F3408: Painterly Blouse

After feeling paralysed about doing any sewing due to the ridiculously large garment sewing queue in my head, and choosing to ignore this feeling by reading in the evenings for several weeks instead, I finally settled on Marfy 3408 to kick things off.

Of course, that was many, many weeks (months?) ago now… I’ve been sidelined by a big project at work, which has just about finished.

 

If you own the 2014/2015 catalogue, this came as one of the free patterns. You can also buy it online as a PDF here.

This pattern gave me many surprises – pretty much all of them good. The gentle shaping in virtually all of the vertical seams really adds up to a beautiful outcome and is the kind of thing I’ve come to expect from a Marfy. The pentagon panel at the front provides shaping – and the almost bateau-neckline is lovely. I was concerned that this pattern style would be a little matronly on me – almost ageing?

FABRIC
I wanted to sew this up in a Crepe de Chine – how is it that I do not own more of this fabric type?!?! Criminal.

A quick check of the stash returned only one piece – which was earmarked for my next blouse. So I went shopping (online – as if I have time for bricks and mortar at the moment!), taking a leaf from Sophie’s book and hitting up Etsy. I found this:

It came from China, but looked exactly as it was pictured, and was decently weighted but not opaque (so I chose to underline it with white CDC). Prewashing it indicated that the colours were reasonably fast (I use this silk wash to handwash all my silk things – dry cleaning is the worst! I’m not a huge fan of the essential oil blend they use to scent it, but it’s at not overly affronting to the senses and the wash does do a good job) – having the colours run was what I was most worried about!

The repeat was nearly half a meter – so pattern matching wasn’t really an option. I did at least manage to get the blotches aligned at the front (but not at the sides) – and a teeny bit of a pattern match at the centre back seam:

PATTERN SIZING
It is the first time I have tried a different size – a 48 – as opposed to my usual 46. I ended up using the 48 across my shoulders and shaping down to a 46 under the bust. From wearing a Marfy blouse I’d made previously – 3449 – I’d thought it a smidge too tight and wanted to try the next size up.

I’ve typically given fitted woven tops a wide berth as I like a svelte fit but can’t abide not being able to move my shoulders/arms comfortably throughout the day. We’re all so used to the freedom of knit tops, aren’t we?

FLOUNCE DETAILS
The flounces looked terrible in the calico I sewed the muslin with – but the top is designed to be sewn in a crepe de chine or silk satin – so I figured that wouldn’t be an issue…

I had presumed from the stylised drawing that the flounce ends would be sewn into the centre front V shape – but they are ever so slightly longer than the seam here so are obviously designed to roam free. I did join them at the shoulder seam however – the seam lengths matched perfectly here.

I also chose to underline the flounces – else they would have been visually marred with the pattern underneath peeking through.

This presented a challenge to finishing the seam edges- in the end I took the risk to do a hand-rolled hem. You could say it was a roaring success – beautiful little stitches hidden underneath and not visible from the front thanks to the underlining. But having two layers of fabric rolled up in this tiny space does make the edge quite bouyant – and I couldn’t be sure if this would be too much until it was all sewn up.

I think in the end I think it acts a bit like a miniature version of horse hair braiding – it keeps the flounce’s natural curve well balanced and structured. I little less floppy than had it been just a single layer of CDC. I like it.

SLEEVES
Sewing friends thought it would look less age-ing if I shortened the sleeves to be capped – As the pattern is they fall a few cm above my inner elbow. I tried shortening one sleeve during the muslin phase and found myself still leaning towards longer.

I cut the sleeves with extra fabric space under the cuff so I could adjust based on what it would look like once completed. In the end, I succumbed to peer pressure and went short. The hem has just been tucked under on itself, ironed flat then slipstitched into place:

FINISHING
I ended up getting away entirely without a zip – I can pull this over my head quite easily. Very happy with that outcome.

I chose to draft some facings to hide the connections and cut seam allowances on the inside of the blouse – however I ran out of CDC (the last of the stuff I bought from Susan when I was in Baltimore back in 2013!) halfway through. I bought more, but of course it’s a slightly different shade. oops.

Oh yes – I did just recently acquire an overlocker! This was my first project using that machine. It’s not what I’d usually prefer to do for seam finishes – but these days time is hard to come by. So all the edges here are overlocked. The princess seam doesn’t sit the best across my bust as a result, but it was either that or not have a new top to wear!

