Sharing Endeavours

Hey!  I’ve been a bit quiet the past couple of weeks, working and turning 30 and keeping a close eye on our tester’s group.  I’ll keep working on balancing my online/offline time so I can blog more regularly… It’s a little harder than I thought it might be…!  Our testing group on FB has been really busy, with new Pipi shells cropping up all over, I’m so pleased with how she’s testing so far.

And now it’s time to test the Endeavour Trousers!

You saw the Endeavour Trousers and Shorts when I asked for Pipi Testers earlier this month, I was being sneaky…

replica HMS Endeavour in Sydney, click for source

replica HMS Endeavour in Sydney

Endeavour is named after the ship James Cook sailed when he discovered strings of islands in the South Pacific, including New Zealand and Australia.  He named much of the coastline in my part of the world, and they say he “left nothing unattempted.”  I like that.  Endeavour seemed a fitting name for a sailor-y pants pattern, especially since for many sewists, pants sewing and fitting feels like a daunting undertaking.

I want to change that.  Months ago, a client emailed me about my old pants block service… I stopped doing the blocks once Cake took over my life, but her email set me obsessing over making a pants pattern.  Of course they’d be “K.Hep” style trousers!

I spent a few weeks going through the stacks of custom blocks I made over the years and digging around in my waist-hip ratio numbers.  I still get emails regularly from that survey and have thousands of data points.  I went back over my Hummingbird Skirt notes-to-self on ways to improve the Cup Sizes for Your Derriere, then I drafted a pair of wide-leg trousers in my nearest base size to test out the design in my head.

They were just the thing- the drape, the angle of the pocket, the yoke.  The first few Sailor fronts were various shades of dreadful, but I got where I wanted eventually… Then I drafted the rest of the bases.

Picture 23

The pattern is finished now, time to test her!  Endeavour comes with two views- Sailor and Darling.  Darling is named in honor of Grace Darling, the lighthouse-keeper’s daughter who fired the imaginations of Victorian-era England with a daring rescue at sea.  She really deserves her own post.

Darling view has a side zipper and button loop waistband closure. Her flat front slips smoothly below other tops, but the seaming keeps it interesting if you wear a shorter top or tuck in a blouse.  It’s also ripe for piping or topstitching. I made this version in a handkerchief-weight linen-cotton chambray, as a counterpoint to the very heavy red denim Sailor Endeavours.  Her hem is intentionally short here, because I often find myself walking on wet ground and this pair is for me to wear into rags.

Both Darling and Sailor views are intended to sit at the natural waist, with a relatively straight silhouette from the front.  The fullness is thrown toward the cf and cb of the leg rather than the side seam, which is my favorite shape for this type of trouser.  I didn’t custom draft these, I used my size/shape as written in the pattern and altered according to the instructions.  My hip measurement is 37″-falling between Endy sizes.  I used a 40 hip base and fit intuitively at the side seams, giving me this smooth, smooth fit.

Endeavour sizing is similar to the Hummingbird Skirt.  Each base size is a hip measurement- 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55 inches.  I added in the 30 base, as I’ve had many requests for smaller sizing.  I think it would also likely work well for teens/girls.  Each waist is tied to four different waist measurements.  This provides pattern pieces cut in 24 different shapes, with an alteration step in the pattern to fine tune the fit.  Each base was drafted and proportioned individually, not graded out from a single sample size.

I want to test all 24 shapes, as well as testing the pattern on some body shapes that don’t fall neatly into the Endy sizing.  I had a great response from our current group of Cake testers, but I would like to add another dozen or so volunteers to lend a hand and round out the sizes/shapes.  I have room in every size, and especially hope to hear from those in the 30″ hip range.

If you’d like to lend a hand, you’ll need to have a Facebook account.  I hate to have that as a requirement, but testing together as a private group has been really good.  I want to test all of the shapes/sizes while preserving your privacy, so let me know your waist and hip and facebook email address in the form below to volunteer as a tester (no need to post measurements in comments):

It’s alright if you haven’t sewn trousers before, but it’s a good idea if you know your way around the sewing machine at least a bit.  I’ll send out invites in the next day or two, you can join the group and have a look around.  Then you will receive a paper copy of the Endeavour Trousers & Shorts pattern by post next week, and we’ll try to get the testing sewn up before the holiday season is upon us!

What do you think?  What patterns are your TNT trousers?  What do you look for in a good pair of pants? (I hear you giggling, England!)

Testing Pipi & The Shells

Last week, I requested help testing the fun-but-odd Sea Star Tunic, part of the upcoming Tidepool Collection.  Thanks so much for your response!  Our testing in the FB group sort of broke out into a Sewalong this week, and it’s been really good to explore the design with everyone! It’s still in progress and I’m still on the fence about whether she’s a good addition to the Cake catalog, but it’s been really lovely to share the sewing through the group. More on that later!

