mccalls 5929

M5929: The Blue Blotch Blouse

I’m calling it – 2013 is officially the year of the shirt. It certainly seems that everyone is either sewing or has sewn a button-up shirt this year – silk, crisp cotton, fitted or flowing. And if you’ve done neither, then I’d hazard a guess to say you’ve at least daydreamed about sewing one up after seeing so many gadding about the blogosphere? Mentally sewing is just as good as actually sewing, you know.

As for this little shirt that could, I’d like to say a big thank you for your wonderfully helpful comments on my first attempt at fixing a problem I thought was a sway back. As it turns out, I completely misdiagnosed the problem and that fabric pooling was actually generated by me overlooking that fact that my shirt was indeed, too small… oops.

So I added that additional ease in at the side seams of my original pattern, and whaddyaknow? No fabric bunching at my back waist. In fact, all I needed was a bit more shaping in the back darts and some fairly major changes to the location of the armscye seam (by raising it under my arm and taking out some of the fullness around my shoulder). I swear, getting the shape of the armscye ‘right’ will forever be my fitting nemesis.

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All up, I’m really quite happy with it. I really do think it fits me better than the made-to-measure one I bought a few years back – I’ve got a good range of arm movement and it’s not at all tight across my upper back. Comfortable to wear and no unintentional bra-flashing occurrences either! For a shirty-first timer, I’d count that as a win.

The fabric is a Cynthia Steffe silk/cotton voile from EmmaOneSock, and I love the random splotchy pattern of it. It may look like a voile, but it behaved like a rebellious silk whenever I brought it within a meter radius of my sewing machine or iron. In other news, I was flabbergasted at exactly how much fabric a fitted shirt chews through. I thought I’d have yardage to spare! Nope. This puppy chewed through a whole 2.6m. Sheesh. I blame those bias cut ruffles!

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I had wanted to do flat felled seams, but that didn’t seam right against this uber-lightweight, floaty fabric. So I French’ed then topstitched ‘em down. Likewise, ‘proper’ cuffs didn’t seem like a good match either, so I stuck with the pattern’s very lightly gathered cuff option. Simple, but entirely lovely.

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The pattern instructions are actually pretty good – I glanced over them mostly unless it was for something more detailed (like the placket). The only technical change I made was to face the ruffles – I preferred the idea of having the seams enclosed here, it also gives a bit more structure to the ruffle. If you didn’t want to face your ruffle, you’d want a fabric that doesn’t have an obvious right and wrong side. I also changed the collar design to account for turn of cloth – by 2mm.

Can you spot the collar seam along the edge? Nope, neither can I!

Can you spot the collar seam along the edge?

Nope, no collar seam here either. Thank you, Turn of Cloth.

Nope, no collar seam along the edge here either. Thank you, Turn of Cloth.

Interfacing is pretty important when it comes to shirts. I didn’t want anything too heavy backing onto the voile however, so I interfaced the placket, collar and cuffs with my favourite lightweight fusible, then included a silk organza ‘underlining’. This worked well and gave the collar a bit of bounce where it might have otherwise flopped, and worked wonderfully to stabilise where the buttonholes went whilst still keeping a soft, un-starched look about it. Seriously that stuff is the closest thing to a miracle worker. If it were a wrinkle cream, it would actually deliver the results the ads always promise you (when really they’re just lying through their teeth). The more I use it, the more I want too!

And – great news for us Aussies – Sew Squirrel is now stocking silk organza in her online store. This stuff can be hard to come by in Australia, and I’ve yet to see it cost less than $25/m in store (in some places I’ve seen it at $40/m – whaaaaaat!!!) – which is why up until now I’ve been ordering it from the States. No longer will I have to pay outrageous postage costs to get my fix! A sure fire win :)

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During the making of this I watched portions of Pam Howards ‘The Classic Tailored ShirtCraftsy course – there were some seriously golden tips in there, especially about sewing on buttons. Only ‘portions’ because I’m impatient and Pam is a slooow speaker. Her southern drawl is gorgeous, don’t get me wrong. I just like my information delivery to be faster than slow. So I think that means I can officially say I’ve ‘done’ one of my five Craftsy courses!

