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!

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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

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!

V7975: French Jacket II

My dear mum celebrated her 60th in May, and to commemorate, I dedicated many loving hours to make her a French Jacket of her own. It’s been a long journey – I bought the fabric at B&J‘s back in late 2013, worked on her muslin over several trips interstate to visit/fit her, then worried about actually being able to finish it in time for her birthday due to our renovation works… which turned out to be a very real concern. I didn’t finish it in time for May, but instead was given a new deadline of the 28th of August, prior to their departure for a holiday in Canada, America and an Alaskan cruise.

Once renovations dropped pace and I’d sewn myself a palate cleanser, I got stuck right into this. And once again – I loved every minute of it!

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Fitting was a particular fascination – probably because I very much inherited my mum’s body shape. Seeing the similarities between our fitting adjustments and seeing how my body will probably need to be fitted one day was really cool. One of the most interesting things about watching Susan Khalje fit the other sewists in the French Jacket class I took was how a more mature body differs from what I’m presently accustomed too. This is in no way a slight on anyone older than myself, but I find that the non-symmetrical form a body eases into as one grows older to be an exciting challenge to fit. Or maybe it’s just because it’s different to what I fit when I sew (myself) that recognising things like a ‘sunken chest’, or a raised shoulder, or a ribcage that is smaller on one side of the back compared to the other is almost a way of validating knowledge I don’t usually get to test. Either way, my mum’s jacket was a joy to fit and sew.

It felt a lot quicker to sew this time around. I also think her’s is more beautifully constructed because I’m far more confident in my abilities now than I was when I made mine.

I was terrified of sewing in the sleeves (firstly because Susan drapes and pins them in position for you, and secondly because I didn’t have Mum around to test it on), but I was so pleased when she did try it on how well it fitted and how nicely it looked! (By this stage I’d already ventured into creep territory and tried it on myself several times…)You really can tell the difference between a garment made specifically for your body shape and one that isn’t – even when the fitting changes are slight (like me, Mum fits the Vogue Size 14 really well). I think this was a real point of difference for my mum (I’m lucky – I’m used to it!) – she was an equally impressed at just how beautifully it fit as I was.

V7975 Shoulder Fit

Kicking myself for not picking out a trim for this fabric when I bought it and was still in the States, I attempted to make a swatch of ‘fringed’ trim (thanks to this great resource from Cloning Couture). Mum decided that she preferred it without – “the fabric is fabulous enough” she said. I was happy with that because the time it would take to make 5 yards of the stuff would have been quite substantial!

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The trim I was originally thinking of making – along with some piping from the lining down the centre (the cut strip is just for representation…)

Instead, she agreed to my suggestion of a very slight bias trim in the lining fabric at the top of the pockets and around the sleeve cuff, which I thought looked rather elegant.

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After setting in the sleeves, I had to take up the cuffs as they somehow ended up being too long! Whilst I had left a 2inch gap between the intended cuff length and the quilting, this ended up being substantially smaller than originally planned for.

But, the trim is a huge part in stabilising the seams around the neckline and jacket front – so going without meant providing this stability on the inside of the jacket. I cut some selvedge from the silk lining, and catchstitched it in place:

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Buttons were another thing I was mad at myself for not purchasing whilst I had the chance. I ended up ordering some self-fabric buttons from Buttonmania. As the ‘trim’ was an understated and subtle hint of lining fabric, I went that route for the buttons, utilising both the matt and satin side of the charmuese for contrast. It seemed an elegantly matching solution, and Mum agreed.

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However… when I actually put them on the jacket pockets… they just didn’t look right. I recall several times people saying whilst I was doing The French Jacket course in Baltimore, that quite often, you just can’t pick trim or buttons until the jacket is mostly constructed – it somehow changes things. That matched my experience with picking trim for the jacket I made myself (I pared the trim I bought right back to one strand from three), and again with this jacket. So I probably shouldn’t have been kicking myself too hard about not visiting M&J Trimming with this fabric…

I ordered hooks and eyes and chain from Susan’s website, and after a final fitting with Mum in early July to determine pocket size and location, I finished the jacket and sent it off – it arrived about 3 or 4 days before my parents left on their holiday – perfect timing? I also sent her the remaining silk charmuese lining, as there would be enough to squeeze a sleeveless blouse from if she wanted.

Give me another year, and I’ll be ready to start the third French jacket, which has already been promised to another special someone. I should probably let them know it will take at least another 2 years after that, if this project has been anything to go by!

And because a garment is never as fabulous as when it’s on the intended wearer – a photo of my Mum in her belated birthday present!

In the meanwhile, if you couldn’t half tell from my lack of posting on here – I have completely lost my sewing and blogging mojo. And seeing as we’ve gone straight from the depths of winter right into summer… the ‘transitional’ garments I had planned for myself as maternity wear are already obsolete! How fortuitous for me, haha :) Shame, because I have this beautiful Marfy jacket about 2 hours away from being completely finished… and it’s been like this for nearly two months now. And it will probably stay this way for many more months as water retention owns me right now!

Marfy 3022 in the making...

Marfy 3022 in the making…