Saturday, October 12, 2013

Another Piece of Cake

I want to start off by saying that I wish it wasn't me finding errors with the pattern. I really want indies to be successful. It's to everyone's benefit if they are. And I admit I wanted to feel the bliss I've seen around the interwebs. But on the other hand, I'm not inclined toward that bliss when plunking down $15 and then needing to fix the pattern. And it bugs me a little that beginning stitchers won't know what they don't know and will probably remain blissfully ignorant. I'm not sure if that's good or bad.

Here goes ...

I was originally going to blend between upper chest/neck and waist. Bad enough that the sizes aren't nested to make it easier on me, but the sleeve angles vary between the sizes. If I line up the sleeve angles as below, look what happens to the center fronts ... they are wonky donkey.

Likewise, if I align the CFs, the sleeve angles go in different directions. Which means you may need a shoulder angle adjustment in one size range, but not in another. BTW, per the instructions on using high bust measurement for the base bodice size, I should be using the smaller size on top. But if I did that, I'd need to add 4" to go over the girls, which is why I decided to blend in the first place. The bust depth alteration on Cake's blog isn't (IMO) a good alteration ... it leaves you with a terrible pattern piece. So, instead, I'm meeting it all in the middle and using the smallest lines on the bigger pattern piece, with the neckline/shoulder lengths of the smaller piece.

This is the front midriff piece, sized using the pattern instructions. Uh ... my body (and I'm guessing yours too) doesn't get *smaller* as we near the hips. Something just ain't right here.

Nor here ... I was right when I said earlier that the midriff pieces don't match at the sideseams. They are off nearly a 1/4". Yes, there is a possibility that the printer was off, but I didn't print this in separate runs so I'm kind of doubting that. And everything else on these sheets lined up fine.

And then we have this ... the wonky midriff piece is over an inch longer than the bodice piece it's supposed to match up to. Even if I undo the tuck, which is supposed to be untucked anyway on the smaller size of each range (WHY?), it still doesn't match up. Note to self: Find the next size out so I can use the tuck for shaping, and then correct that midriff.

And my last entry for the night ... the tuck is drafted without a proper extension. Folded in this direction, it won't fully catch in the seam. Folded the other way, the extension hangs down below the seam line (better for getting caught, but still bad drafting).

And I haven't even looked at the skirt yet.

(If you missed my first post on this pattern, go back one.)


  1. Holy schmoly. That's not good. I thought that dress was really cute too.

  2. Thanks for the honest review. I feel that it's very important that people aren't scared to criticise independent patterns where it may be warranted.

  3. Not great at $15 plus the effort of putting the tiles together! I bought the Tiramasu envelope pattern which cost a lot, especially with shipping . I wasn't impressed either, I did manage to cobble together a dress that I wore, but I probably won't spend my money there again. I have had very different experiences with other indie companies though, Colette Patterns and Stylearc have been a joy to put together.

  4. I'm reading this with interest, as I have been lusting after the Cake Pavlova wrap top for a while.

    From what I can see your issues fall into two categories: fitting 'shortcuts' and drafting errors. The former is easy enough to correct with experience and a willingness to ignore the instructions (although I agree, not great for the price of the pattern) and the latter... well. What a shame.

    Interestingly, it looks as though the DBA came from here, and it doesn't even work for her.

  5. Debbie, you are a woman after my own heart. For some time now I have crying about the quality of PDF patterns out there. Let's face it, anyone with a bit of computer knowledge and enough chutzpa to think they are a sewing expert can put it out there and make a buck. And because we have people out there who have never known what quality fit is (the world of fast fashion and discount clothing from Bangladesh)it all passes. The enthusiasm of newbies is a wonderful thing. Wish I could bottle it. But I so wish there were some way to separate the "men from the boys" here and there were standards of experience demanded before foisting on the unknowing a project that could potentially turn them off from sewing forever. On the other hand, if you've never know about decent fit, would it even bother you? The patterns are purchased, the ill fitting and poorly instructed clothing is made, and everyone's happy? Like you, I wouldn't be but I guess for some it's otherwise. The success of these PDFs shows that. How is the unknowing supposed to know the difference? It's sort of like the chicken and the egg thing. The lack of knowledge feeds the lack of quality of the made garment and pattern which continues to feed the ill fitting and ill constructed clothes cycle. I could go on an on and really appreciate your sentiments expressed here. Go Debbie.

