I finished this dress the other week so I could wear it to an ice cream social & get cute pictures. Alas, the lighting & Q’s camera phone did not get along. But now I have much less noisy images to show you. Let’s just pretend I’m posing all cute with a scoop of ice cream in one hand.
Shortly after I found out I’d be getting to test sew the Tiramisu pattern I ran across this ice cream jersey & knew I HAD to use it for this dress. I even thought I might use it for the entire dress. But then I remembered the name of the company, Cake Patterns. Wearable, everyday basics. I might be tempted to wear a really loud dress with ice cream cones shooting off in all directions (like how the striped version of the dress forms big chevrons), but knew I’d get more use out of it if I kept things somewhat conservative. A band of ice cream cones around your torso is more office friendly than an explosion of ice cream cones.
If you’re interested in the ice cream fabric, it looks like Girl Charlee only has a half yard left. Months ago I saw it on other online fabric sites, but they were more expensive. Besides, if you’re only going to use it as an accent fabric a half yard should be enough. But note that it is very thin. I had to underline the midriff with white jersey.
As for my main fabric, it’s a lovely, thin to medium weight double knit modal. Because it’s modal it’s drapey, but being double knit it wasn’t as finicky to work with. A very nice compromise. I got this lovely fabric from FabricMart, a site I adore. But for the first time ever they disappointed me. I had ordered a yard, but for long stretches the fabric was less than a yard long. It had been cut unevenly & was as short as 32″ in some places. There was even a run on one side! But because the fabric was 78″ wide, I was just able to squeeze in the rest of my dress pieces- and the pattern called for 2-1/2 yds! My cutting layout was tweaked even further so I could fit a pair of Rosy Ladyshorts on the fabric. Getting the cutting layout just right took a long time, but I’m glad I squeezed every last inch out of that fabric. It’s so soft.
I won’t go into many fit or construction details since I already covered most of those in my previous post about my Tiramisu muslin turned t-shirt. The only difference between making the shirt & the dress was that I needed to take more ease out of the midriff. I suspect this has to do with the weight of the skirt pulling the midriff down- you know like when you pull saran wrap taut so it doesn’t sag down. I think extra weight pulling the midriff meant the fabric was not loose enough to conform to my figure.
One final fit note. I didn’t correctly diagnose the problem of extra fabric under my breasts on my t-shirt because the chevron print was too distracting. And of course I didn’t realize what was going on until after I serged the seams on this dress- the gathers start too far to the sides if you’re a younger lady who hasn’t breast fed. So bear your breasts in mind while sewing.
Thanks Steph for letting me try out your pattern! It’s very nice having such a comfortable surplice dress that doesn’t gape open & expose me for all the world to see. And who doesn’t like pockets? These are just the right depth.
Well folks, Frosting Fortnight has come to an end. I hope you enjoyed these past two weeks. It was a lot of fun seeing people’s outfits & reading your comments- you were really inspiring! And boy was it a challenge wearing things I don’t normally wear for two whole weeks, but it was a refreshing change from my usual go-to garments.
While it felt like a long time, two weeks just wasn’t enough to talk about everything we would have liked to. Steph has been toiling away getting Cake Patterns up & running, so some of her Frosting Fortnight posts are still on their way. Stay tuned to her blog- they’re going to be good. As for me, the sequel to my Lazy Laundress post will go up in the coming week.
I rarely wear some of my favorite dresses. They fit & need no mending. I can even wear them most places, including work. Frosting Fortnight is helping me confront the reason I don’t often wear these dresses.
The problem is I used cheap-as-sin polyester lining. These are summer dresses.
Linings help form the foundation of the garment. Using a poly lining is like using as cheap of materials as possible so you can build your house larger than you could otherwise afford. You took the time & care to make the house just the way you want it, so it should last. On a smaller scale, the same can be said for your self-made garments. Too much time goes into planning, cutting out the pattern, stitching everything together, & getting a good fit. Using a cheap lining is like taking your hard work, smacking yourself in the face with it & tossing it all in the trash.
