Monday, January 08, 2018

Lekala 4278 Box Pleat Dress and a little about the Old House

Sprite was asked to sing during Christmas Eve services at our church and asked for a new dress for the occasion.  She prefers simpler dresses that are sleeveless and not fussy with lace or ruffles.  She prefers fuller skirts rather than straight skirts and doesn't like heavy fabrics.

We picked the fabric first from my stash.  She originally wanted blue, but we found a dark red silk dupioni that has been sitting my stash for so long that I don't remember when exactly I bought it.  She is very fair, so jewel tones look good on her and pastels tend to make her look washed out.  This darker red was lovely and I even had a zipper in stash that matched.  I bought silk thread to match.

She looked through all my current patterns, but didn't find anything she loved.  I pulled up the Lekala site and we sifted through sleeveless dress patterns.  We found several that matched her criteria and she and I eliminated all the ones she didn't like and a few that I didn't until she decided on pattern 4278

This is my first time actually making a Lekala pattern and it was a good experience.  I entered her measurements instead of using the standard ones and the test pattern looked good, so we bought it.  Downloading and taping went smoothly.  I've taped a lot of  Pattern Master Boutique patterns and this one was similar with all the pattern lines and page guides lining up pretty well.  I added my own seam allowances.  I generally prefer a 3/8" seam allowance as that is the distance from the edge of my serger foot to the right needle, but in this case, I added 5/8" for a little extra for adjusting.

I actually made a muslin of the bodice.  I don't usually do that, but I only had so much of the silk dupioni and I knew there wouldn't be any do-over.  The muslin fit well at the bust and shoulders, but it gaped badly under the arms and was just too low, exposing her bra.  I raised the bottom of the armscye by 3/4" which fixed both problems.   Unfortunately I didn't take pictures of my pattern adjustment.

Before being pressed and facings attached. 

The pattern was drafted well.  The seams and notches all matched.  I didn't use the facing pieces since I had redrawn the armscye, so I drew new ones from the adjusted pattern pieces.  I had some problems understanding the instructions, but I have sewn several of these dresses before and thought I knew what I was doing.  I made a critical mistake, however, in sewing the zipper in the back before I sewed anything else. All went well until I needed to turn the dress right side out and couldn't because the zipper made a circle and every time I tried to turn it right side out,  I pulled the whole top through and ended up wrong side out again.  There wasn't time to redo the zipper at that point, so I opted to rip out the stitching for the arm facings,  fold in and press the same allowances and top stitch.  It worked, but my top stitching is crooked and it doesn't look good close up. 

The skirt has six box pleats and these all went smoothly.  The skirt attached to the bodice with no easing needed.  Sprite didn't want any color blocking, so I cut the waistband from the same fabric as the bodice and skirt.  I omitted the bottom skirt band and just lengthened the skirt 4 inches instead. I used a rolled hem stitch on my serger instead of blind hemming by hand as I was running out of time.  Sprite was fine with that choice but wants the skirt a couple inches shorter so I will still hand hem it before the next time she wears it -- probably at her confirmation in March. 

So here are the pictures of her modeling it:


Back.  The dark spots on the skirt are from her dripping wet hair.


It's a cute dress and I think the pattern is good so I may use it again. All the seams lined up; all the notches matched and the box pleats were well marked.  The instructions were okay but I was glad that I had other references for the zipper and box pleats.

 I loved the silk dupioni -- it sewed well, was not as slippery as I expected.  I had some problems fusing the interfacing to it, but my interfacing is on the old side so that may be more the problem.  The color is gorgeous on Sprite.  And from a distance, the dress looks great.

I also really like the new Lekala website.  The cool thing about Lekala, if you are not familiar with them, is that you can enter your measurements and order a custom pattern or you can select a standard size.  Since the last time I tried it, they have added the capability to select certain features, such as "No Sleeves" so we could view all the sleeveless dresses.  I entered Sprite's measurements and got a pattern that came pretty close to fitting.  When I try the patterns for myself, I am sure that I will still need to make some adjustments, but I will be starting with a pattern much closer to the finish line than with most patterns.