Meanwhile, I have another pattern ready to test!  This is the Pipi Shell- the first of a series of Shell patterns.  While Sea Star is a bit of a love-it-or-hate-it design, the Shells are more like ordinary clothes.  I like that, making clothes.  I learned to sew to make costumes, pretty dresses, weird stuff I couldn’t find anywhere outside my imagination.  Somewhere along the line, I accidentally fell into sewing knits and realized how satisfying it is to stitch up little tops and things I could wear over and over and over again.
It can be really challenging to create clothing that doesn’t scream “home made” to non-sewists.  I find the simpler the garment, the harder this can be.  Part of this is due to the industrial machines/practices used to make mass-produced clothing, and part of this is the techniques and fabrics used by the sewist/pattern.  Earlier this year, I started obsessing over creating the perfect knit sleeveless top.  I spent weeks playing with different arm shapes and techniques, working to make a tank top in my sewing room that looked like clothes- but better.

Ready-To-Wear (RTW) tank tops can be problematic.  In my experience, they’re often too long or too short, the material is too thin, or the top leaves me feeling exposed.  That’s not to mention the fact that most “fast fashion” of the tank-top variety is made under questionable ethics and labor practices.  Where I live, the temperature doesn’t dip below freezing, and most of the year is pretty balmy (or gasping hot).  I researched RTW tanks for a while in scores of local shops, at all price points.  There’s no shortage of tanks around here!  I took note of necklines, arms, finishes and problem spots.  I realized that the vast majority across the brands were made from a handful of boring bases, with the variety in design coming from fabric choice and embellishments rather than interesting cuts.

Slowly, I developed the Shell concept, a set of design specs for some knit tank top patterns:

    • No bra showing- I don’t have words to express how much I hate it when my bra shows.  That means bra straps, underarm bra, any of it.  I also wanted to work on covering underarm squidge, which so often overflows RTW tanks.
    • Breezy- Like I said, it’s usually hot here, so I wanted the Shells to balance “no bra” with as much breeziness as possible.  That means low-ish backs, open necklines, and sometimes a shorter length.
    • Option for Coverage- I thought the Shells should have a plain back option, if not also a plain boat front.
    • Back Detail- I’ve always, always been a fan of nifty back details! I wanted details that were both eye-catching and integral to maintaining the structure of a low-back.
    • All the Neckline Shapes- Pipi is a curved-front v-neck, the back is steeper. Other Shells have Queen Anne, Square, Scoop and other shapes, neatly bound with self-fabric.
    • Length Options- Shells are built on Cake’s Grid Guide concept, which allows for very easy customization of length and width.
  • Easy Fitting- There’s an intuitive, particular way to adjust the base Shell to mold the armscye nicely around the arm, and it’s laid out clearly in the pattern.  I wanted this to work really well for all sizes, so Susan and I spent a few weeks batting arm-shapes back and forth.
  • Standalone/Layering- I thought the shapes should be tested and work on a variety of fabrics, from sweater knits for layering vests to cotton-spandex casual tops, to lightweight base layers.
  • Excellent Finishing- The arm holes use a very neat, easy to apply interior binding that leaves no seam bits exposed.
  • Hack Friendly- I made the Shells so it’s easy to lay one down on top of The Tee pattern to make a Tee with all the necklines!
Pipi Test10

No Bra! No Side boob!

Tall order, right?  Yes!  It was like a puzzle I couldn’t put down.   Pipi and her sisters are part of the reason I haven’t been blogging, I’ve been working to fit all those things into a little sleeveless top pattern!   I’m really delighted that Pipi (and others) are nearly complete now as patterns, and it’s time to test her on a wider variety of bodyshapes.  She’s been pre-tested quite a bit (we really obsessed over the arm shape and pulled in others to play!), but I want another solid round of testing before we release this new shape.

If you’re interested in testing Pipi with me and Susan, leave a comment on our FB page and/or message me with your FB-connected email address.  I’d like to have a dozen or so testers to work out any last kinks.  We’ll ship you a paper Pipi next week, and I’ll add you to the private Cake Testing Group where we can chat, discuss the sewing, and see what everyone is working on.

What criteria would you add to the list for your perfect sleeveless top?  What is the thing you look for and never find, your sleeveless “holy grail”?

Finished Object: Hummingmisu (Giveaways, Too!)

Franken cake Hummingmisu Feature

I have another dress + 23 Skidoos outfit to show you!  This is a Hummingmisu Dress, a mashup of the Tiramisu skirt with the Hummingbird top.  I’ve been wearing this one since last July and while she’s definitely one of my favorites I haven’t had a chance to share her with you.

