Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

Where’s my Lea?


I’m over 50 and sew a lots of things but really….

I positively 100% knew that I had purchased and printed StyleArc’s Lea wrap dress pattern after reading Sew2Pro’s review. The actual date of said download is a mystery but I am absolutely sure I owned it.

About 4 hours later: found the pattern. Hah! not that old……although I wasn’t sure if it was tiled and taped and ready to go. What joy when I discovered the pages taped and the pieces cut.

DSCN6400Great. Lay the pattern pieces out on Aeolian Ripples from Fabworks- an Avoca jersey knit in burgundy/green and perfect transitional colours for that summer to autumn look. It is also my first step towards my burgundy pieces for A/W.


1 hour later: All the pieces are pinned to the fabric and I discover that the pattern pieces had previous pin holes. This means that I had actually pinned each pattern piece to another fabric at some time in the recent past. Could I remember which fabric – no?

LEA-DRESSI showed my husband the pattern drawing and asked if he had ever seen me in this dress. Answer – no. So, maybe I pinned and then abandoned. Yeah. That’s the answer.

Except….each pattern piece had all the notches cut.  I figured that one does not pin and cut out pattern pieces without marking notches. What the ******?

I racked my brain and memory banks for a previous Lea wrap dress. I resorted to old-fashioned private detective techniques – I  tapped phones, sat outside my own house for 48hrs in a van,  planted bugs in the bathroom, all in the cause of  looking for evidence. The wardrobe provided no tangible clues and I came to the conclusion that I had previously cut out all the pieces, made the dress and gave it away. But I still could not think of the fabric used or even a memory of doing all this.

I lay awake for weeks trying to think of when I had made Lea: what fabric had I used; what occasion was I sewing for?  My family queried if I had anything on my mind – YES ACTUALLY – I obviously made a dress but I have no recollection of it and I can’t find the physical item!

So I figured the only way to deal with ghosts is to face them and so I made a Lea Wrap dress (another?).


I may have sewn wider seams that the pattern allows for (in fact I did) which would account for the top not covering the bits it should cover, so a coordinating camisole is essential.


Lea Wrap dress is a classic/basic wrap dress with collar a la DVF and 3/4 sleeves. Not complicated and eternally fashionable and stylish.

I love the collar on the dress and the front wrap really does stay wrapped. There are no darts and the sleeves are sewn as in T-shirt construction: one big side seam. Using a two-way stretch is paramount.

The only fiddly bit is sewing on a narrow binding along the front that hides the raw edges of the collar and neatens up the front edges. This needs to sewn on the right side out, then trimmed, turned and top stitched in place. So glad this fabric is busy and you can’t see the wiggly, uneven topstitching line.


I have ‘thickened’ over the summer weeks so time to do something about that or else I won’t get into any of my clothes. I find that my home made clothes are such a good fit that a weight gain of more that 2kg tells. RTW on the other hand seem to have a 5kg weight gain built in.

I lengthened the dress by 4″ because I like a below-knee skirt – it lengthens the leg and covers knobbly knee caps. I also added an inch or two to the sleeves. The waist ties are the length they are because that was all the fabric there was.


I have bombarded you, dear readers, recently with posts and makes. I have been playing catch-up with myself; I sewed so much but never took pictures or the time to write. I think I’m almost up to date now and I thank you for your patience. After six wonderfully relaxing and sewing weeks my summer holidays are drawing to a close. Then, as we say here, it’s back to porridge.


I still can’t find my first Lea wrap dress though.

Have you seen it?

63 thoughts on “Where’s my Lea?

  1. What a mystery!! That would absolutely plague my mind until I worked it out too. Great dress and the length is lovely on you. Loving the shoe combo too.

  2. I love this fabric. Will look good in your burgundy outfits. Looking forward to seeing them all.
    Did you look through your posts? Was there not an interview or guest lecturer dress? Hope you solve the mystery. I’m over 60 now and such concerns are becoming more frequent.

