V8827: Hydrangea Dress

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what best to sew for the momentous occasion that is both my husband’s 40th, AND the first weekend away without our daughter since she reluctantly allowed herself to be dragged into this world (at 42+1 weeks, I might add).

I definitely feel like my style has changed since then – certainly, I have changed – although I’d no better be able to describe what my style is now than before.

Lately I’ve been feeling adventurous – in my imagination at least – and there is definitely an itch building to try a new to me style, to make a new-to-me silhouette work. I suspect this has originated with the wide leg pants thing going on, this new style having long since entrenched itself in mainstream fashions (goodness knows I’m no early adopter in this space). Or perhaps it’s a newfound and not-at-all-unpleasant insouciant mindset towards my body.

The Named Pattern’s Keilo wrap dress I just made was a tentative dip in those waters, and one I’m really very pleased with. Another very recent moment was trying on Sarah’s Ogden Cami, a pattern that I had completed written off due to the expectation that those lines would just look ridiculous on me. But, I found myself REALLY liking it.

Problem is…

Back when Trent and I first started dating, we did one of those whirlwind trips away – last minute plane tickets with Tiger Air to Alice Springs, picking up two spots from cancellations in a cheep-n-cheerful backpacker-style tour that involved sleeping in swags under the stars, allowing us to take in the sights of the Red Centre (Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon) over three days, a trip which overall probably costed less than the fabric used to sew this dress. There are some pretty spectacular Aboriginal artworks up the Top End of the Northern Territory, but in the Red Centre, not so much. Our very passionate and knowledgeable tour guide (worth their weight in gold!) asked us to think about why that was so… It was a simple matter of resources. Food was plentiful and easy to come by up north so they were able to devote time to developing the creative and story-telling culture – expressed also via art. Not so much out in the desert.

Basically, I’m somewhat akin to a southern Aboriginal person in this sense – there isn’t enough resources (time, in my case) to really explore this to the extend I would like to do. And there are still so many gaps in my wardrobe that I would like to fill with me-made, before I get to the real creative freedom part.

So I’m making do with a small incremental change instead.

Enter, Vogue 8827:

I’ve always been drawn to fitted dresses, so this flowing and loose style is different but definitely low-risk. I’ll admit mostly this was inspired by the silk robe I made for our wedding – I wear this on the regular and feel amazing in it, so the thought of making something similar and outside-the-house appropriate was a very attractive concept! Not to mention it’s high credentials for being able to eat an epic banquet and still feel comfortable ;)

It is definitely in the secret pyjamas category – this dress is essentially a bathrobe with daywear appropriate sleeves.

PATTERN
It’s an amorphous kind of style, made even more so by the slippery charmeuse I made it from. A very simple pattern to pull together – the hardest part really is wrangling those blasted giant tissue paper pieces to get the darned thing traced out. And then dealing with long pieces of slippery fabric., Vogue’s size 14 always seems to fit across my shoulders and bust decently well, so that’s the size I went with. There isn’t really much to fit, considering it is just a shapeless rectangular wrap dress with a belt tie to hold it together and give it some form.

I did make a few minor changes though….

Like turning the gathering at the centre back into an inverted box pleat. Oh, and shortening it by 13cm.

The dress itself is held together with not much more than the tie at your waist. It has an ok-enough overlap between the front two pieces, and includes in the instructions a 1/4″ ribbon tie to secure the underlapping front piece to the opposite side seam.

Instead of using the suggested ribbon treatment for ties – I made some spaghetti straps out of some bias strips from the leftovers – the same as those I made for my bias cami (any opportunity to practice a new skill!) – and added in a loop at the waist on one side (worked into the French seam on the second pass), and corresponding two ties on the other side. This is hidden when wearing it as it’s underneath the overlapping front piece.

Thinking about how to attache the ties…

… I ended up deciding on sewing a little window, and pulling the ties through it to hide the ends.

And then I’ve topstitched in place (view from the back side)

And view from the front.

And to secure the overlapping front piece – I was originally thinking to include a lightweight snap, sewn in at the very edge of the facing, but didn’t get time to source one, and in the end – I prefer letting it fall where it may. It seems to suit the dress better, rather than trying to cajole and control.

Even to the extent that the inner ties need to be tied loosely, else they distort how the dress hangs.

