April 15, 2016

Finished project: Lekala 4457, aka "Curves, Points, and Things Not Made of Lace"

Welcome back! Remember when I said I'd be making more Lekala patterns (Lekala 4456, aka "Russian Mechanic's Top")? It happened. This time around, I took a stab at  Lekala 4457, "Blouse with lace inset". Wanna see?

Lekala 4457's shining feature is a wrap-around curved yoke that tapers to points at the center front, and extends outwards into kimono-style cap sleeves. The yoke is all one piece: no shoulder seams. There's also a stand collar and long vertical shaping darts in front and back. The very name -- "Blouse with lace inset" -- suggests one way to interpret this pattern. Another way would be to make each section out of a different fabric: collar + shoulders, yoke + sleeves, bottom, and plackets. Mix and match! Be modern, be daring. This pattern wants you to.
Lekala 4457: the technical drawing suggests using lace in the yoke, but who am I to follow instructions?
As you have seen, I opted to eschew lace. Instead, a drapey white challis provides the background for a delicate white-on-black print crepe yoke. Large black buttons stand out from the white placket, and I'm toying with the idea of doubling the number of buttons, placing more between the existing ones.

Another experiment in fitting Lekala patterns

Just like last time, I chose not to perform any fitting alterations to the paper pattern (FBA, for example). Why? Because, with Lekala designs, you simply input your measurements and out pops a custom pattern for your unique shape. So far, it's been working well.

The blouse is quite loose, with a lot of ease at the sides. I prefer a slightly closer-fitting silhouette, so I took in about an inch at each side, and it's still pretty loose. Honestly, I think this garment is just supposed to be blousy, like something you'd wear tucked into a pencil skirt or skinny jeans. But my particular pear or hourglass shape doesn't do well with neck-to-waist blousiness, so I was compelled to do some nipping-in.
Lekala 4457: front view, exterior
You see those drag lines on the front? Yeah, they don't exist. Not when I'm wearing it. My dressform isn't quite the same shape as my body.

Lekala 4457: back view, exterior
Otherwise, the fit is spot on. There is no pulling at the bustline or tummy, as there would be for a non-custom pattern. Once again, Lekala, ya done good!

Fabric requirements

Because the Lekala software spits out custom patterns for each user, there's no set amount of fabric for a particular size -- there are no "sizes"! Only unique special snowflakes.

For my measurements (37" full bust, 30" waist, 39" hips), the fabric requirements were:
  • 1.125 yards (60" wide) of main fabric
  • .67 yards (60" wide) for the contrast yoke. 
And, if you happen to be making it out of all one fabric (no contrast), it would require about 1.375 yards (60" wide) total. But why would you do that, when the colorblocking possibilities are endless?

Anyway, if you happen to be close to my measurements, I hope this helps. Otherwise, I'm afraid you're on your own.

There's a lining, though

The white rayon challis turned out to be a bit more sheer than anticipated. I had been planning to line the semi-sheer crepe of the yoke only, because I don't want bra straps showing in the office. The semi-sheer nature of the challis, when held against my skin, was an unpleasant surprise. No matter. That's why we buy more fabric than we need. Soldier on!

Lekala 4457: this is the inside back view, with a fully lined yoke and bottom portion. Also, a label that says "2016" -- the year made -- using an alphabet embroidery stitch on my Babylock Quilter's Choice, on a grosgrain ribbon.
So: I needed a lined yoke and lower bodice. Could I have just doubled up the yoke and bottom fabrics, effectively creating an underlining? Sure. But instead, I tried out a new technique for shirts with a lined yoke. To be truthful, I was in a frenzied state of intense construction-focus while doing it, so there are no pictures. But the technique is similar to the lined yoke technique described by Collette for the Aster blouse: Sewing the yoke.

Basically, you sew the yokes to the bottom pieces. Then you roll everything up like a taquito, and sew the remaining seams. When you turn everything right side out, you magically end up with a fully lined yoke. Cool, eh?

Hemming the kimono cap sleeves

The original instructions tell you to fold up the sleeves, and topstitch the hem. Fearing negative effects on the delicate crepe fabric, I opted to do something different.
Lekala 4457: outside side view. See how the yoke is one piece, and it extends outward to becomes a kimono-style cap sleeve?
On my version, I attached rayon seam binding to both layers of the sleeve (remember, it was lined). Then I folded the hem inward and catch-stitched the rayon seam binding to the inside layer of the yoke only. This results in an invisible hem that doesn't add extra stiffness to the drapey crepe fabric like a topstitch would.

There's an illustrated version of this technique over at Lilacs & Lace: Hemline Variations. Thanks to Laura Mae for providing helpful tutorials like this -- hers is one of my go-to sites for inspriation and how-to's.
Lekala 4457: interior view of the sleeve edge, showing the rayon seam binding and catch-stitching to just the inside layer of the fabric.

Any difficulties?

Miraculously, no. I was a little worried that the points of the yoke wouldn't match up in the center front. Therefore, I was very careful to line up the points, and sew everything in that area with extreme precision.