The overall feeling for this blouse is that it’s a winner – I absolutely adore the fabric, it matches with both my corporate and casual wardrobe (I’ve already worn it to both) and I can even chase my daughter around the park and pick her up without worrying about the shoulder seams being too tight. So I’m very happy with this make!

Oh yes – and here’s some pictures of me actually wearing it :P

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V7975: Octopus’ Garden French Jacket

You may recognise this fabric – it’s been the banner feature of this little web space since I started blogging, and was also the subject of one of the first jackets I wrote about, which was made to wear to my best friends wedding.

After the first jacket I had a scant 1.4m of 130mm wide fabric plus two large scraps, and there is quite literally nothing of it left now! I almost had to piece together the last pocket to make it work.

This jacket obviously marks a great leap forward in sewing skill since way back then…

Typically, if I want to get a compliment out of my beloved, it’s not enough to go fishing for one – I have to go in there with a speargun (obviously by which point any nice words extracted are null and void). So when hubby did both a physical double take on me in this jacket – then blurted out how much more amaazinger it was than Octopus the First, well – it was nothing if not completely satisfying!

We’ve hit that time of year where the light is just constantly harsh and glare-y. It doesn’t do justice to the colours in this weave – but you’ve got my blog banner to see how they look IRL :)

In other, completely unrelated news – I’ve finally found a hair dresser I LOVE. I’ve never worn my hair down so much before in my life – and I’ve always judged a hairdresser by how good the cut looks after you’ve washed all the styling out. This is it air-dryed and zero-product – zero maintenance. True to form, I’ll probably keep having it cut like this for the next 35 years.

The pattern is trusty Vogue 7975, with the sleeve from Marfy 9814 – a 3/4 delight with a little flounce on the end. This sleeve piece screams Chanel to me, as it’s very reminiscent of the styling I’ve been seeing in their recent collections. It’s also, I think, ridiculously flattering. Paired with the classic bodice of Vogue 7975 – becomes a 1 + 1 = 3 kind of synergy.

The fabric is a silk boucle, lined in turquoise charmuese (from Stitches to Style). The trim is a chartruese grosgrain ribbon from Jimmy’s Buttons which has been painstakingly cut down to the width I wanted (I could only get it in a wider width) – paired with a vintage Chanel trim Susan Khalje bought in Paris then lugged all the way to Melbourne as a potential option for her students to buy in her 2017 Tour of Australia. It was a particularly long length, and I get super excited when I spot the other ladies who bought some – sisterhood of the trim! Sewing it on made my hands smell like a hessian bag.

The grosgrain was a nightmare to deal with – not nearly as well behaved as lovely petersham. In the end, having it split in two was a godsend come the time to sew it in curving around the neckline – there ended up being a good 2cm difference in length of the inner to the outer ribbon just around that section.

Cut in half, basted back together at the right width, then sewn on with tiny stitches in a matching thread.

I still haven’t found buttons for this yet, and I’ll probably just not bother. I very nearly almost didn’t even put pockets on… then went the whole hog with 4 because I figured the fabric was busy enough, why not just keep with that.

There’s nothing new or groundbreaking here that I haven’t covered in the copious posts I did on my first French Jacket back in 2013.

Oh, except maybe that the sleeve flounce is on the bias – I did elongate the flounce by an extra 1.5cm (at Susan’s recommendation, and thus shortened the sleeve by this amount also to maintain the length) to ensure that I could get enough of the grid repeat of the fabric shown off. I quilted this on the bias as well – along with some extra underlining in the way of silk organza, this really helped the flounce to hold its gentle conical shape whilst being worn.

I recall recording the amount of time I spent sewing my first French Jacket – around the 150 hour mark? Well if I had to guesstimate, this one took a little less – maybe closer to 120 hours all up. This includes making the muslin, the 5 full days I had whilst on the French Jacket course (I couldn’t make it to the whole 7 days), plus a half day prior for fitting and cutting out, plus time spent post-class sewing on trim and pockets. I’ll admit not having a 3 piece sleeve and vents reduced the total time, as well.

I’ve been wearing this a bucket – and am absolutely loving it. You can 100% guarantee there will be more French Jackets in my sewing future.  (I’m still miffed I haven’t yet made one with printed silk in the lining…)

Super 130s Classic Pants

I’m beyond thrilled with the outcome from my second Couture Sewing School class.

I’ve grappled with pants a few times since I started sewing, and whilst I managed to achieve a good crotch curve fit on my own, it was getting the legs right that really proved elusive.