I did a pretty good job this time with the neck facing and the invisible zipper, though I still tend to put the zipper top at the wrong place.  I made it work by cutting off the top of the zipper and putting new stops at the correct location.  Fortunately, I have those in my stash from doing zipper repairs for my business.

Room for Improvement

Honestly, the instructions (and I read them twice) made no sense to me but I wish I had double checked the order of construction before I started so I would not have sewn the zipper in first.  I have done that on other projects and it works great on unlined/un-faced items, but it didn't work this time.  I should have held off sewing the zipper until the facings were sewn so I could easily turn it right side out.

I feel that the front darts are too long and I should have shortened them some, maybe as much as an inch.  I do need to take the time to practice sewing darts -- the "dimples"  at the end of each dart point to the fact that I am not doing something right.  From the back, I can also see now where I needed to shorten the bodice a bit so it would lay smoothly.  The muslin looked fine, but it didn't have the skirt.  In the finished dress, the skirt rides up a bit and causes the wrinkle in the back.

I also need to pay more attention when I am not using my usual seam allowance.  I tended to drift from the 5/8" to my usual 3/8".  I caught myself, but really need to stop sewing when tired.


I like this dress.  More importantly, despite the mistakes, Sprite loves this dress.  She looked and sounded so good as she stood at the front of church and sang "Mary, Did You Know?"  on Christmas Eve.  I cried through the whole song -- I always cry a little during it, but that was my baby girl up there and sounding so good.  She surprised a lot of people with her voice -- she is usually very shy and quiet. 

Happy New Year from the Old House!

This is going to be a big year for our family and probably another year of more blogging about the old house than sewing projects.  Sprite has a role in the middle school musical (Shrek Jr, and she plays the Dragon), confirmation and 4-H.   The Senior has music competitions, recitals, concerts and of course, graduation and all that comes with the end of high school.  Dear Husband and I will be celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary in June followed by the big move. We are crossing our fingers and saying a prayer that all goes well.

We didn't spend Christmas at the old house due to Sprite's singing, but she and I went up the day after Christmas to clean floors.  It was a little chilly...

December 26, 1:46 pm.
and a little snowy, which I wasn't expecting as we hadn't gotten very much snow at all at home:

We had to go back out to get snow boots and a snow shovel to clear the porch and ramp.  It got colder the next day:
December 27 at 7 am

Even without heat to the upstairs, it was comfortable for sleeping at night.  I am so glad that DH had more insulation added to the attic.  It really helped.

We spent two days cleaning the floors on the main level.  I used an orbital cleaner and floor cleaning spray to get the dirt off.  The floors looked really dry and dull afterward.  We know, from talking to R- that his parents had sanded and refinished the floors at some point, so I felt comfortable using one of the sealed floor restorer type polishes,  It came with its own mop and I used that instead of the orbital polisher. 

It made a huge difference.
Before cleaning

After cleaning, before polish

Wet polish
Dried polish.
You can see in the corner where I hadn't yet applied the polish because the Diva's bed was over it.  I used a brand that came in both a high gloss and low gloss version and I chose the low gloss.  I don't care for super shiny floors and though the gloss would accentuate the flaws in the floor.

Sprite was thrilled.  She prefers to be barefoot and walking on the dusty floors was annoying.  Now they don't just look clean, they feel clean.

DH brought the other two kids up and we hosted our first family dinner on the Saturday before New Year's Eve.  Even with the Diva's bed in the dining room, we still comfortably sat 10 people at the table.  We had a good meal and a good family get-together and I hope that promises good times to come.

I hope everyone reading has a happy and healthy 2018! 

1 comment:

Eileensews said...

The dress is cute! Always enjoy posts on the new old house. The floors look great!