Sunday, October 13, 2013

Review: Cake Patterns Red Velvet 0369

Can you NOT look at that midriff now that you've seen it?

Is that a pleat on your butt or are you just happy to see me?

That's a lot of skirt!

Edited to add this link to the blog post where the owner of Cake Patterns responds to my review.

Pattern Description: "The Red Velvet Knit Dress features a faced circular neckline with optional petal collar and pleated underbust seam. Choose the origami-style scissor pleated skirt, or reverse it for a flat boxy-pleat effect. A cleverly concealed ticket pocket holds a few coins, cards, or lipstick."

Pattern Sizing: Bodice 30"-59"; Waist 25"-55". (My bust is 44, my waist is 37.)

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes and no. The actual skirt section is much fuller than the scissor-pleat view line drawings would lead you to believe.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Easy, yes, but I think there is room for improvement, especially because Cake advertises "Our sewing instructions are different -- focused on providing a clear and stress-free sewing experience with clear diagrams for visual learners. The more experienced sewist will appreciate the easy-to-skim instructions format, including a Construction Overview and technique symbols!"

I *am* an experienced sewist and I thought non-standard symbols to be more cutesy than helpful. There are no alignment notches, so make your own when you're cutting, and if you've got 40+ eyes syndrome, keep the "cheaters" or magnifying glass handy because the illustrations, while nicely drawn, are tiny. There are also no hip width measurements at all. None. If you've got hips like me or a pronounced hourglass figure, some of that scissor pleat is going to end up as fitting ease.

I also think some of the construction methods, while fast, do not give the best results. Facings on a knit neckline? No, thank you, even if the instructions tell you to use fusible webbing between facing and bodice to prevent rollout. Hemming sleeves before sewing the sideseam? It's really just as easy and a much nicer finish to press the hem first, but leave it unsewn until after the underarm seam is sewn, and then hem in the round. Using the lightning stitch for knits? Hahaha ... experienced sewists know that's an evil trick the manufacturers played on us, especially if you've ever tried to rip it out. In black. At night. A link to an invisible zipper video tute that results in a zipper with visible extra stitches you're told to just rip rip out? Hmmm.

This would lay flat if the facing was trimmed back to the coverstitching

But for now, it has a mind of its own

There are also pattern drafting errors. While minor, I do want to mention them so newbies don't wonder if it's them or the pattern. I think there's something off with the midriff pieces - first, in the size range I used (40s) they are off from each other where you'd join them at the sideseam, by 1/4". You will never get perfect sideseam alignment if you don't correct that before you cut fabric. Also, I think the "connect a dot and triangle" method of "custom" sizing the midriff can easily result in a badly shaped pattern piece that won't fit onto the skirt properly, and the piece I created by straight size 40 numbers (IOW, no real customization) didn't match up to the skirt piece by 1/2", which times 2 for the fold cut means it's off by an inch. I didn't need that inch and ended up trimming the join to a normal shape, but maybe you will need it. Who knows.

Midriff (bottom) 1/2" shorter than same size bodice seam

Fabric Used: ITY knit for the bodice, faux knit-back leather for the midriff, Sophia knit for the skirt. The skirt is much too bulky even though doubleknit is a recommended fabric.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? The scissor-pleated skirt is what attracted me. I thought the diagonal lines would be flattering, but I also thought the skirt wouldn't be so voluminous so I've now got mixed feelings about the final result and since my faux leather reached its expiration date and started leaving marks on the white of the bodice, I'm probably going to just cut off the skirt and use the fabric for something else. And, really, now that I've seen it ... who needs a scissor pleat on their backside?

Pattern alterations or any design/construction changes you made: Cake's unique sizing is good in theory. But in practice, I found it really hard to get my head around. In the end, I guessed my best from experience, and created a bodice front that was size 35 in the shoulders/neck, 40 in the width with the C cup (or 45 A, because it's the same width), and 45 for length with an additional 3/8" added. I didn't hem the skirt or sleeves because I'm not keeping this dress, but I would hem the sleeves in the round and not interface the hem. The pics above show the skirt unhemmed, but I did an a just-in-case inch when cutting, which I did need for a nice hem width.

How a dart/tuck should be trued

The incredible morphing front bodice piece
ETA: This morphing means I had to print and tape together 3 separate bodices for the 3 different sizes. So much for the economical, only print your size, printing mentioned in the instructions. I wish the sizes were nested ... or similar to what I think I see on Cake's blog for the Hummingbird top. Can't tell on that one for sure since I don't have the pattern.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I really don't know if I'll sew this again, but I have invested $15 in the pattern so I hate to just throw that out the window. Plus I'm doggedly determined not to let any pattern get the best of me so chances are I will try it again, in a much thinner knit for the skirt with no back pleating. When/if I do, I will post on the blog and update my review on PR. I do think the dress on me has possibilities ...

Conclusion: I applaud Cake for getting out there, but I think there is still refinement needed. I don't mind paying more for good quality independent patterns, but these aren't there yet and I think the premium price point is misleading.


  1. What a great, honest and helpful review! I think the dress looks very pretty on you. Very feminine. The big four come in for a lot of knocks but it's nice to see an honest review of an independent pattern too. No pattern is ever going to fit perfectly out of the envelope, whether independently designed or not!

  2. I also think it looks very nice and feminine on you with the fuller / longer skirt. Love the business look of your straight skirts too - this is just different. I think if you do make it again and tweak it to your preferences it will look great on you.