  3. ACK! Lovely pattern and really love the fabric and how you’ve made it up… but as the new kid on the block, can’t say I’ve seen your first make. Good luck hunting it! del

  4. Didn’t Donna Karan borrow it?

    Well your second Lea really suits you.

    Maybe quick snaps for filing purposes are the way to go – even if it’s just your last 5 makes hanging on the front of your wardrobe…

  5. The first Lea is probably now even further in hiding after seeing this splendid version.

  6. LOL – where does our memory go? oops…can’t remember. My sympathy – I’ve done it too. but – what a nice dress! I didn’t realize that it has a faux wrap, great feature. I like the changes you made, really pretty on you.

    OK – maybe pattern companies should include weight fluctuation tolerance factors in their patterns!

  7. It may be in the same place as a couple of appliqué lace pieces and a zipper that I have been looking for for 5 years 😉
    LOVE the fabric! And it’s a rare wrap dress that doesn’t require a camisole. Even Diane Von Furstenburg wears a camisole.

  8. My theory is that someone else uses my house, sewing room, etc. How else to explain dirty dishes in the sink we didn’t use, weird left overs in the fridge that are unfamiliar and the occasional sewing UFO that I have no memory of starting……

    Great dress, very you colours, too bad about the end of vacation but porridge has its uses.


  9. I think the reason I don’t like wrap dresses is the need for camisole under. Somebody out there has to come up with up a workable pattern adjustment for anyone over a B cup. Nonetheless, I love your new dress (even with the cami!)

    • I haven’t personally tried it, but I’ve read rave reviews about Cashmerette’s Appleton wrap dress. They virtually guarantee that the bodice will cover the girls and have sizes 12 to 28, in three cup sizes (C/D, E/F, G/H).
      I have the Lea pattern from a binge buy from Style Arc last spring but haven’t made it up yet. This post has me thinking it would be a nice dress for this fall/winter.

    • Thanks Gail. The lack of coverage is probably due to my inconsistent seam allowances.
      Tell you what, I’ll make another (possibly the third) properly and see if it works.
      Thank you.

  10. The dress looks wonderful on you Ruth. I have a similar one in the works. An old DVF pattern that was lent to me and I had to adjust it larger. I’m waiting for a day when I feel like suffering to figure out how to finish the front edges nicely with the inside out band. The mystery of the Lea pattern is a familiar situation with me. It is definitely an over 50 problem. I keep meaning to get myself some post-it notes and leave little reminders for myself here and there. It really does make you think that you are going nuts…..tee, hee.

    • Thanks for that Susan; I was hoping for some positive outlooks, not worse – LOL!
      I’ve been working from lists for years – if only I could remember where I put them………..

  11. So funny! Whoever stole your dress keeps taking my sewing scissors…..

  12. Thanks for the good laugh this morning! I am in the same age group so I can relate :). That dress looks good on you.

  13. Hello from southwestern USA! I’ve been following for three posts now and plan to go through archives to catch up. Love the Lea pattern! I know you feel best in below knee and that appears to
    be at least 4″ below. Would you be willing to move it up at least 1″? I am over 50 also, in fact a
    little more than “over” but it’s not so bad if I don’t dwell on the subject. A hemline just below the knee works best for me as well.
    My pattern stash has several wrap dress versions because I buy every one I see in the pattern books
    but have never downloaded one. Probably won’t but do love the Lea wrap.
    I have used Vogue 8379 once and it is definitely easy. I plan to use it again and soon. “Soon” as in

  14. Oh dear, I didn’t PLAN to be “Anonymous”. Just call me “peggy” until I can come up with something
    peggy (formerly known as “Anonymous”)

    • Well hello Peggy!
      I have to agree with you about the length now I see the photos. I’ll add that task to the do-to list.
      Hope you enjoy the show…..thank you.

  15. Really lovely colours on new Ruth and I love the length too.
    Oh gosh, you need Mr Cumberbatch on the case; sure he could help you solve your mystery of the missing dress………………

    I have followed your lead and am in the sewing room making up the lovely Burda dress you made for your very special visit to London. Its my first attempt with knit fabric and I am floundering with the insertion of the concealed zip. Can my Heroine give me any tips to dodge the rippling on my first attempt! Frustrating afternoon unpicking a concealed zipper on black fabric…….lol.
    Run out of the red stuff too!!

