I’ve known about (and been intrigued by) Lekala patterns for several years. I finally got around to trying one out. For those of you who have never heard of Lekala, it is a Russian-based company that provides made-to-measure patterns for an extremely reasonable cost. Choose from well over 1000 designs, enter in your measurements, and within a few minutes you are emailed a personalized pdf pattern.
This is one of their free patterns, a basic shirt, the Classical Blouse – Sewing Pattern #5446.
I used a brownish-purple (aubergine?) very densely-woven cotton flannel, sort of like chamois cloth, that has been languishing in my stash for years. Here is the result:
Look at that! A button-front shirt that fits nicely with no pulling across the bust!
The shoulders fit beautifully, and the darts are the correct height.
The only fitting change I made to the pattern was to make a square-shoulder adjustment (which is pretty simple.) As a construction change, I made continuous-lap plackets at the back side of the wrists, and changed the positioning of the tucks in the sleeves. The instructions were to simply leave a slit at the wrist end of the underarm seam. In my opinion, this puts the cuff opening in a very awkward position.
However, there is no magically perfect fitting system. This goes a long way, and I’m planning to try many other Lekala patterns. In fact, I’ve made a couple more since I finished this shirt a few weeks ago. Here are some of the pros and cons as I see them right now.
- Lots and lots of designs, and very inexpensive
- The fit for me in the chest, bust, shoulders, and hips is very good straight from the pattern. This eliminates a lot of fitting changes, such as full-bust adjustment and lowering the bust point (sigh) in almost everything I make.
- You can get a pattern preview, in your custom measurements, emailed within minutes. The preview is on a 4″ x 4″ (10cm x 10cm) grid, so you can get a pretty good idea of flat pattern measurements from that and see approximately how much ease is included.
- The pattern drafting is excellent. The pieces fit together perfectly.
- The patterns can be purchased with or without seam allowances. The patterns for wovens have 1cm. seam allowances, which is very to use.
- The sleeves seem to be very narrow, and the armholes quite high and tight, in the three patterns I’ve tried. I’m trying to see if there’s an easy fix for that.
- The fit on some patterns, especially knits, is much closer to the body than I like. That may be an Eastern European thing. I really don’t like tight clothes on myself. I much prefer semi-fitted to close-fitting. So, I am trying increasing my measurements a little when ordering patterns to add more wearing ease.
- The patterns are pdf only. Yes, that means tiling and taping. But, you know, most of the patterns I’ve purchased recently have been pdfs anyway. I live too far from anywhere to be able to buy many paper patterns, and this is just so much faster than waiting for shipping.
- The pattern pieces have very few match points. This can be helped by “walking” the seamlines along each other and adding your own, if you know that you need them. Also, the sleeves have no markings to indicate front or back, so you have to know by the shape of the piece which is which.
- If you need to use instructions, these are atrocious! But if you are a confident sewer, then you’ll be fine. For example, this was a very basic shirt pattern, and I didn’t need any instructions. It’s been a long time since I made a shirt with a collar on a stand, but this went together beautifully, even with the heavy fabric I used. If you need help, there are many good instructions out there. Just don’t rely on the instructions that come with the pattern!
I’ll keep you informed about other Lekala patterns that I try. But for a trial run, I’m very pleased. I have a cozy, nicely-fitting shirt, that was made from fabric and buttons in my stash and a free pattern! You can’t ask for much more than that!