Y’all. I pre-ordered the Tiramisu. As in, before it was released. As in, September 25, 2012, the day the pre-sale began. (I just double-checked my Etsy account to make sure.) So why – WHY – is this my first make from the pattern?
I spent the better part of the time it took to construct this dress asking myself that exact question. I’m going to get all psycho – logical up in here, so take heed. Usually, when I’m avoiding something, the culprit is fear. So, that was an easy answer, but the hard part was fear of WHAT? Figuring that out took a process of elimination.
Big milestone here: this is my first self-made dress! I have collected so many dress patterns — from any new release, they are the shiny objects that excite me. I don’t know exactly what the ratio is of dresses to other patterns in my stash, but it is quite high considering this is the first one with which I’ve actually gotten past the muslin stage. You see, sewing cake instead of frosting has never been a problem for me. Getting to wear my makes on a daily basis is the draw — I really don’t even strongly consider making something that won’t get much wear. And since there are hardly any dresses in my closet at all, only like three ready-to-wear ones, I guess that translated in my mind as dresses=rarewear. I suppose my RTW options have been so limited from a style and fit perspective that they never became a mainstay in my wardrobe. So all of that’s interesting (arguably), but was I *afraid* to make a dress? No, actually I wasn’t.
If you’ve been with me for any amount of time, you likely already know how much I adore knits. I didn’t learn to sew using them, but as soon as I started, I never looked back. The prints, variety of weights and textures, easy-to-wear-ness, I love all of it. So I had lots of stashed choices for my first Tiramisu. As much as I am infatuated with the striped/chevron version of the most famous sample — as well as all the other striped versions I’ve seen — I knew I didn’t want to mess with that for my first go, until I was sure the pattern would work out as I wanted. The fabric I chose, this cotton-modal blend from Girl Charlee (purchased last summer, not currently available on the site), was a dream to work with. It’s light- to medium-weight with plenty of stretch, decent recovery, and nice drape, but it behaves as obediently as a stable double knit. I had no problems getting it laid out on-grain and keeping it there. Even if I had chosen a trickier one, it’s been a long time since I’ve been afraid of knits — that definitely wasn’t it.
I know there are a few people who read this blog but don’t sew. So I’ll give a quick rundown regarding what distinguishes Cake Patterns, from which this Tiramisu dress design hails. Normally, sewing patterns are available in a range of sizes, just like the clothes you can purchase from a store. You choose which size to make based on one measurement — bust, waist, or hips, depending on what you’re making. The problem is, if you’re not “average” in one or more of the other areas, which applies to almost everyone I know, a pattern can require quite a bit of altering in order to get a good fit. With Cake Patterns, you choose each piece of the pattern based on the applicable measurement(s) — for instance, the Tiramisu bodice is chosen considering both high bust and full bust, the skirt pieces are based on waist, etc. Additionally, the range of sizes covered is great — 30″ to 50″ high bust, 25″ to 50″ waist.
This may sound like preparing the pattern creates a tiny bit more work, and for some, that may be true. But I cannot even begin to tell you how much less work it was for me. Even when a pattern is offered in my theoretical size range, I am never able to just cut-and-sew — choosing based on my full bust makes it way too big in the neckline and shoulders, and I’m still going to have to grade out at the hips anyway. So, when I read about the approach Steph (owner/designer) was taking with Cake, I was floored, excited, impressed…
And — there it is — scared. I didn’t realize it all these months that I was sitting on the pattern, but the aha moment struck me while making this dress. All these gorgeous, wearable, well-fitting Tiramisus had been popping up everywhere — how cool! how inspiring! As long as my pattern remained untried, the amazing potential, the validation, of something that might fit me “out of the envelope” was still there.
You know when you try to figure out something, brainstorm lots of potential solutions, and then strike the right answer — you just feel it? I knew the moment I slipped my nearly-finished Tiramisu over my head for the first time, looked in the mirror, and exhaled, that I had been right about what my fear was. See, it wasn’t the fabric I was afraid of ruining, and I knew that the techniques were likely ones that I could do in my sleep. But I realized that subconsciously I was afraid that mine was going to be the body for whom this wouldn’t work. As someone who has struggled mightily to be comfortable in her physical form, this was scary. (Almost as terrifying as it has been to write and publish this post.)
Was this an unfounded, illogical thing to be afraid of? Of course, but #1: I didn’t even realize it, and #2: Feelings aren’t logical. The fit of this dress isn’t perfect; there are a few things I want to tweak next time. However, it is much, much better fitting than any of my previous v1 makes, with which I spent hours pattern altering prior to even cutting out. Having said that, even if I had needed to make substantial changes, that would have been okay. I do that all the time, and I’m getting pretty good at it! I’m beyond glad that I figured out what was holding me back — now that I’ve discovered it, thought about it, written this post about it, it really no longer exists.
I probably should be quite glad that I didn’t begin sewing with Cake Patterns. I’ve learned a ton and a half about fitting and pattern alterations over the last couple of years, because I’ve had to. If I had made this as my first sewing project, then tried, say, a Big 4 one next, I likely would have said “screw this” (or something equally eloquent) and started calculating how I could stay satisfied with just Tiramisus for the rest of my life.
I love this dress, and everything that it represents to me. It wouldn’t feel right, in this post, to include a proper “pattern review.” It’s like I would be missing the forest for the trees, or something. I will do one the next time I make the pattern, because you can consider me officially bitten by the Tira bug. :-)