About susanstewartdesigns

I think I was born with fabric and thread woven into my DNA. Sewing has been my passion for as long as I can remember! www.susanstewartdesigns.com

The Price of Handmade

skull earrings

Most of you reading this make things, and know the time and skill involved in making something well. But I’m sure most of us are also guilty of looking at the price of a handmade item that is not in our field and being slightly aghast at the price tag, thinking, wow, that’s an awful lot for such a little thing!

skull earrings 2

Click here to find out more! https://www.facebook.com/commerce/products/1689057531113432/

Recently, I had the opportunity to stay with my daughter for a week. We had a lovely time together, and ended up having our own craft week (in addition to going ice-skating!) She is a jewelry artist, and one day I had the privilege of watching her in her studio. She needed to make some more of these cute little not-so-scary skull earrings to send to a gallery, and I saw for the first time all of the steps involved. Keep in mind that even this lengthy list doesn’t include ordering and stocking supplies, or the years of practice it took to develop the skills. So, here we go – all the steps involved in making these little earrings…

  • Use hydraulic press to cut multiple shapes from sterling silver sheet
  • Trim tab extensions with metal shears
  • File edges to remove burrs
  • Sand edges and surface
  • Stamp skull features – large eye circles, small eye circles, nose, teeth, and skull suture, with each mark placed individually
  • File nub off end of surgical steel earposts
  • Solder earposts to back of skulls with torch
  • Cool and check to see that posts are secure – in this case, one of the ten was a bit loose and needed to be re-done
  • Soak in pickle (which is an acid solution) to remove the flux needed for soldering and to remove oxidation caused by heating
  • Sand the earposts
  • Immerse in liver of sulfer (a stinky antiquing solution used to darken the silver and highlight the features,) rinse and clean with a brass brush; repeat one to four more times to get the desired color
  • Sand surface of earrings to remove some of the darkness on the surface from the previous step, but leave it in the indentations

Now the earrings are done! But, before they are ready to sell, there’s more…

  • Photograph and edit multiple views of each piece to document, and for displaying online
  • Mount on branded display card (business card)
  • Package in plastic bag, place in gift box, and decorate gift box
  • Upload to websites and write descriptions
  • Communicate with potential customers
  • After a sale, print shipping label and receipt
  • Box up and address box
  • Drive to post office and wait in line to ship

While the specific tasks may be different, similar steps apply in large part to most well-made, hand-crafted items. While not all things are precious just because they were made by hand, remember this process before you automatically pass by hand-crafted work as over-priced!

P.S.  I also got to watch her make this gorgeous copper autumn leaf pendant!

Copper leaf pendant

Click here to purchase beauties like this!





A Little Crazy! IQA Donation Quilt

Some of you may know that crazy quilts are not my favorite thing to make. In fact, they are way down near the bottom of my list of favorite things to make! I like symmetry, especially radial symmetry. And I like to make things from a picture in my head; I know what it’s going to look like before I make it. But with crazy quilts, things are a little random. You add one piece, then another, then another, and it’s impossible to predict exactly how it will end up.

Soooo… I decided to make a little lace crazy patch quilt for my donation to the Celebrity Quilt Auction at Houston Quilt Festival, which benefits the IQA. Why? I had been working on a crazy patch segment for a series of articles I was writing, and I had pulled out LOTS of lace and ribbons and pretty things. I had a stack of ivory and light blue, which I used for the article. But I had a stack of ivory and burgundy, too, that I really liked, so I thought I’d make two lace crazy patch squares simultaneously, with the idea that I’d finish the burgundy one into this donation quilt. Kinda crazy!

0 Bits and Pieces full

It is 23 inches square. I don’t have any process photos, just photos of the finished project. The way I made this was to assemble and stitch the lace crazy patch block on water-soluble stabilizer, soak the stabilizer away, stitch the lace block to the base fabric, embroider the motifs in the corners, layer and quilt it, bind it, and then add beads, buttons and a little hand embroidery.


Many of the pieces are vintage. This little Swiss embroidered motif has been in my stash for perhaps 20 years. I shaped 3/8 inch insertion around it, then stitched that to a small piece of batiste and cut away the batiste from behind the lace. The paisley fabric at the top right is a piece of necktie silk.


A gorgeous French jacquard ribbon, some vintage laces, pearl buttons, and little beads.


