F3889: Pointilism Shirt

Happy New Year, everyone :) May 2018 be happy, safe and have lots of sewing for you!

Marfy 3889 – probably one of the simplest and quickest shirts I’ve ever made!

It’s from the 2016/2017 catalogue, and described by Marfy as “Shirt with gathered bodice. To be made in voile or crepe with contrasting edging”.

The pattern has a straight hem with a split at the side seam, and is not shaped (there is only one back pattern piece, two for the front, a sleeve, cuff and three collar pieces) apart from some gathering at the bust. The ‘contrast edging’ is in three pieces – one around the neck for the collar and two forming the button placket (one on each side).

This is my go-to size – the 46. It’s a boxy fit! Suprisingly to me, I chose to leave it be, apart from raising up the hem by 3cm. It’s definitely long on length, and I’m already long in the body.

After trying on my muslin with a work pencil skirt, I decided I quite liked the ‘blouson’ effect of the fabric billowing over a fitted waistband – I get enough shaping from that effect to satisfy my desired silhouette.

I think it looks far better tucked in, and given the pattern length and sketch, I suspect this is how its intended to be worn. As you can see – I really just don’t suit the boxy/shapeless look… but this shirt will be super handy should I ever be pregnant again. Lots of space!

I will definitely be making this again when I find the striped cotton shirting fabric I have in my mind – because the stuff I used for my muslin shows just how well this pattern can show off a stripe. I love the way they curve around the bust and point up towards the collar. Perhaps some might find this unsettling?


Pressure to replicate that fluke is on!!!!

The sleeve itself is interesting as well – no ease in the sleeve cap (which I love), and what I would call a 7/8 length?

It has a cuff that buttons up and one of those split things (I have no idea what it’s called? An internal placket?!?), a pleat AND some gathering. I had to draft my own facing for the split-thing, but that’s fine (actually, I suspect I may have lost the tiny pattern piece for this in my messy sewing space – as the next shirt I sewed up after this one (the Wiltshire Shirt) has the same split and it came with a pattern piece) – I copied what I did pretty much exactly on my Blue Blotch Blouse (McCalls 5929, now OOP). It worked better than I thought it would. And completed, I actually love how the volume is concentrated on the out-facing part of the sleeve because of the gathers.

The sleeve cuff didn’t have a marking to indicate where to start the overlap for the button/button hole. I presumed there was supposed to be an overlap, so I wrapped the cuff around my wrist and gauged that 2cm ought to do it. I could have gone a bit less, I think. I then just used the gathered section to make the sleeve fit to the remainder of the cuff.

The hem is just a simple fold up and under and top-stitch affair. It also has side splits. As it’s extremely unlikely I’ll ever wear this untucked – I didn’t put a great deal of effort into any special finishing. Just a quick and easy fold under, press and stitch.

Where as the inside front is just overlocked, except for the collar/contrast facing, which I handsewed down. Not sure why I didn’t just include this in the overlocked part, to be honest!

It’s pretty hard to go past Liberty. This one is a painterly print called ‘Pointillism’, in its blue/grey iteration (which is apparently an ‘abstract interpretation of the wild floral fields of Tesco’ – Liberty of London’s words, not mine). It’s from Shaukat.

The cuff and the collar are interfaced with a double layer of silk organza (all eeked out of scraps, yay!) for a bit of structure. Any interfacing in the front placket needed to be soft and pliable so as not to awkwardly affect the way the shirt blossoms out when worn tucked in.

I also wanted a teeny bit of contrast on the collar in this one, and found a matching pale-ish blue cotton (blend?!) from The Fabric Store. It’s of a lousy quality – the grainline shifting all over the place and other bizarre behaviour – but with only a tiny slither required it was quite workable. (I was thinking a bit about this as I worked on this blouse… and I don’t half wonder if the closing up of a lot of clothing businesses in Aus has driven the changes I’ve seen at Melbourne’s The Fabric Store recently – a really great spread of Liberty of London fabrics compared to years previous? Hey, not that I’m complaining – but they did used to have a fabulous array of different fabrics that were of decent quality, and that seems to have dried up recently. Has anyone else noticed this, or know anything about the change?)