The hem is the usual treatment I seem to use these days – fold over, press and hand sew to the underlining. This is for both the hem of the dress, and the sleeves. The facings have also been slip stitched down to the underlining. In order to make the underlining ‘work’ – I did take the long route of taking off the patterns 1.5cm seam allowance from each piece, and taking the time to threadbaste the underlining and the main fabric together as one.

I’ve used the short sleeve option here (there is a mid and full length sleeve option also) to keep it feeling summery-, and I think it helps balances out with the length of the dress too.

FABRIC
It’s the kind of pattern that can work for day and night, depending on your fabric choice – my favourites on the interwebs are by Heather Lou and Leisa. I think especially you can see on Heather’s beautiful dress how a lighter fabric works for this (ie – wonderfully!), especially on that front flounce, which I believe benefits from a lighterweight fabric the most. I also am going to say that the slippery fabric I used does impact the ability of the tie to hold everything together – and that a grip-ier fabric like crepe de chin would be better for this.

But, I’d honestly had my eye on this fabric – a floral silk charmeuse from Mendel Goldberg – for nearly 6 months. I kept putting off buying it, sort of hoping that someone else would snap it up and I would be lifted of the decision burden by default. And when I realised 2 months ago that I actually had an event to sew something lovely for and checked to see if it was still there… well!

It’s a stretch silk, with 2% spandex.

I’ve underlined it with my usual white crepe de chine, which obviously does negate the stretch factor. It also adds a lovely weight to the fabric which I love the feel of when wearing.

The print colours have incredible depth on this fabric… it’s almost 3D.

I do suspect that I may have screwed up the grainlines on the back a bit (or perhaps it is just a result from two different fabrics behaving differently under their own weight?), as when it came time to hemming, I hung up the dress to double check everything and noticed that the underlining was bulging at the thread-traced hem line:

But only at the back, not on the front pieces. I un-did the thread-tracing, re-pinned and re-thread-traced, and got on my way.

Of course, the weather decided to turn to winter over night – it was 13 degrees when we took these pics – but thanks to a handy thought from my mum, I was wearing icebreakers underneath and was really surprisingly warm. Spot the wool underneath!

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Named Patterns: Kielo Wrap Dress in Linen

Linen.

I’ve always admired this textile from afar, patting bolts in gorgeous natural and subdued colours in fabric shops, wistfully sighing whilst reading about other sewists’ linen creations (Ah, Morgan and Bella!). It’s a fabric that lasts (structurally sound), sustainable (the flax plant prospers in poor soil, AND pesticides are not required to separate fibres from the flax plant’s stem), is relatively inexpensive and breathable.

But, I’ve always liked to present as a neat person (I’m not actually neat in real life – ask my husband!!!) so the wrinkle crinkle factor I’ve struggled to get around. Sure sure, you have to go with the patina of the fabric, they say. To try and get the best of both worlds, I’ve been searching for (and continue to search for) Moygashel Linen (thanks to my resident Moygashel doyenne, Karen), but as that loom is now out of production, I have not yet come across any vintage pieces that take my fancy.

Perhaps its the getting older/having children thing that has pushed my style/fabric preferences in a slightly different direction, but I did just recently buy a linen knit top, which I’ve been wearing heaps (and un-ironed, too)…  I figured it was time to just do it.

You know, sew with Linen.

And just in the nic of time, what, with autumn truly in swing down in Melbourne, it was only an Easter trip up north that meant I could get any mileage out of this before it gets packed away at the back of the cupboard, to wait for next summer. Chris Hemsworth obviously missed the memo that I would be in Byron for the week, as unfortunately I was unable to spot him out and about this time around…

I think this is one hellava pattern for making the short-legged (me) appear to be proportioned otherwise!

…until I stick my knee out and you see that no, in fact, that is not the case. XD

Wasp brooch I’m in love with, picked up for a song from Jimmy’s Buttons during a trip earlier during the year

PATTERN
The Named Keilo Wrap Dress is a pattern I’ve had my eye on for a long time. There was an instagramer who made a Keilo in linen that I just loved the look of (however they will remain anonymous because I can no longer find them or recall their handle) and the aesthetic of their make just really stuck with me – it did look just gorgeous.

