Inside Cake Patterns – An Interview with Designer StephC
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.
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.
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?
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]
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.
Red 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.
The Super “Boring” Skirt That I Love
Oh yes, I have completed the third of my patterns from the big pattern splurge I had a wee while ago. This may look like a super boring skirt. Plain black. Straight. No waistband. No frills. No pockets.
BUT BEFORE I PUT YOU OFF – let me say that I love my new skirt and let me tell you why.
First – look at that luscious material! It’s 100% wool and 100% machine washable. It’s delicious and warm and has a lovely subtle sheen to it.
Secondly, I love the fit! I sewed a 12 straight of the packet even though my measurements are definately for a 14. Previously I wanted to do things ‘right’ and would always cut a 14 but I always ended up taking it in so I’ve decided that I don’t care what McCalls says I think I’m a 12 – and so far it’s working out well. The sewed the petite (short person’s) version of this pattern as I usually have to take two inches of the bottom of anythign I make! Aside from that adjustment, the only chage I made to the pattern was to install an invisible zipper instead of a normal one.
Third, I love the pattern. I used McCall’s M5523 and made view D (the yellow one). And without further ado here’s the most exciting part of the shirt – the back (I feel a bit odd posting a photo of my backside to the internet so be kind!)
I think the pleats really “make” this skirt if you know what I mean. I think they’re simple but dress the skirt up without being fusy. The material I chose doesn’t hold the pleats in place quite as firmly as I’d hoped but all the same they do stay.
Similarly to Sew Busy Lizzy this was the first project that I used a double needle on. This, along with my new serger, I think, isstarting to make my sewing look a lot more professional than when i started at the beginning of the year. In case you were interested I found this video about sewing with double needles:
I HOPE YOU HAVE A GREAT WEEK FILLED WITH LOTS OF SEWING!
I have a confession to make. I accidently-on-purpose bought 11 patterns during the recent McCalls/ Vogue/ Butterick sale.
W O W I’m not making any apologies!
The thing is that in New Zealand patterns are – too put it mildly – horrendously expensive. To buy a normal vogue pattern, such as the one at the top of this post, would cost NZ$33. To put that in perspective, that’s US$27.36. A “Vogue Easy Options” pattern is NZ$25. Hugely expensive right? So when they were reduced to US$2.88 how could I resist?
To combat the cost of shipping I used a a service called ship2u to make the postage cheeper (McCalls was going to charger me $55!!) I’ll let you know how that turns out.
So when I saw the massive sale that the McCall’s company was having I had no choice but to buy at least a few…
I mean who doesn’t need a new work shirt ? ? ?
And a skirt to go with it . . .
Or maybe a second – I do work FOUR days a week you know!
And of course I needed some sensible trousers comme ca
Having another party dress never hurt anyone, right?
OR another one. . .
And it is e s s e n t i a l to have a loose summer dress/ top to throw over your togs at the beach in this harsh Antipodean sun
And getting into knit fabrics really was one of my sewing goals for the year – what better opportunity than now to achieve goals?
So I thought I’d buy another just to get some good practice in.
Reasonable enough right?? Or is sewing becoming an obsession? Am I loosing perspective?!
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Coming up this month is Dresses and Me’s six-month-aversary. To celebrate this momentous occasion I thought I’d pick the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of the things I’ve made so far this year. Without further ado…
My Bow Dress, My Sister’s Vintage Pattern Dress and my Mad Men Skirt are my favourites so far because they went together easily, I’ve gotten heaps of wear out of them and I (or in the case of my sister’s dress) she actually likes it!
My cape is here because I thought, for a long time, that I had bitten off more than I could chew. It is getting there, but I was not counting on felted wool being as hard to manage as this is! Seriously – rangling it is a real endurance test!
The only reason my orange singlet isn’t in the catagory below is that I love the silk I made it out of. However, this top ended up the Bad because of my experience with the bias seam binding – disappointing.
I don’t even know where to begin with this dresss. Click the link to read all about the failblog that this was. And in case you were wondering – yes, it is still unfinished.
I feel a bit mean for putting this dress in the Ugly category. I was so proud when I finished it because it was the first dress I had made since I took up sewing again and the first dress I had made in about 6 years and I made it in about 10 days flat (record!). However, when I look at it with my six-months-more-learned eyes I wish I finished the seams in some way and that I had lined it. It’s ugly on the inside.
