Making my cake, and eating it too!

As mentioned in my last blog post, the awesome ladies of the Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network had a Sew Cake sew along throughout July. This involved us all sewing a Cake pattern and then getting together to eat Cake while wearing Cake. Originally we were all going to sew the Tiramisu. But Steph at Cake patterns has some lovely other patterns too, from the Hummingbird to the Carbarita and the Pavlova.

I elected for the Pavlova……

My first challenge was deciding which fabric to make it from…. I am currently in a Fabric Buying Ban. Yup, you read that right: A Fabric Buying Ban – this is a 6 month ban from the April Fabric-a-brac, with the goal being for me to work through my stash, actually use the lovely fabrics I’ve collected, and hopefully not bury myself, The Husband and The Little Lady under a mountain of Fabric (I am a Fabric Hoarder after all). One wonders: will I be drowned by my fabric stash in the next big Wellington shake? (it’s been a shakey old few weeks here).

Anyway, my stash unearthed this beauty:

Photo 6-07-13 11 41 59 AM

A lovely wool suiting fabric which has been sitting there for about 3 years. I elected to cut it with the soft ‘furry’ side out – it’s not as sharp as the proper side which means you don’t see all the fine lines in the pattern, but I like the more muted ‘softer’ side, especially for a skirt.

Cutting it out meant wasting a lot of fabric while I tried to pattern match – this proved annoying as the skirt was too big and too long (more on that below) – which if I’d know was going to happen would have meant I could have been more frugal with the gorgeous fabric, for another simple skirt later on…

Photo 11-07-13 2 46 11 PM

A little trick I use for tracing patterns: get a big roll of sew-in interfacing or Violene. Much cheaper than tracing paper – and hangs like fabric when you hold it up to yourself (for fit checks). Just be careful not to stretch it!!

Photo 11-07-13 3 44 42 PM

Trying to pattern match

Photo 11-07-13 4 06 11 PM (3)

Think I succeeded!

All cut out and ready to go!

All cut out and ready to go!

Inspired by this woolen Pavlova, I decided to do Hong Kong Seam finishing using beautiful bias binding I bought in the recent Starfish closing down sale.Β Β  It is a little skinny (1/2 inch to make a 1/4 inch when folded) which was a bit fiddly to sew over the fabric edges – especially with a thick wool. It was constantly sliding off the wool. After a few expletives here and a few more rude words over there, I remembered I had found some ‘Steam-a-seam’ in Stitchbird which Steph of Cake Patterns raves about.

It was conveniently 1/4 inch, and lo and behold it helped me make beautiful Hong Kong Seam finishes:

Photo 21-07-13 12 28 38 PM

First I put the steam-a-seam on the wool (with a tepid iron) and peeled back the backing….

Photo 21-07-13 12 29 17 PM

… ready for the bias binding to be ironed on on one side for sewing on the other…

Photo 21-07-13 12 37 20 PM

But after a few runs, I realised it was easier to put the tape on the bias binding first, and then iron it on to the fabric….

Photo 21-07-13 12 41 59 PM

… for sewing closed after.

Photo 21-07-13 12 42 39 PM

Produces beautiful Hong Kong seams!

After finishing the seams, this skirt should be pretty simple to make. First I made one of these beautiful pin tuck pockets:

Photo 21-07-13 3 07 40 PM

I found it easier to fold under the edges and stitch them in place, and then use steam-a-seam to position on the skirt before sewing on. Trying to hold the edges under while sewing onto the skirt direct would have been a nightmare! Here is the finished pocket:

Photo 21-07-13 3 54 48 PM

Alas it’s a bit small for my hand! Didn’t think to check that!

Next up I attached all the panels together, only to realise that the completed skirt (minus the waist band) was WAY TOO BIG! I compared it to the waistband I had cut out (which fit) and it was 4 inches bigger. That’s a lot too big. Having done my Hong Kong seams already, I decided to do a lazy fix of bringing in the side seams by 4 inches in total and taper them down to the original seam position by the bottom of the skirt while leaving the Hong Kong’s untouched, like so:

Measuring out the new seam line - fortunately didn't cross the pocket!

Measuring out the new seam line – fortunately didn’t cross the pocket!

This was a good fix. I also elected to not turn the waistband down after initally attaching it as I wanted a thicker band. The end result looked like this:

Photo 21-07-13 7 57 04 PM

I didn’t do the last fold down on the waistband as I liked it at this thickness…

Photo 21-07-13 8 12 42 PM

Finished skirt ready for hemming!

Which I am pretty happy with. But what about that size difference? Well over at Cake, Steph talks about this errata where the waistband is too small. But that wasn’t my problem as the waistband was fine (unless there is just a ridiculous amount of ease and I need to have made it up a few sizes smaller). There’s another errata (which I can’t find now) which suggests the skirt pieces are too big as they have double seam allowances printed. Which errata applies? I have no idea – when I cut the pieces I measured the waistband to check it fit – but didn’t think to measure the skirt pieces to check they fit the waistband!! Something to double check in future…. So. If you are making this pattern, make sure to check lots of measurements before cutting!

