Catching Up and Hummingbird Class in Brisbane!


It’s been a while since my last post.  While you’re all so very understanding when I disappear into my drafting and development cave I thought I owed you an apology for not posting the rest of the House galleries.  I’m sorry.  I am really proud of the work that all the houses put into the Sewalong, and there’s more than a handful of really cool Hummingbirds and Hummingbird hybrids viewable in the Flickr group or the Hummingbird Community Gallery.

The fact is, after I spent 6-7 hours putting together the Sabrewing House gallery I completely lost steam.  Blogging is time consuming.  Even shorter posts often require 2+ hours of pulling together text and photos and links and concepts.   I often write technical posts for sewingcake all at one time and release them slowly as some bloggers do, but it never felt right for 3 Hours Past.

It's Pearl!

It’s Pearl, next appearance on RV…

Lately, I felt it’s better for me to spend my blogging time developing new designs and making Cake Patterns the best company I can.   In fact, I’d like to tell you a little about what I’ve been doing (and I slipped in little previews of the future so you can *really* see what I’ve been up to…!).

Cake Retail- The Distribution Work

I wasn’t just sewing and drafting while the blog was quiet.  I’m also tightening up every step of the development and distribution for Cake Patterns.  International shipping costs have gone up dramatically lately (especially from the US to international destinations but there’s been a definite ripple effect).  This means it’s harder/more expensive to sell and distribute Cake Patterns through Etsy for both you and me.

Penelope red Velvet

Penelope makes another appearance for Red Velvet!

But I’m working on a solution!  Cake Patterns is currently seeking retail partners (particularly across Canada and Europe) in order to make Cake Patterns available more easily to you, for lower shipping rates.  We already have a growing list of wonderful international stockists:


New Zealand*:



United States:

I spent some time over the past few weeks developing our systems and digital resources to better serve our retailers.  They, in turn, make it simpler (and usually cheaper) for you to order Cake Patterns.   Retailers are an important part of the distribution process.   Over the past several weeks, I began reprinting (again) Tiramisu Second Edition and the RiFFsHummingbird is next, we’re already almost out of stock!  Every stage of the process has gone much more smoothly, I have some lovely patterns in hand and now I feel confident in seeking out retailers knowing I can provide a solid finished pattern.

Red Velvet Dress

If you’re a retailer (or you know one) and you’d like to request Cake Patterns’ retail brochure, then let me know:


The retail brochure contains information and previews for the upcoming Red Velvet and Cake Kid Collections, too.

Back Detail

Cake Classes- My Favorite Work!

Before I started making patterns, I taught sewing for years locally.  In fact, everything about the way I write and present Cake Patterns is informed by years of helping women fit and sew patterns that were consistently inadequate in terms of fit and instructions.  I love teaching!

Zilch to Zips

For most of this year I’ve been teaching beginners on a Tuesday night.  In five weeks we work through a tote bag, a Blank Canvas Tee and an a-line skirt.  The next round of beginners classes is on a weekend, as has been requested.  Click here to view more information about this class, I call it “From Zilch to Zips” and I’m really proud of the solid skill set my beginners build in this class.

(I’m putting together a Beginner’s Sewing pattern set based on Zilch to Zips.  I used to like that I could hand a relative beginner a Colette or an Oliver + S pattern and know they’d have good success outside the classroom setting.  I want to take that concept further to make a little useful set of beginner’s patterns suitable for either a classroom or solo learning experience… More on that very soon!)

Hummingbird Class at Voodoo Rabbit

Instead of beginners on a Tuesday, from July 30 I’ll be teaching a 4-week Hummingbird Class!  I’m really excited about this, because it’s a nifty intermediate-level class I worked up that’s very similar to the Sewalong.  We’ll spend time exploring fabric behavior and drape as well as fitting and finishing techniques.  We’ll talk peplums and proportions, bias, lapped seams, the finer points of knit binding, twin needling and denim seaming techniques (we’ll sew some denim even if you aren’t sewing with it).