So that’s my last six months. I’ve made a lot of other things too and learnt
so much in the process. Thanks for reading this blog and all your words of support!
What have been your favourite items you’ve sewn this year?
Well, as everyone says – or at least as some of us think – If Victoria Beckham’s wearing it, it must be fashionable, right? So here are some capes – for inspirations sake.
(Click on the photo for the links)
The fashionista was spotted recently wearing this cape:
She was also seen a wee while ago wearing this stunner (looks a lot like the vogue pattern I’m using don’t you reckon?)
Have you seen any great capes recently?
I’m Making a Cape!
The other day when I was choosing fabric with my sister for her birthday dress (link here) I saw these in the end of roll basket.
I know – white wool – what an extravagance!!! …and how impractical…
A long time ago I blogged about Capes, Yay or Nay? after I first fell in love with Erica’s Camel Cape. Since then I’ve seen some lovely capes that other bloggers have made. The overwheming response was that people in blogland think that capes are awesome. And who am I to argue with bloggers? (A very opinionated lot!) So I guess I’m making a cape.
I think I’ll go with the same pattern Erica used – Vogue 8776. I love that this pattern is loose fitted and has the high collar so snuggle my face into when it gets cold.
So more opinions please – shall I go with this pattern and this fabric?
Blue Dress: Finished!
Here’s a photo journey of the Blue Dress (here’s where we left off from):
I sewed the facings to the bodice:
I pinked the edges around the arm and neck holes:
I finished the side seams:
Shortened the straps by about 3 cms:
And slip stitched the facing down:
I folded and pressed 1cm, then folded and pressed an 8cm hem.
Sewed the hem down:
And then the dress was finished:
HOPE YOU LIKE IT SISTER 🙂
Mad Men Skirt
Over the long weekend managed to whip up a skirt. I know – usually it takes me about a month to complete any piece of sewing – so yes I am quite pleased with myself.
Last week I blogged about this material (below). I had decided that I wanted to make a nice snuggly-warm, yet sophisticated, winter skirt. I thought with any luck this will look like a skirt from Mad Men. I’m not really sure if it did in the end but I’m happy with it all the same.
I decided to go with the Butterick 6662 pattern (above) as I thought a simple pattern would be best for a potentially bulky fabric like this wool & polyester blend. I went with view A so that the side split would make a potentially boring skirt a bit more interesting.
I only had 0.7 x 1.5 meters as I had bought the fabric on a whim from the end of roll basket at Global Fabrics in Wellington (my favourite shop EVER). This was a five piece pattern so it just fitted on the fabric, though was a bit of squish when it got to the waistband:
This pattern was pretty straight forward and the instructions were easy to follow. The only hiccup I had was naturally when I was putting the zipper in. The needle snapped in three places when I was sewing over a pin.
However, I got over that hurdle and carried on towards the finish line. Next, I hand over-casted the all the edges as they were fraying in my hands, my sister then measured the hem length for me to just above the knee, and lastly I hand stitched the hem up comme ca:
And here is the finished product:
Upon reflection this was one of the cheapest items I’ve sewn. The material was $9, the zipper was free (from Noeline’s stash), the pattern was $1 from the SPCA Op Shop and I already had the thread. $10 for a skirt isn’t bad!
Have you been thrifty recently?
Now that I’ve finished my velvet dress I’m thinking about the next thing I want to make. As we’re heading into winter in the Antipodes (the ends of the Earth) I was thinking of making the wool I bought in Wellington into a pencil skirt. So these are my pattern options:
From top left: Very Easy Vogue 7101 c.1987, view A (brown); New Look 6274c. 2003, view A (floral print); or Butterick 6662 c.1993, view C (yellow).
And here is the wool. It is woven out of thick strands (?) of cream, brown,and dark pink, almost fuchsia. Its a bit on the thick-side, and does not have any stretch. My first choice of pattern was the Very Easy Vogue, however I wonder if the pleats, belt loops and the pockets will make it look too bulk? So my next thought was the New Look pattern. This is a very simple two piece pattern (plus facings). It would be simple to put together and and definitely not bulky-making. The third option, the Butterick pattern was a bit of an after-thought. I thought that making it with the split to one side could make it a bit more interesting.
Can anyone offer any suggestions? All much appreciated!