This was because of two ‘fitting’ reasons –  I have uber prominent calves and legs that don’t extend from my hips at the same angle as Ready to Wear pattern design. Pretty much every pair of pants I have ever owned, worn or sewn has had the grainline twist and distort the fabric from the knee down, where it both catches on my calves and is pulled away at an awkward angle. (You can read more about the fitting process of these pants here).

No more!

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I’ll admit to being a little anxious in the lead up to taking these photographs – in case the way I felt they looked (ie: magical) would somehow have the spell be broken when translated into pictures. Also, that so much has happened to me since I last took pictures of a finished garment that I would somehow be different, and that would be visible.

Surely I can’t be the only one harboring suspicions of the photographic process?!?

Moving on.

The fabric is dear to my heart – bought in Quito, Ecuador. It’s a Super 130s wool, amazing quality, beautifully soft, drapey but substantial. I lined it with an olive green silk charmuese from D’Italia.

They’re at once simple and elegant but also decadent.

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I can’t attribute the design to one specific pattern, as this really is a pattern mutt…
a) crotch curve courtesy of the Style Arc Flat Bottom Flo pants (If you are in ownership of a pancake butt like me, this is the crotch curve for you!);
b) Original leg pattern from the Style Arc Darcy woven pants, altered beyond any form of recognition;
c) Waistband design from Colette Patterns’ Clover pants; and
d) Side slant pockets and back welt pockets from Burda 6689.

Burda’s crotch curve is apparently famed – something about the curve having an appropriate amount of shaping at the tip, which many pattern designers leave off today because it saves on fabric in the cutting layout. And that this design change multiplied by many pants pieces saves a huge amount in fabric and therefore $$$.

Either way, if you’ve a more rounded rump – this would be a great pattern to try. You can see the difference between the original Burda (right) and my pancake butt adjustment here:

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The legs are courtesy of Susan Khalje’s fitting skillz, and I couldn’t be happier with the way the fabric sits, and how flattering the line is on me. I had rather thought such a thing was beyond my reach. You can read about that fitting journey here.

The waistband is underlined in calico, with the inner waistband hand-sewn down in the ‘ditch’ of the front waistband. The lining was then handsewn onto the waistband facing and centreback seam.

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The zipper is my first ever hand picked zip. I’m more of an invisible zip kinda gal, however I can see the significant benefits of this treatment. Namely when you forget to check alignment and end up with one side being slightly longer than the other…

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Whoops.

It certainly helped having a fabric that was conducive to being steam into submission – you’d never know now!

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The hem of the pants is catch stitched down to the fashion fabric, and covered up with a bias strip of lining that was fell stitched on top. A lovely little detail.

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I did what you probably know as a ‘double welt pocket’ on the back – a slightly new to me way of doing it under Susan’s tutelage as well. They’re not functional pockets, just something interesting to break up the expanse of fabric across one’s backside. The fabric behind the opening extends up into the waistband and is sewn down underneath the bottom welt, which will act to support the opening as time and wearing put strain it.

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You can probably expect to see a few more pairs of pants popping up on here now I’ve got this sorted, as I’m ever so curious to see if the Style Arc Antoinette Pants are something I can pull off.

I’m probably only about another 10 hours (!) away from finishing my next French Jacket – which I’m also head over heels in love with – and I look forward to sharing it with you soon.

Pants block for the win!

A Third French Jacket in the making

I’ll admit to wanting a more everyday version of the French Jacket I made in Baltimore ever since I took photos of it for this blog.

And it just so happens that I have enough of the Octopus’ Garden boucle to squeeze a jacket out of – I recall when I first started sewing that I’d always buy an extra meter of fabric over what the pattern called for, you know – just in case. I absolutely love this fabric so I’m really excited to be working with it again.

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So I’m back for another week and another French Jacket! I recall this time last time I was already absolutely sewing fatigued, but this time around I’m incredibly invigorated to keep on sewing. I’m unable to attend the entire 7 days of the class due to a certain little person needing to be looked after, so I was grateful to be able to be fitted on Day 6 of the Couture Sewing School last week. I spent the last afternoon of that week’s class arranging my pattern pieces to make sure I could get the repeat in the right places.

Like my last French Jacket, I’m also underlining this one because once again I’ve picked a lightweight boucle that is see through! This is untypical though. I’m working with a cream cotton voile underneath (last time it was a white batiste).

I’m working with Vogue 7975, but I’ve stolen the sleeve from Marfy 9814. Partly because I really love it, partly because I don’t actually have enough fabric for a full length sleeve! It’s going to be tight….

