Cake and the Hydra

Picture 9

The Hydra was a fearsome beast from Greek mythology- every time one of its heads was cut off, two more grew in its place.  I grew up on these stories, and can’t help thinking about them sometimes.  This weekend, I did not get a chance to sew my Hummingbird Dress or do much of anything because I was again battling my Hydra- Pattern Errata.

Piece J

Hummingbird SkirtApril26Final

This is the Hummingbird Skirt pattern that we’ve been working from behind the scenes- five of us testing, revising, tweaking and stitching to ensure you have the best sewing experience possible with your Hummingbird Separates. I sent our final file off to be printed, secure in the knowledge that your back darts would fit, your waistbands would be tidy, and your pockets would be aaaaaamazing.

If you already received your paper Hummingbird Pattern you will see an empty space on your pattern paper where the pocket piece goes.  When I discovered this had happened, I immediately began working on two fixes and also to trace the source of the disparity.   I am very, very sorry this happened to our little bird.

Hummingbird piece J

Click here to get the download and/or request a paper pattern piece.  They are being printed now and should be sent out very quickly.

The piece was lost at the last stage of the process, due to a communications glitch between software on two computers.  I had no idea this kind of problem was possible until it happened.   The rest of the pattern is so lovely though!  Check out what’s already cropping up in the Hummingbird Flickr group.

Piece A

Cabarita Piece A DigitizedUnfortunately, Cabarita was also printed with a piece missing.  It is the small, unassuming Piece A neck binding.  This was caused by another type of miscommunication that often happens at the beginning of working relationships.  Please click here for the downloadable pattern piece and the request form for a paper pattern piece.

Picture 8

While we’re talking Cabarita, I want to squeeze in a little bit of fun- the Cabarita Community Galleries page.  I wasn’t sure whether we’d do these for RiFFs, but I had many requests so here she is!


And these issues on top of the delays we’ve had getting the shipment prepped for you!  The Southern Hemisphere shipment of Hummingbird and Cabarita patterns are tied up in customs.  I expect to have them Tuesday or Wednesday and will immediately drop everything to send them out when they arrive.

Quality Control

I take your sewing very seriously, and these issues grieve me more than I know how to express in words.  Instead, I’ll tell you the actions I’ve taken lately to tighten up Cake production and quality control:

-Testing: this is done by the Cake team, and the next pattern is almost ready for the set of Red Velvet testers to play with.  This allows me to delve even deeper into fit and fine-tuning the cut, and also means we many people trialling the sewing experience.

-Editorial Checklists: I have been building extensive editorial checklists since early this year.  Putting together a pattern requires more moving parts than I would have thought possible a year ago, and the checklist helps me make sure I’ve included all the relevant information.

Picture 10

-Susan: I hinted before that Susan from Moonthirty was joining the Cake Team.  She helps me test proportion and fit, but that’s not all.  Susan’s role is to help me coordinate the files for printing for each production run and to cast a sharply critical eye over every word and line and piece of the process.

She’s objective because she doesn’t live inside the work in the same way I do.   Susan polishes.  She dots the i’s and crosses the t’s.  This is her special talent, and I’m grateful she’s joining us.   She and I have been building our working relationship in this capacity for a few weeks now.  We’re doubling down our checks and cross-checks for the Red Velvet Collection. (oh yes, oh yes, it’s a collection…)

-Presales: I would never, ever ever have been able to build Cake without your support through the crowd-funded presaling.  However, running a company this way breeds errors of the type I’m handling right now.

I am not running any more presales as the primary source of funds for Cake Patterns productions.

That is not to say we won’t have a big old party online with special introductory prices on patterns (that’s too fun to quit!), but it does mean I am no longer selling you a concept during the presale.  I will be selling you an actual paper pattern I have in my hand- one that I know is precisely the way it should be.  I came to this decision over the weekend, and I believe it is the right one for Cake.  (It will also mean immediate delivery for the next round of patterns!  Hooray!)   The Red Velvet Collection presale is still slated for next month, I will have more on that later.

