Over a year ago, Tasia of Sewaholic wrote this brilliant post that instantly added two terms to the sewing blog lexicon: sewing cake, and sewing frosting.
Frosting is the fun stuff: the special occasion garments and garments made from that “OMG I have to make something out of that!” fabric that aren’t for a specific purpose or event.
Cake is the workhorse garment that you can wear to work, a party, or just running errands- the stuff that always looks good, and is never out of place.
I’ve always been a frosting kind of girl. Even in the non-sewing world, if it were socially acceptable to eat the frosting, and leave the cake, I’d totally be down for that.
The same attitude applies to my sewing so much, I haven’t given much thought to how those labels fit my projects. I figured I was firmly in the frosting camp, and that was just fine with me.
Nobody ever told me that sometimes frosting could also be cake.
I was browsing the bolts at my favorite fabric store some months back, when I found this fabric I couldn’t bear to leave without. I honestly have never had such a strong reaction to a fabric. I tried to talk myself out of it.
-Holographic rainbows? Really? This is too ridiculous, even for me.
-I know, but LOOK at it!!! It’s practically begging me to buy it! Maybe it’s so ridiculous it will be awesome- the way pugs are so ugly they’re cute
-Maybe, but awesome for what, exactly? And how do you even sew that?
-I don’t know. I’ll figure it out. It’s only $15/yard, and I get 20% off…
-So, if it doesn’t work, I guess we’ll only be out about $40… Fine. Get it. But this is probably the most ridiculous fabric you’ve ever bought including the USS Enterprise silk and the DC Metro Maps fabric you made on spoonflower- which you *still* haven’t used, by the way….
-YES!!!! I can practically feel how excited this fabric is to have me take it home!! This is the right decision.
So I bought the fabric, and I was happy. I had no idea what pattern I was going to use for it, or how to even sew it, but it was a challenge I was excited to take on.
At the time, I was still head over heels for Lekala, I still am, but life has been busy, and I haven’t sewn or even planned a garment since this one, and that was over 4 months ago. UGH!!!! But anyway….. Lekala 4282 was high on my “to sew” list because I thought it would be a good idea for my re-do of the matryoshka dress, so I decided this fabric would be a good opportunity to try that pattern out.
Before I even cut into the fabric, I had to figure this stuff out. I knew there was no naturally occurring fiber to be found in it, and I cut out a test swatch to see how it would hold up in my normal laundry cycle.
It cut fairly easy, and didn’t fray too much, but I decided to zig-zag the edges before tossing it in the laundry. It was then I got my first confirmation that this was going to be a tricky fabric to sew.
Sewing on the lengthwise grain was fine, but as soon as I turned the corner and started down the crosswise grain, it was a much bigger challenge. First of all, the polyester fibers that give the fabric the purple color started pulling away from the plastic strands that are responsible for the shimmering rainbow effect. Also? Every so often, when my needle hit a rainbow strand in just the right/wrong way, I’d hear and feel that gut wrenching fabric snag sound. It was very similar to the emotional feeling you get when you feel a run start in your pantyhose, and you have no nail polish with you, no spare pantyhose, and going without isn’t an option. It’s a terrible feeling of dread, and all you can do is hope it doesn’t get worse and nobody notices.
I searched for some trick to sewing the fabric without disaster, and got some tips by asking on the pattern review message board . I tried a few techniques that were suggested there, and underlining it seemed to work best to give it more stability without adding bulk. I also decided to cut the bodice on the bias, since that seemed to help with the pulling issue (but not really the snag issue), and I figured that would help at the waist when the skirt attached to the bodice. I also thought the lines of the rainbow strips would look extra awesome on the bias, so that was an added bonus.
It’s been over 4 months since this dress was completed, and the dress I made on a completely ridiculous whim, has become one of my most worn creations. It became my go-to dress for several parties and events this past fall/winter. I even wore it as a Halloween costume by slapping on some fairy wings and calling it done. So, my take away here is not to shy away from the frosting. Even if it seems too silly for the effort, you might be surprised by how often you look for an excuse to wear the end result.
On to more specifics of dress creation!
After I had decided on the pattern, I headed back to the fabric store to pick up a little more just in case, and it was then I realized this amazeballs fabric came in sparkly rainbows of every shade! I decided to keep the purple in my stash for some other purpose because pink was obviously more “me”. This fabric was so much fun to sew. It was mesmerizing watching it go through the machine under the bright lights. I couldn’t resist capturing the moment, and joked I was working on a dress to wear to the grocery store some random Tuesday at 10am- something I haven’t done yet, but maybe one day! Why NOT wear this frosting dress grocery shopping? I don’t need an excuse to enjoy my personal sense of style, questionable though it may be.