So obviously I muslined it – a pattern designed for fabric with 20% stretch does not just translate to woven without any teething issues! Especially not when you’ve got a bust bigger than what is typically drafted for, and broad shoulders. And I do recall my inspiration version to be rather ill fitting despite its fabulousness – the armscye was too small and it was also a wee bit tight across the upper bust/chest.

Based on my measurements – the size chart says I should cut the Size 44 at the bust, and 40 at the hips. Due to working with the woven – I chose to size up, and cut the Size 46, grading down to the 42 at the hip mark. This appeared to work ridiculously well.

Positives – the pattern has markings for both hips, waist and bust. Negatives – the pattern’s largest size is a 46. I know enough about size grading to know that size ranges are typically split into two to ‘try’ to account for the proportion changes between shapes and sizes at either extreme, but I do think it a bit ridiculous that the 46 is the upper echelon in size for a pattern that is shapeless and so ridiculously simple to construct that I can sew together the muslin whilst half-cut (ok, maybe three quarters cut…) on sangria and champagne at 9pm on a Saturday night, then start cutting out and sewing together the real thing at 8am on Sunday morning with a hangover, and basically have it finished. (I spent the weekend at Sewjourn, and it was FAAAAABULOUS).

Seriously, this pattern is the most easiest of sews!

I shortened it by 13cm (which required the back split also to be raised by the same amount), and when muslined with the 1cm seam allowances, decided that this additional width at the shoulders was perfect for me, so technically I added new seam allowances to this area also.

I also removed a large wedge (about 5cm, tapering down to nothing at the side seams) from the back pattern piece, at the waist.

I was very quick and dirty with the construction of it, with nary a french seam in sight. There is probably more overlocking than regular machine stitching in this. As the dress has nada in the way of fasteners or openings, that really steps up the easy-ness factor.

I was nearly finished sewing it up when I realised a part of me inside was dying with the knowledge there is nothing inherently fabulous or covertly couture regarding this garment’s construction. So I whacked in some silk organza selvedge strips at the seam that finishes under the arm (I’d already noticed the Linen fibres at this point were pulling apart from being hoiked in opposite directions) and handstitched down the self-fabric bias binding around the neckline and armholes. There is also a wee bit of organza selvege at the back split, which I’ve done a zig-zag stitch over the top of, to help support that split.

And I immediately felt better.

Quick and dirty construction resulting in wonky tie insertion…

…offset by some lovely hand-sewn in bias binding.

A little bar tack at the top of the split…

… reinforced with a bit of extra support at the back.

Some of my stay-stitching is kinda visible there, but mostly it’s well hidden by the weave of the linen. I’ve listened to a few of the Love-To-Sew podcasts, and was really quite taken aback about the number of people getting hung up on sewing perfection. It rather surprised me as it’s not something I’ve ever put much energy into thinking about. Nothing is more soul killing than the pursuit of perfection! Embrace those imperfections, focus your energy where it counts the most (highly visible stuff – this is the reason I always avoid topstitching, ha!) and care less about the bits that need only be functional (like overlocking the armscye seam of a set in sleeve, in an otherwise ‘couture’ top, because I really hate dealing with fancy finishing’s here!). I don’t sweat the small stuff, and I try to keep my eye on the big picture – this dress is a great example of that.

FABRIC
This linen is from the Cloth Shop. I was particularly taken with the chambray effect of the two coloured fibres that make it up, and as is always with Linen, I immediately find myself wanting to incorporate the selvedge somehow. Is that just me?

I managed a bit of this by having the ties end at the selvedge (making turning heaps easier, as it was just an open-ended tube). I realise now though that I did eff up the ties  – they were supposed to be folded over, not doubled up – so my ties are double the width. I prefer the shorter width and will probably unpick them and fix this. The extra bulk I think would be more flattering when factored out.

My instagram inspiration was in a delicious deep dusky pink, and there is a part of me that wishes I had gone that route… but the chambray blue is lovely. I keep hearing stories about linen breaking down and degrading pretty quickly (a result from using shorter than ideal fibres in the production process), so who knows, perhaps next summer I’ll need to make a pink version!