This is what the colours actually look like. My DSLR has kicked the bucket, and camera phone pics just aren’t the same!

Buttons are from Buttonmania. It was the first time I did the whole ‘send a scrap of fabric away for them to match buttons to’ thing, and I was a bit thrown off guard with the lime green buttons they texted back to me. Even after I said in the accompanying letter that I would be cool with some left-field options! haha, I was forced to chew on those words in the end. I agreed to the lime green option, and in the end was glad I did – they look SO much better against the fabric IRL than they did in those photos they sent through. A really perfect match to the lime and fluoro yellow highlights in the Liberty.

And that is all for Marfy 3889. One more shirt to blog about (Marfy 5156) and I’ll be up to speed on things I’ve finished during 2017. I’m also almost finished a dress (I’m waiting on Buttonmania to come back from their Christmas break so I can get buttons!) plus have another 2 muslins finished and ready go into final production… but those will have to wait as I’m currently prepping for a class with Susan in a week or so, which I’m very VERY excited about!


Silk and Lace Bias Camisole

One of the lovely things about sewing has got to be all the awesome people you meet. Especially when said awesome people are also super skilled sewists and you are able to gain access to those skillz!

I’ve been meeting regularly for a day of sewing with quite a few of the ladies I did the French Jacket Class with in Melbourne at the beginning of this year – one of which happens to run her own nightwear label, Tatyana Design. As a third generation couturier (having been taught by her Russian Grandmother) her collections have walked the runway at MFF and there’s a lovely into to her brand here. Her collections feature gorgeously floaty silks, opulent heavy weight silks, embroidery and amazing details… So when Tatyana offered to put on a bias cami class on for us – we jumped at the chance!

No shortage of that floating around – especially when you’ve got Carine Gilson‘s artwork in the form of clothing to daydream about. I was so very taken with this particular lace and silk colour combo, perhaps one day I’ll find the right lace to pay homage to it with my own version of this dressing gown:

Image via Instagram – @carinegilson

The two necessary ingredients are of course, lace and silk. I was keen to use some of the lace I had in my stash – specifically the taupe and periwinkle lace from my pleated birthday dress, way back when? But it was only when I started visiting fabric shops that I remembered how difficult it was to get it to match anything… being the most unusual shade of periwinkle blue – it looked purple against the blues, and blue against the purples. In the end, I did actually end up finding a matching gold-hued rather heavy satin backed crepe silk to work with it – which will become something else special – as the cording on the lace ruled it out as a option for sleepwear. I’ll have to work it into a drapey top instead, I think.

Instead, I purchased a really soft and malleable green and gold lace and matching green charmuese to work with.

However on the day of the workshop, one of the ladies just recently back from a shopping trip in Hong Kong pulled out (unbeknownst to me) the most gorgeous cornflower blue charmuese – which she’d bought with me in mind. Thanks Ros! I fell in lust and quickly bought it from her. I made a quick dash to Tessuti about a block away from where we were having the class, in the hope of finding thread and a matching lace… and I got very lucky with a short width white floral lace:

We were effectively Tatyana’s guinea pigs for her offering this course, with one day set aside to see if we could work through it all. Spoiler – it’s a two day job.

There were a few mind blowing moments fairly early on in the piece – like apparently if you handle bias cut fabric in Tatyana’s way correctly, you don’t need to hang the bias panels to let them drop before hemming. She’s got an amazing rack of samples in her workshop, some of which have been hanging for 10+ years – and no drop. Which I suppose is exactly what you need when working in a production environment! No small business can afford to have a production run of garments hanging around to ‘drop’ before hemming.

I spent a considerable amount of time just staring at this french seam – as it looks like a seam sewn with cotton on the grain, not with bias charmuese! And this is with barely any pressing… you can even see the still perfectly straight grainlines of each piece of fabric reflected in the lighting if you look closely enough:

Most of the day was spent working on the lace – figuring out how best to position it, cutting and shaping it, sewing it onto the silk and cutting back behind it. Everyone’s lace was different, so everyone’s placement options were different. I ended up going with a V style shaping which was pretty quick and painless…

Unfortunately we didn’t get it all finished – still the straps, elastic back and hemming to go.