The edging I used looks like it has tiny spider webs near the outer edge, so my crazy patch has the traditional spider webs (although no spiders!) You can also see the hand feather stitch with doubled metallic embroidery thread (ugh!) that I did in several places after the quilting was finished.


This is a wide, light peachy-colored galloon lace, to which I added a very small ivory Swiss embroidered motif, and of course beads.


More gorgeous jacquard ribbon, more necktie fabric, more beads.


This was a small crocheted doily, which, except for the very edge, is secured only with beads. I also added a few small machine embroidered free-standing lace motifs in various places.


The embroidery designs in the corners are from John Deer Adorable Designs. I added little shank pearl buttons in different colors to the designs.


The base fabric is a red/tan shot Thai silk. I tried to get a photo that showed the dimension that gives the quilting. It’s hard to show in a photo!

I used tiny ivory cotton rickrack instead of piping. The binding is less than 1/4 inch wide, and is a burgundy cotton. Quilting threads are Superior Monopoly, Kimono silk, and Bottom Line. Batting is Hobbs wool over 80/20, and the backing is cotton.

So this is my (drove me) crazy quilt! 🙂 I named it “Bits and Pieces,” because that’s what it’s made from. If you happen to be at Quilt Festival, think about bidding on this baby!




My Raincoat Dress!

A few days ago, I posted on Facebook that I was taking a couple of days off from quilting and writing articles, and was going to sew up this pattern.

No automatic alt text available.

It’s from Lekala. You choose your pattern, enter your measurements, and are emailed a pdf for a personalized pattern. I’ve tried them before, with moderate success. But the style lines on this dress were so interesting, I had to try again. I really wanted to use those bust darts radiating from the left armhole!

I knew I wanted to use a solid-colored fabric so the darts and seams would show up. Several months ago I ordered this lavender fabric from Fabric.com, thinking that I might use it for this pattern. The only description of the fabric was that it was a poly/spandex woven.

I spent most of the first day tiling and taping my pattern, and making a muslin, and altering it to my taste. I was pleased that the muslin fit pretty well, straight off the pattern. Yes, it’s made for my measurments, but there are still little alterations needed, specifically for my slightly wonky right shoulder, which is a bit lower than my left, and for my right shoulder blade, which protrudes a bit more. I also had to take a little in at the upper chest. (Note: In my experience, Lekala patterns are made to fit much more snugly than I like, so I cheat by adding a little to the measurements I use. Also, the armholes are higher and tighter than I like. I haven’t quite figured out how to change my measurements to allow for that.) I also decided that I wanted the dress to be longer than the pattern, so I added 2.25 inches in length.

When I had received the fabric, I pre-washed it, thought it was just a little odd, and put it away. But I really wanted this color to go with the necklace my daughter made for me for Christmas! When I cut out my altered pattern, I thought again that this was unusual fabric. It’s a tight gabardine weave, crisp, with a little stretch, and a very cool, smooth feel. I tested it with the iron, and it handled medium heat well, with no iron marks, it pressed in good creases with steam, and seam allowances barely showed through. I thought it should be easy to sew, although I still wondered about the odd feel.

On the second day, I got to sew. This pattern is really very simple to put together, but DO NOT follow the (very minimal) directions included with the pattern! The directions for the armhole and neckline facings absolutely will not, cannot, physically work! If you know how to sew, you’re fine, but for someone not sure of how things are put together, this would be a disaster.

I’m pretty pleased with this dress! It’s not meant to be a special occasion dress, more of a let’s-go-to-our-favorite-Mexican-restaurant dress.

Lekala 4

Lekala 1

I considered making the flap into a real welt pocket with flap, then decided that I really wouldn’t use it, and to just save myself the time. So it’s just a decorative flap.

Lekala 6

Lekala 5

I’m not sure what I was doing here, but it shows the right side of the dress!

Lekala 7

I’m not entirely thrilled with the fit of the back, but it’s not bad. I added a couple of vertical darts to give it a bit more shape at the waist. But this dress isn’t special enough for me to want to spend any more time fine-tuning the fit.

Lekala 9

I absolutely love the fit through the chest and bust! And look at those diagonal darts! I edgestitched the darts to make them just a bit more visible, because, after all, they are why I made this dress.

