Couture Sewing School: Day 3

The day of the skirt.

Having had plenty of time to think about the construction process whilst thread tracing, it’s clear to me that this front panel needs to be completed before any more of this dress is put together.

One thing I’ve learnt from sewing with Marfy patterns is that their seam lines always, always match up, and there is no line or marking that should be left behind. To paraphrase Susan – it’s like a soap opera – no part isn’t important!

It’s like putting a puzzle together though – you just have to keep persevering until you figure out where everything goes and which match points fit where.


Above is after several iterations of me pinning everything in place to get the right ‘look’, but I was really struggling to get the wool crepe to behave in the fashion I wanted – the gathered part simply wouldn’t drape nicely. Unlike silk satin, the crepe just didn’t have the right ratio of fabric weight to drape, which was emphasised by the slightly angular position of two sewn in pleats to the left of the draped section (the two draped pleats with pins in them above).

From working through this, I got an appreciation for just how fabulous this would look made up in a heavy silk satin! However, the crepe responded better to being ‘gathered’ vertically rather than at a slight angle like the pattern dictates, so at Susan’s suggestion I omitted the two slightly angled sewn-in pleats at the start and changed the direction of the gathers to get the crepe to look better:


This looks much better, although it means I’ll need to adjust the hem length to get a better length balance between the pleats. And you can see in the background Sarah’s French Jacket being made – I shudder to think of all the progress I would have made had I the work ethic of Sarah – her middle name surely must be productivity! Alas… I was too busy happily gossiping…

After lunch I get to work hand basting the bodice and skirt together so I can have it fitted again. This is done with a backstitch… slow work, but doing it by hand reduces the handling of your fabric – even the longest machine stitch is sewn tightly and this means it’s easier to remove (translate: less damage to your fabric).

Now is also probably a good time to say I’ve switched out the Marfy bodice for a Burda bodice – for no other reason that I wanted some more challenging design lines to maximise the learning potential from this week:


After it all being basted I whack it on and have Susan cast an eye over it, whereby she says I’ll need to construct an inner foundation piece for support because I’m not going with the patterns original design of the lace overlay which otherwise would have held it all up.

By this point I’m so blase about lounging around in a state of undress that I’m really quite fine with posting rather lousy photos of myself on the internet:


I start working on adjusting the bodice pattern pieces to create an inner corsolette that will be boned… and then two UPS boxes arrive…

one of the two boxes…photo pinched from Sarah of Goodbye Valentino

It’s my wedding dress fabric!!!

I spotted it at Mendel Goldberg when we were supposed to be shopping for French Jacket fabric the previous week and couldn’t get it out of my head… so Susan helped me order it over the phone. It’s kinda killing me that I can’t show you all what it is – but it’s going to have to wait until next year. Sorry!

Before this trip I had spent a few days looking at and trying on wedding dresses, falling in love with one in particular. It was made from a very specific fabric which I was unable to find whilst in New York (well, actually I did find it, but not in the colour I was wanting), which was really disappointing. I had a ‘back-up’ dress concept from my second favourite from the dress-trying-on-expedition which was made from easily obtainable fabric, and had even gone so far as ordering a custom-made art-deco style bit of bling for it from M&J Trimming‘s bridal section (they have some amazing stuff!!!)… so I guess I’ll work that into a dress at some other point!

After opening up the boxes for a bit of emotional show and tell, I was rendered useless for the rest of the afternoon. I think I even gave myself a night off from homework. And that was Day 3!



  1. This dress is looking great, even at the basting stage. You must be full of wonderful sewing and fitting information by now. I can’t wait to read Day 4 now!!

  2. I am loving reading about your sewing adventures every morning when I switch on the computer – it’s the first thing I look for! Your dress and the jacket last week look beautiful and I can’t wait to see them finished (no pressure)! Enjoy the rest of your holiday.

    1. Thanks Megan! I’m so glad to hear you’ve been enjoying reading along :) I’ve had a little break to recover from it all… but now I’m back in blogging action! The rest of the days will be up, super soon, promise!

  3. Your dress is really shaping up! I like the bodice swap-out. Looking at your photos, it’s really hitting home to me how useful those wide seam allowances are for making adjustments.

  4. Oh, Mel! You were not the only emotional one in the room when your package arrived. Nary a dry eye in the room. It is the most gorgeous piece of fabric I have ever seen — and I can hardly wait to see you walk down an aisle in it! Don’t be scared. I probably can’t make the wedding!

    1. But Cissie, I can’t get married without having you, Leisa and Susan with a rug! haha… thank you though – I have unrolled the fabric to admire it on many occasions since getting home!! Loved your finished dress picture :)

    1. Yes! Of course! Although I’m completely so behind on replying here… so it’s already come and gone!! hehe, see you in a few weeks time to do it all over again! :D

  5. Ever since Sarah put that picture online I’ve been waiting for the big reveal. Oh girl, your testing us. Another year??? Well, following the construction of your Marfy dress makes up big time! Wonderful project!

    1. well…. not a FULL year, more like 8 months. That’s not so bad though, is it? The fabric is beyond amazing and it’s totally worth waiting for ;) I only hope I can do it justice!

  6. That Burda bodice is interesting – it’s interesting that the princess seams from the bust don’t match the seamlines in the midriff waistline, and that the midriff has a centre front seam. I like the overall effect – lots of very cool visual stimulus there!

  7. Oh your dress is looking so good. But that box is the scene stealer. No wonder you had an afternoon off – I wish we could have a sneaky look.

  8. what a world of difference adjusting the pleats made! this is looking great, and i love the new bodice. and oh, you’re killing us with not spilling the contents of that package. can’t wait to see it all!

  9. This is turning out completely stunning!! How fascinating it is to watch this process. And the BOX! Oh the box!! Cannot WAIT to see what’s in there!!

  10. Your dress is looking great, even at this stage. Looking forward to reading about the creation of the inner boded support piece. Loving your posts :-)

    1. Thanks Sandra! I’ve finally recovered from my sewing overdose and am back to compose a few posts. I’m eager to finish it up then share the finished jacket with everyone! :)

  11. How exciting that you found it! The current dress is coming along nicely too. Must be wonderful to have Susan to ask for advice as you go along.

    1. Very definitely most absolutely :) And yep, I’m super glad I found it too!! Now I just have to actually make it… pity I can’t just swathe myself in the fabric and walk down the aisle?

  12. This dress is looking SO good – what excellent seam lines, and what a great fit you’re getting! Thanks for sharing a bit about your sewing school experience, it’s been fascinating (and I’m so jealous!)

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