Pavlova Goes Live and Wintry Photoshoot

Pavlova Envelope Front | Pavlova Circus | Hi Res

The Pavlova Wrap Top & Skirt Pattern is now available on Etsy!  If you missed the whirlwind pre-sale in December, you can head over now and place your order.  We’ll be shipping Pavlova from our sewing rooms to yours from the last week of this month- and will keep you updated on the progress in the meantime!


Purchase your Pavlova pattern in the next week to be included in the color “sorting” for the 30 Minutes A Day Pavlova Sewalong!

Cake Collabvertisements

In the early days of creating Cake, I had to decide whether to hire models to show off the pattern samples.  For now, I’m not entirely comfortable working with models.  I don’t think of Cake as “fashion,” I think of Cake as clothes worn by regular women in our daily lives, with a bit of fun and whimsy thrown in.  Clothes for people, not clothes for fantasies.

As a part of the production process, I continuously make samples- to test proportions, to take photos for instruction drawings and tutorials, to test various seam finishes and fabric, and so I can show you all how the pattern looks made up.  I don’t see a reason to keep multiple finished samples once they’re finished.  I don’t need them.  My thrifty soul wants those clothes to be worn.

Then I realized- sewing bloggers model.  Sewing bloggers are regular people.  Much more goes into taking good photos than standing still and smiling, and many sewing bloggers take amazing photos.  Why not work with other talented entrepreneurs to take sample photos for Cake and help each other promote our work?   Collabvertisement.

For Pavlova’s collabvertisement I spent some time emailing with Lauren, American Duchess, to choose fabrics that would be appropriate for her climate and lifestyle.  We settled on gray wool windowpane suiting and a merino jersey that reminds me of creamy vanilla ice cream.  Once I sent the samples (stitched with Hong Kong seams and a lace faced hem) to Lauren, she took a series of photos for Pavlova.   It’s a cosy little winter blouse, and the skirt lends itself well to suiting fabric:

Wintry Pavlova In Woolens 4 | Cake Patterns | American Duchess Wintry Pavlova In Woolens 3 | Cake Patterns | American Duchess Wintry Pavlova In Woolens 2 | Cake Patterns | American Duchess Wintry Pavlova In Woolens | Cake Patterns | American Duchess

I love the photos Lauren took- she styles herself beautifully in modern clothes as well as those from 50 or even 200 years ago.  She’s a chameleon.   Thanks for the lovely shoot, Lauren!  If you’d like to see all of Lauren’s photos from the shoot, check out the Wintry Pavlova Gallery on

Gibson Shoes | American Duchess

I own one pair of Lauren’s shoes, and with the Gibson pre-sale now in full swing I think that very shortly I’ll own another!

Tomorrow we start a week long glam-samples giveaway! Red lips, pink lips, vegan and cruelty free lips!


  1. One of the most problematic aspects of so-called “body positivity” to me is the near-universal assumption that professional models are not “real” women because they are thin and conventionally attractive, and that wearing clothes for a living is both easy and worthless. Modeling is a profession which ought to be compensated in a market way, not with custom clothes; this honestly seems like as much a denigration of “women’s work” as any condescension you and I might suffer due to our choice of profession in design. And although I understand you like to make things to be used, it’s a strange business decision to not keep any pristine samples for trunk shows and it’s very off-putting the way you apparently believe it makes you superior to other designers to do your photoshoots this way.

    Also, clothing worn by women who are exposed to consumerism cannot be fully outside the fashion system. Even weird cults in the US pick a 19th-century decade’s fashion and try to make it eternal.

    • Oh hey… Alrighty… I’m sorry you feel that way, Eleanor.

      In the interests of word-brevity for the post, I might have given the wrong impression. I don’t think models aren’t real women, in fact I regularly defend them on social media from snark, and constantly strive personally to use positive words and attitudes to describe women of all shapes and sizes… I love women. I am not anti-model. The idea just didn’t particularly appeal to me, I wanted to do something else. Be a model, don’t be a model, I don’t really care, but I figured working with talented bloggers (semi-pro models, you might say?) was more relatable. And fun. And a way to cross-pollinate some great small businesses run by women of the fabric, so to speak. I don’t intend to stop doing it.

      Maybe you’re reading more than I wrote there, perhaps? I don’t think everyone has to do things the way I do them, any more than I think I have to do the things the way other people do them.

      I make a lot of samples. I made 11 wearable samples of the Tiramisu, for example. I gave many of them away to test fit and durability, and reaped the benefits in the sewalong when I could better assist in fittings and technical advice because I’d put in the work and tested it on… regular women..

