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:
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…
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. 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:
After finishing the seams, this skirt should be pretty simple to make. First I made one of these beautiful pin tuck pockets:
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:
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:
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:
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!
Next up was the top. I won’t go into too much detail here, except to say I found this tutorial 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:
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:
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:
Description shamefully stolen from Melissa R at thecuriouskiwi :
Here are the Pavlova’s:
Here’s me posing in my Pavlova, holding a Pavlova!
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:
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:
So, finally after all that – this is my finished Pavlova:
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.
and here are some final photos with The Little Lady – who was all dressed up to enjoy Warhol!