Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Finished projects: Red Velvet dress by Cake Patterns

I finished not one, but two, Red Velvet dresses a few weeks ago, but we only got around to photographing the second one this past Sunday. (As I mentioned in several earlier posts, I took part in the Red Velvet 30-minutes-a-day sewalong.) I could have blogged these separately, but since I chose to try each of the two pleating methods, I wanted to show them side-by-side for the sake of comparison.

Note that I made the following pattern alterations to both versions of this dress:
  • 3" Deep Bust Adjustment (DBA) to add length only over the bust
  • Lengthened sleeves to 3/4 length for the sake of practicality
  • Shortened midriff band by 1.5" (I felt that the midriff band on my Tiramisu dress was too tall; the Red Velvet midriff is a similar height.)
  • Shortened skirt by 2"
  • Trimmed neckline by 1/2" depth to create a more open neckline
  • Opted to self-fabric bind the neckline rather than to use the included facing
  • Converted bust release pleats to darts (I didn't care for the look of the release pleats on some of the larger busted sewists who made the dress before me. Those who used darts had less of a "Look at my nipples!" effect.)
  • Added the side seam pockets from my Tiramisu dress
  • Opted not to use the hidden "invisible zipper" pocket
First up is the first version that I sewed, using a black-and-white ITY jersey that I purchased a while back from Fashionista Fabrics:

For this version, I used the scissor pleat option on the skirt, in both the front and back view. I remember when this pattern came out, I saw a lot of discussion online debating the wisdom of placing a giant pleat over our butts, given that most of us want to minimize bulk there. I proceeded with cautious optimism in this area, after having seen a few other women sew up the Red Velvet dress before I sewed mine up. My observation was that the pleat seemed to work okay if you used a light enough weight fabric. Dresses made up in, say, an ITY knit looked okay; dresses made up in a doubleknit generally probably would have looked better without the pleat/bulk.

Here's the pleat in the back. I don't think it's particularly noticeable, given the print of my fabric:

With my alterations, I was very happy with how my dress turned out. I can wear it to work without feeling like I need to wear a jacket or sweater over it or wearing a cami under it. Note: I feel that ITY knit is the perfect fabric for this dress. It has the perfect amount of body, stability, and drapiness without being too bulky.

For my second version, I used what was also labeled an ITY knit on the bolt. I bought this striped fabric at the Mill End Store on our trip to Portland, OR in October. Note that this fabric was a little bit thinner, WAY more slippery, and WAY more drapey than any other ITY knit that I've worked with. To be honest, it was a pain to work with. The midriff band is a black ITY jersey that I've had in my stash.

With this version, I thought that the "boxy pleat" option on the skirt might be fun with the stripes. here's the front of the dress:

Here's the back of the dress. I do think that the scissor pleat is more flattering on larger backsides like mine--it's more subtle:

 Overall, I'm happy with my dresses. I feel like I got two very wearable dresses out of the sewalong/project. I like the black and white one a little more, but the striped one is still cute and fun and has a totally different vibe. I could see myself make a third version of this dress if I am struck with fabric inspiration.


  1. HI: I'm interested in your use of the term "deep bust adjustment." I know and use the full bust adjustment, but I also have to lower the fullest part of the bust by two inches. Does your technique accomplish both tasks at the same time? Inquiring minds want to know!

  2. Judith, "deep bust adjustment" only adds length over the bust. In theory with this pattern, you likely wouldn't need to add width because the pattern includes generous cup size options. The DBA adds length to the bodice CF, tapering out at the side seam so that you don't get the bodice seam hitting you across the bustline.