      Besides, I don’t have any road shows coming up, I need to build a design library first. It would be quite silly for me to go on the road until at least the last quarter of the year, and by then I’d want something fresh and pretty for the road anyway.

      Superior? I just do what I do, I don’t really have time to compare myself to other patternmakers. I really, honestly don’t. I couldn’t even tell you what the latest Burda or Colette releases were, I don’t have time for it. There’s only so many hours in the day, and I’m just one person.

      • I didn’t read this post as a criticism of a conventional model’s body type, just that using sewing bloggers allows for a greater variety of body types as well as a social media/collaborative approach to marketing. It’s just a different business model, not a “right” one or a “wrong” one.

        • I agree with Helen on this. I read this post as you making a choice to collaborate with other bloggers and reflect/celebrate a variety of different looks and body shapes. I have to say that being familiar with your blog and therefore your personal ethos, it would be difficult for me to come to any other conclusion!
          Bravo to Lauren for such a lovely shoot. I love this check skirt!

        • I agree. Plus your entire business grew out of your blog and your relationship with your readers and other small businesses in the fibre industry. I took this as a fully appropriate method of displaying your product instead of the industry standard method. But that’s just how I read this as, I’m likely a bit influenced from reading your blog for so long.

    • Well, since Cake patterns are uniquely sized to work with a variety of body sizes and shapes, it makes sense to model the samples on a variety of figures. It’s a nice idea, I think.

      I do want to mention that I’m a little disturbed by the comment about “weird cults.” Probably some of my family qualifies. It may appear that the women are stuck in the 1930s or so. I do not belong to their religion, but I can comfortably say that their clothing choices are for religious reasons, not fashion. For them, being plain (not following fashion trends) is about their devotion to the principles of their faith, rather than to vanity and consumerism.

      • “Well, since Cake patterns are uniquely sized to work with a variety of body sizes and shapes, it makes sense to model the samples on a variety of figures. It’s a nice idea, I think”

        As a larger and probably somewhat older customer than Steph’s usual core demographic, I’m interested in seeing these patterns modelled on a whole range of shapes, ages and sizes, so that I can form an idea of how it might look on me – with suitable adjustments. Carry on as normal please Steph!
        And Lauren looks delightful in hers, by the way.
        I’m very excited about this pattern, and already planning how I can make it work for me :D

        • Thanks, Fiona, I will. :) I’m working on variety, I think we’ll have some fun with Hummingbird… (But we have fun with all of them, don’t we? ;) It’s just that I’m working on the bird right now and loving it…)

      • I always like the plain dressing aesthetic. Which does, of course, kind of defeat the purpose of being plain I suppose. ;) Thanks for that, Jen.

        • When I was younger and started wearing all black my grandparents thought that I was embracing (religious) ideals by dressing plainly. Really, it had to do with the Ramones, et al. But, maybe the sum is the same either way. : )

  2. Right, I’m heading to Etsy now! The Tira sewalong was so much fun, I want to do it again! Can I just ask – if I order a Pavlova pattern and a Pavlova envelope kit to be sent to the UK, will they come in two separate shipments? (ie the pattern from Leila and the kit from you?) The UK has a ridiculously low customs threshold so two shipments would be better than one!

    • Thanks Helen! I’m really looking forward to the Pavlova sewalong, I’ll have some great variations on the printed pattern up by then and I’m really looking forward to seeing all the Pavlovas that spring up in all their different fabrics.

      The two would be sent together- what’s this about a low customs threshhold? What does that mean?? :) Always something new to learn. I can send it separately, if that’s important… Is there a link or something I could check out?

      • The UK charges import duty on any parcel of goods that I buy from outside the EU that is over £15 in value. They charge a percentage of the value plus an £8 admin fee – which can mean online purchases end up costing a lot more for me after the tax is paid. I think the US only charge on goods over $100 in comparison.

      • re customs threshold – i think she means that if something is marked as worth more than £15 is subject to VAT of 20% (plus a lovely £8 charge to send you a letter asking you to pay it!). helen – i had no problems with the tira pattern or the cake kit i bought and i guess one came from the US and the other from Aus. I don’t think they bother too much about “large letter” type things – i’ve only ever been charge on actual parcels. and if the person maks them as worth less than £15 you normally don’t get charged.

        • How interesting. I’ll look it up. I think 15 pounds is something like 22 Aud… Hmm. Weird. I could see how they wouldn’t bother about large letter type packets, though.

          • I received Tiramisu patterns from both USA and Australia and didn’t get charged by customs on either. They both came in letter type envelopes with no customs declaration, I guess they just look like general correspondence.
            But yes, I agree, the UK threshold for import duty & VAT, plus that outrageous ‘handling charge’ do make shopping overseas a very unattractive proposition for us Brits. On my recent hols in Australia I was astounded to discover from locals that they can purchase pretty much unlimited goods from overseas without incurring any extra duty charges!