Let’s leave it there with the must-have Keilo wrap dress sugar-glider pose…

Except that I 100% forgot to take that particular photo. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Regular half-baked couture-ish programming will resume shortly ;)

V1220: June’s Meadow Shirt Dress

Continuing on from 2017 being the year of the shirt, perhaps 2018 will be the year of the shirt dress?

There’s always been a gap in my wardrobe for a work appropriate dress suitable for really hot days. This gap has now been filled, and very much in the nick of time too – as it’s been a warm summer.

PATTERN
I cut a size 14 to muslin, just over a year ago. But I couldn’t get the front button plackets to even meet across the front (let along overlap!) – quick was the realisation that I’d need to wait until I finished breastfeeding before I tackled this… Seriously, boobage volume whilst breastfeeding is insane. Sure enough when I tried my year old muslin on just before Christmas in 2017, it fit.

Well, sort of.

My muslin showed I needed to drop the waist a good 5cm and the skirt length raised about 2 cm.  It does appear to be very short-torso in the bodice. And if I was really honest – it possibly needed a full bust adjustment. Enough significant changes to warrant a second muslin, rather than just tweaking with the fit on this one.

Except when I went back to look at the pattern pieces – it actually has the waist marked 4cm below the waist seam – so this high waist was intentional, and I left that change off, just altering the hem length accordingly (although since wearing it a few times, I now wish I hadn’t messed with the hem length!).

I ended up not doing an FBA (even after partially making my way through the instructions by Cennetta from Mahogany Stylist, which are excellent – btw – especially as I find such fitting alterations to be beyond my mental capacity since becoming a parent, so having her pictures was pure gold). After spending a few hours wearing my muslin around the house, I decided it would do. It obviously doesn’t have the ease across the bust that is evident in other people’s makes, but I can live with it.

I love the hidden button placket – my buttons are from Buttonmania. Another-post-them-in-a-sample-of-fabric-to-match-buttons too job. I’m really pleased with the match, even though they’re for the main part hidden from view!

The buttons perfectly match the print’s background blue-grey, although every photo I took makes them look like a completely different shade!

That neckline is a lovely detail, with pleats emanating from the centre back seam, and sitting around the front of your neck in a similar fashion to a shawl collar. I found that the bit of fabric folded under really needed to be tacked down to the underside as far up as you can possible go, to maintain a nice shape at the front. The three pleats are tricky to seam match – I figured 2 out of 3 was perfectly reasonable!

FABRIC
I had originally intended on sewing this up with a Liberty cotton tana lawn in the yellow floral Claire-Aude ‘D’ print. Coming from a revolving wardrobe palette of blues and greys, this felt risky, and not in a good way. I justified the risk by wanting to use up a stash fabric and this was the only thing both suitable and lengthy enough for this pattern. Which takes up some 3 meters of fabric!

I rather wish I had had the ‘C’ variation of this in my stash instead – this is far more in my comfort zone than the yellow. I reckon I pull off the yellow ok-ish, but it’s not amazing. And certainly when it comes to getting photos – the light has to be perfect to actually convey that. Otherwise it does have the tendancy to wash me out a wee bit.

But just before cutting, nerves got the better of me, and I ditched the yellow, and bought a different Liberty – June’s Meadow, in the grey colourway. Which was frustrating because it meant having to wait for it to arrive in the post! I at least managed to start on a muslin for my next project…. This fabric is far more in the comfort zone, and highly unlikely to make me look washed out.

Funny thing with this fabric – IRL I don’t see the pattern repeat of it, but every time I see it in a photo, the repeat really jumps out at me! Funny how photos can change what our eyes are immediately drawn to.

The tana lawn has been underlined with organza, because I think this is a pattern that really benefits from a fabric with body to really highlight the shaping – hence why I suppose the recommended fabrics are broadcloth and linen. Organza underlining obviously delivers that in spades.

Interestingly, Susan mentioned to me during January’s-just-past-class that Australian organza is really smooth – too smooth – which isn’t ideal for underlining as it’s not ‘grippy’ enough. Since then I’ve worked with both types and I’d agreed – but it sure does work well for underlining if you’re not planning to line your garment – and no way was I intending to bother with that for this. I’d also just gone halvies in a bolt of organza with Sarah, so I’ll be using it up regardless!