I apologize for any problems or inconvenience these issues have caused you.  If there’s anything else at all I can do for you, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Dress dress dress!

I need to be quiet this week on the blogging front while I continue to keep on top of the Hydra and prepare for the Hummingbird Sewalong, and I do so hope I get a chance to make my Hummingbird Dress sooner rather than later!


  1. I uesd to run presales for my fabrics as well but also quit doing that because of the resons you state. There is always something that comes up in a production line that can not be taken into account.It gives more work and more headache! So god call! :)

  2. You are very hard on yourself which I aguess is the mark of a truly commited person. Really, I lose at least one pattern piece weekly. Ona nay project. Most of us can cope with out the pice!!! But I am glad I have the option to download. Aain, your patterns are fabulous. Enjoy this time.

    • Yes, I am generally pretty hard on myself I suppose… :) Thank you! My main concern is that while it’s a pocket piece, it’s a part of the structure, essential to complete the project.

  3. It’s posts like these that help us all understand the enormous effort that goes into creating patterns for us, the end-users to enjoy and have instant success with. Thanks for sharing. Has your Red Velvet pattern testing team being finalised? If I’ve missed out, maybe next time? :)

    • The process is really involved… And even if everything is done right, poof, just like that it can be spoiled at the last minute… I guess I could do this or take up base jumping…. :)

  4. A PDF fix is fine for me! These things happen even when you’re as thorough as you are. I can understand why you’ve decided to call time on the pre-sales, it makes sense as you dont need to fund the start up costs anymore and if it gives you more control and more confidence in the finished item, that can only be a positive!
    The paper Hummingbird is printed on is gorgeous, smooth but strong. I’m looking forward to the sewalong!

    • Thanks for understanding, Vicki. :)

      Moar control!!! Yes, that’s part of it… And I’d rather like to be able to calmly send out your new patterns in good time, rather than the white-knuckled wait and apparently inevitable delays… One day I’ll get all of this nailed down. …

      I’m so glad you like it! When I saw the print samples, they were like some magical paper I’d dreamed up. Translucent, too, love that.

  5. I just cut out Hummingbird pattern pieces last night – this is PERFECT timing to finish up the pocket piece. Honestly, I was so tired I never realized it was missing…

    OK, I have to tell you – Steph, you are a genius. Oh my. The way you designed the pattern so that it accounts for different waist lengths, etc. in the top – all in one tracing – brilliant! I almost cried with relief when I realized I didn’t need to slash and spread (I am tall, model height – ahem, not age though…- , and finding clothes long enough in the torso is a real challenge – I am always altering pattern pieces!). It might sound like a little thing, but sometimes the little things mean a lot. I will admit that it took me awhile to figure out some things on the pattern, but that’s ok. After dealing with big 4 for so long, it was a pleasant change.

    Way over in the states, I’m looking forward to further releases!

    • Well I’m glad I could help before you sit down to sew and find the skirt won’t work! :)

      Thank you. :) I am so glad you found it useful, that’s the schematic I want to use for most of my tops/some dresses and it’s also going into the kids’ stuff I have in the works. So I’m really glad it worked well for you. :)

  6. Oh, I forgot to add – LOVE LOVE LOVE the paper instead of dealing with tissue. Yours was so much easier to work with – trace from, fold – what a joy!

  7. steph – you are always so helpful and you clearly put so much work into everything to get it perfect that i feel like i’m as gutted as you when glitches happen! i have to second angela’s point about about the tall thing – i traced and cut cabarita yesterday (saving hummingbird for the sewalong!) and the fact that i can cut to the longest length line is just perfect.

    i hope stopping the presaling stresses you less (but i’m glad you’re not stopping the party fun!). can’t wait for red velvet and to see your hbird dress!

    • Aw! Thank you. I think “gutted” just about describes it precisely, but it didn’t take long to get a fix in place so that’s something!