Your clothing may not need to endure hurricanes or tornadoes, but it should stand up to occasional abuse (like old washing machines & children playing dress up). Cheap poly linings can fray before you even wear them the first time.
In the southwest it’s common to build houses out of adobe, a wonderful material that regulates temperature so your house doesn’t get too cold or too hot. In the southwest it’d be a bad idea to build a house that’s all windows & doesn’t have any blinds. Your air conditioner would have to run double time to keep up with all the sun rays being turned into microwaves as they passed through your glass walls. Likewise, poly linings make things too darn hot.
Quality linings, like silk, can be too expensive (although on fabric.com you can often find silk on the cheap). And if all you have in your town is a chain fabric store, chances are you won’t be finding any silk remnants. In that case you may have no choice but to compromise.
Rayon is a nice alternative. It’s cheaper than silk & breathes well. If you’re opposed to rayon because it’s a bit squiggly & harder to control than cotton, give it a shot anyway. Rayon really isn’t much harder to control than a cheap poly lining. Just take your time & use a big, clear space to lay everything out. Pattern weights, pins & a sharp rotary cutter are your friends.
After my very poor lining decisions earlier in the year, I decided that if I’m going to use synthetics, they have to be satin. Even cheap satins are more heavy-duty than those $1/yd bargain bin linings. They can hold up to more wear & tear without coming apart at the seams after just a few washings. Plus, they’re absolutely fantastic when it comes to polishing your glasses.
Still, satin doesn’t breathe & even a winter dress lined in poly can be too hot. If you’re like me & you HAVE to make something when inspiration strikes, but the thought of trekking to the fabric store is too painful you might have to use whatever cheap synthetic you have on hand. In such cases, I like to line the bodice in cotton & only do the skirt in poly. We retain a lot of heat in our torsos, so that’s the area that needs the most breathability. If your skirt is nice & big (room for air circulation) a poly lining might not matter so much when it comes to heat retention. And if you have poor circulation in your legs, you might want that polyester there.
I’m still learning when it comes to linings. If you have any other suggestions on good, alternative fabrics, please let me know (do those breathable poly linings really work?). Also, in the knitting community silk is seen as something that retains heat. In sewing circles I’ve only heard it mentioned as something that is breathable & good for hot weather. Anyone know what the real skinny on silk is?
Frosting Fortnight is nearing its end so I present you with our last, but certainly not least, guest blogger, Rhonda of Rhonda’s Creative Life.
Tell us a bit about your sewing & what we should expect to see when we read your blog.
I love to draft patterns and I especially enjoy coming up with new ideas for garments. On Fridays I share a new idea based on simple shapes, rectangles, squares, circles, with a triangle thrown in from time to time. On Saturdays, I showcase a new sleeve and explain how it is drafted. The sleeves can be adapted to just about any commercial pattern. During the week I talk about projects that I am currently working on.
What’s your stance, frosting, cake, or both?
I love to sew frosting with a passion.
Just because we love one more than the other doesn’t mean we’ll always make it a lot. What do you find yourself sewing more, frosting or cake?
A beautiful evening gown is such a joy to create, but sadly, evening gowns aren’t worn on a daily basis!! So, the staple of my wardrobe sewing is cake. But cake can be fun as well.
What’s your favorite piece of frosting that you’ve ever sewn?
My favorite piece of frosting is a dress that I call my Cinderella dress. It’s lovely. It drapes over the shoulders and dips in the back. The dress is made up of three layers of fabric. The outside layer is a light blue chiffon with small sequins embedded in the fabric. The center layer is also chiffon and has huge blue cabbage roses printed on it. The final layer acts as a lining but adds one more layer of shine as it is covered in glitter. The dress is a delight to wear.
What’s your favorite piece of cake that you’ve ever sewn?
My favorite piece of cake borders on being frosting, but I can wear it on more occasions. I wove an entire skirt out of ribbons. I wear the skirt every chance I get!
Give us the history behind this recipe & dress.