  6. I have tried a few indie patterns and I was never happy. I gave it one more chance when the Archer shirt came out and I am glad I did. I have made that shirt 7 times. It was well worth the money and is so impeccably drafted.
    I really think too many inexperienced people are jumping on the indie pattern band wagon and creating bad patterns.
    I only trust Grainline. She is a professional. I will pass on the rest.

  7. What Bunny said! :-) Thanks for your candid review. And thanks for saving me money.

  8. hi Debbie - i am wondering if you have brought any of this to StephC's attention, or if you feel maybe it's just too much to try to present to her?

    I have to say i did have a concern with one of her patterns and she got back to me very speedily and even made a correction to the .pdf within 24 hours. (It was a minor issue which would only come up in rare instances.)

    Also - on StephC's websites she makes her mission very clear - to make easy to make and easy to wear designs that are especially dedicated to helping beginning seamstresses have a good experience. I applaud her efforts and think this is a great idea. I also would be very surprised indeed if she has managed to realize her goals in absolute perfection over the year or so she's been working at it ;)

    I've sewn clothing for myself, family, and friends for 35+ years. Couture, special occasion, and career wear are great, fun and challenging to sew. But i'm a housespouse who spends a lot of time out in the yard, walking in the wilder areas and doing chores and errands. I also have nerve damage which makes structured garments sometimes excruciating to wear.

    I have looked and looked and looked in the Big Four for versatile, casual dresses with no luck at all. Vogue is career/fancy wear, McCall's and Butterick skew very young with a bit of retro. I'm 51. Just speaking personally, i'm thrilled to find one or two dresses which look nice, sew up easy, and have room to move.

    If i have to true a seam allowance or two on the fly - well, i have literally DECADES of time spent doing the same exact thing on all the Vogue patterns i've had to slice to pieces in order to get a decent fit. And yes i'm talking about knit top patterns here.

    Personally i haven't found Cake patterns to be any more fuss than Vogue. And if i have a question i have actual live people i can ask for help! Again, i would bring your concerns to StephC's attention (bearing in mind that she's on the opposite side of the world from us, so give her a bit to get back to you :)

    I am certain there are many seamstresses of our generation who will be very happy to read about your experiences. Thank you for giving me a forum to express my opinions and experience! Happy Day All!!! stephQ

  9. p.s. i'm not a 'muse' or 'devotee'.

    But i did work as main customer contact for a point of sale software system for a few years. I cannot tell you how incredibly frustrating it was for a customer to spread their tale of woe re:some bug or feature or another far and wide in the community that was our target market, while never breathing one word of their problem to our company or even me personally (even during numerous follow up phone calls asking them specifically to let me know if they had any problems) -

    especially since generally if they had only let us know we could have fixed their problem in a few minutes, maybe an hour or two. I am not saying this is the case here - but i'm sure you can see how it would rankle to not even have the opportunity. stephQ

  10. "If i have to true a seam allowance or two on the fly - well, i have literally DECADES of time spent doing the same exact thing on all the Vogue patterns".

    This is my point exactly. You have decades of experience behind you, as does Debbie, and can easily fix these issues and end up with a nice garment. New sewists don't have that experience and my fear is either #1 they accept inferior quality as the norm, the WalMart mentality, and #2 they just quit sewing because they have less than stellar results. This art needs every sewist it can get to stay lively and I would hate to lose a single sewist. In this age of technology anyone can be anything on the internet and that reality is dumbing down this marvelous craft. Just my two pennies and I have made my point. Thanks for listening and the opportunity to express myself, Debbie. Great post.