And here’s the necklace for which I made this dress. Isn’t it awesome! My daughter is a jewelry artist, so I’m the happy recipient of many of her lovely pieces.


This pendant was made with polymer, acrylic, silver, tiny pieces of gold leaf, and a citrine! You can see her fine jewelry at AnniePennington.com, or contact her for ideas for custom work. She has also recently started a new line of fun, whimsical pieces with RadishFightJewelry, where you can find necklaces made from the same kind of colorful polymer mosaic as mine, although without the silver and semi-precious stone.

Now, back to my dress, and that unusual fabric. I discovered why it just seemed strange. When I stitched those darts in the back, I made the first ones too long and too far from the center. So I took the stitches out, and started to press out the creases. Steam alone didn’t do it, so I spritzed it with water.

Lekala 3

The water beaded up and didn’t soak in at all! (Sorry, the color is wrong, but this is the same fabric.) I didn’t notice it when I pre-washed it; I just threw it in the washing machine with other fabrics I was pre-treating. This fabric is almost completely water-repellant. It’s rainwear fabric!!! I have a raincoat dress!

I would like to ask online fabric sellers to please, please, write more accurate descriptions of their fabrics. Some sites are very good; EmmaOneSock and Gorgeous Fabrics are two that I’ve ordered from often. Others, like Fabric.com, are obviously not great. I would never have purchased this fabric if it had been described as rainwear fabric! It all turned out fine for this dress, although I wonder if the dress will be hot to wear. Will I make the pattern again? I don’t know; I like it, but I don’t wear dresses all that often. But if I do, you can be sure that I won’t make it as a raincoat dress!







Another Friendly Challenge

I haven’t written a blog post in ages, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy with lots of different projects! Let me get you caught up with this particular one.

My sweet friend Kimberly Einmo and I have been working on a Friendly Challenge, in which we both make “parts” of a quilt with the same Cherrywood fabric pack, then exchange “parts” and finish the quilt. It really is a challenge, because we have very different styles, and it stretches both of us. But it’s fun! We don’t have deadlines, and the “rules” are pretty simple – start out with the same pack of fat quarters from Cherrywood; choose two extra fabrics, and some accent fabrics, if desired; make our agreed-upon part; exchange parts, and finish the quilt to 54″ square.

You can read about our first exchange here. I think the resulting quilts are pretty fantastic!

Trop A full


Next, we decided to forego the 54″ size and make quilts for last year’s Cherrywood  Lion King challenge. You can read about those quilts here and here.

Kim challenge 2


Now we get to our most recent challenge. It was my turn to choose the fabric pack, and the purple-y blues in this pack called to me.

Image of Thistle

Unfortunately, I seem to have missed seeing the taupe-y tans and grays also in the pack. And the actual fabrics are more gray and less purple than this photo. Not my favorite colors! Not Kim’s favorite colors, either! Now this was a challenge! We had decided to each make a 24″ block for our exchange. I pulled some fabrics, and fortunately had this lovely print that worked beautifully with the hand-dyed fabric. I also added an ivory almost-solid, and a couple more Cherrywoods (in the end, I did not use the marigold-colored Cherrywood, replacing it with a rose-colored fabric.) I had a Zundt lily embroidery design that I knew would work well with the print fabric, so chose machine embroidery threads, as well.

Thistle supplies 600

I had never drafted nor sewn a mariner’s compass before, but had wanted to try my hand at one for a while. This was the perfect opportunity! So I got out my protractor and compass and freezer paper, and drew my first mariner’s compass! The points are paper-pieced. The center blue circle is machine-appliqued, as are the rose and blue bias strips near the outer edge. I was very pleased with how it turned out!

Thistle center 600

Next, I embroidered the lily in the center. Because the petals of the embroidery flow over the piecing, the embroidery must be done after the entire piece is put together. There is no room for error in placement or embroidery!

Thistle lily detail 600

If you read the post about our first challenge, you’ve seen a photo of the quilt up to this point, as well as Kimberly’s Lone Star center block. We were so happy to be able to make this exchange in person!


I took Kimberly’s Lone Star home, and she took my mariner’s compass. I had an idea fairly soon, and it involved making some partial Lone Star blocks. I left lots of open space in the quilt top for embroidery, of course!

Thistle top 600

The acid green swirls (stitched to hide some of those yucky gray-tans!) are from Lindee Goodall, and the rest of the swirl embroideries are from emblibrary. (Please don’t ask me the design names and numbers – I just don’t remember!)

