Friday, 22 November 2013

My disappointing slice of Cake

Dear, oh dear. Does this look like a happy dress to you?

Poor thing, just hanging there all limp and lonely.  Behold the sad little pleats - scissor and bust - just waiting for some curves to come and fill them.

Alas, those curves shall not be mine.  This dress does nothing for me. See my face? The dress ain't happy, the face ain't happy.

Now I suspect there may be several reactions going on at this point. Perhaps you're thinking, hey, don't blame the dress! And you're completely right. I am not blaming the dress per se - or at least, not the pattern (which I'll come back to below), or the lovely viscose fabric, or the execution which for once is rather tidily done. It's just that it doesn't work on me. Let's try smiling:

No, sorry. Not working. 

Now the other thing you may be thinking is, hey! It's not that bad! To which I answer, no it's not! But unfortunately, I don't feel comfortable in it at all.  Even G, who is normally quite tactful, took one look at it and said, wow that doesn't flatter your bust!  So let's backtrack a bit, and get down to some details, shall we?

This dress is made with Cake's latest pattern, the Red Velvet. I think it's a really lovely design. It's casual without being sloppy or slouchy, and it's just a little bit different from what else is out there - in a good way. Put this together with Cake's innovative approach to sizing (draw your own! Full busts welcome!), and I took a risk and bought it. A risk, because although I like the style, it's not one that I ever wear. So yes, I knew, before, during and after making this, that there was a high likelihood of putting it on and going "euh, meh". And unfortunately, this time, the meh won out. Even though the sizing IS that great, and the sewing that well-explained and straightforward.

Plus, I didn't help myself with my fabric choice At. All. The feel of this is lovely: a bit solid but a bit slinky, super soft and stable to sew. And I sort of got carried away when I saw those big mustard/grey/white flowers. But they're just not something I can wear like this. I fatefully ignored the voice in my head that goes "no big prints on top no big prints on top no big prints on top". As if I didn't know: whether or not you might be thinking it looks good - I don't like to wear big prints on my boobs. Especially when they're literally right on my boobs (good one, Jo).

So, also, the fit could do with some tiny tweaks if I'm going to do this again. I was right on the edge of sizes 30 and 35, so my first muslin was a 35 and it was too big: my final dress is a 30D. But looking at the pictures, I think I need the size 35 shoulders. I also definitely need a deep bust adjustment. I added some bodice length already, but maybe you can see that the upper midriff seam stretches up under my bosoms. Even if you can't, it does and I feel the constant need to pull it down, so there's that.

The other thing with the midriff piece is I can't work out exactly where I want it to hit. It just feels kind of not in the right place. Maybe I should make it narrower, so the skirt hits higher? Or just lengthen the bodice/bust length a bit more and skip the midriff piece altogether. I actually think getting the under-bust and waist lines to fall right is the key to deciding whether this dress can work for me or not. What do you think?

And finally, I need to change the sleeves. Again, I knew this in advance but sort of had a sewing casual clothes mental block (yeah, this thing again). I never wear sleeves this length, because I don't think they flatter me. Really, I'd like to lengthen them - 3 quarter or even full-length. Would I need to add an underarm gusset?? Because if so, I think I might just throw in the towel...

After all that, I hope you can see that my problems with this pattern are exactly that: MY problems, not the pattern's.  I must admit, being used to traditional patterns, I had an idiot moment when I first opened the envelope. Then I got on with it, and it works GREAT! I think Steph's innovative approach to her designs, sizing and instructions is spot on in dealing with knit clothes for real people.

The only thing I remain unsure about really is this: is it worth me futzing around spending money on more fabric to try and make this design work for me? Or should I just put it behind me and try a Lady Skater?

Well, I feel like this post has been one long moan - and an unfair one, because this is a really good pattern! I guess I'm actually just pretty disappointed that this version/vision of mine didn't work.

So how about I leave you with a picture of the hem?

Ooh I do love me a nice smooth hem. Double needles all the way, baby!

OK, it's Friday, I'm off to the Chinese supermarket to get exotic ingredients, and soon - very soon! - it's good food and weekend!! Enough wallowing in my-comfy-dress-didn't-work-out. Besides, I have a quilt to be getting on with. And a Mr Pringles costume...

Any plans for your weekend? I hope it's a good one!


  1. Oh, no, how disappointing! We've all been there before-- sometimes you just want to try something that's a bit risky or different, and sometimes it pays off, and other times, you're just not comfortable. Would you wear this as a skirt? Maybe you could just chop off the bodice and add a waistband so it's not a total waste for you.

    As far as lengthening the sleeves, maybe compare the armhole to that of the Renfrew top or another knit top, if you have another pattern, and make sure that you're extending it similarly. I don't think you would need gussets since you're using a knit.

  2. yeah, I think that's what I'm going to do, chop it up and hope to get some good wear out of the lower half. Just so frustrating when it doesn't work like you want it to! Good idea about mashing up the top/sleeves too, thanks! My brain sort of froze once it was done, and that ever occurred to me. Onward and upward!

  3. it gets quite scary doesn't it! I had a sinking feeling as I hemmed this that it was going to turn out like this. I hope yours works out ok! II'm glad you mentioned about taking it in a bit at the hips, too, I'd been wondering that and a second opinion is very helpful!

  4. Honestly.... I like how the dress looks on you, really really honest. But I can completely understand that feeling when you just don't "feel" it!

  5. oh thank you! You know, I actually feel bad because I just can't 'get' it - I keep trying it on in the hope that I'll see that it actually works for me after all. I think perhaps the combo of new-to-me style AND a big print is just slightly too much all at once.

  6. Oh no don't feel bad, it's just a dress after all, you could do a giveaway maybe, I'm sure someone will love it! (too small for me, unfortunately!!! :))

  7. So annoying when that happens, and it does look beautifully made. I wonder if swapping the bodice for a plain black would work?

  8. Congratulations on finishing and posting it, I think it looks lovely, however I completely understand 'meh'. I'm 'meh' about mine and can't even decide on short or maxi ;) Again, it's not the pattern, it's my preferences & I knew it wasn't a Tiramisu when I bought it ;)
    It would make a lovely skirt, or do you feel a sleeveless hack might work for layering with tops? (the new shrugs perhaps?)

  9. God, it's so easy to get carried away with fabric and ignore the voice in your head. I like the idea about chopping it off for a skirt... or make it into something for your little girl. The style is not bad on you so I hope you give it another go. Ooooh your hem is lovely!!

  10. I found narrowing the midriff piece (or even not using it!),and shortening the length, proved to be a lot more flattering on me. You can totally rescue this dress. The fabric is much too pretty not to.

  11. That hem is a thing of beauty! I think the fit looks great. But I understand sleeve preferences and we can't see how the midriff hits. I think it may just be the placement of the print on the bust. With the one flower centered and the other to the side it looks a bit like there's a wandering bust. Then again, if both flowers were lined up in front, Ahem... A solid black bust or the skirt option are great ideas.


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