Tatyana’s black lace sample. Both Amanda and Danielle had this lace (from Cleggs) – Amanda also was using this black lace on black charmuese.

Judith’s champagne charmeuse and black floral lace. I was mesmerised by all the little lashes on the lace!

Danielle’s pink lace and baby pink charmeuse – terrible lighting, sorry!

After setting a date to suit most everyone – we reconvened at the end of September to finish them off.

We started with the elastic – I bought some white lingerie elastic with picot along one edge from Tatyana’s work stash for my blue cami (and conveniently she also had the most perfect shade of green for my yet-to-be-started green and gold set, which I also bought).

After the elastic was installed, being able to take off the tearaway fusible interfacing and finally see the bias drape on our fabrics was wonderful!

Then it was onto making the straps – cut on the bias in the same way that you would make bias binding. Sewing them up, trimming back and then turning them around… took a while.

There was two options for straps – wide and flat, or narrow and round. I chose the latter as when putting the samples up against my cami – this appeared to suit it better… but changed my mind after I’d made them. After making up the second set, I changed my mind again and went back to using my originals. They were rather a bit lumpy (although Tatyana assured me that after time and washing they would soften out and look beautiful like her sample, which was quite a few years old).

There was also hardware to install – same as what you would use were you making bra straps, making it adjustable.

My second attempt at making straps – and I made them inside out. I ended up going back and using my first straps as I was a little rough in turning these and they popped a seam – oops!

I used the small straps to try on the cami and determine where they would be attached, and how I would finish the lace at the front. As an insurance policy the straps were made extra long, and I was able to use the extra length to create a ‘triangle’ detail onto which the lace could be finished on.

Once trying it on (and loving it way more than I thought I would – it was mentally hard to do all this work and have no idea what it would look like once on – I’m so used to sewing toiles!) I also decided that instead of hemming, I wanted to have another row of lace around the bottom.

I was disgustingly lucky that the repeat on my lace fit the hem length almost exactly (I think I had about 3/4 of a cm to ease in total), so I started working on that (and finished it off at home).

And now, many gratuitous finished garment photos, on a mannequin that’s a wee bit big across the bust!

I wanted to get some photos of it on a mannequin as laying it flat just doesn’t do it justice and it’s definitely a bit too saucy for me to model! But I hadn’t actually finished it when the opportunity to put it on a mannequin arose, so it is not finished there.

It’s a really beautiful garment, and I’d love to sew some French Knickers to match – so I think sometime next year Tatyana will be putting on a course for those which I will definitely be attending, (I also see she’s putting on a second Bias Cami workshop early in the next year, if you’re local and such a thing interests you!).

I’m already mentally gearing up to work with the green silk and lace – with an idea for a variation on the back pilfered from this gorgeous Sass & Bide top….

F5172: Wiltshire Shirt

I’ll admit I was hoping Marfy 5172 (from this year’s Evergreen catalogue) was going to be my go-to button up shirt pattern, what – with my favourite RTW shirt maker Rhodes & Beckett going into administration and all. I’ve been living in their shirts all my working life, and them going out of business and me sewing a bazillion shirts and blouses is no coincidence.

It’s a similar style to my favoured RTW shirts – with a back yoke, front darts for shaping, stand up collar, and long sleeves.

Another Liberty, this time the classic Wiltshire print in a lilac and blue colourway, which I absolutely adore. The tana lawn is lovely and light compared to the Egyptian shirting cottons I usually wear – making it perfect for the impending summer.

I wanted to get the crisp collar thing going on – so I took the plunge with some interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply. I bought two types – for this shirt I’ve used the Pro-woven shirt-crisp fusible interfacing. They don’t post internationally anymore, which from my uninformed position seems like a silly business decision. I’m stubborn so I used a mail forwarding service.

It’s been a couple of months since I finished this one, so it’s had plenty of time to show me how it wears. The fusible itself has laundered well so far (it’s been through the washing machine numerous times now), with no bubbling. It’s also worn well along the French Cuff fold. I followed the instructions of pressing for 20 seconds on high heat with no steam (I used a pressing cloth).