As always, I teach the group but also teach to the individual and her machine.  That means we’ll get your machine twin needling no matter what.  We’ll laugh, chat, joke around and refine our techniques in a stress-free, supportive learning environment.  That’s really important to me, more than anything else:  in classes like this I want you to experience the joy of sewing, the excitement of watching a garment come to life beneath your fingertips.

If you’d like to come along, you can check out the full details on the class listing at Voodoo Rabbit.  We keep class sizes small, and the closing date for enrollment is this Wednesday so don’t miss out!  (I don’t think I’ll be able to resist whipping up some Hummingbird Cake for us to have with our tea- yum!)

Bandwidth & Balance- The Hardest Work

From next week, I’m back at 3 Hours Past, at least a little bit for a body image/art series I’ve been mulling for a while.  The RV production work is wrapping up and while I don’t yet have the paper patterns quite ready to go just yet, I also won’t have to spend so much of my time working on the production.  That means I can spend a little time writing again!

Mmmm, one of the things that colors a Red Velvet Cake is the Cocoa... A RV Collection RiFF...

Mmmm, one of the elements that colors one kind of Red Velvet Cake is the Cocoa… A Red Velvet Collection RiFF…


Building Cake has been more of a rollercoaster ride than I ever could have imagined, and right now I’m working hardest on finding a way to achieve balance between the work I do and the life I live.  So far, it’s been helpful to accept that the day only has 24 hours and to strive to set aside one day every week where I don’t work at all.  I don’t tend to have any problems getting motivated or focusing on the work, in fact I find it’s hard to stop working.  I’d be really interested in hearing your tips for maintaining a healthy work/life balance, especially from those who work from home or work for themselves.   When do you stop working?  Where are your boundaries?

Let us sew cake

*New Zealanders LOVE Cake despite the high shipping costs to cross the Tasman- check out this Sew and Eat Cake event in Wellington, what fun!  I wish I could be there, ladies!  I want to see the pictures!


    • Thanks… Been wearing her for a while, and she layers well with Cake releases so I thought it was time she got her own pattern. :)

  1. I’ve read about Cake Kids…. will you apply the same principles you use for women? Sizes to fit different bodies? I truly hope so! (I had this crazy idea to start drafting patterns for “soft” children but I wouldn’t know where to start, not drafting but putting together the patterns etc)
    Can’t wait to see new patterns coming (for both children and adults)

    • Yes, there’s a size customization aspect of Cake Kids. It’s not exactly like the adult schematic because kids’ bodies are different to adult bodies, but the logic is very similar. I know lots of us who sew for kids have similar fitting problems.. Lila is a size 3 width-wise and a 5-6 height-wise, for example… :)

  2. Hi there! The ole’ balancing act! I have a weeny little womens clothing label which I work at from home, making use of mostly snippets of time which my lovely partner and 2 young children allow me. It’s business in slow motion right now. It’s great to get a couple of hours solid here or there, and coming up to an expo or market, my partner looks after the littlies more.
    I think as long as I make time for loved ones, and don’t feel tired too often, I’m doing ok. It’s tempting to burn the midnight oil, and occasionally I do – but I pay later. My biggest challenge is letting go – accepting that not everything on the list will get done, and that has to be good enough. Things are getting easier as the children grow.
    Every now and then I take a break from even thinking about work – which is extremely difficult because I love it, but I think it’s important to do that – it gives me fresh eyes.

    • I hear that about business in slow motion, once Lila started school I had SO MUCH more time to work…

      Yeah, sometimes I stay up really late to finish something, but looooong ago I found that sleep had to be a priority for me or the rest of my life unravels… :)

  3. Glad to hear things are running more smoothly and yay for retailers. I personally have been using Sweet Little Chickadee after finding her through Lauren’s Lladybird blog and couldn’t be happier. Shipping is reasonable and the patterns are gift wrapped :-)

    Can’t wait to get my hands on Red Velvet and the Cocoa shrug. I can see them paired as a super fancy holiday ensemble and casual. Will Red Velvet be suitable for more stiff fabrics or mainly knits?

