F3408: Painterly Blouse

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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MN1006: ‘Cara’ – Ruched Maternity Tee Mk I, II & III

After the great success that was the Ruched Maternity Skirt, I figured I’d leveled up and so started on the Megan Neilsen Ruched Maternity Tee. Reviews abound on PR with many gorgeous versions of this top, and many people singing its praises – so I was really motivated to get stuck into it!

But I’ve come to a rather big realisation – I don’t like sewing with knits. Not one bit. Give me the sheerest and most wayward lightweight silk to work with over a lightweight knit, ANYDAY.

Having spent the last few weeks procrastinating, avoiding and then forcing myself to take photos of the outcome from this pattern – I think I’ll tick this off as having been ‘done’ and get straight back to wovens (I’ve already finished my maternity pants for work).

Here is the final outcome – my third version of this top:

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Anyway back to the start of the story – my pre-pregbot measurements exactly fit in the range for a Size L across the bust, then back to a Size M at my (now non-existant) waist and hips. As I so successfully sewed the Size M Ruched Maternity Skirt, I traced off the top pattern, grading between the Size L & M from the underarms down.

I worked with a stretch cotton mystery fabric (found at Rathdown Remnants for $2 a meter – easily the least expensive fabric I’ve ever bought) in a minty green marle that I’m a huge fan of. The recovery of it is lousy, but given that this was going to technically be a wearable muslin, I wasn’t too worried.

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You’re seeing an adjusted version here – I took in the underarm seams considerably (about 2-3cm in, going from bust to the sleeve hem). Before having done this, I had a considerable amount of excess fabric around my armpits and bust – which had the rather unfortunate effect of making me look rather, well – saggy. It wasn’t a good look.

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Afterwards, I made a crop top test version to make a change to the armscye seam across the shoulder – taking it in by 2.5cm (a full inch). This looks a million times better. (I also scooped out some of the neckline to make it more rounded). Basically, it suggests to me that I should have made the size S across the shoulders, not the L.

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The ruching is done on the front pattern piece only, ruched to fit up against the back pattern piece. The front hem is curved. Next time I might try straightening that hem, but ruching the back as well to get a closer fit under bump.

I’ve also seen on a lot of RTW maternity tops that the front is self-lined – presumably to assist in containing leakage? I tried this on my second version of this top, which I never actually got around to ruching. It’s in a watermelon polyester – gorgeous colour, horrible fabric. Looks pretty fluoro orange in my photos though!

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Unlike my experience with the Ruched Maternity Skirt, the outcome of this top leaves me feeling… keen to put the experience behind me. I think that’s a mix of trying to get used to my new shape (gigantor boobs, puffy everything, additional body fat percentage… far out!!) plus the annoyance of working with flimsy knits.

Next project please!

V1247: Romance Is Born… & Frocktails!

My goodness, the weather has been completely against me ever getting photos of this new wardrobe addition. But with Frocktails on Saturday – I really had no excuse. I was going to wear this dastardly silk top out for the first time, dammit!

I’m not usually one for floaty, formless garments, but this Rachel Comey one has been on the radar for a loooong time. There are just too many amazing versions out there on the interwebs not to be sucked in. What better time to try a completely new-to-me garment style than the here and now?

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Actually, I lie. I decided to try my hand at a shapeless, flowy garment because I’m currently halfway through being pregnant, and it seemed like an appropriate time to try a new form… Obviously when I made it there wasn’t anything sticking out, but I had rather intended to be able to wear it once the warmer weather decided to show up!

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Pretty unimpressive for a 20 week bump, really. My jeans are held together with a hair tie but.

I bought this pattern a loooong time ago… well before I realised from PR reviews that you really do need to size down at least 2 sizes. I understand that it’s supposed to be a baggy top, but really? There is good baggy and then there is bag baggy. I am usually a Vogue 14-ish, so ideally needed the 10. I had to cut the 12 though due to the size range on the pattern I had.

After I made a muslin – in which I made a fair few changes – giving shape to the straight centre back seam, taking in the side seams to mirror the waist curve I had at the time, and lengthened the hem slightly – I was really quite pleased with the result. I was definitely tempted to overhaul it to make it more form fitting, but I managed to resist. I’m not sure if it’s because of the interesting seaming, or because it still looks like it holds some shape, but I have a real affinity for this top – even though I’m moderately ambivalent about how it looks on me.

