Marfy 3520: Making a Muslin

This is my first time sewing a Marfy pattern* so I thought it best to make a muslin, to see how best to put it together (and of course check fit). I’m making Marfy 3520, it’s a dress pattern that I’ve long admired.

In general I was really happy with the first cut. The pattern came together like a dream – with the exception of setting in the sleeve, for some reason I found this quite tricky in this pattern. My only fitting complaint was the gaping fabric above my bust, so I made a full bust adjustment & it now feels a lot nicer.

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I’m not super happy with how the sleeves look though. Its more of a design issue that a fit issue really. I’m thinking I might shorten the sleeves to be elbow length and forego the flounce, but we’ll see.

Otherwise I think its time to cut this one out. The fabric I’m using is a checked wool suiting my Mum gave me a couple of years ago. For the accent features I’m thinking of using some thin black leather.

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*If you’re wondering how a Marfy pattern is different to a ‘regular’ sewing pattern read this.

Christmas Dress 2016

As usual at the last minute (about a week before travelling from the US to Australia with a newborn) I decided that I wanted to make a new dress to wear on Christmas day.

At least this year some sense of reality prevailed & I started off with a decision to make a simple dress with a nice patterned fabric. However, as is usually the case with my sewing, this project’s complexity quickly escalated as I started making alterations to the pattern design.

I started off with Vogue V8723 which is now out of print. Originally I was going to make it as is from the pattern, but then I thought ‘wouldn’t it be nice if that bit of trim at the top of the dress went round the entire time & formed the straps?’, then I thought, ‘Australia is hot, maybe I’ll lower the neckline significantly & make it a summer dress for a hot day’.


This resulted in an afternoon of re-drawing practically all the pattern pieces to accommodate the changes. At the end of the day they weren’t difficult changes, but they required effort none-the-less. To add trim around the entire top of the dress, I basically created a facing pattern & cut out 4 pieces, (inside/outside & LH/RH). Extending the trim to form straps too a little more thought/effort, combining existing pattern pieces & re-drawing. The next challenge came sewing it all together so that the straps would kind of double back on themselves. Basically I sewed the front side of the trim & straps & pressed, then pinned them in place at the rear & sewed the rear of the trim up. It’s a pretty heavy weight woven cotton that I’d bought a year or so ago because it reminded me of pendleton fabric. The trim is from a scrap of navy linen I’d had for god knows how long. I lined the bodice with leftover white cotton poplin from another project. I even managed to find a zipper in my collection that was the perfect length so I’m going to say that this dress was practically free ūüėČ

What I didn’t realise about the dress is how much gathering is required for the skirt, with such a thick fabric it was almost impossible to gather it that much. I manage to gather it & then in some areas I kind almost pleated it to get it to attach to the bodice. The benefit of this though is that it creates a very defined waistline without the need for any petticoats or structure in the skirt. Considering I gave birth just under 3 months ago I was really happy with how the skirt made my waist look small again!


I’m not entirely happy with the fit of the bodice though. You can see it’s not quite right in the photos. Whilst the pattern offers different bodice patterns for different cup sizes, I don’t think I picked the right one (my cup size has obviously changed since baby & I’m still trying to work out how to best fit dresses given my boobs change shape & size every few hours between feedings – if anyone has any advice on this front I’d be happy to hear it!). Because I didn’t leave myself a lot of time to make this dress I didn’t bother with making a toile or fitting it properly, I just picked a size based on my waist & bust measurements. 


This dress is clearly not breastfeeding friendly but given we were at home Christmas day, this was easy enough to work around.

 

Another New Year Dress

Last weekend was Detroit Malanka, (Malanka = Ukrainian New Years Party). I’ve really been feeling the sewing vibe again so I made a new dress.

I used a metallic silk brocade that I bought in New York last March & added some ostrich feather trim.

The ‘dress’ is actually a high waisted skirt & a separate top. The patterns for self-drafted from basic skirt & bodice blocks. I underlined the brocade with organza to help it sit smoothly without wrinkles & lined both the top & skirt with a silk satin.

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Everything came together pretty easily, so this is a pretty boring story. It only took me about 4 hours over a weekend to make it all. I think the only alteration I will make is to add some beaded trim at the base of the top, just above the feathers, it feels like it needs a little something extra there.

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A New Gown for a New Year

Earlier this month my husband & I drove up to Toronto to go to Toronto Malanka. Toronto Malanka is a ball to celebrate Ukrainian New Years Eve, (or new years eve by the old calendar). The dress code is black tie & so I had to find a gown to wear.

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With all the craziness in the lead up to Christmas I didn’t have time to make a new gown from scratch, instead I decided modify something I’d made previously. I don’t have many evening gowns but I do have a heap of cocktail dresses that I’ve made over the years & a lot of left over fabric (one of the benefits of buying fabric just because you love it & without any real plans for it).

