Water water everywhere, but not a drop to drink

I’m back. Sort of!

Limited amounts of time have begun popping up in which I can start enjoying sewing again (limited being the key word, there is currently a tiny person bouncing up and down against my leg as I type this opening) and I’ve been sewing muslins like I’ve got Attention Deficit Disorder.

Starting with Marfy 9814. One of the very first Marfy patterns I ever bought! It’s fecking gorgeous – the standup collar is divine, and even the 3/4 length sleeves look good (and I’ve always found these to make my proportions look very out of balance. Clearly I just needed something better drafted than a RTW jacket to make it look right on me).

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Marfy 9814 – “This youthful jacket has a high neck and a tight fitting closure”. Suggested fabrics are matellas or faille.

I have no idea what catalogue/year it’s from, as I bought it from the McCalls website some 5 years ago. I had that new found hobby ‘fever’ and spent glorious hours trawling pattern websites for things I wanted to buy, when I discovered this page on the McCalls site.  This was back before Marfy had relaunched their website and ordering from them seemed too hard, so it was easy to justify paying a premium to bypass the difficulty.

Anyway – the jacket is divine. However my usual size 46 just doesn’t quite cut it at the moment (read – whilst I’m still breastfeeding). It’s a very close fit!

So it’s on temporary production hold, sad face.

I’m pretty gutted because this was my #1 choice for Susan’s couture sewing school next week…

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Secondly and completely unrelated to muslining for Susan, I’ve sewn up a muslin of the OOP Vogue 1220. Same problem. Too much boob. I never even bothered with the front closure, as clearly this is another muslin that will need to wait until bubs is completely weaned. Shame because I really wanted a shirt dress for work – this one is really fabulous. I’m going to look forward to sewing it up somepoint in the future. In fact, I love all the Donna Karen/Vogue collabs, I was rather sad to see that is no longer continuing.

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As far as muslins go, I thought perhap I’d be relegated to the bottom half of my body as an option then.

So I muslined Style Arc’s Darcy Pants. The only adjustment I made was to replace the crotch curve with that one from Style Arc’s Flat Bottom Flo pants (what a winner of a crotch curve for the pancake butted peeps like me!).

I didn’t like the elasticated waist look on me – so I pinned it out in the photo here. It’s too tight around my sizeable calves, but the crotch curve!!!!! You’ll have to believe me that it looked just as good from the back as getting a photo of that was way to difficult.

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Except my brain forgot to process that an elasticated waistband doesn’t really align with the whole couture thing?

Hmm.

So I thought perhaps I’d try and meld together the top of another pattern that has a waistband and slanted side pockets (two features I wanted this to have). Lets just say that I’m procrastinating against doing that by writing this blog post. Which is a bit of an issue because I’ve got 4 days until I need to have a finished muslin for Susan’s class, and a first birthday party to navigate in between now and then.

Oh, and I nearly forgot – one more muslin has been made. I’m also doing another French Jacket class with Susan whilst she’s in Melbourne – Vogue 7975 of course, but with the sleeves from Marfy 9814 because I love them so.

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I’m really excited about this one, and pretty confident that I won’t finish it in the week, so the plan is to leave the front princess seams ‘undone’ so I can adjust once the whole breastfeeding jag is up…

I’ve shortened this version (and not very well – the bottom hem lines don’t match up…) compared to my previous French Jacket, and in an everyday wearable fabric (which I already have and am super excited about!)

Wish me luck!

 

F3453: Back to Basics Dress

I had forgotten how quickly a simple 5 pattern piece garment can come together…. and is there anything more frivolously fun than sewing a dress for a special occasion? I savoured making this dress, as this wedding I wore it too is probably the last I’ll get to attend for a very long time.

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The dress is Marfy 3453 – a fairly simple fit and flare sleeveless dress. The bodice has two darts, a v-neckline at the rear, centreback zip and evenly spaced pleats in the skirt. I think what I love most about simple patterns is that they really allow your fabric to shine.

I had wholly intended on sewing this dress ‘as it is’, but I quickly discovered that a 2 dart bodice on me just looks not-nice. Perhaps its the ratio between my bust and my waist? So I converted it to a four dart bodice. This was the only fit adjustment I made.

Also, I had wanted to use the lace border detail on my fabric around the hem, which meant I replaced the pleated A-line skirt with a simple dirndl. I was a little sad about this as the A-line looked great in my muslin, if a little long. I don’t have the amazonian length pins Marfy designs for!