Here is the quilt after quilting!

Thistle 600

Thistle detail 1 600

I had to add some Zundt machine-embroidered lace to the edge, of course.

Thistle detail 2 600

My quilt has been done for a while, but Kimberly (who is a VERY busy, and much-loved quilt teacher) was stuck on those grays. You can read about her challenges with this quilt on her blog.

A few days ago, she sent me a photo of her finished quilt top! Isn’t it fantastic?!

Kim's Thistle 600

I can’t wait to see it quilted!

The colors for our next set of quilts has been chosen, and I’ve been trying to find just the right color of light green… And the challenge goes on!

Blue Plate Special


Blue Plate Special is at her final show! Most major shows require that quilts entered into competition be no more than two years old, and BPS will be aged out in a couple of weeks. But it’s been a good ride! Let me tell you about this quilt…

BPS was really made almost entirely from leftovers! It all started with the narrow blue border stripe. This was left over from a quilt I cut out for my Mom to make a few years ago. I liked the colors, so I saved the strips. You can see the print here.


I had some Cherrywood hand-dyed fabric left over from years ago that just happened to be in the same range of blues and turquoise. The white sateen background fabric was left over from a big custom job I was considering, but fortunately declined. Some of the threads were left over (but of course I ended up having to order more! I always have to order more thread.) Even the free-standing lace border design was left over – it’s a Zundt design that I’ve used many times over the years.

The first competition in which I entered BPS was Houston in 2015. Master Award for Thread Artistry! Not a bad way to start!

025 (2)_2


(You can read about my Red Dress here and here!)

Then I entered it into the full line-up of AQS shows for 2016. Here it is at Paducah, with and Honorable Mention

BPS Paducah

and at Daytona Beach, with a category 1st place.

Blue Plate at Daytona Beach

Here is some of the bling she has won!

BPS ribbons

At AQS shows, she got a total of three firsts, one third, and two honorable mentions.

And now, at her final show at Machine Quilters’ Expo in Manchester, NH, there are another three ribbons to add to my bulletin board: 2nd in the Solo Artist Category, the winner of Embroidery At Its Best, and Best Machine Quilting – Sit Down (instead of a cash award, the prize for this is a Janome sewing machine!) That show is still going on, so I don’t yet have the ribbons to show you.

Update: Cricket Lomicka just sent me a photo! Thanks!


Except for that blue print fabric strip, all of the color is machine embroidery. The designs in the interior of the quilt are from the Contour Applique collection by OESD. The large swirls in the outer border are from the Yukata Art Set by Zundt, and the lace border is Lace Set 10, also by Zundt.

I used Hobbs 80/20 bleached, because I needed a white-white batting so as not to get a yellowish cast from my favorite wool batting. The back is white sateen, just like the front. All of the quilting is hand-guided free-motion, without a stitch regulator. Here are a few close-ups:





Blue Plate Special has had a busy couple of years. I hope she enjoys retirement!



The Making of a Miniature

In the summer of 2013, I decided to try making a miniature quilt. “Distraction II” was the result.


It is 16″ x 16″ and made from white silk/cotton Radiance fabric. The feathers are from 1/8″ to 3/8″ long. The parallel background lines were not done with a ruler, and ended up about 14 per inch. While I was making it I took a photo with a dime for reference!


You might recognize the embroidery design if you’ve been reading my blog for long. It’s a Zundt design that I’ve used on a number of things, including this dress. This little quilt ended up winning first place in the Miniature category at Houston in 2013!

I liked the miniature I entered in the contest so much that I decided to make another, using the center design and similar quilting, for my donation quilt for the Houston IQA auction. With yellow Texas roses, of course!

Days 1 – 5: Make a really cute little quilt, only to realize that the black and white dotted fabric I used for the backing shadows through  ( I had checked, and even used an underlining to prevent shadowing and to keep the cream-colored wool batt from making the white fabric look ivory instead of bright white. Didn’t work. Live and learn!

On to Day 6: Embroider a second piece of white silk/cotton Radiance fabric, soak to remove water-soluble stabilizer, press, and mark for quilting.


Day 7: Sammy helps with quilting. I have quilted-in-the-ditch of every bit of the embroidery with YLI monofilament, and am trying to quilt the flowers with bright yellow Superior Threads Kimono silk thread.