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Day 1 is a bit of a get to know you again, a fabric show off, pattern fitting by Susan and fabric shopping for those amongst us who have yet to acquire some boucle and lining. We went to Stitches to Style – they have a great range of boucles! (and a huge sale on at the very moment – 50% off lots of cottons, linens and silks from their summer range).

Here are a few pictures of the gorgeous fabric choices by my other classmates:

Margie picked up a really striking red based Boucle from Tessuti, with a matching printed silk charmeuse from Mendel Goldberg. I think if I ever make a fourth jacket - I'm going to start by picking the lining first so I too can work with a printed silk!

Margie picked up a really striking orange and black based Boucle from Tessuti, with a matching printed silk charmeuse from Mendel Goldberg. I think if I ever make a fourth jacket – I’m going to start by picking the lining first so I too can work with a printed silk!

Danielle has a really textured black boucle with a black and coloured floral printed silk, which is just so gorgeous.

Danielle has a really textured black boucle from Linton Tweed (that was more than challenging to quilt due to all of the different fibres), and is pairing it with a floral on black background printed silk, which is just so gorgeous.

Melissa is what I have dubbed the classic Melbournian - her jacket is black boucle, with a black charmeuse lining. She scored an amazing beaded trim from Jimmy's Buttons - black of course!

Melissa is what I have dubbed the classic Melbournian – her jacket is black boucle bought from Stitches to Style, with a black charmeuse lining. She scored an amazing beaded trim from Jimmy’s Buttons – black of course!

Carol has an amazing textured boucle in Navy and grey from Linton Tweed, plus a really stunning watercolour printed silk she picked up from her local in Perth. I've laid claim to her silk scraps!

Carol has an amazing textured boucle in Navy and grey from Linton Tweed (this photo just doesn’t do it justice), plus a really stunning watercolour printed silk she picked up from her local in Perth. I’ve laid claim to her silk scraps!

Ros is sewing with a really fascinating fabric in an olive green that has Navy and copper highlights. She's also having a bias panel down the sides of her jacket - which entails an epic amount of quilting! Ros is two sizes different across her hips to her upper torso, and this additional bias panel does beautiful justice to her curves. Check out her smile here!

Ros is sewing with a really fascinating fabric in an olive green that has Navy and copper highlights. She’s also having a bias panel down the sides of her jacket – which entails an epic amount of quilting! Ros is two sizes different across her hips to her upper torso, and this additional bias panel does beautiful justice to her curves. Check out the effect and her smile here!

Marion bought a really stunning boucle from down the road at Stitches to Style, with the most amazing duck-egg blue coloured charmuese to match. It's fraying like a b----, but so totally going to be worth it.

Marion bought a really stunning boucle from down the road at Stitches to Style, with the most amazing duck-egg blue coloured charmuese to match. It’s fraying like a b—-, but so totally going to be worth it.

Day 1 saw me finish of my pattern thread tracing, and begin cutting out my lining.

By the end of Day 2 I had quilted all of my jacket pieces and sewn up the sides ready for a quick fit check and adjustment.

Day 3 I cut out my sleeves and got to work quilting them. On Susan’s recommendation I put the cuff on my sleeves on the bias – only just having enough fabric to squeeze this out. This meant also the quilting was in a grid – which gave it really lovely structure. We also put some silk organza underneath the boucle before the batiste underlining for a bit of extra structure.

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Bias quilting = a lot of knot tying

In the afternoon everyone took a field trip to Jimmy’s Buttons in Fitzroy for trim and buttons – what an absolute GOLDMINE! I can’t believe I’d never been here before. SO many options for trim, my mind was blown!

Day 4 at around lunchtime I was having my sleeves hung by Susan! I spent the afternoon playing with trim options, after a morning visit to Jimmy’s Buttons again after musing on samples overnight, I ended up with some chartreuse green petersham ribbon to go as backing to some vintage Chanel braid that Susan brought from Paris (she hauled a few different selections of braided trim she’s picked up in her travels).

Day 7 – I’ll be popping back in to the class on the Sunday to get a length of chain and have my pockets marked out.

So I’ve still got a fair way to go – sewing on the hooks and eyes, sewing on trim, chain, pockets and then closing up the lining. It’s looking amazing so far!

