Sewing the cake: Liberty self-drafted dress

Liberty knit dress

This dress is such a cake make. Me to a tee and seamlessly fitting into my everyday wardrobe. And it’s (half) drafted from my block too so the design is unique. Yay to that!

Liberty knit dress

I wanted to see if a) my block would work with a knit; b) if I could hack some basic design details into it. I figured the fit would work in a knit as is because there’s minimal ease in the block – too little for a comfy woven dress but fine for a stretch.

Liberty knit dress

In fact I think I need to size down my block for knit makes in the future as it turned out a wee bit too big all over. But it basically worked well and I had a lot of fun drafting it. Here’s an overview of the changes I made to my block to get here.

darted bodice to princess seams

Converting the double-darted bodice into princess seams was an easy as rotating the top dart to mid-armsyce, slicing into two pieces through the bust apex and smoothing off the curve. I’m so pleased princess seams are this easy to create as they are my favourite bodice shaping – no blasted dart marking, quick to sew, and easy to fine-tune fit on my frame.

slash and spread ruching

Then I added a ruched detail by slashing horizontally into the side pieces and fanning them out downwards. This wee detail was inspired by vintage Butterick 2315, another ‘cake’ dress that I wear all the time. I added some clear elastic to the gathering to encourage it to keep its shape. The print kind of buries the detail unfortunately – need to try it on a solid sometime.

Liberty knit dress

I added the set-in sleeves from my block which fit perfectly in a stretch – I need a bit more wiggle-space to use them with a woven. I haven’t sewn a set-in sleeve in forever, ha, so did it the lazy way: set in flat, with the cuff and side seam sewn in one.

Liberty knit dress

The skirt admittedly is not from my block at all – it’s that old TNT Simplicity 1610 again, gathered at the centre front and back to fit the bodice. Why use any other skirt to be honest – it’s versatile (you could pleat or gather it onto nearly any bodice), I find it very flattering, and the deep scoop-y pockets are perfect for my phone or fidgety paws.

Liberty knit dress

This fabric is Liberty ‘Achilles’ cotton jersey bought on my trip to Shaukat back in May. Obviously I’m obsessed with the sludgy goldy-browny colour, and the print is like a mini African wax design. I do find that Liberty jersey likes to curl a bit as you work with it and I don’t think the stretch recovery is all that great, but it does feel lovely to wear and it’s heavy enough to give a nice swishy drape.

Liberty knit dress

My friend said of a photo of this dress on the hanger ‘This looks like you – even though you’re not wearing it’, which I think sums up the best kind of cake sewing for me. Speaking to other sewists, I know how difficult it can be to make things that truly work for you, rather than being distracted by the endless parade of new patterns and fabrics out there. But for me it’s really important to aim for that, and I think designing from my dress block will make it all the easier.

22 thoughts on “Sewing the cake: Liberty self-drafted dress

  1. AvatarNilla

    I LOVE this dress! You did a great job with the drafting. Since I began following sewing blogs I realized that I sew only frosting… it’s so fun working with pretty fabric, but it’s not so fun to realize you get to wear that special dress once every other year to a cousins wedding. Inspired by MMM I’m now more motivated than ever to sew me some cake!

  2. Avatarute

    This dress looks fabulous on you, such a great fit! It looks like you are making huge steps with your sewing, I am so impressed! I am definitely a cake girl, sometimes I feel “bad” about it, but then I know I will wear my things everyday and they make me happy everyday.

  3. Avatarlisa g.

    your pattern manipulation turned out great! i’m right there with you on wanting to make things that work into my actual life (instead of my fantasy life…). sometimes it makes me feel like i’m missing out, but every day that i can reach into my closet and grab the hand mades, it’s a win.

  4. AvatarCaroline Joynson

    Awesome. You can really see the detail when its on the hanger. A cool, classy and comfy number and bonus brownie points for hitting the requirements of the Monthly Stitch ‘Cake’ theme with your self-drafted cutie!

  5. AvatarGillian

    I think you should name this dress “Katie” and then every time you make one you can just say “I sewed a Katie today!” (And then you should make a pattern and sell it and then we will ALL make Katies! ;) It’s great!

  6. AvatarBella

    Good job with your drafting! I have my own blocks but as you mentioned, I’m always being distracted by the parade of new patterns. I should follow your lead and dive on in.

  7. AvatarFabric Tragic

    How awesome that you can just sit down and design, then make, exactly what’s in your minds eye. No wonder you’re thrilled with it. And yes, the constant distraction of new and shiny things makes it hard to construct a cohesive wardrobe, but you’re one of the best in the sewing blogosphere at staying true to your colour and design palette!

  8. Avataremily marie

    I really love the weight of Liberty jersey for dresses; just enough structure. The dress suits you really well and the illustrations are so clear and well done! It’s certainly fun and fast to sew from other peoples’ patterns, but taking that extra bit of time to design & draft is really the best. It shows!

  9. AvatarAi Chia

    Hi Katie, love the dress, it is true that the dress is very ‘you’.
    Great fitting bodice too, love the rusching on the side – I’m inspired to try designing on my block too!


  10. AvatarSara

    Love it! So cute. You definitely inspire me to sew more things that are “me”—or really spend more time figuring out exactly what that means!

  11. AvatarGjeometry

    Hey, self drafted??? Super well done! I love the ruched side princess panels and the gathering at the front skirt. The fabric is also pretty. And, pockets! Well, duh. I know EXACTLY what you mean about being taken in by all the beautiful patterns that are out there and that really look so beautiful on so many sewing bloggers. But, I’ve given in and bought them, tried to sew and fit them and feel, well, not only not like myself, but feel I just don’t look good! So, Stella is trying to help me get my groove back these last few months and I think it’s totally working!

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