The piece I chose for this blog is one of my Fabulous Free Pattern Friday designs. I call it the Perfect Travel Dress (click here for pattern). There are drawstrings on the sides of the skirt and along the shoulders which enables the wearer to wear the piece in many different ways. It can be worn as a dress, it at can be drawn up and worn with tights, if can be drawn up more and worn as a blouse.
I chose the Zucchini Bread/Cake recipe to pair with the piece as the colors are so similar and this bread/cake is also perfect for multiple occasions. It’s great for breakfast, wonderful as a mid morning snack with a cup of tea, or an afternoon snack and it’s wonderful paired with fruit and served as a dessert. And best of all, it travels well, just like the dress!
1 cup of oil
2 Cups of sugar
2 cups of grated zucchini
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1 cup of chopped nuts
Blend above and set aside.
In another bowl combine,
2 cups of flour
1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
2 teaspoons of baking soda
3 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of salt
Combine all dry ingredients and slowly add to wet ingredients.
When all combined, pour into a greased tube pan or 2 loaf pans.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until knife inserted comes our clean.
Cindy’s guest post on embellishment ideas was very inspiring. Creative use of bias tape & cording can make for little doses of frosting to spice up your wardrobe. Here are some free patterns that can serve as a good jumping off point for your embellishment experiments.
For more ideas, here are some tips on changing patterns for different looks. Also, Burda Style offers a free pattern every Friday. This week’s is a pleated skirt that doesn’t lend itself as well to embellishments, but you can expect future patterns to be good for adding a bit of frosting flair.
If you loved the designer dresses, search showstudio for free designer patterns that aren’t basic.
We’ve had a lot of sugar so far during Frosting Fortnight. To keep our teeth from completely rotting, here’s some low sugar frosting made with vegetables & a few other food groups. Generally much less revealing than chocolate, but also less fantastical (no bird cage skirts), veggie dresses are still gorgeous. And despite not being moldable, these creations are no less inventive than their chocolate counterparts.
What glorious decadence! My best friend & I have wanted to swim in a pool of chocolate for years (go ahead, just imagine yourself doing it). Wearing a dress made with chocolate seems a bit more attainable.
Of the different types of edible garments out there, it seems like the vast majority are created with chocolate, probably because it’s so moldable. There are even a few different annual chocolate fashion shows with truly fantastical creations (think live birds in a chocolate cage-like skirt).
The thing about chocolate though is it’s an aphrodisiac & garments made of the food tend to be sexually charged. A look at the Salon du Chocolat’s annual chocolate fashion show makes this clear. Corsets, bustiers, short short skirts. Most of this stuff is pretty revealing & some of it even seems a bit tacky (pointy chocolate bras with red nipples). Other outfits hit a sweet spot (pun intended) & are a nice mix of flirty & fun without being trashy.
Dresses made of cake are much less revealing & more bulky- probably because you can’t mold or paint cake like you can chocolate. With the weight of the cake itself & supporting structures they must be really heavy too! I just I wish I knew how a all these talented chefs & designers kept all the chocolate & frosting from melting.
Welcome to the party! So glad you could make it here to Frosting Fortnight. Steph & I have to dash into the kitchen & finish cooking up our first dessert (come back tomorrow for a tasty treat). In the meantime, let our wonderful guest Laura entertain you. She’s as close as you can get to a frosting expert & is sure to start converting you to the frosting lifestyle. No doubt you’ve read her blog, Lilacs & Lace, or seen her on The Sew Weekly. She’s incredibly talented & has a great vintage style- lots of chic 50’s glamour with bits of whimsical fun thrown in. Click on most of the photos to read more about her dresses. Enjoy!
Everyone is getting on the Cake bandwagon these days; forget the Frosting, and make something you will actually wear! Now, in many ways, that makes a whole lot of sense. And I have been adding my fair share of separates to the wardrobe this year that could easily be categorized as Cake. But since the Frosting is so much fun to sew and wear, why not redefine Frosting instead of eliminating it altogether? Or, at the least, rethink what Frosting means to you.