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Couture Sewing School – Day 3, 4, 5 & 6: Basting, Fitting & Sewing

Day 3 and everyone is heads down and bums up thread tracing their pattern pieces. I’m definitely thinking I’m glad for sewing pants and not a jacket purely because there are far less pieces!

I’m finished up thread tracing by mid morning and get stuck into sewing the double welt openings on the back of my pants, after having done a test on Day 2. They won’t be real pockets – just design details. The welt lips I cut with a large enough seam allowance that they will be caught in the waistband seam to support the weight of them.

By the end of Day 3, I was hand sewing all the pieces together so you can try it on and test the fit of the fabric. Whilst a muslin can save you much heartache in the land of ill-fitting garments, it still can’t always compensate for how your final fabric will change.

Case in point – Sue’s Kay Unger dress. Whilst it is really a simple sheath dress – the sunburst of pleats at the waist mean you’re dealing with a range of different angled grainlines at the neckline. After a second fitting, there were a huuuge number of changes, which you can see in the photos below.

These changes have to be thread traced and also transferred back to the muslin pieces so when the lining is cut, it reflects the changes. You can see the original white basting lines from the muslin below, with the adjustments pinned. Eep!

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Belle doesn’t manage to escape without significant alterations either – Susan ‘rebuilt’ her crotch curve after she had basted all of her fashion fabric pieces together. Belle and I are effectively sewing the same pattern (she is working with Burda 6689 whilst I have appropriated all of the design details from this pattern) however we’ve picked vastly different fabrics – mine being a rather drapey wool and hers a silk with a fair bit of body. Apart from the fact that we also have very different body shapes, it’s a great reminder of how much the fabric we work with can effect the outcome!

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I don’t escape without a few adjustments either, although mine are really very superficial. A little being removed from the waistband at the side seams and also at the centre back seam (new lines in Dark Blue).

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I think Day 4 is my favourite point in this course because it’s when everyone has their garments basted together and ready to try on for a second fitting – you get to see them coming together!

My pants are looking great – I’ve sewn up all of the adjustments and transfered the updated lines to the muslin. The legs hang beautifully – and it’s SO comfortable!

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Pants on with everything basted, ready for a second fitting.

By the end of Day four, I’d sewn all the seams in, trimmed the seam allowances back to about 1.5 inches, pulled out many of the silk basting stitches and pressed all of the seam allowances flat. One of the ladies brought this steam iron in and I’m now SO wanting to get one – it’s incredible for pressing!

Other people are having their garments checked for fit and are sewing seams on their machines.

Day 5 – I start thinking about lining, and the zip I’m going to insert along the centre back seam. I cut out the lining and pin it in. The thought being that I would sew on the waistband facing and tuck everything up inside.

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However I’d underlined the waistband with calico – and when I attempted to press everything into place – there was just too much bulk. Susan suggested trimming back the underlining to the seam line, then I trimmed and graded everything.

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Calico trimmed back to the seamline on both the waistband and waistband facing. Seam allowances trimmed and graded.

At the end of it all, it was better balanced with the waistband facing hanging down, to which I hand sewed down into the ‘ditch’ on the front.

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I then fell stitched the lining in on top.

For the zip, I did my first ever hand picked zip. I’m still an invisible zip girl at heart, but I think this fabric lent itself well to this treatment. I think the handpicked zip is rather an acquired taste!

I made the mistake of never actually checking to see if my waistband matched up along the centreback however, and was left with one side about 4mm high than the other. I cheated by steaming out the difference… hand picking the zip meant full control of the ease.

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After hemming my pants, it was midday on Day 6… which meant I actually finished a garment!!!!!

I got a kickstart on my next French Jacket for the class starting on Monday… meanwhile most everyone else was having sleeves on their jacket’s and dresses draped on by Susan.

Margie’s Marfy 3022 was beginning to show the early signs of being a stunner of a jacket:

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Helen’s Galaxy Dress is all but done, and she planned to sew in the lining on the flight back to Perth:

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She was convinced by everyone that she would need to have a matching belt made up.

Sharon’s striking silvery grey and charcoal Simplicity Blazer was finished all but lining after finishing off a pair of bound button holes. She also brought along her Cotton and Linen book, ending up with a photo op wearing the dress on the front page of the book!

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Judith’s was making significant progress on her lace sheath dress too, determining whether or not to underlining the sleeve with the same coloured silk or not.

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Oh, and the three versions of Vogue 8333 being sewn up were just jaw droppingly awesome.

I’ll be back next week with the French Jacket course, and hopefully soon I’ll be able to take some photos of my finished pants!