      For the grid guide, it’s also possible to make shaped side seams which I find works well, and of course you can make the whole thing as long as you like… :)

      No way I’d stop the pre-saley goodness! I’m just aiming to do it much, much better for the next round. :) I think I’ll be able to work on my Hbird dress later this week- tomorrow I’ll be handling Aussie/NZ shipments! Yaaaaaaay!

  8. I’m sure I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, you are amazing! I’m not surprised you feel like you are dealing with the Hydra. The amount of care and attention you put into your work is incredible, and all that on top of being a mum. I don’t know how you do it but I’m very grateful there are people like you around.

    • Thank you! :)

      Being a mum turned into a part time job this year when Lila started school and my husband is a really involved parent/partner. He’s the amazing one! I wouldn’t be able to Cake up the place without him. :)

  9. I am looking forward to the sewalong too!! I am so used to tracing and adjusting taking so long I wanted to get that much done ahead, since the sewalong week will be hectic here.

    Glad I’m not the only one who loves loves that the length adjustment is incorporated into the pattern!!!

    • I think we’ll really have a great time sewing along, I’ve been looking forward to it for aaaaages.

      I’m glad you like the length adjustment. When I first start working on a concept, alterations (and making them intuitive rather than otherwise) is one of my first concerns. :)

  10. For what it’s worth, I think you’re doing a fantastic job. There may be a few bumps along the road, but you’re smoothing them out as you go in a very professional and courteous manner. You care, which makes your job easier and much much harder, but we can see and appreciate your passion for your budding company. You’ll work out the kinks and every pattern will get easier and easier! :)

    I’m glad you’re keeping the sewalongs. Great way to get people extra excited for the new patterns and I imagine it’s great publicity!

    • Thanks Heather, that means a lot! I do care, I probably care TOO much but I guess that’s just the way I am.. :)

      Oh yes, I am really not kidding when I say the sewalongs have become my favorite part of the process, far and away. I’ve gotten to know so many people, I take sooooo many notes and the sewalong is a great place for me to put notes and techniques and etc that are useful but didn’t make it into the pattern… Limited space… :)

      • Oh that’s cool! I’m so excited for Hummingbird sewalong! I’m hoping that it’s sitting at home waiting for me, along with all the knits I picked up on my trip south. One (fugly) fabric in particular is begging to be transformed into one top! :D (HINT: See one of my recent posts for all the God-awfulness lol)

  11. Oh my! Thank you for being upfront and fixing the problems immediately as you find them! We’ll stick with you as you make all these adjustments.

    I third the length option on the Cabarita. It’s wonderful. I was proudly showing off the tissue and sizing system to a couple ladies yesterday. We were all impressed! (we may have ordered fabric too…) I’m hoping to get my patterns traced and ready to go. My serger is in the shop getting all tuned up but should be back in time for the sewalong.

    Keep fighting your hydra because when you win it’s amazing!!

    • Thanks Em. That means a lot. :)

      Ooooh that’s exciting! I’m really pleased you like it. And they like it!

      I will keep fighting… The work on Red Velvet is shaping up sooo nicely, I feel like I owe*it to her to keep moving forward.. :) Upward and onward…

  12. Dear Steph, as stated by previous posters, your pain is felt by your cyber students. Your perfectionism is quite evident in your work. I have worked with printers on huge projects– brochures printed by the thousands with inserts and pages galore.On one such project, I dragged my 7 year old daughter to an 11:00 pm press run and discovered that the logo that had been used was five iterations to old to use!! There most certainly a Printing Troll or Imp that eats pocket pieces and switches logos when our backs are turned…getting kick-backs from the Hydra of course.

    • Oh, you’re so funny and sweet Bernadette! Hehe. I think so, too, about the imps/hydra. They must be in cahoots with WW2 gremlins.

      I am very conflicted about perfectionism… On one hand, it’s an impossible standard, and on the other it’s sooooo alluring… Sigh.

  13. Glitches happen, mistakes get made, typos get missed, it’s what you do about it that matters and it seems to me you’re dealing with it all directly and making it right.