However, I’m not happy with the strength of the interfacing. My personal preference is for my collars to be significantly more stiff – and this is just using it on a very lightweight tana lawn. Within 30 minutes of wearing, the collar points have caved in and curled upwards. Had I used this on any of the heavier  oxford-weave cottons I have in my stash – I’d want something heaftier still. Compared to my Blue Blotch Blouse, which in weight is very similar if not slightly on the lighter side – and which I used organza to support the collar with – I’ve been incredibly happy with how the collar has behaved. Always bouyant, always well-shaped, even post-wash and pre-iron.

You can see the difference here, after both shirts have been worn for the day:

I’m tempted to go back and get some of the Pro-Woven Super Crisp, or perhaps the Pro-Weft Supreme Medium-weight fusible. But they’re out of it right now so I’ll wait until its back in stock. I’ve got a variety of different weighted shirt fabrics I want to sew up, hopefully I’ll eventually find my Cinderalla interfacing :)

I traced out the pattern pieces, and cut on the inside of the tracing so that the fusible piece would be slightly smaller than the pattern piece. Then pressed in place (instructions recommend a dry setting on your iron, and to hold for 20 seconds. I used a pressing cloth as well.

Next time I’ll cut a smidge more away from the interfacing so I can get a nice turn of cloth when turning the pieces back around.

The collar is beautifully drafted – with the undercollar accounting for turn of cloth and being slightly smaller in width than the upper collar. I interfaced the upper collar and inner collar stand only, leaving the other two pieces as is.

I also did tack together the seam allowances between the collar and collar stand so that it would be held in place – encouranging the collar to fold over into position.

The interfacing actually made construction of the collar much easier than the one I did on my toile (or any other collar stand I’ve sewn before, actually) – especially around the collar stand curve at the front. I’ve clipped it very closely of course, but it basically held the lovely curve before pressing it into submission. I’m really happy with the outcome here!

I’m particularly taken with the lilac-y-pink buttons, which surprisingly to me, are from Spotlight.

I made this up in the size 46. The shoulders and bust fit really well and comfortably – lovely shaping through the front, but with the ‘blouson effect’ happening at the back. I ended up adding in two small diamond darts at the back, which I copied from my favourite F3449 blouse. I typically wear my cotton work shirts with jeans/work-issued-pants when I’m in the field which means I wear them untucked, so having that shaping at the back is just what I prefer.

Because of this, I also changed the hem from being straight to curved.  I took the template for this adjustment from my Blue Blotch Blouse (a now OOP McCalls) and softened the curves at the side seam a bit.

I’ve sewn this type of hem quite a few times now, and this is definitely the best I’ve done yet – where the hem curves in a concave manner at the side seams – which can be tricky when you’re folding the hem over on itself like so (and I would still like to try the ‘triangle treatment’ at this junction that a lot of El Husbando’s work shirts have on them):

The sleeve cuff ends in a pleat and some gathering, plus a split where the cuff’s end, fastened with a button.

The pattern has a standard issue cuff on it (button up) – but I far prefer a French Cuff, so I mocked up my own pattern piece for this. Next time, I’ll improve this by shaping it more like a trapezium than a rectangle, or move the buttonholes closest to the sleeve closer in, so that when folded over, the insides are hidden somewhat. Same as the principle of ‘turn of cloth’.

It also called for a proper sleeve plackets. I got lazy and just did the other version – same as what I did on F3889. I think on lightweight cotton’s like this you can easily get away with it, but when I get to sewing up the heavier shirting cottons in my stash, I will really need to try that placket thing…

I reach for this shirt a lot – it’s a great work basic and I just love the colours in this particular Wiltshire print. In future I plan to add an extra inch or so to the length, and work on my shaping efforts, which I believe have room for improvement (especially at the back).

F5172 is definitely going to become my standard issue cotton work shirt pattern, and considering the number of shirting cottons in my stash, you can expect to see more of it in future!

F3449: The Floral and The Phoenix

Bit shocked that it’s been a good few months since my last post – especially as I’ve actually been doing rather a lot of sewing. I’ve sorted the whole ‘time for sewing’ thing – getting photographs of the finished things is proving to be the biggest challenge it would seem! Hopefully now that the weather is improving, that will get a bit easier.

Today I have a repeat of a favourite of mine to show you – Marfy 3449.