General conclusion? Making fitted shirts is totally achievable and the finished result is really very acceptable. It’s kinda totally cool that being unlined, there is not a single exposed seam in this garment. I have three other stash fabrics just crying out to get sewn up as shirts now…

The Stats:
02:00  Pattern Preparation
02:10  Toile (cutting/sewing/fitting)
04:35  Fabric Preparation (cutting/basting/interfacing)
13:35  Sewing
22:20  hours

Fabric Utilisation = 2.6m
Stash total remains = 83.7m (Goal = 50m)

F2940: A dress to be

I’ve had a seriously soft spot for this dress pattern ever since I laid eyes on it… from the Autumn/Winter 2012/2013 collection. It’s got the three magic ingredients I really like in a dress – a bit of draping/fabric interest, a defined waist, and wearing comfort (due to being made up in a knit). Marfy’s translated description:

“This sheath dress has important draping in the bodice and the waistline is marked with two tone jersey bands matching the imprimé jersey dress”

I’m been waiting really impatiently for it to arrive in the mail and I’ve actually got three stash fabrics that would be perfect for it… but I’m going with the one that’s been sitting there for the longest - a deep red ponti knit from EmmaOneSock. For the mid-section, I’ve sourced a wool woven with red, pink, grey and cream to match (from Stitches to Style). Being a winter dress, I’m also planning to line the skirt so I can comfortably wear tights/stockings. I love bright colours in winter!!

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As a knit, I figure there’s very little point in doing a practice run, so I’ve been utilising the couture method of thread-tracing the seam lines and cutting extra wide seam allowances to give me any extra room I may need for fitting, coupled with the knowledge that Marfy patterns are fabulously drafted and so unlikely to require drastic changes beyond refining the fit for my own unique shape (or the amount of stretch in my fabric). Even better, I don’t need to trace the pattern out this way. Only problem is, I forgot that this uses up a little extra fabric than the usual way. I only have 1.8m of this red ponti (which would have been enough had I not gone for fat seam allowances) so I’m going to have to get creative with the sleeve cuffs as one sleeve is about 4cm shorter than the other…

What absolutely fascinates me about patterns with draping is what the 2D pattern piece looks like. You never really know quite what you’re going to get when you unwrap the onion paper to see your pattern pieces with Marfy…

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The edge of the paper pattern piece is where the seam lines will be once the fabric is arranged to line those edges up. A big thanks once more to Suzy of SuzyBeeSews who sent me what feels like a lifetime supply of silk thread in every colour under the rainbow – I’ve definitely been making use of it!

Figuring out how it all fits together is like a cross between a puzzle and making origami. I worked across it in alphabetical order according to the markings on the pattern piece, and basted them together for the first fitting…

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Those two front darts could be a little lower, but I’m not unpicking them now. Interestingly, the two panels at the waistline overlay the dress fabric – so you could leave them off if you wanted to and still have a complete dress pattern. It’s almost like a facing put on the outside which hides the darts in the bodice and skirt pieces. As my contrast fabric is loosely woven I ended up underlining it with silk organza (it’s see through so you’d see the seam allowances folded over). The only thing of concern is the bulk of the ponti in the seam allowances now.

Otherwise, there’ll be a few minor tweaks here and there… but it’s looking good so far.

PS - my fitted shirt is also nearing completion! Whoo to two projects on the go at the same time!

You’ve got Mail: Marfy Patterns

You know the deal – if you can’t spend time actually physically sewing, then you’re either daydreaming about sewing, or buying more fabric and patterns (which you don’t have time to sew with). Because it’s the next best thing, right?!

A while back I decided on a whim (read: sewing drought) to order the 2013-14 Marfy Catalogue. I love their patterns, and I want to start sewing with them more, so having this as both a picture catalogue and a reference guide (their line drawings are incredibly accurate and very helpful during construction) should come handy. I was also frustrated that with their new website design that came online earlier this year, they seemed to offer a much smaller collection of their patterns online compared to releases from previous years. Many from previous years have disappeared even – although this could be because they’ve sold out. So it would seem I have completely succumbed to their ingenious business plan to sell more catalogues. They also had a half price special on their 2009 catalogue, the patterns for which are no longer stocked but from which you can still get if they have them in your size. So I got that too.

