Finished Object: Polka Dot Tiramisu (with sneaky details!)

It’s official.  I can’t follow a pattern without tweaking it, not even my own pattern.  This version has several extra flourishes, small details only a sewist might notice which are not printed in the pattern but do add a nice air of “quality” to the finished dress.  I also tested an alternate grain of fabric for the skirt.  There’s very little I can say about this dress at this point, but I did want to show you a few small techniques that can be applied to a plain-sewn garment to make it just a little sweeter.

Pretty Pocketsies:

Ok- taping the inseam pocket seams with fusible stay tape is written into the pattern.  It keeps the pocket opening from drooping over time, which is especially important in a jersey fabric.  This time, I went a little crazy using some decorative stitches on my machine to understitch this seam.  I might suggest choosing one and sticking to it for a less “batty” appearance- though my pockets aren’t really all that visible from the outside.  I like to do this sometimes for the fun of it, but also because more stitches = greater durability and shape retention on the high-stress seam.

Tagging with Lace and Ribbon

I started tagging Lila’s little clothes around the time she started dressing herself.  It helps her tell the front from the back of the shirt. Surprise, surprise, a little snip of ribbon at the back neck of a shirt makes a huge difference to the overall look of the finished garment (to me, if to no one else).  I started doing it in my own clothes, too.  Sunni wrote about this a little while ago, be sure to check it out if you missed it before.

When I was stitching this Tiramisu, I couldn’t find any white or light ribbon in my sewing room.  My eyes fell on this bit of guipure lace trim.  Without thinking about it too long, I trimmed out one motif and stitched it into the back neck binding seam.

Then I pressed it down, as a good tag should lie.  Concerned the lace might flap about or become distorted in the wash, I stitched-in-the-ditch to secure the motif.

It’s a handy (and invisible) way to secure all sorts of little flappy bits in the sewing- neck facings, inner waistbands, lace tag motifs.  The trick is to press carefully, pin on a flat surface with the right side of the garment facing you, and then to stitch exactly in the “ditch” or seamline.

Twin Needling

Until fairly recently, I “hated” twin needling.  I had plenty of excuses for not using them.  While I liked the finish (and the flexibility) that a twin-needle topstitch provides, I always dragged my feet about actually doing it.  Then I started twin-needling everything I could get my hands on, to see what would happen.  Then I realized that once I felt comfortable setting up the twin needle, switching from a single only took a minute, tops.

I saved all the twin-needling at the binding seams to do all at one time- neck, sleeves, and shoulder seam.  I might have gone a little overboard, but I find top-stitching these seams in construction (single needle or double) makes for a neater wash-n-wear experience.  When I pull this dress out of the washing machine, the seams are where I left them, not all over the place.  It’s a small thing, but I find it makes a difference over time.

Cut of the Skirt

The half-circle skirt on the Tiramisu Dress Pattern has both a CF and CB seam, to allow for fun chevron effects with striped fabric, and because it allows for a scroogy cutting layout.  For this Tira, I didn’t cut the skirt that way.

I laid the CF/CB of the skirt pattern on the crosswise fold of fabric.  There’s no reason I laid it out on the crosswise fold except the simple fact that’s all the blue polka dot jersey I had left.  I made sure to “eliminate” the seam allowance by allowing it to overhang the folded fabric.

I think the drape came out just fine, if perhaps a little less “rippled” than the original cut.   If you’re a draping or pattern nerd, check out this great post on skirt grain including a handy little diagram which shows the way grain affects drape on skirts.

Sewing Along

With the pattern shipping to you all this week, and the rollout of many other things I’ve been working on, I feel like I can start to plan a bit for future blog fun.  I’d like to run a sewalong for this dress, maybe come January.  The other day, Tilly wrote a post about how to fit sewing into a busy lifestyle.  Her suggestion is to buy a kitchen timer, set it for 15 minutes and use it to cultivate a habit of sewing daily.  I like this, and I think it would work well for a Tiramisu Dress Sewalong.  Are you interested?  How does the second week in January sound?  Should we do 15 minutes or 20, or 30?  Let me know what you think and I’ll work out the details!