Although… I’m very close to a tipping point for preferring a pencil skirt over a voluminous skirt. I’m not there yet, but can see it looming on the horizon. I can see myself wearing this particular dress in my later years as a fitted sheath style, which would be quite easy to achieve.

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I decided to prewash the fabric, so I could launder the dress myself instead of having it dry cleaned. As soon as I dipped it in water – it STANK. Thanks to an instagram conversation, I was informed that sometimes silk does stink, and it has to do with a gum residue the silk worms leave behind called ‘sericin’. The less processed the silk is, the more likely it to smell, apparently. I was then informed by a google search that you can just keep washing it until it comes out, which it did. Thank goodness.

The fabric is an incredibly pale pink, very slubby raw silk – not a fabric type I’ve worked with before. It also had floral embroidered circular cutouts as a border detail in a 1.1m long repeat. The fibres that came off the cut edges of the fabric are wonderfully fuzzy, thick and incredibly soft:

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The dress is underlined (organza) to give the fabric some more body, and lined at the bodice in a matching but slightly darker silk charmuese that was also used as the contrast trim around the neckline and waist. This was a stash fabric that just happened to look rather lovely against the raw silk.

Whilst sewing I kept the seam allowances large – I want it to be a wearable option for many years to come, so I look at those seam allowances like an insurance policy. You don’t intend on using it of course, but it’s there just in case it’s needed.

I wanted to try and work in a bit of the embroidery into the bodice, so I appliqued a small lace circle in. Cutting into the bodice fabric to do this was a moment of terror; not having appliqued before! I treated it a bit like a welt pocket – sewing a scrap of organza onto the front with my machine’s smallest stitch, cutting into the circle then turning the organza to the wrong side and ironing flat. Getting the circle to be the right size was the hardest part – it took me two goes. After that I hand sewed the lace circle in with a fell stitch and pressed again. Pretty happy with how it looks!

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The skirt is one single piece of fabric, gathered. I was basing the length of the skirt off one of my most favourite dresses – and realised that the height of the cutouts would potentially make my underwear visible… so I added in an additional layer of organza. If you looked really close and really hard, and if I had fluoro underwear on, you’d probably be able to see it. Eh.

I had a first attempt at lace matching down the back centre seam, and am very happy with the results. The main challenge was that the circles were not perfectly circular.

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For the hem, I folded it over, sewed it down to itself, then catch stitched that to the underlining. The result is a soft hem that has a tendency to crease in on itself, but I don’t mind the effect so much. Even with the underlining, the raw silk isn’t really interested in being pressed – it will hold the shape, but it won’t be crisp.

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Due to wanting this dress to be easily adjustable, I machine sewed the lining to the neckline, but hand sewed the arms, down the sides and around the waist. I like hand sewing, and it’ll be really easy to unpick. I also just love the loft of silk charmeuse, and hand sewn seams seem to bring that out.

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Look at that loft...

Look at that loft… The most accurate representation of the two colours together. And you get a really good eye of the texture of the raw silk! Delicious stuff.

I included a hook and eye at the top of the centre back seam, to get a nice closure. At the wedding I wore this dress to, I counted 6 women wearing dresses that the centre back zip was coming down on because there was no hardware to help provide that stability at the back. Funnily enough, they all were on either rounded or V-shaped dress backs. I pointed out so many to my beau that even he started to point them out and was tut-tutting along with me.

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Basically a happily ever after.

And on that note, I will be leaving a radio silence until we have moved and made our new home slightly more liveable than what it currently is. My sewing stuff is already packed away in boxes, and I’m feeling quite sad knowing it will be a while before it sees daylight again. I will be looking forward to finishing and then sharing with you all the two jackets I have in mid-progress from winter last year!

F3093: Safari Blouse

Merry Christmas Eve, all!

May I present to you, another green Marfy blouse.

This may not seem like much to some, but this is the first thing I’ve ever sewn that I didn’t initially muslin to test for fit. It was a little exhilarating, not knowing whether or not I would like it! I need to get out more.

I think I do now understand a little better why some sewists are dead set against muslining. I’ve been super time poor these last few months, but still wanted to have a wearable outcome from my sewing efforts. I compared the pattern pieces for this against my last Marfy blouse at the shoulder and bust, and my Blue Blotch Blouse (a McCalls pattern) through my mid-section. It was pretty much on par, I ranked it low risk, and so away I went.