Everyone has their own level of comfort with dressy outfits. Personally, I have absolutely no qualms about wearing a cocktail dress to work. But if you never wear anything but pants, try making a pair in a delicious fabric or line your next pair with silk. Make a simple blouse or skirt, but use a brightly colored fabric to add an element of frosting to that bit of cake.
And don’t forget how easy it is to dress down a garment or outfit. So go right ahead and start that fancy project. And make sure to wear it!
Change out your jewelry, hairstyle, and shoes, and that elegant frock suddenly does not look quite so formal. Did you make something strapless or too revealing for daytime? Simply add a cardigan or blazer and swap those stilettos for a pair of flats, and wear the heck out of that fancy schmancy dress!
The only garments that give me pause are those that would restrict some necessary activity. If voluminous sleeves are going to pose a safety problem, it is probably best to go without. Or if I will be unable to walk up a flight of stairs with a cup of tea or stack of files (something I have to do about 20 times a day) I will definitely think about saving that outfit for another occasion.
That being said, there are only two or three self-made projects that would be too over the top to wear on a daily basis. And it might be fun to throw one on, just for kicks!
If you have a formal dress that you absolutely love but never wear, think about making another version in a more down to earth fabric choice. Something made of cotton can certainly be worn everyday, right?
This outfit is made of quilting cotton and was meant to look rather dressy. However, by removing the over-skirt and adding a sweater, the look becomes decidedly more casual (by my standards, at least!).
So I put this challenge to you . . . pull out that dress/skirt/pair of slacks that you think are way too formal for everyday wear. I promise you will stand a little taller and smile a little broader when you wear your Frosting, and inspire others to play dress up!
Since I decided to re-make my wardrobe, I started gathering all the patterns I like to see how they’d fit together. I didn’t get far.
It seems I’m doing a Jekyll & Hyde act with two distinct aesthetics: sleek & modern, antique & very feminine. The divide also separates media, with my chosen sewing projects being modern & my knitting projects decidedly un-modern (save one).
Basics v. Foundations
Basics are generally simple separates in solid colors- i.e. a regular black shirt or a-line skirt. But in my Dressing to Alter Your Mood post I talked about making special pieces. I want to go beyond the simple basics you can find off the rack & instead sew interestingly cut patterns. I want to sew foundation garments. Disclaimer: I’m not saying that foundation garments are better than basics. For me a good wardrobe is a balance of things that includes both.
A garment that goes beyond the simple solid colors, materials, or construction of basic garments.
Any garment that can anchor multiple outfits as the focal point.
A garment upon which you layer other pieces.
Foundation garments should act as bridges between the two aesthetics so my overall look is more cohesive.
Take this beautiful silk, a fabric that’s been waiting almost a year for the right project. It will become a camisole. It can be paired with a multitude of things like skirts, pants, under a jacket, under a sweater, with a scarf, etc. It will become a foundation garment not because of an interestingly cut pattern, but because of the design on the fabric & the yumminess of the silk. Since I should be able to pair it with modern patterns like the Issey Miyake jacket & separately with Miss Morland’s Neckcloth, it can also bridge my aesthetic divide. And it should be able to hold up (mostly) on its own too (don’t worry I won’t be roaming the streets in just a cami & skivvies!). I should be able to pair it with a plain pair of pants or skirt & have it be the focal point of the outfit, no need to layer anything on top of it. It can stand on its own.
While basics are mainly separates, foundation garments can also be dresses. The black DKNY dress will probably work with the Issey Miyake jacket & as a different outfit with a cardigan I already own. Its interesting design will allow it to function separately as its own outfit without anything layered over it.
The design won’t just separate this dress from other little black dresses, the fabric will too. I’m planning on making it in a moisture-wicking fabric by Nike. Why aren’t more things made with such fabric? Every summer I see business people sweating it out in their suits & I think they’d be much more comfortable if their jackets were moisture-wicking. Ditto bras- no one likes a sweaty boob! But back to the dress, the moisture-wicking fabric will make it wearable beyond the fall & into the summer.