This is the kind of detail that could look totally wonky if done wrong. Beginners, take note: maybe this isn't the pattern for you if you're just starting out.

There's an escape hatch, though: the instructions tell you to attach the collar stand last. If, for some reason, the points don't line up, you can shift one side up or down so the points match. Yes, there will be additional fabric on one side at the top, but you can take up that asymmetrical slack at the end, hiding the boo-boo inside the collar stand. Very sneaky. If you do that, just make sure the seamline between the collar stand and the upper part of the bodice line up. Everything needs to line up, unless it's encased inside the collar stand.
Lekala 4457: exterior front. See how the points match up exactly? This is a critical feature of the blouse, so they'd better.

How will I wear this?

My go-to look is usually a mishmash of retro and modern, so this blouse should fit right in. I consider it a "modern" garment, although, in different fabrics, it could certainly veer retro (made in a pastel silk charmeuse, for example, worn with a calf-length skirt or wide-leg '40s trousers).
Wear this to work with black tights!
Lekala 4457, from this post
Skirt: Black pique A-line skirt from Old Navy
Shoes: Ankle length, chunk heel boots from EuroSoft via 6pm.com

I have a glass of wine in one hand and a croquet mallet in the other.
 Lekala 4457, from this post
Pants: Dark tan cigarette pants from Old Navy
Necklace: A skeumorphic wood-grain pendant and bead confection from NY&Co
Shoes: Slate blue and tan saddle shoes from G.H. Bass via 6pm.com

A day at a sunny, wind-whipped beachside fire pit with the crew
Lekala 4457, from this post
Shorts: Lightweight nylon Bermuda shorts from Target
Jacket: Self-made lilac charmeuse and white gabardine bomber jacket made with fabric from Fashion Fabrics Club and McCall's 7100 pattern
Hat: Straw fedora I picked up somewhere ... I don't remember where
Shoes: Knockoff Chuck Taylor-style tennies from Target -- you know how I roll!

In conclusion

Lekala 4457, made to each user's unique measurements, comes out quite loose and blousy. If that's your thing, great! If not, it's an easy fix: take in the side seams a little.

The curved yoke might prove challenging for a beginner. Intermediate and advanced sewists should be able to breeze right through it.

The one-piece yoke and kimono-style cap sleeves are flattering for many shapes. Even my mega-biceps are okay with this style.

So far, I'm the first person to post pictures of my version on Lekala's social show-me-your-make section for this pattern. Maybe, by the time you read this, there will be more. One can hope.

Thanks for stopping by, y'all!


  1. And a quick survey: I am thinking about doubling the number of buttons. Put an additional button between each existing one. That way, there could be a button right where the yoke points meet. I don't know, it's been bugging me. What do you think: yes or no?

  2. I can see where it might look good. Yet I think without the button, the focus stays on the contrasting yoke which I think is an appealing look. I like it as it is now.

    1. Ah, good point. I wouldn't want to dilute focus from the main feature of the top. Maybe I'll quick-sew some buttons onto the outside placket, without making buttonholes, and see how that looks. Go from there. This is a truly agonizing decision, ha ha! :)

  3. This is such an interesting pattern. I say to leave the button off, but it is your top and you have to love wearing it!

    1. Agreed! That is the most important thing. It is quite a unique design, isn't it? I really want to make another version in all one fabric, where the yoke is still noticeable, but subtle ... a "basic" wardrobe staple that still has some interesting stuff going on, a la designer "basics."

  4. Your blouse looks great and the styling options are really cute. I just finished two muslins of this pattern. The first of the pattern generated using my bust waist and hip measurements, which was too big, to much ease everywhere. And the second adding the additional measurements on the Perfit tab on the Bootstrap site. Much better fit when the pattern draft includes those measurements( shoulder width, neck circumference, etc. Still having issues with neck opening. Their pattern drafting software assumes a much thicker neck than I have. Had the same problem on another blouse pattern. I plan to email Yuliya about that. Can't wait to finally sew it in my fashion fabric.

    1. Thank you! And, cool, thank you for the info about your experience with this pattern. Always appreciate the data points. :) I'm still new to this category of open-use patterns, and Bootstrap Fashion was definitely off my radar.

      So I'm not the only one who thought Lekala 4457 was too loose, eh? And, it's interesting you mention the big neck. I neglected to point it out it in the review, but the neck seemed large on me as well. My neck is pretty scrawny, though -- just assumed it was me, and not the fault of the pattern. Even with the "neck circumference: decreased" and "neck measurement: XX inches" adjustments.

      I knoooowwwwww, always make a muslin. My excuse? Pure experimentation with "custom-fit" patterns. I'm sussing out the balance between the hassle of print-at-home PDF custom-fit patterns (which, theoretically should NOT involve any fitting adjustments -- thus saving time on that end) vs. the hassle of making adjustments and multiple muslins for pre-printed patterns. Always a tradeoff; there is no magic. Boo.

      Thanks for stopping by!