Hummingmisu Dress

Since yesterday was Halloween and since mixing pattern pieces to make a new design is called “Franken-Patterning,” I thought I’d dress up as Franken Cake for the holiday.  I’m also wearing a rad pair of holographic snakeskin foil print leggings.  In keeping with the holiday theme, Stephen took me to a cemetery near his office for photos.   The cemetery is a bright, cheerful place and actually very interesting- not scary at all.  In fact, with all the happy plastic flowers and the generally well-kept atmosphere it feels like a vital part of the community.

Brisbane is a new world city crouching on the edge of what might be called civilization.   Sydney is the nearest large city, 920km (572 miles) south.  To the west is Perth, 4300km (2700 miles).  North is Jakarta, 5415km (3365 miles).  Wellington lies 2500km (1550 miles) east.

This region has been a destination for immigrants (voluntary and involuntary) from around the world since the mid 19th century.  Even in death, it seems to me like immigrants to Queensland cling steadfastly to their home culture rather than melting together to create a new one.  Ethnic/immigrant groups here seem to form their own tight-knit enclaves (as opposed to mixing it up) and this extends into the afterlife.  I’m an immigrant but I don’t have an enclave like that. I kind of float around being weird and mostly that works for me.

Brisbane Cemetery

There’s cemetery sections in Chinese, Cyrillic, Vietnamese, and Arabic languages (and so much more).  This seems to be by custom rather than by design.   One country follows another and eerily, the cemetery’s layout roughly mimics world geography in terms of who is neighbors with whom. Dirt or asphalt pathways mark the divides between major religions and languages.  It’s peaceful but noisy, filled with the chattering voices of native parrots and other squawking birds and the strong scent of Brisbane’s early summer blossoms.  I kept forgetting I was a just a couple miles from my house.

Brisbane Cemetery...

The graves are built up from the ground kinda like New Orleans, and each section has very distinctive headstones and styles.  Some people/families have nice little brick sheds to house their remains, and there’s several massive mausoleums larger than my house.

Some headstones had little cupboards in them with whiskey and food inside, I suppose for the afterlife.  I plan to go back and spend some time exploring when I’m dressed more like a nerdy local history buff and less like a B-grade movie monster.  The cemetery was empty, except for a couple of workmen we passed on the way out.  You can see my write-up on the dress over at sewingcake.com.

Giveaways!

Merino LBD Giveaway Cake Patterns sm

I’m so excited to give away some gorgeous pieces of merino jersey fabric this week!  It’s my birthday, and I want to send out some gifts.  If you’d like a chance to win your own LBD Kit, head over to sewingcake and enter!  I’ll choose winners after the giveaway closes on the 7th, and then get the presents out the door- I hope in time for the sewalong!

EspressoGiveaway Feature small

That’s not all!  I’m also giving away three separate lengths of yummy merino blends that are perfect for Espresso Leggings.  As part of the giveaway, I ask you to leave me a link to an obnoxious leggings fabric.  It’s so fun, I made a pinboard of your picks and a special section on the page under “Source” to display them.  Go check it out and add your pick!

What do you think of my Hummingmisu?  Can I break out the Franken-wig every time I make a FrankenCake dress?  Pleeeeeeeease?  Have you ever visited your local cemetery, and if so, what’s it like?

Red Velvet Shipping, Brisbane Show and Sewing Along!

No matter what I do, I just can’t seem to find the time to blog here the way I used to. I hope you don’t think I’m either lazy or uncaring, because it’s completely the opposite!  As much as I don’t want to quit writing here, it’s become much more important to work on pattern development (cake kids!  beginners!  woven RiFFs!) and to create sewing references at sewingcake.com than to post regularly here.  I need to focus my online time at sewingcake.com and on customer service for my Etsy shop.

Red Velvet Dress Hub

I’ve been building these lovely tabbed pages on sewingcake (Red Velvet Dress hub shown) to help make it easier to find inspiration, tutorials, fit help and sewcial groups related to each pattern.  I’m excited about this  because the site is finally beginning to match the sewing reference I had in my head all this time!  It’s a relief.  I’ll be working on pattern pages for the other releases, including RiFFs, over the next few weeks and soon we’ll be very organized indeed.

I also have plenty of “pre-sewalong” references to release, most of them focusing on the fabrics I used to sew my samples.  I haven’t really shown you everything that I’ve sewn from Red Velvet Collection yet, because I’m working on things like building this super-flash Red Velvet Sewalong and Sorting page:

Red Velvet Sewalong Header 3

We’ll have three Houses for this sewalong: Esme, Pearl and Penelope.  When you receive your Red Velvet Dress pattern in the mail, it will be in an oversized pink, red, or creamy envelope.  The colors are inspired by the colors of a red velvet cake!  Once you register and confirm via email, you’ll see the page for your House with the points and rules.  The prize is a $15 off prize code for everyone who is registered in the winning house.  The Red Velvet Dress, the Espresso Leggings, and the Red Velvet Clutch (mini too) will be included as acceptable “Finished Objects” with points awarded for finished objects!