My latest version is definitely an improvement on the first – I’ve swapped out the F3449 sleeve for the sleeve on another blouse (F5200 – which has been muslined but was a complete disaster and is unlikely to ever be finished. Perhaps I’ll drag it out of the naughty corner and blog about the experience). Let me just say – I am IN LOVE with this sleeve!

This one is also underlined with a white silk crepe de chine, which I thought to do as the floral CDC was a little on the thin side. But the underlining gives back so much more than just making it opaque – the flow of the silk is just amplified in every good way. It makes me wish I had underlining the original version! Totally worth all the time spent thread tracing.

Especially, the underlining does its biggest 1+1=3 where the sleeves meet the cuff. It makes the fabric flounce in such a voluminous way (I’m wearing at as I type this and keep stopping to admire it – haha!). Balancing this out is lots of structure in the cuff – I underlined the cuff piece in both the white CDC and some thin cotton flannel I happened to have a scrap of handy. This completely changes the feel of the cuff – it even holds its own shape when laid flat, but the weight of it makes the sleeve and cuff sit wonderfully.

I chose to not underline the ruffle at the neckline though – it ends up being quite a heavy weight just on it’s own, and I didn’t want the front to look or feel as though it was being dragged down by the weight. That, and white underlining peaking out from the wrong side of the ruffle would look blergh.

One thing I changed/improved about the construction order for this blouse was for that centre front seam. You can see that in this silk – the weight of the ruffle pulls the front collar open so that you see the insides. This also happens to my first 3449, but in a slightly different way.

On my first version, I didn’t think about how to finish this seam until after I’d sewn it together – now when I sew Marfy toiles I put a lot of thought into how to finish it off as a result.

In the end I sewed in some binding to close all of the clipped seams from the ruffle. This was a bit of a drama! For this blouse, I made the binding up first, then made one pass as I sewed all the layers together – before folding and pressing the binding back and sewing it down in place.

Ruffle, pinned in place and clipped so it hangs nicely.

Those clipped edges would otherwise be visible, so I’ve added a strip of binding to be included in the seam, ironed across to the seam edge side before the two front halves are sewn together. Then the seam edges have been encased in the binding.

Basically it’s a pain in the ass, and combined with the tiny collar I self-drafted (both for my first and for this one) – a really involved process. Fashioning and sewing on that blasted self-drafted collar was about 4 solid hours of work. I’m considering that when I make this again (I love it too much to retire this pattern just yet) – maybe I’ll just make a facing for the front. That would minus the need for binding and a self-drafted collar. I have a sneaking suspicion that the weight of my added collar does support the front ruffle somewhat… so version 3 of this will be an interesting experiment!

I’m also wondering if a little hook and eye at the top centre front seam to hold the ruffle up would be quite flattering? Perhaps another thing for a future version.

Otherwise, I french seamed pretty much everything except the armscye, which I used my overlocker on. I have an irrational dislike of finishing armscye seams – it just doesn’t seem right to topstitch in place in a fabric like this.

The hem seam is handstitched down onto the underlining. From memory, the F3449 pattern is a straight hem and I made it curved – I think this is so much more flattering on the body, especially as it’s a fitted blouse.

So this brings us back full circle to the original F3449 – my Stitches to Style blouse. Well, it was much beloved. Except whilst making it I accidentally sliced a little to close to the seam on the armscye seam allowance. Which was fine, as long as I handwashed it – which is what I do for things I make (especially silk blouses).

Except it accidentally got dragged into the washing machine, and came out rather ripped. Oops.

Thing is I’d originally bought that fabric with a shirt dress in mind, so there was quite a bit of it left. Just enough to eek out a NEW and improved (read – overlocked armscye seams) version of that blouse. I did have to unpick the flounce from the old one to make it work with the yardage I had left though – ruffle details always consume so much more fabric than you think they should! A sleeve was also sacrificed to make the new cuffs.

So, my Stitches to Style Blouse has risen from the dead:

In hindsight, I do really wish I’d underlined this one though – that lovely polka dot chartruese silk twill is very prone to creasing, where as my floral version doesn’t have a single crease after a day of wear. Next time!

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?

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:

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?

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.

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:

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