What’s your favorite way to spice up a TNT you’ve made half a dozen times?

The Tiramisu Dress Pattern is available for sale on Etsy, shipping this week and continually.


  1. Yes, yes and yes. I save sewing for weekends when i have blocks of time. I’d love to feel like I was accomplishing more. Seems like 30 minutes a day is about right. Can’t wait for my Cake to arrive in the mail. Excited. :)

    • Yeah, I tend to “save up,” too. Save up then sew like lightning.. ;) So I’m really curious about the 30 minutes, too.

      She’s a-coming! :)

  2. Looking forward to pattern arriving. Like very much the idea of a sew-along: 30 minutes would be better for me, as I can’t seem to organize my space, so much arrange my sewing every time.
    And I’ll probably try a tweak on your pattern right away- adding something of a sleeve as the current Tiramisu short sleeve which won’t get worn by me in the depths of Canadian winter…more like good underpinnings, long dress sleeves & long-sleeved wool cardi, followed by another few minutes of layering before venturing outside!

    • My sewing space is generally in a state of flux, I get it organized and it doesn’t stay that way… heh, I figure as long as I can kind of find things, but even then I still lose stuff.. (Like that 1940’s Make Do And Mend blazer pattern… !)

      Well, if you sit tight I’ll be publishing the hack for long sleeves shortly and if I get a chance, I’ll simply publish the long sleeves as a download. :)

  3. I can’t tell you how giddy I became when sneak peeks of this Tiramisu popped up in your last post. White with a polka dot skirt is exactly what I had in mind for my first Tiramisu. I love, love, love this dress! I can’t wait for my pattern to arrive so I can make my own.

    • :D That is so cool! It’s really fun to wear, and somehow to me feels like a “background” dress… Like… I styled it a bit vintage here, but I was pretty tempted to go all Harajuku-Kawaii.. Bright pink accessories and lipstick, my hair sculpted into a bow like that tutorial that’s been floating around Pinterest… we’ll see. ;)

      I’m really looking forward to seeing what you’ll make. :) Such fun.

  4. This sounds awesome. I’ve been wanting to make sewing a more regular activity. Maybe I can transition from the sewalong into a habit. I vote for even shorter intervals, but that’s because I anticipate 15 minutes for you will be 30 for me.

    • Yes! That’s the idea, I think. :)

      Well… Hmm… Maybe we can all run a little experiment to test stitching times. Like.. a seam a certain length, a little hem, some things like that. For fun.. I do sew very quickly, but try to compensate for it when I’m teaching. Usually. :)

  5. So clever! And you look so lovely. :)

    As for the TNT: I have a long A-line skirt that I make all the time. It’s meant to be two pieces plus the waistband, but I did some work to make it into a 6-gore skirt. Much less fabric-greedy, and it also looks better when I make it out of denim or linen. And the seams are even a wee bit slimming, in the way of stealth verticals.

    I took the denim version another step and put the gold topstitching over each seam – and used a decorative stitch to attempt to alleviate denim’s tendency to flip up at the hem. (Which worked only partially. Oh well, I’ll take partially and know that there will need to be yet *more* decor for the next run).

    Right now I’m playing with a camisole pattern I got from Folkwear… it started out with a button placket and a waist, now it has neither. I’ve made it into a nightgown and it’s about to become a housedress from some (gasp) quilting cotton. ;) I used my decorative stitching over some of the pintucks last run through, and was so pleased!

    And then there’s the sloper that I so laboriously fit that becomes anything with a princess seam….

    • Thanks. :)

      I love LOVE gored skirts for all the reasons you listed. A well-cut gored skirt is so flattering… :)

      Is your sloper working well for you?