After a few pleasant evenings pouring through them both with some post-it notes to tag the ones I liked, I managed to weedle it down to those that I loved. This is what I ordered! FYI, the images below have been either scanned from the Marfy catalogues, or obtained from their website.

F1881

F1881

F1881 is a skirt with a corset-cut waistline. It reminds me of the stunning blue Burda skirt sewn by Marina from Frabjous Couture, and it also seems like a nice and easy start to try working with spiral steel boning.

F2034

F2034

F2034 is a halter-neck dress with gathers at the bust and waistline. Actually, what spurred me to purchase this is the fact that I think the bodice would translate fabulously into one-piece swimsuit. I even have the perfect fabric stashed for it… Are you seeing it too?

F3064

F3064

F3064 is a dress with a chiffon yoke and some really unusual asymmetrical seam lines, buttons and pocket detailing. I’m a sucker for patterns with interesting seam lines. The pose this sketched model is pulling off and her hair reminds me of Rachel from House of Pinheiro! :)

F3079

F3079

F3079 is a skirt will gills! That’s what I think of when I see it, anyway :) I love the detailing, but the uneven lengths not so much. As that’s easily drafted out of the picture, I’m cool with that. It could make a great high-waisted denim skirt paired with tights for winter…

F3118

F3118

F3118 is a draped neck top. Simple, yet effective and I’m loving that v-seamline at the front.

F3148

F3148

F3148 is a serious contendor to be sewn up at Susan Khalje’s couture sewing school course later this year. I have a bubble skirt in a similar shape to the one here, and I rather like it on me.

F3152

F3152

F3152 has some seriously fabulous points of interest going on, and I think that with the right fabrics, could be made into a very wearable summer dress. We’ll see!

F3157

F3157

F3157 = Love. Also a serious contender to be sewn up at the couture sewing school course. Another addition to my fantasy wardrobe. Thank goodness I have a few weddings coming up to wear this fantasy wardrobe to!

F3158

F3158

F3158 is a really simplistic princess seamed sheath dress with a gorgeous v-neckline at the back. This could be a hugely versatile work dress (perfect for wearing with cardigans due to the lack of sleeves) for when I eventually transition back into a city-based office.

F2547

F2547

F2547 is a knit sheath dress with really cool sunburst style darts coming from the waistline. It’s going to be a goal of mine to find an appropriate border print knit and matching belt trim for this whilst in New York later this year.

F2940

F2940

F2940 will be the first thing I sew up from this pattern delivery (in fact, I’ve already started on it!) - it looks like a perfect winter dress and I’m considering it a bit of a palette cleanser after a few frustrating challenging projects, so here’s hoping this will be relatively easy. You’ll be reading more about this VERY soon.

F2758

F2758

F2758, a shirt-dress with a difference. Fabric choice would be paramount here to get the yoke fold to behave correctly, but it could be so amazing! I’m also considering this as a contender for couture sewing school….

F3093

F3093

F3093, a casual fitted shirt. Is that a curved back yoke and centre-back seam I spot? Oh yes.

F2745 (dress) and F2422 (Jacket)

F2745 (dress) and F2422 (Jacket)

F2745 and F2422 – I bought both the jacket and the dress for this combination, and I’m still tossing up whether or not to sew up this jacket over a dress at the couture sewing school. What, that makes for four things in the running? Something tells me I’ll make them all up in calico to take with me and decide the night before the class starts…

F9814

F9814

F9414 – I fell in love with this upright collar jacket the moment I saw it. I already have both fabric and lining for it, but doubt I’ll get the chance to tackle it this year. The single teeny tiny and grainy picture I have of it just doesn’t do it justice…

F2924

F2924

And the piece de la resistance – F2924 (from their Autumn/Winter 2012-13 collection) - to me this screams tailoring in a structural boiled wool, and it totally reminds me I haven’t one single sewing plan that involves tailoring this year. I also predict a glut of tailoring next year to make up for it.

Any favourites for you?