I’m really passionate about getting everyone sewing and sharing the sewing experience.  That’s why I work to create a digital sewing space on Flickr during the sewalong.  Last sewalong, I added a couple of “progress” shots for extra points and I think it was a great way to show that there’s many ways to do the same thing well.  This time, I have a daily progress shot which will be worth a point each day.  I hope this takes some of the pressure off beginners to make a pile of completed garments and lets us catch a glimpse into someone else’s sewing!

Intro Prices for one last day!

The Red Velvet Dress, the Red Velvet Clutch and the Espresso Leggings are shipping to you this week!   As soon as the paper patterns ship, the prices will rise to $20, $10 and $10 respectively.  We’ll keep sending out Red Velvet Dresses in colored envelopes for the House Sorting until we run out.

I received the Australian box of patterns today and immediately processed them so I can send them off in short order.  I love the colors, it’s like I’m sending masses of valentines to you!  We’re coordinating the shipping so that the US, UK and AU orders fly away to your sewing rooms at the same time- right now it looks like Tuesday is the Drop Day!

Brisbane Craft & Quilt Fair

Cake for Voodoo Rabbit at the Brisbane Craft & Quilt Fair

Last Friday, I was asked to demonstrate at the Brisbane Craft & Quilt Fair.  The Fair starts this Wednesday, so I had very short notice…!  It’s a five day event, a great time to network and see what’s new and have fun with other crafty and sewy people.

I’ll be demonstrating Cake with Voodoo Rabbit (that’s the place where I teach)!  This is an excellent opportunity to get out and de-mystify knits for sewy and quilty Brisbane and I’m really excited!!  Each day I’ll be demonstrating apparel sewing techniques for 5-30 minutes on the hour.   I’ll cover topics such as the basics of knit fabrics and cutting, through self-fabric binding and stabilizing to knit hems and topics relating to woven fabrics as well, like my bulletproof invisible zipper lesson and “Parts of Fabric.”  I’ll be around between demonstrations to answer questions and chat, too!

It’s very, very likely I’ll be tweeting and Facebooking to an obnoxious extent during the fair, you’ve been warned!  If you’re planning to go to the Brisbane Craft & Quilt Fair, do come by and say hello!  I’ll be the American wearing Riley Blake striped Cake.

Red Velvet Fabric Choices

I’ve had some fabric questions lately about prewashing and weights that are appropriate for the RV dress/Espresso Leggings.  I’ll work through tips and tricks about particular types of fabrics and etc over the next few weeks but I wanted to address my philosophy towards pre-washing and washing in general:

If I can’t cram it into my washing machine with like colors on warm and then throw it on the washline/in the dryer, I will almost never wear the garment.  If I am not going to wear the garment, then the time I spent sewing it was wasted.  This is pretty much the bedrock of Cake’s design philosophy- making clothes to wear while living life.

If I buy a knit (say, linen) that says dry clean only, I throw it in the wash.  If it doesn’t survive, then I wouldn’t wear it anyway.  I have yet to ruin a knit fabric doing this.  If you’re very worried about shrinkage or changing the nature of the fabric, then wash a 4″ (10cm) square of the fabric and dry it to see what happens.

Please, please ask me questions here you may have about the Red Velvet Collection, it will help me prioritize the release of visual references on sewingcake.com.

Pretty Dresses Multiplying & Full Red Velvet Size Guide

MelizzaR Red Velvet Muse

I spent yesterday fine-tuning the Red Velvet Sizing & Measurement pages and sending out the Cake Vine email and didn’t post.  Today I have several lovely Red Velvet Muse makes to show you, starting with MelizzaR!  Melizza is an experienced sewist and new mother, I’m so glad she could fit in a photoshoot for her slinky polka dotted Red Velvet Dress during naptime.

Picture 68After Melizza’s Muse Post was published, I went and read her write up of the pattern on her blog Pincushion Treats.  Surprise!  This was version #1, “accidentally” made without the midriff section.  I think this works really well, now I want to try it too!  Thank you, Melizza, I’m so pleased we got to know each other during this project!

Sewhopeful Strikes Again

red-forward-shoulder-adjustment

You saw Sewhopeful’s lovely navy blue Red Velvet dress with a collar earlier this week.  She quickly followed this up with a happy red and white polka dotted version, I knew I had to share both when I saw them!  Without a collar or pocket, this is a very quick make.  I love this version, it must be SO much fun to wear and may be the first completed Red Velvet Dress that’s actually red.  Check out Sewhopeful’s polka dot dress write-up for insight into the way fabric and stretch influences fit, J is so methodical and thoughtful!