Shifting Color Foundations
It seems my color pallet is changing as well. I’ve decided to make up many of my basics in black & gray, whereas the previous year saw brown as my foundation color. I don’t want to ditch my brown things- I really like them! And while I’ve combined black & brown in the same outfit before, I generally wear them separately. The solution will be to make my accessories in colors other than black or brown. That way, I’ll be able to pair them with my old things & new.
I also seem to be taking a shine to colored pants. The brightly colored skinny jeans that were popular awhile ago reminded me too much of the leggings I wore in the 90’s & I really don’t want to go back to my childhood. But the other day I saw a woman in forest green skinnies & they looked fantastic. I had been planning on making a pair in black or gray, but after seeing the green ones on the street & the burgundy ones by Katherine Tilton, I think I want to make some pants in jewel tones.
The jewel tones would let me coordinate them with my black & brown wardrobes. A solid pair of pants could also span my sleek & feminine aesthetics. Do you think colored skinny jeans are passé now? I think I might make them anyways.
I like where my wardrobe is headed. I’m off in a new direction but incorporating what I already own & combining my love for different styles with quality pieces. Never before have I made such a conscious effort to evolve my wardrobe. This planning is fun! Come on over & see my evolving wardrobe ideas on Pinterest.
Do you agree with my definition of foundation garments v. basics? I’d love to hear your definitions. I only just came up with this one & I’m sure if I looked around I’d find more thoughtfully written articles on the subject. Please pass along any you know of.
There has been a lot of talk around the blogosphere about sewing cake vs. frosting, ie basics that you can wear in your everyday life vs. fun things that you can’t wear on a daily basis. I understand this sentiment- it’s why I sewed a few basic t-shirts & skirts this summer. However, I also find some of it a little difficult to understand. If you’ve been following my blog, you may have noticed I have a habit of making highly patterned & colorful things. I also have a tendency to wear vintage dresses as everyday dresses, where a lot of people I’ve met stick to jeans & t-shirts for their basic wardrobe. My skewed view has helped me realize there’s an important & valid reason to sew fripperies in addition to the necessities of life.
We sew fun things because that’s the life to which we aspire. We want to be able to go to a grand ball in a lovely gown or attend regular fancy parties in smashing cocktail dresses. Why not? Why not sew those things & strive for the life that goes along with them?
So many times I’ve seen people write or talk about wanting to be that woman who always looks smashing & well-dressed, even at the grocery store. Sewing beyond basic jeans & t-shirts can help achieve that desire (not to say that a good pair of jeans & t-shirt can’t make you look great, but that’s another post- the topic of putting together a cohesive wardrobe is touched upon here).
I like my sewing to have some utility & don’t want to make something I’ll never wear. But sewing is supposed to be fun too. It’s fun to make outlandish outfits. Just because they’re outside our normal, everyday garb doesn’t mean we shouldn’t sew them anyways. Sew your basics, but don’t not sew a pattern you love just because you don’t think you’ll be able to wear it anywhere. Only sewing basics can take some of the fun out of sewing if you’re always itching to make something more grand.
Incorporate your outlandish outfits into your lifestyle.
Go to a fancy dinner so you can wear your fancy pants outfit. Can’t afford a restaurant because you spent all your dough on silk taffeta for your 1950’s reproduction dress? Have a black-tie potluck party at your house or go on a fancy picnic instead. Yes, picnics can be fancy.
When one of my sister’s childhood friends was moving away she threw a surprise picnic for him. Decades prior they had had a candlelight dinner on the beach post-prom with a spectacularly romantic view of downtown Chicago. She recreated that picnic in the same spot with a folding table (covered with a tablecloth), fancy food from a fancy grocery store & me as a waiter. Why not do the same thing for an excuse to wear your special dress & to create a fantastic memory? Making an occasion special & personalized, even if you spend a fraction of the money that you would at a high-end restaurant, will make for a more memorable event.
But you don’t need a party as an excuse. Going to the grocery store might feel a whole lot less like a chore if it means you get to wear your special outfit.