      • So far. I’ve had some adventures with learning that wearing ease changes the S curve of a princess seam and makes it flatter – it’s not a simple matter of just adding inches everywhere. So…. things that are tight fit, those look amazing. Other things? I’m working on it! ;) But at least I can’t stuff a kitten between my collarbone and bust any more!

  6. I really like this two color version! Super cute. In the past few days some of my knits have started screaming, “Tira, Tira, Tiramisu!” at me. Now I just need to break down and order the thing! I figured out it would work for me and my good friend who I sew for and has a totally different bust size, cup size? and the way you drafted your pattern would work for us both. More makes means more justification for buying right? :)
    I think this would make a great tunic top to layer right now for those of us in colder climates.

  7. Wow, it seems like many of us were thinking polka dots! I love your idea of tagging with the piece of lace. I use homemade labels from ribbon but the lace is so much nicer. I love the idea of a sewalong. It always surprises me how much I can do in 15 mins. I have a few TNTs that I always play with. My TNT tshirt pattern is the perfect example, although I must admit that many of the variations I have made come directly from Australian Stitches magazine and then I either add or subtract a detail. For example, instead of cutting the centre front on the fold I swivel the top away from the fold, leaving the bottom in place. This creates fabric to gather in the centre front that can be secured in loads of ways. I change the neckline and sleeve lengths, lenghten and shorten, add contrast binding, colour block. I drafted a cowl collar addition from a Stitches article and there are still some options in the magazine I haven’t even tried. I could go on and on …

    • Yes! Polka Dots! What is it about them? :D

      Is all that from one issue of Stitches, or spread across several? If it’s in one, what a goldmine!

  8. This is so adorable. I love the little details and I’m with you. I cannot help modifying a pattern…

    • Thanks.. This was the first Tira where I let myself deviate from the instructions, I didn’t want to be making all kinds of variations of the dress without making it “normally” a few times. But it’s hard to just follow the instructions! :)

  9. A sewalong in January sounds a great idea. I have already purchased some striped jersey in the Black Friday sales ( im a Brit, but was on holiday in the US last week and got a little caught up in the madness!)

  10. Would love a sew-along in January after all the Christmas sewing is out of the way. Truth be told — I’m a bit Intimidated about sewing the tira…. A bit of hand holding would be appreciated.

    Love the dots. Seems like you get smaller in every post… Lookin’ good!!

    • Yeah! I’m looking forward to it.. :)

      Oh! Well… Hand-holding is good, I like doing that… And it’s not too hard for me because I know the pattern so well… Heh..

      Thanks… And… Well, I’ve been doing a daily (semi-daily) barre workout to get me in shape so I can surf… It’s nice, I’m feeling stronger and have more energy. :) It’s good.

  11. Hi there! I just started following your blog. I think the big thing that always bothered me about twin needles was the bump I got when I sewed with them. I started putting some support underneath in the form of Wonder tape or wash-away stabilizer and I am much more satisfied with the results. And of course, you always want your thread to be on the spool pins unwinding in opposite directions. That being said, they are great finishes on knits!!! Happy Sewing! ~~~Deb :-)

    • Hi! :)

      You might also try dropping the top tension a bit. I often drop mine from 4 to 2 for twin needling for a flatter finish.

      I hadn’t heard that about spools unwinding in opposite directions, so maybe I have or havent? But I’ll try it. :) Thanks.

  12. Ooooh sewalong! That would kick me into gear. And as I’ve already signed up to Cloth Habit’s bra sewalong, small increments would work really well.
    Note to self…no more sewalongs in January! ;-)

  13. This spotty version is beautiful! I’d love to do a sew along in January. Is the pattern available on general release yet? (I prefer a printed pattern rather than a download).

  14. A sewalong in January sounds like a great idea. I haven’t had time to sew for ages due to a stressful house move but I aim to be all organised after Christmas with a sorted out sewing room and some time put aside for creating. A sew along would certainly help me to get back into the flow.

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