  16. Beautiful dress — the longer length makes it look more sophisticated, the fabric is glorious, and the cami makes it so easy to wear without a worry. Memory gaps seem to come and go….glad you just got on with this project! It is a winner!!

  17. I do so enjoy reading your posts which are always informative and often very amusing. The wrap dress looks lovely on you and I quite agree with you about needing knee coverage after a certain age. Hope it’s not too long before we have the pleasure of reading another blog from you.

  18. Lovely combination of fabric and pattern. Has an appealing air of vamp and propriety elbowing one another for top billing. As for Lea #1, well in the U.S. at least, some disappear into the witness protection program never to be seen or heard from again.

  19. So funny Sewruth! Love your wrap dress, it’s perfect on you and the fabric looks excellent. I know I have Leah somewhere too, time for a search!

  20. Hey, I haven’t worn mine this year either. Shall we have a co-ordinated Lea day? Then whoever stole your first one off the line will out themselves!!

    Good point about the tolerance difference between own-made and RTW garments: all the more reason to cherish the clothes we made ourselves and make sure they remain wearable.

  21. This is lovely on you. Enjoyed seeing it on the new Fabworks gallery too.

  22. Thxs for all the inspiraring posts!! Love to read them!!

  23. Thxs for all the inspiring posts!! Love to read them!!

  24. Very elegant dress!

    I’m shocked that there are clearly items you make and don’t blog about – I’m already incredibly impressed by the number of items you manage to make and now I find out there are more that I haven’t even heard about! I’m assuming here that you have checked your old blog posts to see if you can find the Lea dress

    • Thanks Jane. Not everything I make is suitable for public viewing, partly because it’s crap or I just don’t get around to taking photos.
      Five weeks since I made this one and I still can’t find or remember the first.

  25. Lovely dress – you are ready for fall.

  26. It’s funny (not funny) you lost something important. I made a pattern for a YSL halter neck, a toile and everything, and cannot find it anywhere. Or my sun-glasses. Frustrating or what? In the meantime I really like a wrap dress and think they are very flattering.

  27. That would bug me. Dan often tells me we have watched a film together and I have no recollection at all. People tell me at work I’ve agreed to weird things and I can’t believe I did (or is that they are just using my appalling memory lapses!). Anyway like the new version. All our staff are back to work on Monday readying for the new 1000 students to descend. X

    • I can’t even remember seeing the same actor in the same film Mags – you are not alone and tell Dan that!
      BTW, I pull the same stunt with my overworked managers – “You said we could have £3000”. Get it in writing…….
      Good luck for the new term.
      Thank you.

  28. lovely dress, I have similar forgetery issues, finally decided to add a note pad page with a cutting of the fabric scrap and some notes to remind me of fitting changes into the pattern as I clean up after each project. So next time I pull it out, I can remember what it was made in, what size I cut it in and what additional changes were made after cutting and fitting. I keep my pattern pieces and instructions in grip seal bags, filed numerically in a cabinet. The pattern sleeves go into plastic A4 page protectors in a couple of A4 ring binders, grouped by garment type. Works well!

    • Thank you Carolyn.
      You are extremely well organised. I’m so impressed. Up until now I’ve relied upon memory and it’s maybe time to write down those alterations and add fabric swatches.

  29. My comment is very similar to Carolyn (above). This year I decided to keep a book with my sewing notes. After each project I write down all the things that I have altered, learnt, would do different, etc. All things, in the past, I was convinced I would remember. It has proved very helpful – only wish I had done it years ago.

  30. Arghh! That’s frustrating! And I bet the original dress wil turn up somewhere down the back of a drawer. The new version is brilliant.

  31. Could you have gotten really creative a while back and used just the top portion and made a wrap top/jacket? You definitely whipped up lots of knit AC outfits that might have been used in that way. This dress is a real show stopper and of course we all envy your shoes!

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