You don’t even need a destination in mind to enjoy your fun clothing. This one I’m working on: taking walks. I really like walking, but feel like I always need to have a purpose, ie a destination. I would like to start walking just for the enjoyment of it & think this might be the perfect time to don some of my not so office appropriate garb. Sure, I wouldn’t go for a walk in a ball gown, but a loud print &/or revealing cut that I shouldn’t wear to the office, why not?
Change your basic wardrobe to match your sewing proclivities.
I have a thing for suit patterns. Looking at unique jackets makes me think about how much I’d love to make them. But then I think about how I almost never ever wear jackets or blazers & that they’d just languish in my closet, a waste of time & money. Wrong. I’m changing my style. I’m going to sew jackets & wear them. Why not? My work place is a mix of casual & dressy; I can wear a jacket & not look out of place. This doesn’t have to be limited to the office. I imagine I’ll like wearing nicely tailored & unique jackets with the brightly patterned skirts I’m fond of. I’m hoping to turn what would be a “specialty” item in my wardrobe into an everyday thing.
Take what you want to sew & make it work for you.
If you like sewing fancy things but have a casual lifestyle, find ways to make them as fancy as you want, but dress them down with a casual purse or jeans. Choice of materials & embellishments can make a big difference too. For a basic, everyday hoodie I used a lace knit & elevated the whole thing by edging it in some unique ribbon. Instead of ending up with a ho-hum hoodie I made something special.
Maybe your bent lies less towards silk gowns & more towards sewing office inappropriate patterns. Sew up your office sanctioned attire, but add a fantastically outrageous lining to it (right now I’m imagining fabric fit for a bachelorette party- let me know if you hear of such raunchy fabric). One of my go-to skirts is a plain brown a-line with some white edging. The lining is blue penguins. I can’t help but smile every time I put it on & know that there’s a secret in there only I can see. It helps brighten up my days in the office.
You can also seek out interestingly cut patterns. Need an office appropriate black suit but think you’ll be more bored sewing the plain thing than you would be working at the office? I recommend looking at designer Vogue patterns. Issey Miyake has very interesting & complicated patterns that can also be modest enough for work. Channeling your energy from a complicated dress to a complicated suit might be just the thing. And doing it all in a solid color will let the interesting seam lines stand out.
Do you absolutely have to sew basic camisoles for work? Choose luxury fabrics like wool & silk blends. I saw a gorgeous & simple linen shell that was elevated by two rows of wing stitching down the center. Need a sports top? When I bought high-performance moisture wicking fabric the whole project feel more special & exciting, even though my pattern was basic. Make otherwise boring items fun to sew by being very choosey with your materials & embellishments.
If you you have the opposite problem & like to sew basic things but have a life that calls for fancier events, sew your basics & dress them up with great shoes or jewelry. For instance, I took my veggie dirndl dress (not office appropriate on top & I suppose not all that basic given the patterned fabric I used, but it’s basic for me) & paired it with a cardigan to make it modest enough for work. Now the dress can do double duty as a summer day dress & as an office outfit. Choosing a nice fabric or a simple embellishment can help people with this problem as well by being an easy way to dress up your basics.
Sew for the life you want & make that life happen.
As I said, I’m making jackets & changing my wardrobe. I’ve already got my first one cut out. Also, many of my dresses are short sleeved or no sleeved, so I’ve been sketching up some interesting cardigan designs to keep me warm at work. I’m tossing the boring cardigans I dislike & making ones that I love. I hope this will extend my summer dresses into the spring & fall. Plans are also in the works for a fancy pants house warming party so I’ll finally get the chance to wear this gorgeous vintage dress. Will you follow along with me & change your wardrobe? I think aspiring to the life we want & making it happen can make us happy. When I wear something special it gives me a boost all day long.
Your thoughts are much appreciated. Do you think we shouldn’t sew those big, costumey dresses or is it OK to embrace the frosting & go all out? Have you found a happy middle ground & are you planning on making your sewing proclivities match your lifestyle?