There were not too many issues with construction. Bias cutting the bodice turned out to be a good idea, as snags were minimal. The snags actually not nearly as big a deal as I feared they would be. Not because they didn’t happen, but because they didn’t “grow” the way a run in pantyhose does and also because there is just too much to look at and process with this fabric that small snags just aren’t that noticeable in all that sparkle and awesome.
My negative issues with this dress (because I have yet to sew anything “perfect”) came down to style and fit. Pleats at the bust just aren’t for me, unfortunately. It’s also quite high waisted like the Tiana dress I made from a Lekala. I even added length because I made a muslin of the bodice, but I either did not add enough, or that change didn’t make it into my final copy of the pattern. I made a couple of fitting tweaks to the shoulders, which worked well. This was related to Lekala user error in that I told them I had both broad shoulders and a broad back, when I actually have narrow shoulders and a broad back (I am still not sure how that works, But the Tiana dress bodice fit so well, and those were the parameters I used for that.
I think those shoulder/bodice tweaks are why I have that kind of “w” shape going on at the waist because that definitely wasn’t in the line drawing! It’s something I would correct on a do-over, or maybe I’ll get around to fixing some other way in the future, but I didn’t hate it enough that it stopped me from wearing it in public 4 times in a 2 month period.
And the fit issues… The back is just… not great. Again, this is totally my fault. I actually wore this dress before it was technically finished. I hadn’t finished sewing down the bodice lining or done the hem, but I was completely out of time and options to go to a Halloween party. Tim Gunn was seriously standing over my shoulder shouting “Miss Parayim! Time is UP! This is SO unprofessional!” and then I told him I’m actually an accountant, and this is supposed to be *fun* for me, and we were cool again.
But seriously, I wore it out unfinished, because it was a costume anyway, and I was totally swimming in the bodice. I later measured 2″ of extra ease PER SIDE. It felt awkward. I was overly ambitious when I made the correction and should have double/triple checked that adjustment or done something more sloping and gradual rather than taking a straight 2″ from the entire side. Around the armpits isn’t that bad, but go down a couple of inches, and things are starting to look tighter. And since I was in a rush to wear this to another party, I just let this mistake ride. Thank god for spanx (which probably don’t help as much as I imagine they do, but since I don’t ever look at my back, I don’t mind living with this fantasy).
In terms of deliberate design changes, I decided to gather the skirt instead of pleat it. This was partly because it had been a while since I had done a gathered skirt, partly because gathering is faster for me than pleating, but mostly because I couldn’t make heads or tails of Lekala’s pleating marks or instructions for this, and I didn’t feel like doing the same type of box pleats like the Tiana dress. I’ve written about Lekala’s pretty terrible sewing instructions before, but the good news is I’ve heard they recently hired someone to overhaul their English translated instructions, so maybe there is hope for the future.
I finished this dress on the inside by covering the waist seam in this cute Hello Kitty ribbon I had in my stash- because why not. I covered the hem in a different Hello Kitty ribbon, but I neglected to take a picture of that.
So, that’s the story of my Lekala 4282 pink frosting dress. It was pretty fun to make, and is lots of fun to wear, flaws and all. I don’t think I’ll be making this again because the bodice pleats are not my cup of tea, but I still think it’s a cute design- it may be better for someone without such a *ahem* curvy silhouette.
Here’s a couple of extra pics:
So… Any guesses why I just had to have the pink version? That headshot was a bathroom selfie from a Macklemore concert I went to with some friends. As I was going into the venue, a woman stopped me to ask if I had gotten this dress at a thrift shop. Ouch! Turns out she was a reporter with a local publication and was doing a story about… people that go to his shows wearing stuff from the thrift shop? Because he has a song called Thrift Shop? I don’t even know, but I guess my sewing skillz need improvement. Then later that evening, some little girls asked to take a picture with me! I felt like a cosplayer at a con for a moment, but it was nice! Vindicated, a little bit!
P.S. I have been making snuggie after snuggie since this dress. First for winter holiday gifting, then for myself, my kids, and Mr. Parayim, and then for my new etsy shop. I am kind of tired of it, though, so I’ve started listing some of my extra yardage on etsy too. By taking a break from snuggies, I’ll free up time to allow me to focus more on the sewing I love- garments and costumes. Hopefully I will get to post more about that in the next few weeks.