  11. Thanks Bunny and Tinyjunco (and everyone!) for your comments.

    As for Tiny's question about whether I've contacted StephC (Cake owner), the answer is No. I'm on the fence about whether or not I think it's actually my responsibility and whether a "relationship" with the owner will then tint my current honest and unbiased opinions.

  12. Hi Debbie! see my second comment, to which i would add i really don't think any indie pattern designer is claiming psychic abilities. How on earth they are supposed to find out about your individual concerns without you letting them know is beyond me. Perhaps you have a few ideas? Good natured fairies? Freelance psychics?

    I would add that i did read your first post on this pattern, and a couple of your gripes i would categorize as personal preference. I took the Tilton Sister's class The Ultimate Tee on Craftsy (HUGE GIGANTIC RAVE) and they recommend staystitching knit necklines as well as stitching up the sides after hemming the sleeves. I have to say that i never staystiched a knit neckline before, i tried it and it's made a huge difference for the better.

    But, again, i think it's personal preference and particular applications. And, frankly, i've not followed ANY pattern's directions in toto since i was about 15. In fact all sempstresses i know with any experience tend to develop their own repertoire of 'best practices'.

    Anyways, gotta go - huge day. Thank you again and hope you are able to find some joy out there soon :) StephQ

  13. I appreciate this, you saved me some money. Sewing time is limited and precious, and I don't want to have to work that hard to fix a pattern that costs $15.

  14. Hanks for this review. I recently won the Tiramisu cake pattern and look forward to sewing it. I still am going to sew it as patterns in my size are difficult to get but you have saved me the frustration of wondering whether the issues are mine or the patterns. Hopefully the Tiramisu doesn't have as many issues.

  15. I'll be interested to see how the dress looks when you actually sew it up. Keeping in mind that no pattern ever fits straight out of the box (or printer). I had problems with the Tiramisu, but then, I have trouble fitting most dresses. Especially fitted dresses. At least with this one it is in a knit, and loose fitting in parts, so there is a good chance your first iteration will be a wearable muslin:)

  16. Thank you for the review. I have been curious about the patterns.

  17. I've been sewing for a very long time. Decades. Okay, off and on, but still, for a long time. Until just a few years ago, I always thought that the reason my garments didn't turn out as expected (not referring here to things such as fabric choice) was because of MY errors. It had NEVER occurred to me that sewing patterns would be at fault. It's a miracle that I persisted.
    I agree 100% with what Bunny and others have said.
    Thank you for posting your real experience here, Debbie. You are doing a service to others who buy and use indy patterns, and I would take a wild guess that your review is being forwarded to the designer.
    Poor quality of patterns and instructions is what almost brought me out of retirement (as a technical editor). I came to my senses (whew!), but there really is a need for patterns to be edited and tested on a variety of body shapes and sewing skill levels.
    No, that's not easy or as fast as some would like. But if a pattern designer/maker wants to be successful in this for the long haul, this is what's needed. That plus totally honest reviews. Thank you, Debbie.

  18. I have not been sewing for decades and one of my first knit projects was Cake Patterns Tiramisu. I found it liberating that in some of the sewalong instructions Steph specifically tells you it is OK to true if necessary. Before, I would have thought that I was doing something wrong and gotten frustrated, or I would have tried to ease things in and gotten nasty puckers, etc. I agree that there are typos in the patterns, and this can be annoying or frustrating, but I also know that I get a really fantastic fit from Cake Patterns so I soldier on. If I cannot figure it our on my own, I e-mail the company and get a speedy response. Some may think that I shouldn't *have* to do this, and sometimes I agree, but mostly I am just glad there are some great patterns out there that has a PERSON I can e-mail if I have an issue. That's a level of customer service that only the indie pattern companies can provide. I make almost exclusively indie patterns now because of this.


Thank you for each and every comment. I appreciate them all, but I have to be honest and let you know that I'm usually bad about answering questions. I hope you understand that there just isn't enough time in the day to do everything I want to do.

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