PS – Cats are no longer allowed in my sewing room. Not long after I made this, Stella, an older kitty, got a hand sewing needle lodged under her tongue and nearly died before the vet discovered the problem!


Day 8: Completed the quilting, all the rest of which was done with white Kimono silk thread. Soak to remove the blue marks, and lay out to dry overnight.

Day 9: I always like seeing a project with all the blue marks removed! Here is a ruler to show you the scale. I discovered that I really like making teeny, tiny feathers! The straight parallel lines are about 16 per inch.
I wanted to make tiny double piping to bring out the colors of the embroidery. I covered gimp cord to make the piping. Gimp is about 1mm in diameter! I stitched on the piping and binding, then soaked again to remove more blue marks and glue, then dried overnight.
Day 10: I added a hanging sleeve and label to the back.
Before I show you the finished quilt, here is the “dotty” one. You can see the black dots shadowing through.
Here it is! “Yellow Roses.” Just about the only thing I did differently for this quilt (besides using white cotton sateen backing – solid white!) was adding a row of yellow echo quilting around the flowers to bring out the color just a bit more. The size is just 12-3/4″ x 12-3/4″

Heirloom Dreams

I followed quilting for years before I actually tried it. I was a subscriber to Quilters Newsletter Magazine for decades, and enjoyed the artistry of Caryl Fallert and the detailed precision of Diane Gaudynski. In about 2000, I visited the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, KY for the first time, and was blown away! Wow! Yet for a number of years after that, I said that I couldn’t start quilting in earnest because I wouldn’t have time to do anything else. Oh, I had done several special quilts (see Our Whole Life, My Texas Star, and David’s 21st Birthday Quilt, plus a few others) so I wasn’t starting from scratch. Finally, though, the idea of making a quilt for competition grew irresistible to me. And Heirloom Dreams was born!


56” x 55” 2004

I had seen those quilts in the museum, and later, had attended the AQS show in Paducah, so I knew what kind of quality was required to be competitive. Because I had spent many years working for Martha Pullen Co., heirloom techniques were in my blood, and I also knew this was something different that had not been brought into the world of quilts in a big way. So I got out my batiste and lace and my thinking cap! 🙂

I wanted a quilt that would have the overall look of delicate lace. It is actually four layers – a backing, batting, and two top layers of fabric. The top is white Swiss batiste, embellished with shaped French Val lace, shaped lace/rickrack bridging, shaped puffing, shaped bias linen strips, pinstitching, entredeux stitching, and machine embroidery from an old Husqvarna Viking embroidery card. The outer edge is a shaped linen applique. This was layered over light blue Swiss batiste to create the quilt top.

Making a great top is only half (or even less!) of making a good quilt. The quilting is what brings it to life, what transforms it from a flat, two-dimensional piece of fabric into a sculpted, three-dimensional work. And quilting was the challenge (and still continues to be.) I free-motion quilted around every bit of embellishment with monofilament thread – the lace, the applique, the embroidery. This is still the first step of quilting for every quilt I make. I created trapunto floral designs in opposite corners around the center medallion that repeat the machine embroidery shapes. The 3/8″ crosshatch was done with the feed dogs up… lots of tie-offs, and lots of turning! Shell-stitched piping outlines the scalloped bound edges.





So, my quilt was finished and photographed. Instead of starting with a small, local show, what did I do? I entered it in the World of Beauty contest at the Houston International Quilt Festival 2004! I was delighted when it won first place in the Computer-Aided Machine Embroidery category, was juried into American Quilter’s Society judged show in 2005, and was featured in Jenny Haskins Creative Expressions magazine, Issue 7.