  14. These things happen and I’m obviously not alone in thinking that its how you handle them that is the important bit. I’m so impressed that you keep us all in the loop. You don’t make excuses or try to hide, just put a solution in place right away. It’s so thoughtful and professional. I think I can confidently say that we are all with you on this journey as your cheerleaders. You’re doing a great job, in my very humble opinion.

  15. I admire your perseverance so much! Thanks for being so diligent, thoughtful, and resourceful. It is truly amazing to see how far you’ve come and much Cake has grown just in this past year!! Cheering you on in your fight against the Hydra and hoping you get plenty of time to do what you love this week!

    • Thanks, Tanya. I’m trying!

      About the year… Yes. I mean- a year ago I’d only *just* kinda sorta started working on Tiramisu, feeling my way through the process like groping in the dark for a lightswitch… Can’t wait to see what’ll be happening a year from now… :D

  16. Just got my Tira pattern in the mail yesterday evening (late to the party, I know), and my pieces are all ready to cut this morning. It is such a joy to use and so well thought out. I really admire and appreciate the work you do and your attitude to it. Fingers crossed that my Bird will arrive on time. Fabric is washed and pressed and ready to go. Thanks for the heads-up on the pattern. You are doing a fantastic job.

  17. Steph, stop kicking yourself so. Shit happens. I’ve had problems with patterns which were much worse than a missing piece. You are so amazing with your incredibly thoughtful patterns and back up and sewalongs that the patterns could be printed on crappy paper for all it would affect my high opinion of you. which brings me to wow! The pattern paper is amazing! I received my patterns in Malta from the UK today and love the paper :).
    And by the way – I love your offer to send a paper printout – that is typically courteous of you – but come on, even pdf haters like myself can handle a few pages:). What an unnecessary expense. I just hope noone takes up the offer!

    Oh – stupid question time – I guess now that I’ve downloaded the revised PDF of the tiramisu I can get rid of the Patch, right? You’ll probably say duh :))))

    • Thanks for that, Francesca. I really appreciate your support in this, your warmth really comes throught he screen. :) I do try to provide the best patterns I can, it really frustrates me when something like this happens late in the process. But we’ll get it sorted… We will…

      I am actually rather surprised by the low number of requests for paper pattern pieces… I sent out some Cabs on Wednesday without the extra pieces (because I did not yet have them) but have since printed them and put them into the Cabs as a matter of course. We’ll get Europe and the US sorted and put the whole thing behind us… :)

      Yes. The second edition Tira requires no patches.

      • Grrr. Avatar or whatever it is just lost my message:(. Steph – I just received piece J from ellie magpie – please tell her to make sure not to send me the litle cabarita piece! I didn’t need them… unnecessary expense.
        I love your Hummiingbird dress, BTW. You look like a film star – adorable. The bow is inspired. And I really like the whole blue thing going on in the post before this – striped dress and bolero – gorgeous!

  18. Pingback: flocks of fancy | moonthirty

  19. Aw, well, looks like a very simple fix is in the make there, and quickly as well, so I certainly would not stress too much about it! I know easier said than done, but since everything’s already out, then stressing is not helpful. Only creating the fixes is helpful and you have already done that!! So, it’s Martini time now!!I

    I think I am going to download the Hummingbird skirt from Craftsy and just follow along the sewalong unofficially. I already downloaded my missing Cabarita piece and caaaarrrreeeffffuuuulllly cut it out. So, it’s all ready to add to my pattern when she comes.

    And, so excited that MoonThirty is helping out Cake. As you know, i do enjoy the symmetry and her chevron lines, lined up soooooo well. I have to shop now for striped knit fabric and try to emulate. Waiting to find out how much stretch it should have, one way two way, etc.

    • Thanks, Gj. :) I haven’t had time to stress really, getting all this sorted in the middle of my other work has been incredibly time consuming but things will level out soon…

      Ooooh a second download, eh? :)

      Yeah, Susan is a great help, soon it’ll be time to set her to work polishing up the Red Velvet Collection…

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