  3. Gosh, I think you look DARLING in the dress! It's really flattering on you. I would narrow the midriff, but you can still pull it off wonderfully even if you didn't. I did try the dress in a double knit - no go. That skirt section ends up being so lumpy bumpy and all that and it wasn't doing me any favors. I also agree about the backside being pleated. It added some weird volume back there and I would rather go pleat in front, no pleat in back.

    I'd say that whatever you do, you should still selvedge this one somehow. The bodice section looks lovely, the skirt - even if you don't like it - hangs fabulously on you. Really flattering.

  4. This looks good on you. I have read one other review of Cake Patterns that pointed out some errors. If you are intermediate to advance sewist, easier to fix than a beginner. As usual helpful review.

  5. Great honest review. I do like the top portion, I couldn't agree with you more about the scissor pleat in the back - not a great design feature for me. I like Sunni's suggestion of narrowing the midriff and I think a simple pencil or straight skirt would look great attached to the bodice.

  6. You actually look terrific in that dress. It is very flattering on you and I love your choice of fabric. Thanks for the thorough and honest review, it was really helpful.

  7. Great review. I think the style is salvageable on you (yes, minus the back pleat!) and with a narrower waistband. I think you look good in a waistband though it's not your usual style.

  8. I love that dress on you. Don't trash it... if you have to tweak it twerk it and twist it... do it, it's a winner.

  9. Great review, Debbie. I agree with the others that the dress looks good on you. Though I wouldn't feel comfortable wearing a wide waistband either, but it's very flattering. Thanks for your thorough report.

  10. I think if you made it again - follow the other big girls - and make it all one color & fabric.

    As it's made now - you have a lovely hourglass figure and I can't stop looking at the big shiny band.

  11. I've been following along with interest on this one. I really appreciate your candid opinions and sharing them.

    I've just bought this pattern. ::sigh:: g

  12. It is not your usual style, however I really like it on you, but seeing you are not comfortable in, tweak it to get what you want! Great review by the way.

  13. It looks good on you. If I were you, I'd just change the skirt. Maybe a half circle. (I'm still enamored with circle skirts). Love the fabric.

    Thanks for the honest review. I'm an experienced seamstress but trying new patterns always makes me uneasy for all the reasons you've given. After all that work, I'd rather draft my own.

  14. Thanks for this review. I'm really surprised by that neckline facing business because the best thing about the tiramisu pattern from my experience is the way the surplice neckline is bound with shorter bands so it doesn't gap. I wonder why on earth they decided to go with a neckline facing on this one. I also agree about the midriff band - when I made my tiramisu, I shortened mine a TON. A lot of people in their reviews on PR mentioned that they thought the tall band was flattering, but I totally disagree. I haven't like it on anyone, really, and I especially hated it on me because I'm short, so it's way out of proportion with the rest of me. I think I'll skip this pattern based on your review, but I'm really curious about their jacket pattern that I don't think has been released yet.

  15. Hi, longtime lurker. LOVE your blog!!

    I've been sewing for a while, but am still pretty new to knits. I'm wondering what stitch you suggest if not the "lightning" stitch for sewing knits on a sewing machine. I know it's a silly question, but you have such good results, I figured I'd ask!

    Thank you for your honest and informative review!

  16. I don't mind it, although I do agree with you about the pleat at the back. I made the Tiramisu dress a couple of times and really like it, but haven't been inspired enough by the subsequent Cake patterns to shell out the money for many more. I had to faff around with the bodice pieces a bit on that one too. Anyway, good on you for persevering and for writing an honest review about your experiences with this pattern.

  17. I also like the way the dress looks on you. It's a different style for you, so maybe that's why you aren't fond of it--yet. Thanks for the honest review.

  18. Thanks for the honest review! I've enjoyed sewing Cake patterns thus far, especially compared to other knit patterns I've tried, but I can see what you mean about some of these issues. That facing is messed up, not sure what they were thinking there. I loved the way the neckline was handled with the Tiramisu and the Hummingbird, so I'm a bit puzzled that they'd go a different route.

    That said, the style does looks good on you, although I agree that the midriff piece is way too long for you. I have a short bodice, and I normally automatically shorten those because of that (like I did on my Tira), but I'm also not a fan of a wide midriff band in general.

    I hope you can make this pattern work for you, because it does look cute. I'm going to keep your review in mind when I get mine - especially for that facing and the back pleat. Thanks!

    P.S. What made you go with black here? I thought you weren't a fan of it. Don't get me wrong, the combo of fabrics look fantastic together (although I'm sorry to hear about that leather piece), but just curious if you're changing your mind about black?

  19. I'm sorry you don't like it. I think it looks good on you and, dare I say, better than many of the things you've sewn.

  20. oh, i sincerely hope you don't let any frustrations you've experienced during this dress' construction sour you on a very pretty, flattering, and feminine look! I'm with the majority here, you look adorably pretty, with a very nicely curvey figure, while remaining within 'business appropriate' parameters.

    My first thought on seeing your pictures here was: "This is the dress to wear to the office when that cute guy from the office down the way is supposed to stop by"!

    best of luck, steph

  21. I think it looks young and fresh. I'm not fond of the shiny leather midriff piece and think I'd prefer that in the same fabric as the skirt. You look great, IMHO!

  22. The dress is pretty on you (from afar). I am positive you can salvage this garment, but wouldn't blame you for taking it apart and using the fabric elsewhere.

    The way the bodice pattern piece is aligned differently for each size is baffling.

  23. In spite of the patterns problems, it sure looks good on you! I love it!

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