The pattern lists only 150cm wide fabric as the option (requiring a 2.7m length), presumably so you can cut the belt in a continuous piece. Liberty is around the 136cm mark, and I managed this pattern with bang on 3m. My belt is cut in 3 pieces – intentionally, so that the two seams in the belt line up with the side seams of the dress, keeping the illusion of a continuous length. Probably not something that really matters in a busy print such as this, but in my mind’s eye whilst I was dreaming it up, it mattered. It’s a huuuuuge belt though… and in my mind definitely requires’ wrapping it around 1.5 times (which is how you see it on me in this post) – the mid-point of the tie is lined up with my centre front.

The belt is 2.4m long – so thank goodness it’s wide enough to fit your hand in to turn it around!

The location of the pockets in this dress are just fabulous – bang on – but the pocket bag definitely needed additional room so I could have my whole hand in there. Even after adding additional length, I wish I had also added additional width. But, I do love that they just melt into the shape of the dress without detracting from the silhouette. And their angling makes it super easy to get your hands in.

Which is the main reason I’ve had this pattern floating around the top of my to-sew list for several years now – it achieves great shape, without being form fitting. There’s plenty of room to move, but it’s not a sack dress.

I also just LOVE the hem facing. Such a lovely way to finish things off. And that the hem is ever-so slightly curved into a hi-lo, but not that you’d notice when it’s on.

Two problems with the design though – it 100% needs to be worn with a skirt slip. I wear it with the last two buttons undone (because I like to stride – and quickly! – and this means it doesn’t strain much when I’m sitting, as the skirt is pegged) – but it means everyone is going to get a significant view of your underwear when you sit. So after wearing it once, I also made a slip skirt (that sounds a little more modern and less fuddy-duddy than a petticoat, doesn’t it?) in a pale grey silk. One Problem solved.

The other problem – I suspect I ballsed the instructions for the sleeve – the way I read them, it had you fold the sleeve cuffs over, meaning the wrong side of your fabric is on display…. no thanks! But no other review mentions this so perhaps I just messed up interpreting the instructions. So I sort of did a wierd origami thing to make that not the case. If I had my time over again, I’d sew separate cuffs I think.

Otherwise, I’m well pleased with it :) And even better, I wore it first to a 2nd round job interview on a scorching hot day – and I totally got the new job :D

Marfy Evergreen #2 Catalogue Favourites

The 2018 Marfy Catalogue appears to be the counterpart to the 2017 Evergreen catalogue – covering dresses, outerwear (jackets and coats) and evening dresses. After being really very taken with the 2017 Evergreen Catalogue (aka – The Separates Bible), I was looking forward to seeing it.

The first things that stood out for me – is Marfy 6048!

I was absolutely thrilled to see this pattern in there because it’s almost a carbon copy of Marfy 2005 (below), from the 2009 catalogue. I emailed Marfy to try and buy this pattern sometime in 2012 or 2013 – and they no longer had any left in my size. So I don’t even have to really think – I’ll absolutely be getting this pattern!

The other standout pattern for me, is this dress – Marfy 6179. A really next level evening dress, IMPO. “Dress with loose rayed draping on the back and panel originating from it.  See through effect on yoke and bodice”. Wow.

I recognised quite a few patterns throughout the catalogue – a quick tally up, and I actually have 11 patterns from this catalogue already! Some with slight differences, like Marfy 6080 – almost identical to my Marfy 9814 jacket from this years Couture Sewing School (which is finished all but for the lining, which I’ve yet to start work on!), minus the flounce at the sleeve, and this time with a button placket, rather than joining with hooks and eyes like mine does. I do really like that standup collar though :)

Another similar-but-different pattern is Marfy 6038, which has a shawl collar instead of the stepped collar that Marfy 3635, from the 2015/2016 catalogue:

   

My guess is that as a point of difference – this Evergreen catalogue has what looks like new-to-me patterns as well as many of their past popular patterns, which have been graded into a larger range of sizes. This hypothesis is further supported when I came across Marfy 6175 (which I also already have) – as it’s also been Marfy 9921, as pictured in the back of the catalogues for as long as I can remember:

    

But moving on, here are some of my favourites!