            • Ah yes. Because patterns are paper they count as documents, which don’t need customs declarations (as far as I have been able to discover).

              Australian retailers are extremely unhappy about the way we can purchase what we want from overseas and keep trying to get the gov’t to introduce some kind of duty. It’s like this: When the financial crisis hit the rest of the world, Australia was alright.

              In fact, the dollar didn’t drop like everywhere else (bolstered by the yuan and mining) so suddenly the Aussie dollar went much further overseas than it had before. Add to that the fact that there’s relatively little manufacturing in Australia, and that the broadband infrastructure has dramatically improved in the past few years and that means more Aussies are buying overseas. I know people who fly to New York or LA or Vancouver or London to shop, and they’re not exactly glitterati jet set types.. There’s also the people who buy online in the US and have it all shipped to a West Coast consolidator to have it shipped in containers. It’s very interesting. The Aussie and US dollars are more or less at parity, but the cost of everything in the US is a fraction of what it is here…

              Meanwhile, bless them, Australian retailers are drowning. High wages and rents mean that most retail shops are pretty seriously understaffed. I conscientiously go to local retailers for goods I need, but often I get surly/underinformed retail staff if I can find anyone at all to help me, so I quit feeling bad about ordering online..

              Haha. Sorry if that’s super long, I just think it’s really fascinating…

              • We have a similar issue here in the Yukon. Low wage positions are understaffed because cost of living (especially housing – cripes do we ever have a housing crisis here) is too high to be able to live on those wages. So you wind up with places understaffed or staffed by very inexperienced (i.e. high school students) staff. Combined with the high price of goods here because it’s all shipped so far north, a lot of people choose to order things online. Which isn’t good for local companies. But then again, since we’ve got very little options for goods (i.e. our only ‘department’-type store is Walmart), online shopping is a must up here (a girl has to buy her underthings somewhere).

  3. P.S. Forgot to say that the Wintry Pavlova is gorgeous. I may have already purchased some grey wool jersey for a Pavlova top ;) and it would work perfectly with a suiting fabric skirt like the one you used here.

  4. i love lauren’s look and how she has styled it for winter! maybe i won’t have to make a summer version that i have to qwait to wear – i love the drapey merino jersey you used.

  5. hehehe, I saw wintry and went uh oh Steph has run away back to the northern hemisphere out of this subtropical heat!

    On the topic of models I’d really like to see made up garments on people in all different shapes and sizes. I’m a visual person and that way I can look at a pattern and envisage what it might look like on me (short and need to do a FBA on most patterns); my sister (short no bust no bottom kind of like a bean pole – in the nicest kind of way) and a friend who I sew for (tall, small bust, small waist, large hips). This way I can work out if a pattern is good value to have in my stash.

    Anyways Etsy is telling me I did pre-order so coloured envelope in the mail coming my way soon :) And now that little person is in Kindy I might just get to join in the sew a long…

    • hahaha! not yet… ;)

      Yes- well- one of the things that’s so cool about the internet and the sewing world is that we *do* that… Show patterns on a variety of bodies and figure types… On Pattern Review, on blogs, etc. I think it’s pretty interesting and special, and it’ll be fun to see all the Pavlovas once she’s out there.

      When I’m drafting, I have five people in mind with very different bodies… I can’t fit everyone, but I can totally drive myself crazy trying to figure out how to. :) I’m working on something now roughly equivalent to Tira’s cup sizing, but below the belt. It’s looking nice, I’m excited….

    • Thanks Ginger!

      You know… Merino was a big business in spain in the 12th-16th centuries…. They have a dreadful economy right now, I wish someone would start producing merino jersey in Spain again for the NH so I could quit feeling guilty about using it! Or get those kiwis to export. Something. It’s a really nice fabric, extremely wearable and versatile….

  6. I have just ordered the pavlova pattern looking forward to receiving it. After seeing the the winter version I think I will make it for winter – probably won’t managed to get to it until then anyway. I LOVE the Gibson shoes.

    • Thanks, Lynette! It’s a versatile little pattern…

      I know.. The Gibson shoes are so swoonworthy…! And I know they’d be well made and comfy and would definitely see a lot of wear in my life.. I think I’m going to go ahead and pre-order.. Then I’ll be set for shoes for a while.