    • How lovely, I didn’t know that about the gift-wrapping! :)

      By stiff fabrics = wovens? No, I’m not bothering with wovens right now for dresses. The other labels are doing that just fine, and I like working with knits… They’re more like “clothes,” kwim? I made a version from sweatshirt weight fabric, she turned out pretty well.. It’s a merino-nylon blended performance fabric, but still… Same weight… :)

  4. It’s great to hear from you again and learn about all the goings-on. I am very excited about the Red Velvet and also wanted to say that I really LOVED the paper that the Hummingbird was printed on. So sturdy and yet malleable. Keep up all the good work. Your devoted fan base is rooting for you!

    • August. The other part of what I’ve been doing lately is changing up the production process so I don’t offer a pattern for sale until it’s already printed… Cocoa is still in pre-press stage, but she’s nearly ready.. :)

  5. So good to hear what you’ve been up to! I really love your idea of a beginner pattern set because learning to sew with Cake patterns works. I’d be happy to write a testimonial! :) You have totally been my virtual sewing teacher these past few months. :) I have a wardrobe of Cake, and nobody can believe that the clothes I’m wearing are all things that I’ve made. I just finished a striped Cabarita today. And this next week I’m going to help teach someone to sew, and we’re going to use the Hummingbird skirt. :) Thank you for all your hard work behind the scenes. Cheers to finding more life/work balance. Looking forward to Red Velvet, Cocoa Shrug, and Cake kids!! woohoo!

    • Thanks, Tanya! That means a lot to me, and you’ve really done beautiful work in the SALs and etc. :) Yeah! Spread the sewing around! I love that!! (The beginner’s skirt is a gently simplified version of the Hbird orange skirt… I thought she’d made an excellent beginner’s skirt, nicer than your garden variety a-line…So, good choice for your learning to sew friend!)

  6. I love the shrug and can’t wait to buy it. Don’t worry about not blogging, we all know that you are around creating wonderful things for us to make. :-) And you have a family and a life that needs your attention too. Enjoy your weekend!

  7. That shrug! I’ve been looking for a shrug pattern like that for ages. Can’t wait untill it’s released! Good luck with finding your balance Steph, it can be so difficult when there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything you want. Be kind to yourself, and listen to your body, it will tell you when something is too much.

  8. Looking forward to seeing the release of RV and the associated RiFFs. I’ll be very happy to buy mine online from Sewbox in the UK, Susan’s customer service is excellent..

    • I’ve never bought from her but I definitely will. I can’t think ok printing and gluing anymore patterns this year, so glad to hear about european retailers!!

  9. YEah!! So excited to hear a bit from you again! Balance is hard but glad to hear you are setting aside one day to rest from it all. I find I must do this too and my work isn’t as intense as yours.
    Love Cocoa! I just bought some sparkle navy knit and will have to save it for this!!! I just spent a week on the road and wore the same sweater/cardigan the WHOLE time. Looking forward to having more options soon.

    • PS. Excited to hear about the beginner’s package you’ll be offering too. I’ve had some requests to teach clothing sewing and have been debating on using your patterns. We have very few fabric shopping options and I’m leery of sending newbies out to buy knits… most don’t even know what I’m talking about.

  10. Balance is SO hard and I suffer from the same problem as you know! I work all day, come home to my toddler, play with her and get her to bed by 10 p.m. if I’m lucky … and then I tend to either work or sew or blog until bed. I’m not sure I remember the meaning of the word “relaxation” sometimes…

  11. Congrats on all your retailers and the course you are teaching! I will be participating in Let us sew and Eat Cake and will be sewing my Cabarita! When does the Red Velvet Dress come out? It looks just darling!

  12. Yay!!! I’m excited for Red Velvet. I don’t know how I managed to find you but I’ve been watching your patterns since Tira came out. I’ve been waiting (im)patiently for Red Velvet to be released so I can buy several at once. I can’t wait until I can sew all the cake. :o)

  13. Love the shrug. Love the mini Red Velvet. Can’t wait to see the beginners sewing patterns…especially as I’m thinking of starting some little sewing classes. If you crack the balance thing…please share. I’m rubbish at it and I don’t have a business!

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