enjoying the process. Before she returned to university in January, I cut out a muslin, pinned it together, and fitted it on her. (I didn't have time to sew it together.) I did some altering while she was here. I was looking forward to mailing her the jacket in the next week or two.
DD2 visited yesterday. She and DD1 are very similar in size, so I had her try it on. It was too big. Really too big. She said, "Mom, she won't wear it." And I knew she was right. I have no idea if it can be salvaged, and I don't want to attempt it until she can try it on in person. During my insomnia at 3am, I bagged it up and put it away. I won't see DD1 until spring break.
But before I put it away completely, I cut a piece from the leftover yardage and made a neck warmer. This is not my original design. I had purchased a beautiful neck warmer from a seller on Etsy and I made a similar piece. Because of that, I can't share her pattern, but I can highly recommend the neck warmers in her Etsy store, FashionCogs. She is a very clever designer and recycles her materials so no two are exactly alike. I plan to send DD1 a neck warmer, since I can't send her a mom-made jacket.
If you look at my neck warmer, you will see a very cool pin. This is a medal given to me by Luz Clara when she visited last year. She purchased it in a Paris flea market and it says "Al Merito." And, no, DD1 won't get my medal - I may have to make my own neck warmer in these colors since it coordinates so beautifully. :)
But before I retire the jacket completely, I want to share a few pictures.
What will I work on next? Who the heck knows!!!