Flat Fell Seaming, Cake.pdfs and a Free Download

click to view

click to view

Following on from the denim Visual References I started posting last week, tonight I have for you the Flat Fell seam Vis Ref.  I’m really pleased with this one, Stephen helped me take the photos so I could really show you what to do with your hands.  It’s true that a picture is worth a thousand words- I could write write write about this and never quite convey the technique for a beginner.  I hope this helps as you start to draft your own yokes and sew them up.

If you’ve never sewn a flat fell seam before but you’d like to try it, then follow the steps in the Flat Fell Visual Reference using scraps of your fashion fabric.  You’ll approach the sewing with a much better grasp of the technique and the way the threads interact with the fabric for a smoother sewing process.

Sewing with Hammers is not off the table, and thank you all for your concern over smashing my thumb.  It’s much better now, and I need to set aside a little time with Stephen so he handles the camera while I hold the hammer.



Over the past week or so while I wait for Hummingbird and Cabarita paper patterns,* I spent some quality time quietly tidying up Cake.pdfs.  I started making pdf patterns last year before deciding to build Cake Patterns.  Making a tiled pdf sewing pattern is not as simple as it seems, it’s a bit of a headache between different paper sizes and scaling continuity, etc.

  When Taran began digitizing Cake Patterns during Pavlova production, I begged her to help me build the best pdf patterns possible.  It was extremely time consuming, and hard, and irritating, but we got there!

click to view

click to view

This little stock of patterns represents a great deal of hard work- not just the actual pattern work, but also printing and checking by the Cake team.  I like the funny .pdf “sticker” on the front cover, I think it helps differentiate between the paper and pdf patterns in the listings.   You can locate Cake.pdfs in the pdf section of my Etsy site, on Craftsy and also on Pattern Review.

Tiramisu Pdf Front Cover

Most excitingly, we have all of the current Cake range now digitized and tiled by Taran available for download.  They’re tidy and wonderful.  The Second Edition Tiramisu Dress is now available as a multi-size tiled pdf.  I mention this specifically because while the first pdf of this pattern was 67 pages, Taran pared it down to 40.  Yes, 40!

30-35 Bodice Tiling Guide

I have had some requests that I publish as a pdf the gently revised Tiramisu bodices from the second edition, for reference and experimentation by those who have the first edition.  Click here to download for free it right now.  It’s 17 pages total- complete with tiling info and updated cover art/ instructions.

I want to stress that the changes were almost completely cosmetic, and I did not include the larger bodices in this sample pdf because they were not revised significantly.  If you’re interested to see how cake .pdfs have evolved since Taran took over the digitizing, this will provide a taste of the style and quality you can expect from Cake-Standard pdfs.

Future pdf Releases

I have a question for you all, and I’m really interested to hear your thoughts.   Up to now, I withheld the pdf pattern releases until the paper pattern was either distributed or near distribution.  I tried pre-saling pdfs through Etsy in response to customer requests, but this was not the best way.

What do you all think if I change the timing of pdf releases to make them available as soon as I run the design for paper pre-sale?  Part of the benefit of a pdf release is the immediacy of downloading and printing a pattern, though it is at the cost of assembly.  I’ve been thinking about doing this for some time, but your opinion matters to me and I’d be interested to know what you think.

Later this week:

Definitely Sewing with Hammers

The Hummingbird Dress: Black and White Pinstripe Edition

with Drafting Variation Vis Ref

Slim, Straight Waistband Creation

*Hummingbird and Cabarita patterns are shipping.   With three distribution points to manage, I’ve been working hard to double check your pattern has actually shipped before sending out notifications. As soon as I’m sure your pattern is in the post, your notification will be sent.  Thanks so much for your patience regarding this issue, and please know that we’re working very hard to dramatically tighten up the lag time between pre-sale and shipping. 


  1. Oh Steph I was just myself pinning a particularly bulky denim intersection and thought ‘maybe it needs a hammer’ and remembered your hammer incident… have you recovered?