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Yeah, there are probably a few things I would alter had this been my actual muslin. You can see from the Marfy sketch below that the shoulder seams are not quite dropped – but still gently off the shoulder. I brought them back in by 0.5cm (because I was so thrilled with the shoulder seam location of my last Marfy blouse, which I used to copy the alignment of) but actually I regret this now and would stick to the original design if I were to make it again.

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In fact, I would say the sleeves of this blouse are my favourites, ever. No ease – it fit into the armscye perfectly, slim-fitting but still with enough space for movement, and I love the button down tabs to roll up the cuff. They aren’t full length when unrolled – more midi.

There are no darts for shaping in the bodice here, unless you count the centreback seam. Not normally one for loose fitting clothing around the mid-section, I figured the CDC would billow enough to compensate for any sack-style leanings.

I like the front side pleats more than I would have thought, and the only thing I didn’t think about until I put it on for the first time (at the 80% completed mark) – is that it’s awfully low cut. I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable without a singlet for weekend wear, let me put it that way.

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On the inside, this blouse is not my best work. I french seamed where possible, overlocked the armscye seam (thanks to Helen bringing along her machine to social sewing!), and top stitched over folded seam allowances everywhere else. I tossed up whether to interface the collar and facing, but ditched it in favour of keeping with the drapey look of the blouse. I did use a few scraps of organza to help stabilise the four pivot corners (front and back) of the collar, which worked like a charm.

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The fabric? Silk CDC, from Mood. If you recognise it, it’s one of the two fabrics I used to sew my bridesmaid’s dresses. I had enough left over to squeeze this out of. Actually, I was really surprised I had so much left over – especially as I had nothing left from the other dress. Turns out I had extra because there was a fault – which of course I didn’t realise until I’d cut everything out, with nothing to spare.

Thankfully the flaw was half covered by one of the front pockets – and due to sewing ‘couture’ (marking the seam lines and having large seam allowances) I was able to shift the entire pattern piece across by the 1.5cm required to get that flaw entirely hidden by the pocket. Not too shabby an effort, if I do say so!

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I’ll admit this blouse was partially inspired by both Reana and Sallie. CDC is just a wonderful mix of opaque and floaty, and feels just lovely and cool on the skin to boot.

It is incredibly low cut – and I’ll probably be wearing it as a beach cover up when I’m chilling out in Byron Bay this summer, or unbuttoned with a singlet underneath.

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IMPENDING DOMESTIC BLISS
If I thought my sewing time couldn’t get any less right now, I thought wrong. We bought a house! We’ve got a week holiday booked in at the end of January, and we move in after that. At which point we will be waging a war of attrition on asbestos, sinking foundations, decrepit shag-pile carpet, shiny olive-green drapes, and original 1960’s textured wallpaper. The first major aim will be to get a toilet actually plumbed on the inside of the house so we don’t have to spend next winter going outside to go to the loo. No joke. At least I’m having fun putting together the epic spreadsheet that we’ll use to project manage the whole thing! It’s going to be such a long and ongoing project that I’m actually fighting the urge to start a renovating diary blog. So far my sensibilities are winning on that front!!

So from February onwards I’ll still be squeezing some sewing in where ever I can of course – but there will be a bit of radio silence for the first few months whilst we tackle a few bigger projects. I’ve got an exciting project to work on prior to then though – a wedding guest dress!

Have a wonderful Christmas and holiday period everyone – and a safe and happy new year!!

Much Love to you all xx

F3449: Stitches to Style Blouse

What to do when you adore the picture/line drawing of a pattern, only to sew up a muslin and find you look utterly ridiculous?

The pattern is Marfy 3449, which I’ve adored since laying my eyes on it. According to the Marfy catalogue it’s “A flowing, collarless shirt with a ruffle down the centre at the front, satin trim at the side, and sleeves gathered at the wrists and slightly at the shoulders.”

Marfy 3449 from the 2014-15 Catalogue

Marfy 3449 from the 2014-15 Catalogue

My ridiculous muslin was sewn up in a specially bought hot pink polyester because it was virtually identical in weight and drape to the fabric I envisaged this being made up in. Had I been invited to a dress up party where I would have like to have gone as Joan Collins, a pirate or someone from Days of our Lives, this would have been utterly fabulous.

Alas, that was not my intention. It did however, fit me perfectly through the shoulders and the bust. What this muslin doesn’t show is the gathered cuff – I recall feeling more OTT that this WIP instagram snap would imply!