I do love that it’s the perfect opportunity to bust out the lightweight silks, which I am so easily tempted into buying but never really have a ‘practical’ outlet for.

I deliberated for a loooong time over whether or not to use the fabric that you see here. I had originally bought it with a dress in mind (I even have a matching chiffon) and breaking from that mindset was hard. Definitely the right decision though, as this top will get infinitely more worn and appreciated than had I sewed a dress for a formal occasion.

It’s a silk charmeuse with the kind of soft, painterly pattern that I never fail to fall hard for.

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Whilst I sewed the muslin in the ‘normal’ way (1.5cm seam allowances) – I just don’t think you can get the best result when sewing with silk in this fashion. Especially on those bias seams. Especially not on my base level Janome, which loves nothing more than making a dog’s breakfast out of lightweight silks. So for the real thing I did ‘my normal’ of what I guess is often called couture methods – seam lines marked and no specific seam allowance. It’s also underlined in white silk crepe de chine, which carried the seam line and pattern markings, but which also has the dual function of ensuring this top is utterly opaque. You’d never know if I was wearing a fluoro bra underneath this puppy. And as I love brightly coloured underthings, this works well for me.

The crepe de chine underlining does probably make it slightly less flowy that many other makes I see on PR and Burdastyle (especially the chiffon ones!), but I don’t mind it as it is. If anything, I feel a bit more ‘secure’ in it!

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Otherwise, I mostly followed the instructions for this pattern – they’re really quite adequate. Except I handstitched the neckline facing down to the crepe de chine underneath (another genius reason for underlining – avoiding topstitching on tricky fabrics!).

Also – I sewed this top together in 2.5 days straight (I did all the cutting and thread basting prep work before hand – you know I’m uber slow, right?) at a 4 day sewing getaway with a bunch of fabulous sewists I go to social sewing with. Turns out my patience for french seams and slow sewing has a very finite limit, which is clearly visible here:

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Usually I sew in spurts and chunks – 15min and a seam here and there. But locked away at a ‘quilting retreat‘ with no life interruptions for four days straight tested my fancy seam-finished resolve. With access to overlocker, I caved.

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In other sewing news, I finished my second French Jacket (for mum) in late July which has been sent off to Queensland. Plus I’m nearing completion of that Marfy Jacket I showed you the muslin of – and I’m loving it to bits. Then I’m really going to have to get stuck into some maternity sewing!

I’ll leave you with some (sadly, rather over-exposed) photos from Frocktails – so much self-sewn fabulousness! 51 ladies from Australia’s east coast AND New Zealand joined in the fun – we had a private function space at Collins Quarter and a signature cocktail which was named the ‘Seam Ripper’ (Gin based, of course. I was devastated to not be able to partake!). It was an amazing night and I’m already looking forward to the next one!

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Hello, Strangers!

“Hi, my name is Melanie, and it’s been 6 months since I last posted”.

Yep, and about 5 of that have had zero chances to sew. But – our unlivable house is now moderately livable. Sort of. Still a lot of work to do! But the last month has had some productive sewing in it, culminating in a seasonally inappropriate top that is very different to my usual style. I do really love it though. Photos just as soon as I find my missing camera battery charger, and brave the cold! (Some sunshine might be nice too, but I wouldn’t want to be too demanding or anything…)

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Just a little seam matching perfection…

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I’ve also been working on the French Jacket for my mum. I originally thought having it done for her birthday in early May would has been SO achievable. But that didn’t quite work out, so the new delivery date has been set for early August. Better get my skates on…

Because I’ve also started sewing a new jacket (for me). Marfy 3022!

F3022 SS 2014-15 Jacket

The muslin for it is getting me very excited. Even with no adjustments I really love the proportions. Having been out of sewing practise for so long, and also because this pattern had a rather tricky looking dart/pocket configuration – I went to a lot more effort than I normally would in a muslin.

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But that’s all come to a screaming halt, because my usual size 46 is a little on the snug side. After many months of intensive renovating, with a non-functional kitchen and limited time – a continuous succession of bad dietary choices (and an underactive thyroid!) have left me about 6kg’s heavier than at the beginning of the year. So I’m deciding whether to buy the Size 48, or make it as the 46 as by the time I finish it, it will be Spring and I should be back to normal by then. Decisions…

Regardless, it’s so lovely to be back and sewing!!

 

Style Arc: A Zimmermann Cyd

And back to normal blog programming! My goodness, it feels like it’s been forever… not to mention I’ve had a seriously sloooow start in getting back to normal sewing. I’m enjoying taking things at a more relaxing, non pressured pace.