Red Velvet Sizing, Measurement & Alteration Page

Red Velvet Size Guide

click to view page

I had several emails about bust alterations, already!  I’m so impressed by how quickly you’re getting into this pattern, and I care if you sew and that your clothes fit.  I made this Red Velvet Sizing reference to help make this possible.

Red Velvet Size Guide

I’m also just really proud of this page, each measurement and bodice alteration is tidily tucked under a tab, with the relevant instructions section to the left.  This is where I’ve been wanting to take sewingcake.com for a while but I had to skill up first.  I have some super cool hub pages in the works for each new pattern, check out the Hummingbird Hub for a preview for what’s coming up!  I’m really, really excited!

Red Velvet Deep Bust Alteration

The page also shows two ways to approach the Red Velvet bodice fitting, I hope you find them useful.  Several emails I received expressed concern about having “low boobs,” so I prioritized the publication of these references.  It is pretty simple and intuitive to adjust the length on the bodice, whether for a Deep Bust Alteration (DBA) or Torso Length Adjustment.

0369 Front

I have some exciting news about the Red Velvet Dress, Espresso Leggings and Red Velvet Clutch paper patterns- they are starting the journey from printer to your sewing room tomorrow, which means we’ll be shipping paper Red Velvet Collection patterns from next week!  Once we start sending them out (in brightly colored envelopes for the sewalong!), the price of the Red Velvet Dress pattern will rise to $20, full price.

I want to say a big thank you to everyone who has purchased from the Red Velvet Collection!  Let’s make some awesome dresses!  Tomorrow… I have such giveaways… And some words on merino.  Did I mention I went fabric shopping for merino for giveaways earlier this week?  I totally did.

Fashionable Stitching & Structured Hems

Red-Velvet-1 Sunni

SunniS is our Red Velvet Muse today!  Many of you know Sunni from her beautiful and informative blog.  She also runs A Fashionable Stitch, a US-based online notions / haberdashery shop that stocks many of the interfacings and stabilizers that work so well with knit fabric and Cake sewing.

Red-Velvet-5

Sunni used a floral jersey fabric and inserted pockets into the side seams, you can read about it on her blog.  If you have Tiramisu, it’s easy to use the pocket from Tira for this!   Sunni opted to use a self-binding at the neckline edge instead of the neck facing in the pattern.  I’d been planning to stitch this option later to show how it works and she got there first!  It’s a great alternative neckline finish, though it can be more challenging than smaller or straighter bound edges.

I’m so pleased Sunni and I had the opportunity to work together on this!  Her personal style and mine aren’t the same at all, but we both enjoy a good dress pattern.  I would always notice and admire her makes during Me Made Months and on her blog before she had a shop and I started making Cake Patterns.

Do you do that?  Do you follow the makes of another sewist even if your styles aren’t at all the same?  Is that just me?

At any rate, I love what Sunni sews and what she does for the online sewing community.

Structured Hem

Picture 48

I like wider hems on narrower skirts, it gives a little more shape to the garment.  Besides, skinny hems on narrow skirts can feel skimpy and they often ripple easily.  (Fusible webbing can prevent this.)

RV Striped

My first Red Velvet dress has a wider hem with no interfacing (shown above), and it crumples in the wash.  I wanted to prevent this, so I fused some 1.5″ strips of fusible interfacing behind the hem on my next Red Velvet Dresses.  It worked well, so I used it on every other version since!  I’ve been washing and wearing them heavily for two months and the hem is eternally crisp, even fresh from the bottom of the laundry basket.

Structured Hem Visual Reference

You can see the steps to make your own structured knit hem for Red Velvet on sewingcake.com.  I show you how to cut strips from interfacing (it’s a great use of scraps) and also linked to the wide stay tape in Sunni’s shop because it is *excellent* for these hems.  I get a lot of questions about where to source tapes and stabilizers, and I’m glad to recommend A Fashionable Stitch to help you get exactly what you need.

That’s all for today, I’m pulling together more content to fill out Red Velvet on sewingcake and I hear a rumor that the patterns are being sorted and packed to be sent to me, Leila and Evie to send to you!

For tomorrow, I plan to publish the bust and bodice sizing guide as well as two vis refs for adjusting the Red Velvet bodice. Judging by the state of my inbox, we have some questions about adjusting bust length and full bust alterations!

If you have other questions or curiosities about the patterns, leave me a comment below.  It helps me prioritize publication and gives me a better idea of the kind of info and tutorials you’d most like to see.

Red Velvet Dress and Intuitive Fitting

Sewhopeful Red Velvet Muse

Today our Red Velvet Muse is Sewhopeful, she and I actually live in the same time zone!  I love Sewhopeful’s style, the way she combines good fit and excellent stitching in a way that makes the fabric sing.  Sewhopeful writes excellent sewing and fitting advice on her blog, including this in-depth exploration of petite adjustments for Cake Patterns.