Marfy 3449 Muslin

I figured if I toned down the sleeve cap height (I’ll admit – this effect was enhanced by the body of my chosen fabric, and the fact that I’d pushed all the ease up to the top of the sleeve cap), slimmed down and removed the bell cuff on the sleeve (which once elasticated looks exactly on me as it does in the sketch) and raised the level of the front split by 5cm (warning – this one is very low cut – right down to below the root of my bust) then I could probably handle it.

Once I adjusted the fit of the bodice by my normal Marfy adjustments (taking it in below the bust to account for me being two different torso sizes) I compared it to one of my all time favourite and regularly worn make – the Blue Blotch Blouse. Many times fitting issues with woven clothing only become apparent after a bit of wear, and it was clear to me that whilst that blouse is a very comfortable garment, it did need some more width across the shoulders (I’m broad). This Marfy pattern had that, which was great.

I hesitated on my ridiculous adjusted muslin for nearly two weeks on whether or not I would proceed with the real thing, and I’m SO glad I did. I really love the end result! The flounce makes me smile every time I look down or catch it moving as I walk.

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Everytime I take a photo that has me smiling with my lips together, it just looks like I’m oddly pouting. Usually those photos get instantly deleted, but the weather/lighting was doing weird things on this particular afternoon, so the fact that it was the best colour match to the real deal won through.

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The fabric is one I’ve been wanting to sew with for over a year. It’s a pretty substantial silk twill fabric, chartreuse with off-white polka dots – cool to the touch and with a subtle matt texture. I scored this at one of the fabulous End-Of-Financial-Year-Sale’s at Stitches to Style a few years back.

The hem of this shirt (which you can’t see from the sketch) is straight, split at the sides and the front is slightly shorter than the back. I altered this to be curved and with more of a pronounced ‘hi-lo’ hem.

The ruffle – a challenge to finish because of the weight and thickness of my fabric – I chose to sew a hand-rolled hem on. I used this youtube video to get me started – it’s a really simple and (if you like hand sewing) enjoyable thing to do. I haven’t quite yet mastered my rolled hem foot on my machine on straight edges – so no way was I going to risk it on a shaped edge!

How well the ruffle sits depends solely on how you clip the seam allowance (Anne from Clothing Engineer has a wonderful post on how clipping can affect your flounce/ruffle here). I clipped every 7mm or so along the length of each ruffle – and it really does sit wonderfully.

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The sleeves I copied from another Marfy blouse pattern instead of adjusting the sleeve cap, because they were also a lot wider than what I felt comfortable in. The original sleeves recommend finishing the cuff with elastic (to enhance the bell shaped cuff – a feature I really like in principal but not so much on me in reality), I drafted a simply slim cuff that I can pull over my hand easily.

Otherwise this blouse is finished with French seams except for the front seam – a challenge because I knew it would be visible. I’ve bound each side to enclose the heavily clipped seam allowance. A bit heavy, but effective.

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For the neckline I initially thought bias binding, but drafted a thin, curved collar so it would sit flat. I suspect that I am missing a pattern piece for the neckline, as the back bodice pattern piece has a notch around the neckline indicating that something should be matched to it – and I only had pattern pieces for the front, back, sleeve and ruffle.

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Probably should have steamed those pin holes out first...

Probably should have steamed those pin holes out first…

Also – the ‘satin trim’ down the side is not a pattern piece, but rather a DIY addition. I left it out.

Another work horse blouse, complete – I’ve already worn this to work a few times and I love it both tucked into skirts and untucked over pants. The silk does crush easily, so it’s not a travel-suitable blouse – but it’s so substantial that it feels like it could withstand a LOT of wear, much more so than the delicate silk/cotton voile I made the Blue Blotch Blouse in. Much to my devastation, I think that blouse will only last another year… massive sad face!

F3348 & V7975: Slow Sewing

The first half of this year gave me an incredible amount of time to ponder my sewing style, and as a result of having a bit of distance from the actual act of sewing anything ‘normal’, I’m finally beginning to feel like I have a bit of direction to curate my ‘to-sew’ list. Simply put, I’m happy to buy basics and to put my sewing skills (and limited sewing time) to use creating beautiful, structural and really well made items that fit in with my basics.

It’ll be quite a long while until you see another dress on this blog – and I want to get back to sewing what I love most – jackets. I’m excited about it because there’s still so much I want to ‘get right’ in this area of sewing skills, mostly around setting in sleeves and getting them to look really professional. It’s the main area I really notice as being sub-standard on all the (non-French!) jackets, coats and blazers I’ve made to date.

