Lifting the Lid on a Simmering Collaboration!

But first- I want to thank you all so much for your warm reception to Cake Patterns!  It’s kind of terrifying to write a post like that, and your enthusiasm is really inspiring.  I’m doing my very best work on this project, and I can’t *wait* to get Tiramisu in my hot little hand.

Unfortunately, I made an error with the coding for the email signup webform.  A simple typo I didn’t catch until the next day, which means I did not collect emails for everyone who filled in the form.   If you would like to receive updates about Cake Patterns sales, releases, “hacks” (because we’re soooo hacking my patterns…) and teasers/contests about future designs, please click here and fill in the form.  I apologize for my mistake.

Click for write-up on Sew Weekly

If you remember, a few months ago I made a pdf pattern for a blouse inspired by the blouses worn by the Crawley sisters on Downton Abbey and named it the “Sisters of Edwardia” blouse.  It’s one thing to make a pattern for personal use, and quite another to create a pattern others can use.  This is the pattern that pushed me over the edge into putting Cake Patterns together.

Click for write up on Sew Weekly

I muslined, I tweaked, I created pattern pieces and match points, and I made six sizes.  I took photos of the construction process and wrote instructions.  I “nested” my hand-drafted pieces and chopped the pattern into pieces I fed into my scanner.  Then I re-scaled the pieces to “life” size and carefully traced the pattern lines, markings and added labels using Gimp. It took a long time.  My digitizing skills had come a long way in a few months, but I was still unsatisfied with the quality of the finished pattern.

As far as I know, the 30-40 pattern has been made several times with no problems.(Check out this cute one by Lee, paired with *gasp* trousers!) The larger sizes proved to be so troublesome to digitize that I abandoned plans to release it.  That’s when I decided to find another option for pattern making.

Around that time, Mikhaela emailed me about the possibility of creating a pattern illustration as a barter of services.  Cool.  Even though we participated in a Pattern Review mini-wardrobe contest together yonks ago and I read her blog, we hadn’t actually corresponded directly.  As we chatted about envelope art, beauty standards and seamlines, I realized Mikhaela’s not only crazy talented and driven but we’re on the same wavelength.

I love this little illustration!  The pretty hair, the minxy eyes, the attainable body shapes!  In fact, I think I love this illustration a hundred times more than I love the Sisters of Edwardia pattern.  After we finished this illustration, I knew we could do some great work together.  I told Mikhaela about Cake and asked if she was game.  She said yes!  Since then, we’ve been work-work-working to create the artwork and pattern instructions for Cake Patterns and Tiramisu together.

click for source

I used to think Pinterest was just for finding new recipes, pretty dresses, and jokes. While working on Cake’s “feel,” I used Pinterest to create a few inspiration boards to flavor and guide the artwork.  This is a sample from the 1930’s DuBarry envelope board.  Y’all know I have a soft spot for vintage patterns, and to me part of the appeal is the envelope illustrations.  I love DuBarry’s graphic Art Deco flavor paired with clean and simple line drawings.

Another inspiration board draws on the 30’s for bold lines, colors and fonts.  I’m still adding to this board as I find more cool 30’s “pop” art and WPA posters.

And finally, we’re drawing inspiration from trashy girlie pulp comics.  Kiiiiiiitschy as the day is long, but so very fun.  When I run across garbagey old comics, I can’t help but read them.  In secret.  It’s my guilty pleasure.  I don’t collect them, and I don’t know much “trashy girlie pulp comics” lore, but I do enjoy reading the ones that cross my path from time to time.  They’re hilarious!  And to a certain extent, they’re revealing about the time/place/intended readership.

There we have it!  A little look at a work in progress.  What do you think?  I always value the opinions dropped in comments.  Y’all are a sharp and sparky bunch.

Also- do you ever read trashy comics in secret?  ‘Fess up!

Next time- definitely, definitely some sewing.  In polarfleece.  It’s super under-whelming, I promise.


  1. Oh, I love 30s and 40s illustrations! They manage to get across tons of design details while maintaining a devastating sense of dash and style. Keep in mind that the faded colors we see in them today would have been glaringly bold in the original printing.

  2. I love the look of the art, I can see both your perspectives on body shape and Michaela’s art. It’s a lovely blend.

    My not-so-secret must read is really old Harlequin-esque romance novels. After my grandfather died, we were clearing out their house and a lot of random stuff ended up in my parents basement. I was desparate for something to read and found a bag of pulp romance novels ranging from the mid 40’s into the early 70’s. Much as you find with the comics, I find them hilarious and an interesting perspective on what was considered risque at the time. My Nana seemed to like a lot of the travel filled types (and often from England it seems, not sure if that’s a distribution thing or she selected those authors over American) and I suspect that some of the authors never visited these places. I can blather on for a while about my perspective on changes over time in the plot lines, the kind of male and female characters, how (or if) they worked actual sex into the books in different decades… It’s like a little time capsule with a happy ending.

    • Exactly! Exactly! A little time capsule with a happy ending… And heaps of melodrama… It’s silly but it’s impossible to be serious all the time, right?

      They have a series here called “Mills and Boone” which is much the same… Very funny stuff.

  3. Congratulations on your new line! Everything you do is so well thought out, I think it will be a huge success. Love Tiramisu. Really pretty dress. Choosing patterns by high bust and cup sizes–making patterns for clothes that are stylish, comfortable, and functional–the heresy! Can’t wait to see more fruits of your efforts! Kudos, Steph.

  4. What lovely graphics! Love your inspiration boards for the illustrations, so much fun! With Cake becoming a reality, does that mean The Sisters of Edwardia will be produced in larger sizes? (Asking hopefully, with fingers crossed.)

    • Perhaps. I won’t lie, I do not usually reach for SOE when I get dressed in the morning. I wore both blouses several times, I don’t dislike them or anything, but I don’t reach for them daily and wear them even when I should stick them in the wash… ;) To me, that’s usually the sign of a good and useful pattern/garment- when I can’t bear to take it off and cheat and wear it twice or three times without washing…. ;)

      Also, I think the cut is a little more “frosting” than cake… It’s comfy, yes, it’s wearable in a modern context, yes, but I don’t love the pattern enough (and I’m not sure there’s enough other people who want it) to warrant spending more time on it. I do have the hand-drawn pdf version I sent to testers, I may release that later as a curiosity or something…?

  5. The illustration for the Sisters of Edwardia pattern is so dang cute! Great job, Mikhaela! I’m so excited that you guys have built such a great working relationship

  6. The very best of luck in your new endeavour. I’m so pleased to see your pattern envelope drawings have modern waist lines and not ‘vintage’ ones!

  7. Great inspiration board with the Dubarry’s. I love thinking about type/fonts and lines. Type has a graphic presence all on its own and really did in that era. Again, this is a really cool collab between you two!

  8. Pingback: Let’s Play “Name That Lady” and Test Tiramisu! « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

  9. Pingback: The Tiramisu Circus and Pre-Sale Day 1: A Look At Cake Patterns « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

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