I’ve always browsed the Style Arc website and been pleasantly surprised at the awesome range of patterns – especially because they’re all things you’d expect to see in a clothes shop. Wonderfully everyday style stuff. But nothing had quite pushed me over the point to make a purchase… until I saw the Cyd Top.

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The (woven!!) style lines are utterly fabulous, and it was kinda awesome to buy a pattern online that was both in Aussie dollars AND sizing.

Another love of mine is an Aussie clothing company called Zimmermann – I’ve watched their collections evolve over the years since they came about as a swimwear brand and I’ve always seen many things I’ve loved.

Also, I would probably be willing to commit acts of physical violence to get my hands on their fabrics. (Not really).

I was in one of their shops late last year because that collection was the first that they’ve expanded their swimwear to fit C/D cup sizes (took them bloody long enough). I of course bought some new bathers because we were about to head to the Philippines for a week of beach R&R with friends on Boracay Island (which was amazing).

Also, whilst in there I noticed they had their scarves on sale, so I bought three with the idea of including the fabric in a top of some kind.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this pattern – it’s a totally new to me company. The pattern was well marked up, with both the seam lines AND the seam allowance lines marked, and match points that made perfect sense in their placement. No bust point or waist/hip point marker though.

I’m a sucker for ‘interesting design lines’, so when I saw those exact words printed on the line drawing, I laughed out loud!

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Style Arc’s are single size patterns – I bought the size that corresponds to the largest part of my body – the shoulders. That was a size 12. It was true to size, and accordingly I did end up taking it in at the waist as from that point downwards I match the size 10 measurements there.

I glanced over the instructions and they certainly meet their reputation of being pretty lousy, but I never intended to use them anyway. They did have a handy picture of what the inside seams of the top front looks like, which does help with construction. If you’ve made a princess seam top with facings before and you lay the pattern pieces flat in order, it’s quite simple to see what the construction process should be otherwise.

Even once I’d unpicked the seams of my scarves, I didn’t quite have quite enough length to get the full thing cut from the floral fabric. So after I’d muslined it, I played around with some curvy lines to make it a bit more interesting and simultaneously take care of the fabric shortage.

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Thank you, harsh overcast winter lighting, for making the smallest of creases incredibly obvious.

You’ll note not a single piece is in that scarf fabric from top to bottom! This required a bit more work in ‘walking the seam lines’, prep and sewing to make sure everything would match up, but it was totally worth it. Of course, I had zero space to play with pattern matching, so getting the same print on two of the back pieces kinda sucked.

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A very good friend of my gifted me some 30 year old cream crepe de chine, which was intended for lining my Wedding Dress. For various reasons I didn’t end up lining that, so this is it both providing the lining, the contrast and the underlining for this top – the scarf fabric is quite sheer.

And that’s where it got a little tricky. That crepe is utterly see through, so I decided to line just the white parts. Lining the entire top would have been possible but tricky due to the shapes of the pleats and flounces at the front, but what I should have done is a full lining a the back and a top-half lining at the front. I’d already cutout the pieces when I realized this, so the inside of the top is over-engineered in the extreme.

It looks pretty, though. And I did enjoy all the fell stitching.

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Were it not for the sheer crepe, I would have just stuck with the facings (or better yet, drafted an all in one facing). I used bias to finish the section of the armscye that didn’t have the cap sleeve sewn to it.

During muslin stage I moved the centre back zip to be a side zip, mostly because it’s just easier to get dressed that way. That doesn’t work well at all because of the fabric volume at the hem, so it was back in the centre back seam for the final version! This is quite possibly the best invisible zip I’ve ever done.

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I do really love this top, and how flouncy it is depends on the fabric you sew it with. Sewing with a cotton twill like Novita did – you get wonderful body. My fabrics are softer, so the flounce is less pronounced. I did also take them in a little, mainly to account for the fact that I’m a 10 at the hips and a 12 up top. Proportion and all that jazz.

The only thing I think one should be aware of is that the little cap sleeve style doesn’t provide much in the way of forward arm movement. I’ll be putting on shoes and socks before zipping this top up. Just a side effect of the style!

I will absolutely be making another of these – I’m currently on the hunt for the right kind of organza so I can recreate this seriously gorgeous Lela Rose dress (2013 Fall Collection) in top form…

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Perfect pattern match to designer knock-off, yes?

Until soon!