I am not kidding around with my use of the word “Muse” for this project, by the way.   I thought about my Muses while I worked away on the Red Velvet drafts.  I stalked their blogs.  This kept me motivated to seek out ways to make a better sewing pattern, and I definitely read J’s post several times.

blue-side-grass - Copy

In her Red Velvet Dress blog review, Sewhopeful wrote:

“The proportional sizing guide that Stephanie has developed has been really refined and improved since I made the Tiramisu dress.  I previously had to fiddle quite a bit to adjust for my A-cup bust but this dress fitted perfectly without any adjustments straight up.  The small busted among us can rejoice! I just chose my bodice size based on my high bust measurement (35″) and then my cup size based on my full bust measurement.  For me these measurements are the same so I naturally chose the A cup sizing and it is a perfect fit.”

Keep an eye out later this week for Sewhopeful’s 2nd Red Velvet dress. It’s so cute and different we decided to include #2, too!

Mid-Construction Fit Check

REd Velvet Dress Mid Construction Fit Check

Today the Fit Check page for the Red Velvet dress went live!  I used my blue gardenia dress to illustrate what I’d consider two ends of the “fit” spectrum.   In fact, I unintentionally went up a size!  That’s ok, it’s better to have a bit too much fabric and take it out than to have a garment that’s un-wearably too small. Besides, I think it illustrates the point really well.

That point is I don’t believe good fit and fitting has to be scary or inaccessible or difficult.  I’ve taught sewing for a while now, and always hated the steep learning curve that beginners face.  When you’re a beginner, it seems like there’s a universe of new skills to learn, equipment to buy, terms to figure out.  Fit and fitting are another skill set, let alone pattern alteration.

Blue Gardenia pre-alteration

When I start work on a new design, I pinpoint the potential trouble areas (bust apexes and high hips, amirite?) and decide how to approach alteration.  As much as possible, I like to make the fitting fairly straight forward.  It’s not exactly difficult to grab a side seam and sew out the extra fabric as desired.

I catch a bit of flak around the internets (and my inbox) from people who think I should design patterns that fit “closer.”  I’m not going to do that, ever, not for dresses or tops.  You can do that easily, in your sewing room, with the fabric in your hands.  It’s simple to make a dress that clings and skims your shape alone, just the way you want.

Side Seam Alteration Blue Gardenia2

I see my role here as a designer/sewing engineer/facilitator of your sewing goals.  I make deceptively simple patterns that fit pretty well but aren’t a size.  My knit dresses and tops are created with 0 ease at the bust to accommodate the preferences of those who prefer a relaxed fit.  0 ease also unlocks a larger range of fabrics that are suitable for use with the pattern, because you can adjust the dress easily for a wider variety of fabric types and weights.

Blue Gardenia Red Velvet

Besides, like I said, it’s not terribly difficult.  Fitting this way is riskless if you use a basting stitch.  Then either rip the stitches easily or simply sew over the basting and forget about it.   I like to use a wide-ish, medium length zig-zag to baste my knits together.  That way, the basting will flex (so I can put it on) but not break (as I find straight-stitch basting does).

And don’t forget, we like Sewcial groups around here so if you run into fitting trouble don’t be shy!  Upload a photo to the Red Velvet Dress Sewcial Flickr Group (later we’ll use this space for the sewalong!!) and we’ll sort you out.  Your upload may make Future Cake even better and more intuitive.

0369 Red Velvet Dress Cake Patterns Envelope Front

Sewalong schedule, merino shenanigans, structured hems, haberdashery and measurement visual references coming up this week, and more!  :)

The Red Velvet Dress paper patterns (and Espresso and RV Clutch) are just about ready to be shipped to our distributors, this week.  Then we’ll ship our three graceful covergirls Esme, Penelope and Pearl straight to your sewing room!  Once I have the paper patterns ready to send you, the price for the paper Red Velvet pattern will go up to its full price of $AUD 20, from $16.50.

Then we’ll have a sewalong, come November.  This time we have lovely pink, red and cream oversized envelopes for your Red Velvet Sewalong sorting!

Boxy Pleat & Leggings Chic

SusanK 0369 Red Velvet Muse

SusanK is our Red Velvet Muse today, be sure to check out her post on sewingcake.com for all the usual Muses specs!  Susan has been working hard on the Red Velvet Collection behind the scenes as Cake’s editor.  She challenged me at many stages of the development process, turns around edits quickly and I really enjoyed the work we did together.

One of Susan’s first challenges to me was over the “boxy” pleat.  Pleats have the reputation of adding extra visual weight, but in the case of the Red Velvet Dress I wanted to create a smooth, sleek design feature.  And it is!  You can see above that the pleat lies flat and smooth, and the folding creates a really cool effect on Susan’s ombre stripe jersey.  (Looks like the striped dress on the pattern envelope, it’s built into the pattern!)  See more about Susan and the pleat in her writeup Nobel Pleat Prize.

