Wow, looking back at my posts, I see that I haven’t done a proper post with a garment and a pattern review since October 17! Unmotivated much? And I have a whole slew of garments and patterns to review, and a couple with posts written just waiting for pictures.
Anywhoo, I have one for you now! This is my contribution to the Sewing Cake Red Velvet Sewalong (which, by the way, wrapped up on November 25 and I just finished mine a couple of weeks ago. Oops).
This is my first time sewing with a Cake pattern and I ended up mashing together the two that I own. I really like the Red Velvet knit dress, particularly the shape and pleating of the skirt but I knew that since I’m nursing I wouldn’t be able to wear the bodice as drafted for a long time.
However, the Tiramisu dress bodice is perfect for nursing. Thus, the mash- up was born!
Cake patterns are sized a little differently than most patterns which made mixing these two a piece of cake! To pick a size in Cake patterns , you pick an overall size range based on your upper bust measurement. The Tiramisu also has additional customization based on cup size. Waist sizing is based on your actual waist measurement, down to the half inch.
For this dress, I cut the bodice and binding pieces from Tiramisu and the midriff and skirt pieces from Red Velvet. Since the sizing at the upper waist was the same on both patterns, the pieces fit seamlessly!
And I like the result. It’s a super comfy dress. I think the current size of my boobs gives the bodice a rather matronly look but it is great for nursing. I used the scissor pleats on both front and back, which are my favorite from the pattern. The skirt has such a great shape and is really swishy! I think that the pleats take it up a notch from a comfy, casual knit dress and make it something that I will feel equally comfortable wearing to work or for a date night.
I also liked how the Tiramisu bodice is designed. Rather than using darts, the bodice is designed with small gathers under each breast. This is a good, easy way to add a little extra fullness in the bust area for the well-endowed along us (including me right now). The result gives plenty of room in the bust without the need for an FBA and with no stretching.
It’s also the best bodice design I’ve seen for nursing. I’m not a big fan of the “nursing panel” (my loathing for this style will actually be discussed in a yet-to-be-published post), which limits me to button-up, cross-bodice and draped-neck styles. The Tiramisu bodice pulls easily to the side giving great nursing access but still has enough coverage to completely cover my nursing bra. Having made a couple of dresses in this style now, I think that midriff piece included in both the Red Velvet and Tiramisu designs really aids the nursing access. Since the bodice pieces are attached in the middle of the midriff, rather than at the side seams, there’s less stretching when you pull the bodice aside to nurse. And my super-stretchy fabric probably helps too 🙂
The construction was different from most dresses I’ve made but it worked really nicely. The side seams were the last thing sewn up (other than the hem), which made it really easy to do mid-construction fits. Just baste the side seams to see if you need to add or remove ease and voila! A nice-fitting dress that doesn’t need major tweaks once it’s all put together. I actually didn’t need any alterations in my mid-construction fit checks. This pattern fit me perfectly. Choosing a customized size based on my actual waist and bust measurements really helped that I think. The other plus with this method of construction is that it should be pretty easy to alter as my body slowly returns to its pre-pregnancy size. I can just take in the side seams as I get thinner.
Now for the fabric. I L-O-V-E love this fabric! It is a super-soft, super-drapey bamboo jersey knit from the Michael Levine online store, lowpricefabric.com. I love their bamboo jersey and stocked up a bit before going on my “fabric fast.” Once I use up my stash of it I will get more when I want to use it for another project. This stuff is so amazingly soft and wonderful that I don’t consider much else to be an acceptable substitute 🙂 It also has a wonderful 4-way stretch and is surprisingly beefy and opaque, making it absolutely perfect for a dress like this. This one is in hot pink. I’ll have to make sure N doesn’t try to steal it!
I, along with much of the rest of the online sewing community, tend to use Girl Charlee for my main source of knits. While I like Girl Charlee and their prices really can’t be beat, this bamboo jersey is definitely a cut above. It’s also more than twice as expensive at $14 per yard. Still, totally worth the extra money IMO. I notice such a difference in my finished product when I use high-quality fabric, so I’m going to start using this bamboo jersey as my go-to solid and striped knit whenever possible.
Size: 35 with D cup, and 33.5″ waist. My bra size is actually an F cup right now (!!) but the gathers under the bust and the stretchy fabric give me plenty of room with the D cup sizing.
Fabric: Bamboo jersey in Bright Pink from lowpricefabric.com.
Fit: Perfect. For someone whose body is currently rather funny-shaped, the sizing on Cake Patterns was great. I was able to customize the fit on this dress based on my upper bust (to get a great fit across the shoulders), cup size (to accommodate my rather large nursing bosom), and waist size (to account for my still-thick postpartum waist).
Modifications: Other than mashing up the Tiramisu bodice with the Red Velvet midriff and skirt, I made no modifications.
Physical Pattern: Very nice. Cake offers its patterns in both PDF and printed format. Given my general annoyance with PDF patterns, I naturally forked over the extra $$ for the printed pattern. (Yes, with these patterns, as with almost all my patterns, I paid for them just like you). Actually I got both of these patterns on preorder, at a pretty significant discount. Cake patterns also sport my favorite quality about Megan Nielsen patterns — they are printed on heavier, nice-quality white paper rather than that flimsy tissue! The instructions aren’t as nice as Megan Nielsen or Colette patterns, which are printed in a pretty booklet, but at least they’re not on that awful newsprint like the Big 4 patterns. These are more like Sewaholic patterns — folded but printed on a sturdy white paper with ink that doesn’t rub off on your hands every time you touch it.
- The sizing of these patterns worked well for me, and I imagine it would generally for people who may have sizing challenges. The ability to customize based on upper bust, cup size, and waist size is great for those of us who are not a “standard” size. This method can be a bit confusing at first, but it’s worth the time to figure it out.
- A comfy knit dress always has a place in my wardrobe.
- The sizing of Cake patterns makes it very easy to mix and match pattern elements. Tiramisu and Red Velvet are currently the only knit dresses in the Cake lineup, though, so I’m not sure how easy it would be to mix and match with their other patterns.
- The Tiramisu bodice is perfect for nursing.
- Kimono-style sleeves make for easy construction.
- While the pocket design on the Red Velvet dress is interesting, it’s kind of fiddly. I didn’t even bother including it. I really would like a simpler option for pockets.
- I think the overall look is a bit matronly, but that could also be exacerbated by the fact that my bust is disproportionately large right now.
- I didn’t actually experience this part since I used the Tiramisu bodice, but the Red Velvet bodice uses facings, which I’ve never had great luck with on knit garments. Still, Steph C did a whole post on that during the sewalong and assures us that they work beautifully. I’d follow her sewalong guidance if making those.
- Cake patterns are pretty pricey at their full price. Nothing like the (in my opinion) ridiculously high prices of Named patterns, but still expect to fork over about $20 for one of these printed patterns.
Overall Grade: A solid B+. The Tiramisu bodice is a bit matronly, I think, but the dress is uber comfy which makes up for it. The style of Cake patterns may not be for everyone, but these are two good, basic knit dresses that really could form the base of a wardrobe. They’re comfy, easy to put together, and easy to fit. No complaints from me.