Sew…. I was in search of a simple button down short sleeve shirt with a mandarin collar that I could pair with some shorts for summer. Do you know how hard it is to find that? You would have thought I was asking for the moon! Until… I found a company called Lekala Sewing Patterns. As I understand it, Lekala is a “software” that produces a personalized fit for your body. You can peruse through tons of styles, enter in your measurements, and WHAAALAAA! Instant downloadable pattern at your finger tips, sized just for YOU. How amazing is that? And they are not IMHO expensive either. I will tell you that the instructions on some are a bit lost in translation and minimal, so it’s good to have a bit of garment construction knowledge.
Sew Here We GO! Let’s get started. I downloaded the Lekala SS Blouse 4439, ensured that they printed the 1cm seam allowance (yes it’s optional when you purchase the pattern), taped them all together, cut them out and began to get to work. I had never sewn a Lekala pattern before so I decided to get some Kona Cotton fabric to just test drive the fit, and if I was lucky, would have a wearable “muslin” test shirt. The pattern took about 2 yards of fabric. I didn’t use any interfacing on my cotton this time. I did want to jazz up my simple shirt with a little punch so I decided to make the collar and front facing a contrasting color to my main fabric. I made an adjustment to the sleeve pattern too.
Step One: sew the collar pieces together on the “outer edges” start/stop at the line of seam. Hummmm??? OK. So the pattern has the seam allowance marking, and the “outer edge” I assumed meant the seam that is not sewn to the shirt, or the top of the collar. Turn and press. I also pressed my facing 1/4″ under to help when I attached it to the main garment. My guess worked out so here is a picture of what I did:
Moving on, sew all the marked darts on both front and back. Here is where they tell you to press your bust dart “Up”. This was not what I was used to but it works. Now sew your center back seam, side seams and shoulder seams. Finish those seam however you like so they don’t get all unraveled when washed and worn. Me personally, I have an overcast stitch option on my machine so that’s my “go-to” stitch preference. You may want to serge it or just do a simple zigzag.
The front button down plackets are super simple. Just take the main pieces and the facing pieces right sides together and sew them from the top to the bottom, grade/trim seams and notch the curved edge so it lays nice and neatly. I suggest you press 1/4″ on the raw edge of your facing to make it easier to finish in the next step.
Attach the plackets to the front of the garment, press and turn then top stitch it down. Here’s how I did it:
Let’s put the collar on next. Pin the collar matching the notches and sew in place. Turn and give it a good press. Sew the facing down. I just top stitched it place.
Now I made a choice here to change up the sleeve design a bit. The pattern is made to a short cap sleeve with elastic to draw it in around your shoulder. Not what I was looking for, so I took the original pattern piece and altered it to give me a traditional short sleeve look:
Sew your sleeve seams together, and finish those seams. I suggest you go ahead and hem those sleeves before you put them onto the garment. It’s just easier for me this way. Now ease the sleeve into the armscye, match those notches, sew in place and finish those seams so they stay neat and not all an unraveled mess.
WOW! It’s a shirt! I finished the garment with 4 buttons and we are done. Here is the finished product. I must say, I am so impressed with how perfect this pattern fit. I am in love with Lekala now and will be trying some more designs in the near future, so come back to see what’s new!