Marfy 6107 – ‘Semi fitted coat with wide collar to be worn fastened in a funnel-style or opened, to be made with or without a belt. Recommended in velour or boiled wool”. Between this beauty and 6048 above, I’m really feeling the want-to-sew-a-coat thing…

Marfy 6123 (and 6029, the dress next to it) is one of the free patterns that comes with the catalogue, and I really like it! “This single breasted, semi-fitted jacket has a loose collar that is turned up at the back, redingote cuts, it can be made with or without triangular lace inserts”. It has a very similar collar to the jacket I made as part of my Vogue Suit, which I really like wearing:

I saw Marfy 6096 and immediately thought of Solange’s wedding dress, even though there are some pretty significant difference (dress, coat, eh), and there is that fabulous standup collar again!

Lets be completely impractial and skip to my favourite evening gowns, hey?

Marfy 6268 totally makes me swoon. This dress has a “lifted up waist and its skirt is wide, cut on the bias and without seams on the side”. Dreamy. Somebody please invite me to a ball, asap.

As for Marfy 6380, I love the train at the back, and the lace placement. It’s also the kind of dress I’d be very keen to take an inside peak at – I’d imagine some kind of supporting structure would be worked into this beauty:

There is also a few beautiful cheongsam inspired dresses, like Marfy 6231. “This dress has an oriental flare. It has a strip collar, skirt with side slit and short cap sleeves. Suggested fabrics are printed silk and shantung”.

In fact, there is a broad range of dresses that take inspiration from a variety of different cultures and decades. I was born in the first half of the 80s, so didn’t live the fashions of that era and don’t have the negative connotations as a result – but Marfy 6239 is clearly pulled from then! I can’t ever see myself having reason to make such a frock, but it sure looks like it would be fun to wear!!

There is also some great shirt dresses, like Marfy 6254 (on the left) and Marfy 6253 (centre and right), which I would class as a quintessential American style silhouette.

Marfy 6235 takes me on a bit of a trip down memory lane – in my early 20s I had a much loved Alice McCall party dress that was just like this, but with a slightly more tulip-shaped skirt. And a lot shorter. Knowing that this is a style I loved wearing and had many fond memories of makes me very tempted by this one…

On the other end of the spectrum, Marfy 6258 I find myself drawn to, but because bizarrely it’s the kind of thing I see myself wearing when I’m middle-aged. Do you ever come across patterns you love but would only wear when you were older/younger?

Marfy 6160 is just LOVE. Actually I have one already that is strikingly similar, but I still want this one pretty bad. That gathered panel joining up into the underbust dart is just so beautiful, and I think this would work better for me than the one I have (Marfy 3647) because it would provide a little more surety in terms of bust coverage – I’ve found in the past that wrap tops like this that join at the side seam end up really low cut as the fabric wraps around and under the bust. Having the gathering end up closer to the centre front would perhaps allow a slightly higher neckline? Perhaps I’m just trying to convince myself to purchase an almost identical pattern… but, it’s working ;)

Marfy 6180 – how fun is this? I love everything about it – the bateau neckline, the flounce at the sleeves, the pegged skirt, the slight hi-lo hem, everything. I don’t believe I’ve quite the proportions to pull this off – there’s a bit too much going on – but that can’t stop a gal from a good ol’ daydream.

Marfy 6182 – to me this is the ultimate Melbourne Cup style kinda dress. Maybe it’s the big hat tipping me off, but I’m always a sucker for ruching/pleats at the neckline like this.

Marfy 6305 – this to me reads like an interpreted version of Diane von Furstenberg’s wrap dress, and I’m really liking it. “This elegant dress has a shawl collar, a draped skirt and 3/4 length set in sleeves”. Interestingly, the recommended fabrics are are sateen and crepe de chine, but I’m sure it could be translated well in a stable knit as well.

Well, these are my picks. My thoughts on this catalogue? I enjoyed it. After the 2017 Evergreen catalogue which was a bit of a peak experience for me – I’m a separates girl through and through – it was always going to be hard to match but I still thoroughly enjoyed it. This catalogue has a really broad range of styles of dresses – many of which I haven’t really shown here because they’re not what I’m drawn to. As I already have 11 patterns in my collection from this catalogue, I probably won’t buy as many as I usually would – although I’m beyond positively thrilled that the coat pattern I thought was lost to me is back on the table! That said, if you haven’t dipped your toes in this pond yet and are keen to try, this is probably as good a catalogue as any to start, as it seems to have so many of the best sellers and popular styles that have stuck over the years. I’m obviously quite happily biased though – seeing as these days I predominately sew Marfy – more often than not they just work for me, and I’m not going to chance a winning formula any time soon :)

F5156: The Annoying Blouse

And another one.

