Inside Cake Patterns – An Interview with Designer StephC

StephC is the designer and boss-lady at indie pattern company Cake Patterns. Cake Patterns has risen quickly to prominence in the sewing community since it’s unveiling in July of last year. Steph’s first printed pattern, the Tiramisu knit dress was a runaway success. Since then she has designed and printed four more patterns – The Hummingbird and Pavlova separates, as well as the Cabarita and Bonny Sailor Riff t-shirts. StephC lives in Brisbane and blogs at 3 Hours Past The Edge of the World.
bonny
These days you can download PDF patterns off the internet for less than the cost of a paper pattern. Why was it important to you to provide your customers with printed patterns too?

Even though it’s relatively cheap and easy, most people don’t want to go to the trouble of printing and assembling their own patterns. It’s a personal preference. The market for PDF patterns is really small compared to the number of people who sew. In order for me to be able to make a job out of pattern design, I need to make paper patterns.

Hummingbird Peplum Top & Straight Skirt Cake Patterns I love your envelope art! You’ve chosen to have to have a diverse set of models which is unusual when you compare your range to pretty much everything else. What does this say about Cake Patterns?

Mikhaela (Cake’s cover artist) and I decided to work together in part because we have similar convictions about “beauty.”  In the world we live in “beauty” has come to mean “outward appearance.” It seems only those people who fit into a narrow definition of what’s attractive can be considered beautiful. Neither of us buy it – we believe that the beauty standards of “thin, white, and young” are toxic and should be actively deconstructed.

The “thin, white, young” ideal is in direct opposition to the world I see around me, beautiful women come in every size and shape and ethnicity. Anyone with eyes can see that. Our covergirls are our way of politely disagreeing with the status quo.

Besides, we want our little girls to grow up with a richer idea of what it means to be a beautiful woman.

Tiramisu dress

Most of your patterns call for knit fabrics which can be a bit scary for budding sewing enthusiasts. What is the most important tip you have for sewing with knits?

At the risk of sounding crisp, my #1 piece of advice for knit newbies is: Get over it. Forget about being afraid.  t’s just fabric, it doesn’t have teeth and won’t explode if you make a wrong stitch! It’s OK to make a few mistakes, it’s not the end of the world. 

Nothing about knits is terribly difficult or mysterious: get a ballpoint needle, stabilize the shoulders, and gently stretch the binding when you go around curves.  Use scraps of fabric to practice a new technique/ get your hand in the fabric.  You’ll find the time you spend doing that is paid back in ease of sewing (not to mention the confidence boost!).  Oh – and it’s not necessary to use a serger/ overlocker.  It definitely improves the durability of the garment but it’s not a required piece of equipment.

There’s definitely a learning curve when it comes to handling knit fabrics but it’s worth making a few sub-par tees at first for the payoff later. I always found that my self-made knitwear clothes were the ones I wear most. For the price of a “nice” tee or knit dress, I can buy some “very very nice” knit fabric and make it into a finished item that I’ll actually wear, with complete creative control over the color, fiber, and cut. I’m not at the mercy of what’s available in the shops. It’s also satisfying to wear clothes I know weren’t made by slaves or people who are otherwise being exploited. [Steph also has some tips for complete beginners here]

Is Cake Patterns your full time job? Would you like it to be?

I don’t have another source of income, no. In fact, Cake has yet to be a source of income for me but it has paid for itself during the start-up phase. I have no debts but little else. I eat a lot of beans and learned to be very frugal! Cake work occupies most of my waking hours, I have to be careful to carve out family and personal time. Even then, I still spend between 8 and 12 hours a day working on Cake and sometimes more.

Pearl from Red VelvetRed Velvet is your next pattern. Can you give us any hints of what to expect? 

Well, I’m really looking forward to Red Velvet!  We’re hard at work on it right now and I don’t want to give too much away but it will be really great to release a little collection of patterns all at once. Elements of the dress play through a little handbag, we have some sweet layering pieces, and a project I’ve been working on with my little girl. I can’t say anything else, though! We should have the Red Velvet Collection available towards the end of July. 

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12 thoughts on “Inside Cake Patterns – An Interview with Designer StephC”

  1. Great interview, thank you! The Indie Pattern designers have really helped keep my interest in sewing alive. They think differently and they are always interested in what real people think about their patterns and the way we wear them. Looking forward to the Red Velvet collection. Now off to cut out my Tiramisu 🙂

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  2. Thanks so much for introducing StephC and Cake patterns to us. I love the variety of the size of patterns! That made me smile. And oh, definitely the tips about sewing knits, too 😉

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