Leggings Chic

5555 Front pdf

click for instant download from Etsy

The last clothing I bought retail (as far as I can recall) was a pair of black rayon leggings from Target a couple of years ago.  I remember thinking I was holding more than $6 worth of fabric in my hands, which was the purchase price.   I thought of the person who stitched them and wondered how much of that $6 went towards their wages.  I don’t guess it was much, and I remember thinking I *should* make things like that myself because they’re so simple.

click to zoom, see more!

click to zoom, see more!

Years later, I finally got around to it.  The Espressos were born a few weeks ago while I was fiddling with the Red Velvet Dress pleat and getting nowhere.  I needed a palate cleanser, and my legs were cold.  I googled leggings drafting for ease guidance and found this excellent tutorial on Etsy.  My first pair of self-drafted leggings were made from this tutorial.

Then I realized I could plot the measurements and tweak the process to create a template as a shortcut for those seeking a simpler path to great fitting leggings.   In testing, we refined some details but magically Espresso seemed to work on everyone I sent them to!

It’s very important to take good measurements for the Espresso Leggings, so I put together a measuring visual reference for you. Today I uploaded a mini visual reference about tagging, too. (more nitty-gritty fabric and technique posts from next week!)  I like the tagging, it helps me put my leggings on the right way, and it’s pretty cute.  The Espressos are quick to sew, even the first time when you make the template.  They’re extraordinarily comfortable because they’re made for your own shape (no sizes)!

I’m really proud of the Espresso Leggings Template and I look forward to seeing your makes in the Espresso Flickr Sewcial Group.  Like a shot of espresso with a slice of cake, the Espresso Leggings a great companion to all Cake Patterns- not only the Red Velvet Collection.  Espressos in a printed jersey send a jolt of energy through your wardrobe, livening up plain dresses and skirts.

Sewing leggings I know will fit is so addictive, now every jersey I see with a hint of spandex in it is a potential pair of leggings!

Trendy, crazily printed leggings can retail for $80 (Black Milk is a thing here, have you heard of them?) and are often produced under questionable ethical circumstances.

I say we take back fast fashion, sewists, and make our OWN custom-crazy legs because we can. 

Take That, Fast Fashion Espresso Leggings

Hear that, Fast Fashion?  We can sew.  We can do whatever we want.  And it’s fun.

click for instant download from Etsy

click for instant download from Etsy

sewingcake.com

Some of the links in the Red Velvet Collection instructions are not yet live, I just wanted to say that they’re going live over the next week!  It’s all in the schedule… As soon as I post new content on sewingcake, I tweet and link on Cake’s Facebook page, too.

Red Velvet Collection

Thank you so much for your support of the Red Velvet Collection, 51% of sales in the past 48 hours have been for the full collection of patterns!  I wasn’t expecting that, but I’m terribly pleased you like the little dress-universe we made for you!

Two Red Velvet Little Black Dresses & Indie Retail

0369 SusannaS2

For today’s Red Velvet Muse post including fabric and fit details, check out SusannaT on sewingcake.com!  Susanna also shows off her Espresso Leggings sewn during the testing phase.  Thank you, Susanna!

She and I have become friends this year.  Susanna loves my patterns and I adore the fabric she stocks in her shop in Stockholm, Sweden.  I used that same orange and pink stripe for a “top-secret” project due later this year:

Yes, we have some girl's patterns coming!

Yes, we have some girl’s patterns coming!

Retailers are an important link between my sewing room and yours.  I have an Etsy shop that I run with my distributors LeilaB (USA) and EvieJ(UK).  It’s great, and a portion of the shipping prices we charge in the Etsy shop go to pay them for the hard work they do.  With the release of the Red Velvet Collection, we completely updated Cake’s shipping prices to reflect current shipping fees and to pay Leila, Evie and me for the work we do to ship Cake patterns.

Etsy Shop Shipping Prices

Working with retailers helps spread the wonderful world of Cake sewing to more people, and it takes some of the pressure off our Etsy shop.  You may also save a bit on shipping!  I’ve forged some great friendships with retailers I work with- in Susanna’s case she was involved in the pattern testing process for the Red Velvet Collection.

I buy fabric from her, too.  The striped jersey on her legs is the same as the fabric on my daughter’s back.  Whether you shop for Cake on Etsy or from one of our stockists, you’re contributing to the indie sewing economy and supporting hard-working designers and retailers like us.

Cake Stockists interactive map

Check out my new cool interactive maps on sewingcake.com to locate your nearest Cake Patterns retailer!  If you’re a retailer and you’d like to carry Cake Patterns, click here.