The process of making this one was a nightmare. The fabric I chose was determined to be incredibly badly behaved, making the tasks of, cutting, sewing and pressing so very arduous.

I made two right sleeves and only realised when everything was finished except for setting the sleeves in. And I did not have enough fabric to recut another one, because the fabric had some pretty bad flaws (in the form of large blue ink splotches in and around the selvedge – I’m guessing it was digitally printed) that I had to cut around. Actually, I did cut one left and one right sleeve, but somehow managed to flip the underlining piece around the wrong way against my fabric when I pinned them together. It now makes total sense why it was so impossible to see the traced markings for that particular piece. *head desk*.

I choose to blame all of this on my toddler’s new molars.

But, I got through it and I’m really quite pleased with the end result:

PATTERN
It’s from the 2017 Evergreen Catalogue, and described as “Blouse with drop-shaped neckline, gathered sleeves and cuffs with cufflinks. Suggested fabrics: two-coloured organdy, it can also be made with lace applications”.

From looking at the sketch, I just loved that it gives an excuse to make a practical and everyday wearable use for lace. I will definitely be making another version of this with lace at some point in the future!

Looking at this image after the fact, I do prefer the sleeves at that lovely 3/4 mark, compared to the full length sleeve the pattern actually is. I’ll remember to shorten them next time!

In my experience to date, Marfy’s have typically been quite low cut – which doesn’t bother me, I don’t mind a bit of decolletage – but this blouse is really very modest. The neckline sits above where my clavicles stick out at the bottom of your neck, the teardrop shape is quite high up, and the top button in the button placket gives no hint of boobage whatsoever. For Marfy, it’s practically Mormon approved.

The front seaming is a combination of a princess seam and a dart (I have just recently learned this is called a Dior dart, as opposed to a French dart, which emanates from a side seam), which surprisingly didn’t give me much shaping at all, but fit well across the bust. As I’m a size larger for the bust and shoulders than I am at the waist and hips, it’s difficult for me to determine whether the fit is loose because of me or it being the style of the pattern. Probably the latter.

I always feel a wee bit self-conscious in shirts with a lot of gathering at the top of the sleeve cap – it’s not an area that I like to draw attention too – my shoulders are broad enough as it is :) The sleeve cap is higher than your usual, combined with all of the ease being concentrated within a short distance of the shoulder seam – in the muslin photo below I distributed the ease over a larger area, and for the final version you see here, I shaved it down quite a bit.

There is also a lot of gathering at the cuff – which is offset and slightly hidden with a gently peaked French Cuff. I didn’t like it so much once I pulled it off the sewing machine, but then once I put it on – found I quite liked the drama of it all. After sewing the French Cuff on here and on my Wiltshire Shirt, I do wonder if I should be shortening the arm length? I think the eI’d be curious to hear your thoughts.

So in the finished version – I’ve kept the cuff gathering, and quite considerably paired back the sleeve cap ease. Here is the unadjusted muslin, which you can see sits nicely across the shoulders and bust, has a significant amount of space around the torso, and a very floofy sleeve cap, especially at the back:

  

I think perhaps this sleeve would work better in a fabric with a bit more structure than my drapey silk. I’ll keep that in mind for next time.

But If you’re into dramatic sleeves, this pattern delivers in spades. I can appreciate the volume and proportions of it in the calico, even if I wasn’t going to follow through! Obviously I’ve left the pattern’s collar option off this time around.

The keyhole is finished with a facing, which I extended past the shoulder seam to have each side meet at the centre back. The facing meets the front placket, which is folded in on itself:

To make this a more form fitting blouse on me, I added my now de-rigeur diamond darts to the back, brought the side seams in slightly at the waist, and moved the princess seam inwards (keeping the side panel the same, just adjusting the centre front piece). As a result of the latter adjustment, the hem also needed adjustment, but of course I forgot to draw it on the muslin, which caused a few headaches when it came to actually hemming the thing…

Probably the best representation of the Dior dart, as this is all but completely invisible in photos of the final shirt.