So, I’ve started out on two jacket projects which I’ll be working on either exclusively or in the background when I’m enticed away to sew something else.

The first, a gift for my Mum – as she’s having quite a significant birthday event in early May next year. It will be a French Jacket, in a boucle I got from B&Js. It’s a lightweight fabric because Brisbanites don’t get nearly as many chances to wear jackets as we do further South! It will be tough to work with, as it’s already fraying like a Beast…

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It will also mean interstate trips for fitting – the first of which is already done to adjust the muslin and so she could select the lining from a bunch of samples I took up with me.

Mum is virtually identical in body shape to me (although I guess it’s technically me that’s identical to her) so her adjustments were minimal as the Vogue 7975 pattern fits her nearly as well as it did to me.

I’ve already cut out and begun the basting process… fun times ahead :)

The second Jacket project is for me, and the intent is for it to be a hybrid between French and Tailored. I’ll be sewing with Marfy 3348, which was one of the free patterns that came with the 2014 catalogue (you can also buy it online – they have pdf now, whoohoo!):

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The collar and front facing will be tailored – pad stitched and horsehair canvas – while the rest of the jacket will be quilted. Although I’ve yet to test out the quilting for this fabric combination so that may change based on how well it turns out. This project was inspired by Leisa’s tailored/French hybrid with Marfy 3182, which you can read about here.

My fabric is one of those special fabrics that you hoard until the ‘right’ moment, although this is probably less of a ‘right’ moment and more of a ‘can’t wait any longer’ moment. I’m not a patient person.

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It’s a cream and mint boucle, from one of my favourite shops – Stitches to Style.

The current plan is to underline the parts of the jacket that will be quilted with some lamsbwool (from A Fashionable Stitch) so as to keep the balance between the weight of the front which will be backed with horsehair canvas. The lambswool is deliciously soft, but not very amenable to staying on grain!

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Lambswool interlining, via A Fashionable Stitch

But I’ve yet to decide whether I’ll be setting in the sleeves, or hand sewing them in to get that lovely soft shoulder curve that my French Jacket has. Potentially they’ll be set in as getting the right location for hand sewing may be a bit too challenging on my own. We’ll see.

The Marfy pattern as intended has a contrast section at the collar which I’d original though to use the lining for. After making and adjusting my muslin, the collar feels a bit smaller than I was envisaging, so I’m thinking of using a matching pale cream charmuese here instead – using the illusion of colour to visually cheat and make it look a little bigger.

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The Marfy jacket has darts, which I converted into princess seams before cutting out my muslin (easier to deal with when I knew I would be working with thick-ish fabrics). I’m glad I did, because the adjustment you see here is one I need to do quite regularly. I’ve added some extra space at the bust to the side front panel, which allowed the collar to sit flat across my chest, rather than gape like on my left side.

The jacket pattern is only slightly fitted – of course, it fit really very well out of the packet – just with the need for a bit of extra boob space. I did flirt with leaving it otherwise unadjusted – but decided in the end that having a non-waist-defining jacket wouldn’t be doing me many favours. So I did pin in the side and princess seams slightly to get a closer fit, and I more than likely will add more space at the upper arms. I can determine that better at the first basted-together fitting, as my fabrics will be thicker than my mock-up! Thank goodness for large seam allowances, as they really do allow you to take into account the differences between how the toile’s fabric and the final fabric react to the pattern.

Also, simple things like the fact that the upper and lower collar pieces allow for turn of cloth make me smile. The sleeve cap looked fabulous just in the muslin, too. Here’s the final, adjusted, un-clipped and un-pressed muslin… gosh they always look terrible on camera:

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I finally go to try out the walking foot on my machine, to see how the combination of fabric, lambswool and charmuese worked with quilting:

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Totally luxe and lovely on the inside… but the lines do show through somewhat on the outside (probably due to the loft of the lambswool).

For now I’ll most likely power forward on my mum’s French Jacket (because I know what I’m doing there) so I can ponder just how I’m going to bring all those elements together into the Marfy Jacket and decide whether I’m willing to ‘go Jackie O’ (I’ve read that apparently on some of Jackie Kennedy’s Chanel Jackets, the quilting lines were visible). In the meantime, I’ll be posting progress shots on instagram, of course.

Until soon!