StephC’s LBD

RV LBD Pocket No Gape Neck

This is my LBD made from the Red Velvet Dress pattern.  It’s a lightweight merino jersey, and very well suited to this pattern (heavier fabrics work fine, too, as long as they recover ok).  You can see here that the Red Velvet Dress features another Cake no-gape neckline.

For the first photoshoot with this dress, I wanted to just show off the dress.  No styling, no hair, no shoes.  This is the first black thing I’ve made for a very long time.

I like the invisible pocket, it’s like a 21st century ladies’ ticket pocket!  It fits my iPhone and keeps it snug up against my waistline seam.  I made this one from scraps of red dancewear velvet, it’s a nice little surprise.  It’s also a fun and nifty bit of sewing, very carefully explained in the Red Velvet Dress instructions.  At the same time, it’s simple to omit for a very quickly sewn Red Velvet Dress.

Tomorrow I have a Muse post from SusanK and a couple of new Red Velvet references for sewingcake!  Keep an eye on the Cake Patterns Facebook page for new sewingcake pages and preview pics!

Red Velvet Collection

It’s really exciting to have these patterns “out there” for you all now, and I’ve been really pleasantly surprised how many of you are purchasing the entire collection!  I hope you love sewing all these pieces as much as we loved creating them.

What do you think of our two very different black merino Red Velvet Dresses?

Finished Object: Cake’s Red Velvet Dress Pattern #0369

We’ve been working and working for months to bring you Cake that’s better than ever!  I’m so excited to finally be posting this I don’t know where to start!  Find the first wave of the Red Velvet Collection patterns on Etsy.  Paper patterns ship in 2-3 weeks, and the .pdfs are available for instant download!

I have so many fun details to share, not to mention all the visual references I’ve been photographing and filing while I work on the collection!  For tonight, I wanted to keep it simple with an introduction to the patterns and the Muses.

LeilaB in 0369 the Red Velvet Collection

The Muses are sewing bloggers who agreed to test sew Red Velvet with me and be a part of the Red Velvet Muse project.  Our first Muse is LeilaB, who adeptly handles Cake Patterns shipping for the United States.  She does quick work and we love her for it!    Each day for the next ten days, we’ll show you how the Red Velvet Dress works with a variety of body shapes and style choices.  Check out LeilaB’s Muse Gallery page on sewingcake.com and her pattern write-up at threedresses.org.

Red Velvet Collection

click to view on Etsy! Dress, Leggings and Clutch on sale now!

I’ll also be showing you my own Red Velvet makes, and introducing another element of the pattern each day while I show off the Muses.  We’ll have some giveaways, some social sewing elements, I’ll reveal the Sewalong schedule, and more!  I’m really, really happy to be able to start rolling out new and shiny (and more easily navigable!) elements of sewingcake.com, too!

Red Velvet Dress Cake Patterns Gardenia Print

This one of my Red Velvet Dresses.  It’s a medium weight cotton/lycra that’s very easy going and handled like a dream.  I opted to make the boxy pleat on this version of the dress, though the pattern gives directions for two pleat options.  I say “boxy” because it’s not a box pleat.  Box pleats are folded, like, well, boxes and stand away from the body.  This boxy pleat is sleek, with minimal fabric folded behind it.  (Tomorrow I’ll show you some scissor pleating!)

The skirt is slim cut, but not restrictive.  Like other Cake Patterns, I have a great series of posts lined up to help you do your very best sewing and fitting for the Red Velvet Dress.  This dress is designed for fit and ease tweaks at the side seams during construction.  I built on and refined the bust proportionate sizing system we used in Tiramisu, and I think it’s MUCH better explained in the instructions.

We have been spending a little time in the country during the early spring, and I’ve taken full advantage for photos!  We took these photos today at the duck pen, aren’t they adorable?  I love wearing heels in the poultry yard.

I had thought that when we released the Red Velvet, I’d do something fun like wear one of my dresses endlessly for a few weeks, as a personal style challenge.  I want to wait to do that until Cocoa and Carmine come out, then we can explore the concepts of “the LBD,” “the wallpaper dress,” and “the striped dress.”  Let’s do some wardrobing!!

Red Velvet Collection small

What do you think?  Are you excited???!  All paper patterns will ship in 2-3 weeks (already printing and assembling them!) and the .pdfs are ready to go!  We’ll have Cocoa and Carmine, the layering pieces, available from October but you can also pre-order them now as a part of the Red Velvet Collection.

It’s so good to be back here at 3 Hours Past and at sewingcake.com, I can’t wait to start releasing the new references and it’s going to be so much fun seeing all our Muses!

The mini-clutch giveaway winners were chosen at random: sullivan1970, francescapia, and Chuleenan!  Email me your address and I’ll drop your prize in the post.  The first person I hear from gets first pick!  :)