The hem is, as you can see, straight. It sits higher than the hems of other Marfy blouses I’ve sewn up recently. I’ve left this as is in the final version.

FABRIC
I used a lightweight silk – I’m unsure of what type – from The Fabric Store, which has lots of tiny blue, grey and taupe blotches. It’s relatively loosely woven, but is very soft to the touch (any easy to catch!) with a really subtle satin sheen to it, and quite a lot of bouyancy as well. It does drape beautifully, but it was a horrible fabric to work with. It curled up when pressed, shifted and slipped around the placed (even once underlined) – and at one point I even did a burn test because I was so unfamiliar with the way it was behaving I was convinced it wasn’t 100% silk. Nope, it definitely was. I took a looooong time to finish this one because I was so completely uninspired to work with it!

It had quite a number of ink spills on it, mainly at the selvedge, and the person who cut it said in response to me asking for a little extra “oh, you can just cut around that, surely?”. It was the second slightly rude experience I’ve had at The Fabric Store during 2017, and considering it’s already quite a way out of my way geographically, I think I’ll not be bothering to go back any time soon. Unless I want Liberty that Shaukat doesn’t stock. That’s the exception. Or maybe some merino, too. Eh. I’ll probably go back. Begrudgingly.

It was opaque and light weight, so I cut it out after choosing not to underline – but then my Blue Blotch blouse (in a lightweight voile) ripped at the back next to the sleeve and side seam line (nooooooooooooo!!!!! I’ve still got it hanging up in my cupboard because I’m not ready to throw it out just yet) and I went back and underlined it just so that it would have the added strength to withstand my shoulder/arm movements. Ignoring the fact that Marfy patterns accommodate my shoulders way better than a McCalls ever did, of course. Ah well.

One thing I’m particularly pleased at myself for thinking of, was how to tame the facing for such a slippery, tricksy fabric. I underlined the facing with silk organza only, cutting the organza seam allowance away very closely to the basted seam line once sewn in place (the red thread in the above pic). The organza made it super dooper easer to just fold the misbehaving silk underneath to be stitched onto the white CDC underlining. It worked like a charm – the finishing here looks so much nicer than the inside hem, which is crazy wonky despite excessive pinning and fiddling.

I also used a silk organza scrap length inside the placket for a bit of extra strength/stability for the buttons and button holes.

The cuff needed a bit more structure, so I used some sew-in interfacing I bought from Fashion Sewing Supply. This is the second type of interfacing I bought from them – the Lightly Crisp Sew-in interfacing. I haven’t had the chance to wear this particular blouse much since finishing so I currently can’t comment on the wearability of it, like I did with my Wiltshire Shirt (which is progressively getting worse, and making me really sad about it in the process). I’ll update this post a few months down the track with how it all goes.

Buttons are from Buttonmania, which since I last visited – has been sold to a mother-daughters team and setup down in Highett. Now, the likelihood of me ever getting to Highett is negative eleventy billion, so I posted in a decent sized scrap, the ladies photographed some options for me, I made my choice from the lineup and then had them sent back to me. I’ve done this quite a few times in the last few months and it’s been great.

On a sad note, I have heard that none of the businesses in the beautiful old Nicholas Building (where Buttonmania used to be) are having their leases renewed because a developer is going to be moving on in at some point. (The Nicholas Building was originally setup specifically to bring artists, designers and makers together – there still is a super long list of creative tenants.).

And the final result? Well I wasn’t really feeling it at the end of muslining, and the fabric pissed me off so much during construction I was starting to think that it wouldn’t be something I’d want to pull off the hanger once it was actually finished. The colours and the print still were doing it for me though, and I think that’s what’s got it by in the end. It’s wearable, matches with almost everything in my work wardrobe – and I’m really happy with how it fits and sits.

And that caps off my last make of 2017, which I think can officially be known as my year of the shirt! I’m really quite proud of my output last year – a pair of slacks, a French Jacket, 5 blouses and a bias silk cami. Not just because it was 87.5% incredibly practical – and all my previous items have been worn on good rotation (including my latest French Jacket!) – but it sort of marks a bit of a return of ‘me’ post becoming a parent. I’m very much looking forward to sewing more of the same in 2018.