    • Yes! The hammer is great for flattening seam allowances. I’m fine, I’m really fine now and quite ready to go work with hammers again. Just not… quite… yet… :)

  2. You must have known I needed this! I’m trying to make my Dad a shirt for Father’s Day here – and flat felled seams are not my strong point! Thanks so much for the tutorial – you’re a lifesaver!

    PS Those hammers are tricky devils. Sending you some hugs and hope you’re recovering!

  3. Hi Steph, Glad to hear the thumb is much better!

    I’ve always wondered how to make a flat dell seam, and thanks to you, now I know!. It seems a bit fiddly, but it sure looks nice. And I was glad to find a use for the clapper – didn’t even know what it was called until I read the flat fell post. My mother-in-law sent me a bunch of her old sewing stuff when she found out I had gotten into sewing, and that clapper was in the box and I didn’t know what it was for. :) Glad it’ll come in handy soon.

    The PDF is beautiful. Seeing it almost swayed me from the paper to the PDF camp, but then I remembered all the cutting and taping… Anyway, thanks for providing a sample to us. I printed out the 30 bodice (only 4 pages to cut and paste!) and will try it out on my next Tiramisu. I’ll finally be making one in stripes. :)

    • Thanks, Tanya. :)

      Yes, a clapper! They hold heat and moisture in the seam from the iron while you continue to press. It’s most often used in tailoring, and will help create a really sharp crease. Lila used to use mine as a pretend play iron. :)

      Thanks, I think it’s a pretty good looking pdf myself. :) The cutting and taping, yes, I get that, though I think I’m kind of immune to it by now..

  4. Steph, thanks so much for this post. For the great details on denim work, and for the download:). So kind. I haven’t started mine yet – the weather hasn’t turned yet, so strange – normally summer will have set in by now – but we are having very wild weather in Europe – as in the States – global warming, huh? I can’t sew out of season, it’s so strange! In the days I shopped for clothes I couldn’t shop out of season either!
    Personally, I will always buy your printed patterns now that you have them, I loathe putting PDFs together unless absolutely necessary – I have even bought paper patterns when they came out after I had bought the download way before. Anyway, having said that, I don’t give a toss whether you sell the PDFs before the printed ones are out. And I don’t think it will affect your business either – the people like me will wait for the printed patterns.
    Happy healling. I don’t think I’ll ever try hammering – I’m astigmatic and know I will definitely hit some finger or other!

    • One of my least useful hobbies is watching world weather, and I noticed it’s still chilly up your way Yep, global warming, climate change, something deep is changing, anyway… I find it really hard to sew out of season, too…

      Ok- thanks for the advice there… I’ve been thinking about it for a while, but didn’t want to upset anyone… :)

      • As if! I think it would be a bit spooky to be upset:). Look, I trace patterns off tissue, I trace patterns off PDFs… I find thick paper patterns too unwieldy so I trace them too. I don’t like to cut my originals as one can easily change sizes – as I know to my own chagrin, dammit! I need to grade out at the hips most times, so it’s easier. Then I don’t like to throw away the PDFs jsut in case one day I need to trace them again, and they’re hard to fold and store. And I feel bad if I just chuck them – ecologically speaking. But that’s my problem, and I don’t see why people who like themshould wait for teh printing process:)

        I follow world weather too:). Have to say I love it when there’s grotty weather where my ex lives – evil cackle…..

  5. I prefer printed because I’m a tracer although if its <20 sheets I will use PDFs (pattern testing excepted)! I don't mind if you make the PDFs available before the printed copies are ready to ship, I know I'll hang on for the ready assembled pattern and it just means there's more inspiration out there when I get my hands on it!

  6. Hiya! I really like owning the paper version of patterns that I love… I admit that i’d be a bit sad watching other people get to make their lovely things a month or more earlier than me while I sat around twiddling my thumbs! I’d be quite likely to buy it twice… which, now that I type it, is perhaps good business for you but bad for my pocket! Whatever you decide will be just fine, though – You need to make a decision that helps keep Cake running! :)

  7. Hi Steph, I don’t really mind when PDFs go on sale for similar reasons Francesca stated, only I will generally always buy a PDF over a printed pattern as I suck at tracing accurately! Keep up the great work x

  8. Oh yeah, I forgot to pu in my two cents about PDF timing. I don’t mind if you release them earlier. I always wait until the sewalongs to start anyway. :) and I may try the riffs in PDF form next time, since they’re probably fewer pages than a Cake standard pattern.

