Red Velvet Dress and Intuitive Fitting

Sewhopeful Red Velvet Muse

Today our Red Velvet Muse is Sewhopeful, she and I actually live in the same time zone!  I love Sewhopeful’s style, the way she combines good fit and excellent stitching in a way that makes the fabric sing.  Sewhopeful writes excellent sewing and fitting advice on her blog, including this in-depth exploration of petite adjustments for Cake Patterns.

I am not kidding around with my use of the word “Muse” for this project, by the way.   I thought about my Muses while I worked away on the Red Velvet drafts.  I stalked their blogs.  This kept me motivated to seek out ways to make a better sewing pattern, and I definitely read J’s post several times.

blue-side-grass - Copy

In her Red Velvet Dress blog review, Sewhopeful wrote:

“The proportional sizing guide that Stephanie has developed has been really refined and improved since I made the Tiramisu dress.  I previously had to fiddle quite a bit to adjust for my A-cup bust but this dress fitted perfectly without any adjustments straight up.  The small busted among us can rejoice! I just chose my bodice size based on my high bust measurement (35″) and then my cup size based on my full bust measurement.  For me these measurements are the same so I naturally chose the A cup sizing and it is a perfect fit.”

Keep an eye out later this week for Sewhopeful’s 2nd Red Velvet dress. It’s so cute and different we decided to include #2, too!

Mid-Construction Fit Check

REd Velvet Dress Mid Construction Fit Check

Today the Fit Check page for the Red Velvet dress went live!  I used my blue gardenia dress to illustrate what I’d consider two ends of the “fit” spectrum.   In fact, I unintentionally went up a size!  That’s ok, it’s better to have a bit too much fabric and take it out than to have a garment that’s un-wearably too small. Besides, I think it illustrates the point really well.

That point is I don’t believe good fit and fitting has to be scary or inaccessible or difficult.  I’ve taught sewing for a while now, and always hated the steep learning curve that beginners face.  When you’re a beginner, it seems like there’s a universe of new skills to learn, equipment to buy, terms to figure out.  Fit and fitting are another skill set, let alone pattern alteration.

Blue Gardenia pre-alteration

When I start work on a new design, I pinpoint the potential trouble areas (bust apexes and high hips, amirite?) and decide how to approach alteration.  As much as possible, I like to make the fitting fairly straight forward.  It’s not exactly difficult to grab a side seam and sew out the extra fabric as desired.

I catch a bit of flak around the internets (and my inbox) from people who think I should design patterns that fit “closer.”  I’m not going to do that, ever, not for dresses or tops.  You can do that easily, in your sewing room, with the fabric in your hands.  It’s simple to make a dress that clings and skims your shape alone, just the way you want.

Side Seam Alteration Blue Gardenia2

I see my role here as a designer/sewing engineer/facilitator of your sewing goals.  I make deceptively simple patterns that fit pretty well but aren’t a size.  My knit dresses and tops are created with 0 ease at the bust to accommodate the preferences of those who prefer a relaxed fit.  0 ease also unlocks a larger range of fabrics that are suitable for use with the pattern, because you can adjust the dress easily for a wider variety of fabric types and weights.

Blue Gardenia Red Velvet

Besides, like I said, it’s not terribly difficult.  Fitting this way is riskless if you use a basting stitch.  Then either rip the stitches easily or simply sew over the basting and forget about it.   I like to use a wide-ish, medium length zig-zag to baste my knits together.  That way, the basting will flex (so I can put it on) but not break (as I find straight-stitch basting does).

And don’t forget, we like Sewcial groups around here so if you run into fitting trouble don’t be shy!  Upload a photo to the Red Velvet Dress Sewcial Flickr Group (later we’ll use this space for the sewalong!!) and we’ll sort you out.  Your upload may make Future Cake even better and more intuitive.

0369 Red Velvet Dress Cake Patterns Envelope Front

Sewalong schedule, merino shenanigans, structured hems, haberdashery and measurement visual references coming up this week, and more!  :)

The Red Velvet Dress paper patterns (and Espresso and RV Clutch) are just about ready to be shipped to our distributors, this week.  Then we’ll ship our three graceful covergirls Esme, Penelope and Pearl straight to your sewing room!  Once I have the paper patterns ready to send you, the price for the paper Red Velvet pattern will go up to its full price of $AUD 20, from $16.50.

Then we’ll have a sewalong, come November.  This time we have lovely pink, red and cream oversized envelopes for your Red Velvet Sewalong sorting!


  1. I just got the entire collection and I noticed you have added the bust length measurements and I love it because I had some trouble with that with the Tira dress,. Love the printable envelope too!

  2. Wow! Another lovely dress. I think everything that Sewhopeful makes is gorgeous. I’m glad she was one of your muses. And now my conundrum. I’m using a turquoise and white striped jersey knit from my stash for my first Red Velvet, but I can’t decide if I should do the boxy pleat or the scissor pleat. I’ve already cut out my bodice and midriff pieces. FYI – The stripes are about 1.25″ wide, and I’m using solid turquoise for the midriff. I’d love any suggestions! (I’m using 30A for the bodice and 25 for the skirt.)

    • Yeah! I like her style too… :)

      Oooh, hard one… I like both with stripes, it makes a cool visual effect. I can’t decide, I have both! Since they’re wider, I might say go for boxy for a cool graphic effect.

      • Thanks, Steph! I’ll try the boxy. :) We’re heading on vacation this week, and I’m trying to see how much I can finish before we go. I won’t be able to sew while we’re gone!

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