  7. Hmmm, seems someone must not regularly read your posts since I don’t think a regular reader would have any misconceptions as to your intent. I love your idea of collabvertisement and think it a very smart business decision. I can attest to the wear-ability of the Tiramisu and love that you approach your designs with that as a primary goal. Lauren did a wonderful job showing the versatility of the Pavlova. I can’t wait to make my own versions!

    • I agree, except someone has been a regular commentator. It’s ok. I was a little surprised…

      Thank you! :) Lauren and I were working on this since before Christmas, so it’s really nice to be able to show you what we’ve been up to. And such lovely photos…

      Absolutely, wearability and pockets are my first concern for designing. I really dislike clothes that bind or restrict or seem to be designed for someone to stand still and not much else…. I might have to start writing about 19th century feminism and the “dress reform” movement, I take a lot of inspiration from those women. Naturally, we aren’t bound into corsets and crinolines (unless we want to be!) anymore, but I see things like too-tight, badly fitting, or gaping clothes to be equally inhibitive… know what I mean?

      • Exactly! I can think of a RTW skirt in my closet right now that fits your description. It looks great if I stand very straight and don’t breathe too deeply. It seemed a good idea when I was in the dressing room, but I’ve never worn it and the vent basting is still intact. I checked out Lauren’s site and I really have to figure out how to convince my husband that I really, really need a pair of Gibsons. :)

  8. lauren, i think, is a particularly interesting choice since i am not sure i would see cake fitting her aesthetic until seeing these photos and seeing how brilliantly she styled them. i love your idea of these collaborations, i think it is really smart as well as a great way to spread your “gospel” of cake and show how many different ways the clothes can be worn. (and by how many different types/sizes/colors/flavors of women!)

    • Oh really? Hehehe. She seemed a natural choice to me for a neutral and tasteful winter Pavlova… :) I don’t really do any of those things myself, do I? It’s all bright colors and crazy fabrics and hot weather… It was fun to work together, though quite nerve racking to send my sewing to someone like her… !

      Thanks! “Flavors of women.” I like that. I’m going to think about that for a while…

    • Oh fantastic! How many Tiras have you made now? You did such good work in the sewalong. :)

      Both the top and skirt go together in the blink of an eye, so very very quickly. The only “tricky” bit is extremely over-explained, I don’t think it’ll be an issue.

    • Oh do check out Lauren’s blog! She has several years of very smart historical posts as well as beautiful photoshoots where she slips in and out of many many eras of history. Talented lady, Lauren.

  9. I love your collaboration! Agreeing with those above, it is really cool to see how different people’s aesthetics can completely transform a pattern’s look, and it drew me to comment on this post. I think the garments conserve a lot of your vintage/retro flair while fitting a totally different personality. I look forward to seeing more!

    • Yes! :) Thank you. I have something quite special planned for the next collabvertisement, oh really, for all of them. It takes a while to plan and execute, but it’s nice to collaborate.

  10. OMG! The wintry version is WONDERFUL, Steph, and has completely sold me on this gorgeous design, living, as I do, in wintry-appropriate settings for 7 out of 12 months! I wasn’t so sure about purchasing this, but making the wintry version has definitely tipped the scale in favour of Need To Have! Gorgeous! Now i just need to source merino wools for that top.

    • Thanks, Tia. I rather liked that set, too. :)

      Hmmmm… I keep looking around for an online supplier of merinos, I wish The Fabric Store would go online. Even with the shipping costs, I bet they’d do a great trade in Merinos alone…

  11. The photos are gorgeous! I would love to see the back view for next time if possible…I never know quite how to wrap a wrap top in the most elegant way and it would just be great to see the wrapping in 360 degrees. This is more for when I wear it than to help me decide to buy it or not, because I already pre-ordered!

    • No, not really. The required amount of fabric is basically your front waist + back waist lengths plus 15 cm or so… We’ll talk about Pavlova and grain once the Shipping Season starts, it’s a very fluid sort of pattern…

  12. I love your word “collabvertisement” haha! Makes me smile because it’s perfect! This is really lovely, and Lauren did a great job showing your garments off. You know, I’ve had a wool suiting similar to that skirt for years, and now I think I know what I’m going to do with it. And wouldn’t you know it, I finally signed up for paypal. My bank account is doomed. :D

  13. Am so excited to order this pattern, which is so well-suited to so many, many figure types. I can imagine myself wearing it, and I can imagine my 23-year-old daughter wearing it. We’ll both style it differently, and we’ll both choose very different fabrics for our garments — lest we give the (slightly creepy) impression that we are still sporting Mother-Daughter dresses á la Easter, 1992. I can even imagine my own mother wearing it, on Sundays, which is the only day she wears skirts and dresses anymore.

  14. Pingback: Name That Girl Poll, Tins and A Giveaway! « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

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