  9. YAY! Thank for the Tira v. 2 PDF update! I was just getting ready to make my second one!

    I definitely prefer paper patterns, especially for adult clothes (as opposed to children’s clothes) because the pieces are big so there is so much assembly. That said, under certain circumstances (must. sew. right. now.) I do download large PDFs!

      • I printed the pdf pages of the Tiramisu bodice pattern update which I expected to be full-sized, but they are doll-sized. Do I need to print them larger than 100%?

        • Hi Cathy- I read your comment and immediately reprinted the file I attached and it is scale. Perhaps there’s an issue with your printer or pdf viewing program? I don’t know which one you’re using, I just clicked download and then printed from Adobe reader and it was fine. The 30 and 35 are the smaller bodices, perhaps that is it? I only included the 30-35 bodices on this download…

  10. I am a tracer of patterns, including PDF’s, but I prefer printed patterns.I find that folding PDF patterns after taping them together a nightmare. I have enough problems with printed patterns, even have problems with refolding maps(my husband thinks it funny).
    I agree with Gillan about her feelings with other sewers having the patterns (and playing with them) when I can’t. But sometimes I think it is good to sit back and watch other sewists, and the issues they might be having, and learning from them. This happened with me on the Pavlova sewalong, because of health issues I didn’t sew my skirt in the sewalong time frame. Actually I am just getting to my skirt NOW.
    Steph you are great about solving fit issues and other problems with patterns, and you provide solutions even if it is not the pattern but someones interpretations of your patterns. The Big 4 don’t offer this.Whether you release PDF’s before the printed patterns is up to you. If i really want it NOW, i will just have to become friends with my Sticky tape dispenser.

  11. Even easier flat-fell seaming: offset the bottom layer by i/4″ when you sew the initial seam. Align the 5/8″ mark (or whatever seam width you are using) to the outer edge of the longer, bottom seam layer. This way, you don’t have to trim the seam. You can go straight to “finger press, fold over, and stitch down.” Takes exactly the same amount of fabric to make the seam, but cuts out a tedious step.

    This is not my own invention: I read about it in a Threads magazine about Angelheart brand clothing, in the early 1990s. Trying it out for myself gave me the same sort of moment you get when you cut apart a moebius strip for the first time.

  12. Hey Steph, I want to do the yoke on my denim Hummingbird, but I am not a fan of appliqued zippers as in your photo above. You stated that the Applique Zipper treatment used above will most easily run over a pair of thick back yoke seams, but will it be possible to add a traditional zipper? Is it an either/or situation? back darts + traditional zip OR back yoke + applique zip?

  13. I prefer paper patterns and don’t mind when the pdf pattern is released, be it before paper or at the same time.

  14. I love the idea of having the PDFs be immediately available with the patterns. I sewed up Tiramisu recently and was unable to locate anyplace with the paper pattern (I live in the states in Seattle, and every local indie pattern store was sold out and waiting for the reprint). Yours is the first pattern I’ve purchased digitally and I thought the whole experience was just great. I didn’t find it at your etsy shop at the time, but it did introduce me to Crafsy, which was good.

    I’m also normally a pattern tracer, and with PDF I just cut my size because I can always print it again. I will cop to having studied the map of the pieces and determining which pages were necessary to print, which added a level of complexity I’m pretty sure I’m not going to do again.

    I love your patterns and your blog. Thanks for your passion!

  15. I love PDFs as much as printed patterns…possibly even a little more because I’d rather print and hack than trace. I can always print another (please don’t tell the trees!).
    annsos2013 hit the nail on the head. You offer us so much with your patterns, and work so hard to get them to us, that I really think the release timing should be one that works for you. I’m confident everyone would support you, whichever way you decide to work.

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