It’s hard to believe that this was over 16 years ago! I still like many of the same things. I often use soft colors, and lean toward analogous color schemes. I still love fine details, and I regularly use medallion settings. Almost every quilt I make includes lace, either the fine cotton kind, or machine-embroidered free-standing lace that I make. I like symmetry. Intricate edges are interesting. And, I’ve learned a lot about quilting since then. Here are some of the things I’ve learned…

  • Quilts have to be visually appealing from a distance as well as close up. With heirloom garments, almost everything is about the tiny details. But quilts need to pack a “wow” from across the room as well as from a foot away.
  • The difference between expensive Swiss batiste and much less expensive cotton batiste is significant in a Christening gown; it makes much less difference in a quilt. Now, I’m not saying you should not use quality fabrics, but in this particular comparison, Swiss batiste is not worth the cost.
  • Those tiny stitches we love in heirloom sewing – pinstitch and entredeux – just don’t show up in the finished quilt. The little “holes” get lost in the texture. If you’re going to add lace to a quilt, a zigzag is just fine, and takes far less time.
  • As important as I knew quilting was, it’s even more important than I thought! It doesn’t have to be done on a longarm. All of my quilts were quilted on sit-down machines. This one was done on a regular domestic. The only way to be good at it is to do a lot of it!

Go ahead and try your hand at something you’ve wanted to do for a long time. Who knows where it might take you!?

Updating an Heirloom Dress

I made this dress for a 2002 issue of Sew Beautiful magazine.


It was made of pale pink handkerchief linen, Swiss cotton organdy, and yards and yards of French lace.


The technique for the article was the organdy “windows,” embellished in this dress with machine embroidery in the palest of colors. (The embroidery designs were from Pfaff embroidery cards which I am almost sure are no longer available.)


I wanted to demonstrate this technique in Heirloom Sewing More Classic Techniques, my most recent Craftsy class. If you’d like to see in detail how I made these transparent reverse applique windows, and get 50% off my class, click on the class icon on the right side of my blog home page.

I like to have lots of samples, and this dress was still in my sample closet. The problem was that the dress was pretty dated by now. It was probably a girl’s size 12, with a dropped “V” waist, giant puffy sleeves, and a huge collar. Still pretty, but very out of date. So I saved the time-intensive parts and re-made it!


I cut off the skirt and underskirt and took apart the bodice. I used the bodice and sleeves for fabric to cut the sleeveless bodice from my “Baby’s Breath” pattern in a size 4. Extra bits of fabric were used to cover the piping at the waistline seam and for the neck binding, and I removed some of the lace from the original collar for the neckline. You can’t see it, but I used the folded back facings with buttons and buttonholes from the original for the back button opening. I even salvaged the original’s back button tab, stitching it into the back darts of the new version!


Because the original skirt was very wide, made from 56″ wide fabric, it was too bulky to gather into the new, smaller waistline. So I cut out a section of the skirt and underskirt, going right through two of the little diamond-shaped windows, then sewing a new seam and carefully matching the embroidery motifs. I placed this at the center back. This moved the original side seams away from the bodice side seams and into the back, but the skirt is still so full, no one will ever notice or care. I shortened the skirt and batiste underskirt, made a new placket in the skirt at the top of the center back seam, and lined the bodice with batiste. That batiste lining is the only thing not from the original!

Here are a few more photos of the new version.



Stay tuned, I’ll post later about some of my other heirloom re-makes!


Trying out Lekala Patterns

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!





A Top from Burdastyle Long Sleeve Flounce Dress 11/2016 #117

In my previous post, I wrote about the dress I made from the Burdastyle Long Sleeve Flounce Dress 11/2016 #117 pattern. I really like the dress, but I had to make numerous adjustments to get it to fit nicely. I thought that before I forgot all the changes I made, I’d use the pattern again!

This time, I decided to shorten it and make it as a top, because, really, how often do I wear dresses? And, I left off the flounce.


(Check out those shoes! They’re the ones I made on my Arrowmont vacation with Annie!)

I used a roll end of red matte hybrid crepe from EmmaOneSock that I bought a couple of years ago (see, it’s always good to have a stash to shop in!) The fabric has a bit of stretch, doesn’t wrinkle, sews beautifully, and is still available.


Because of that bit of stretch, I stabilized the neckline with narrow strips of lightweight fusible tricot interfacing, cut on the lengthwise non-stretch grain, as well as interfacing the facing. Fusible tape is available, but I didn’t have any. This works just as well.


I did all the same fitting changes as for my gray dress, which you can read about here.

Now, some more pictures.


(Do you see the bookcase quilt in the background? It was a 50th anniversary gift for my parents, and you can read about “Our Whole Life” in this post.)




This top is quite different than the gray dress. Simple changes – omitting the flounce, and shortening to blouse length – let me get double duty from the pattern and the time spent on fitting. I encourage you to look at patterns you’ve made and enjoyed, to see if there are new and fresh ways to use them again.