Photo 30-06-13 2 27 44 PM

Top: All cut out and ready to go!

Next up was the top. I won’t go into too much detail here, except to say I found this tutorial Β over at Cake really helpful. The neckline is fiddly, but really nice when finished. If it helps, this is a nice perspective of the top draped over a chair inside out:Photo 23-07-13 10 22 02 PM (1)

At this stage in the photo I’ve stuck on the interfacing, sewn the stay stitches, done the shoulder darts and it’s awaiting the neck band… I think it would help to have a photo like this on the tutorial or an equivalent sketch on the pattern instructions — they are all a bit too ‘zoomed’ in, and I felt it helpful to take a step back look like this.

After the fiddly neckline:

Photo 24-07-13 8 38 46 PM

How many pins??

and the longest hems in the world (it wraps round the body twice!), it was time for High Tea with the WSBN. There was lots of baked Cake:

Photo 28-07-13 3 45 30 PMand lots of sewn Cake:

All the cake! I see Pavlova, Tiramisu and Hummingbird and Carbarita. Photo courtesy of Sandra Mabey :-)

All the cake! I see Pavlova, Tiramisu and Hummingbird and Carbarita. Photo courtesy of Sandra M πŸ™‚

Description shamefully stolen from Melissa R at thecuriouskiwi :

Back row, left to right: Nicola, MaryLouise, Sandra M, Zara (new member, yay!), Myself, Emma, Johanna, Joy, Holly, MaryAnne and Sandra JΒ (new member, yay!)

Front row, left to right: Nikki, Wendy and GemmaΒ (new member, yay!)

Here are the Pavlova’s:

4 Pavlova tops and one Pavlova skirt! Thank you Sandra Mabey for the photos!

4 Pavlova tops and one Pavlova skirt! Thank you Sandra M for the photos!

Here’s me posing in my Pavlova, holding a Pavlova!


Thanks to Melissa for the awesome photo, and MaryAnne for the amazing mini Pavlova (it was you who made them?)

Alas at this stage I did not like the Skirt, or the top. The skirt was not yet hemmed (I ran out of time before High Tea) and it is WAY too long, so I took it home and lopped off lots of hem:

Photo 1-08-13 9 14 53 PM

Measuring and marking to cut ALOT off

Turns out I needed to cut off 7 cm more from the front than the back – don’t you love a tilted waist and sway back?! This meant I needed a little diagram to work out how much to take off around the skirt to keep it level:

Photo 1-08-13 9 27 16 PM

Glad I had The Husband to help me measure this!

So, finally after all that – this is my finished Pavlova:


I prefer the top tied loose otherwise it’s just too much of a big block of colour (as seen in the High Tea photos!)

I LOVE the skirt. But I still don’t love the top. I think the style is wrong for my shape up top, and the colour washes me out. I have a few bits of fabric and tops I will be dyeing a dark blue or plum soon – I’m thinking I’ll throw this top in too and see what happens! In the meantime it looks better tied more loosely.

Crazy long ties!

Crazy long ties!

and here are some final photos with The Little Lady – who was all dressed up to enjoy Warhol!

Warhol here we come!

Warhol here we come!


Is this a new toy, Mum?

Categories: Uncategorized | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “Making my cake, and eating it too!

  1. It looks so much nicer hemmed! You did an awesome job with all the trouble shooting in this! πŸ™‚

  2. Kat H

    Oh, that length suits you a lot better! I love the fabric you used for your Pavlova skirt, it’s so pretty. πŸ™‚

    • I love that fabric – I wish I bought double! I saved all the workable bits, figured I’d make some sort of panel skirt or top with what I have left!

  3. The new length is much more flattering, perfect! And I am keen to see how your dye jobby goes on the top, I don’t mind the colour on you but the idea of it becoming more berry coloured is appealing, I think it will suit you more πŸ™‚

    • I haven’t dyed anything since we got our new washing machine last year (I was scared I’d taint everything) – but I reckon I have a few things ready for a plum run πŸ™‚ Hopefully the native fabrics will mean I get different shades of plum and I don’t end up with a gazillion things all the same colour!

  4. The skirt looks great that length. Good luck with the dye job, I think the top will look great in another colour. Looking at the photo of you holding your daughter the gorgeous bright pink she’s wearing compliments your colouring more than the brown.

    • yeh – i’m so much happier with this length, amazing the difference a hem job can do! I’ve never thought of wearing bright pink, reckon I should give it a go πŸ™‚

  5. Your pav set is lovely! I like the new length and the looser wrap too.

    Looking at your maths, have you ever tried levelling on the body? You need a willing helper, a metre long ruler, and pins. Wear the skirt and turn slowly while willing helper pins into the skirt a set distance from the floor. Take off, join pins with chalk, and tadah!

    • ah yes – we tried the levelling, but the skirt is so voluminous we went for the measure at the side seams and centre back/centre front and do some maths inbetween πŸ™‚

      I want to get one of those old fashion levellers – the chalk puffer on a stick that I think people used to use in the 50s!

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