I took a dress that I loved, which had a separate skirt & bodice, unpicked the skirt & used the leftover fabric to make a new floor length skirt. Don’t worry I didn’t waste the original skirt – I sewed it onto a waistband so I could wear it again.

The new skirt was remarkably simple to make. I started with a base underskirt which was a short hair canvas pencil skirt with a silk organza overlay. For the silk brocade overlay I had a single piece of fabric that was 1.5mx1.5m. To make the skirt I folded the fabric in half, sewed the selvedges together & and one of the cut ends together leaving a small opening for a waistline on the bias (the folded triangle in the picture below is the location of the waistline.

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Once this was done I attached the waistline of the brocade skirt to the underskirt to stabilize the waistband. Then all I had to do was add some clasps to close the skirt & hand stitch the folds in place. All in all it took me a few hours over the weekend & another couple of hours hand stitching after work.

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GownConstruction Detail

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I don’t have much more to say, other than I love this dress.

This dress was the fabric’s fault

I made this dress to wear to a friend’s wedding in March.

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The red & navy silk brocade was a new purchase, but everything else was made with scraps & remnants already in my stash. The side drape is made with a rayon wool blend that I used for another dress, the silk edging is left over lining from the same dress, the corset was made with left over red & navy silk (which was interfaced, prior to sewing) & the dress lining was also made with left over fabric. So turns out it was worth keeping all those random remnants & fabric scraps.

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As well as using up a lot of old remnants, this dress was also a bit of a franken pattern creation. The main bodice is from Simplicity 2639, the skirt is from Vogue V1174 & it’s all held in place with an internal corset made using Simplicity 5006. All three patterns have had a pretty good workout over the past 3-4 years & well & have well & truly cemented themselves in my ‘go-to’ collection.

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The construction process was a little adhoc. I started with the corset. The corset was made as per the pattern & I added spiral steel boning.

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Next was the bodice & dress lining, I modified the neckline of bodice pattern (Simplicity¬†2639) to match the neckline of the corset pattern (Simplicty 5006), because it’s a softer sweetheart neckline & I prefer it. I cut out the dress bodice & I put the bodice pieces together & attached it to the corset & lining.

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The next step was to add the silk ribbon that runs around the top of the bodice. Rather than drafting up a pattern, I put the bodice on a dummy, arranged the navy silk ribbon the way I wanted it, pinned it in place & then slip stitched it in place.

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Last of all was the skirt. I made up the skirt from V1174. The only alteration I made was to eliminate the pockets. The skirt was stitched in place on the bodice and then I hand stitched the drape in place. The drape is just a rectangle of fabric gathered at the side.

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All in all, the dress came together relatively easily & without any major dramas, which is kind of¬†surprising¬†since I didn’t really do a good job of planning it out.

 

P.S. In case you’re still wondering why this dress was the fabric’s fault, read yesterday’s post.

Side Projects

When working on a labour intensive dress, I often end up completing quite a few smaller side projects at the same time.

This is just because sometimes I want to sew something that can be finished quickly & isn’t too much of a challenge. Some times it works out quite well, for a relatively small amount of effort I finish something & that gives me enough motivation & energy to get back to the larger long term project. Other times it’s a disaster & I get totally distracted & end up with not just one long term nightmare, but two.

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This dress started off it’s life as a simple side project that I could finish quickly & then get back onto my main project. It was going to be a simple dress with a long flared skirt. I wanted something that I could ‘relax with a martini’ in. Something I could dress up with heels & go out to cocktails in or dress down. I’d bought the printed chiffon fabric ages ago from Gorgeous Fabrics & recently bought some silk crepe underlining at The Fabric Store while out shopping with some other Melbourne sewing bloggers. I started sewing. The bodice came together quite nicely – I just used a basic block bodice pattern with a new neckline. But then it came time to make the skirt & it soon turned into one disaster (mistake) after another that resulted in one¬†band aid¬†after another until I somehow¬†managed¬†to end up with a somewhat wearable dress.

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The first problem (and really the source of all my woe) was that I was too lazy to actually draft a skirt pattern. In fact it wasn’t just that I was too lazy to draft the pattern, I actually like the drafting bit. But I didn’t have any thin paper pieces big enough so I would have had to tape them together & that just seemed like way too much fuss & bother so I just decided to cut out the pieces of fabric for the skirt without a pattern. I just used a ruler to roughly measure out what I wanted. But when I went to mark out the cut lines with my chalk pen I found that it didn’t work properly on the chiffon, because it kept moving around & I couldn’t be bothered going to the store to buy fabric stabiliser because last time I was there they didn’t have any & the staff were non-existent & when you did find someone they didn’t even know what I was talking about. Anyway these are all my lame excuses for why I then proceeded to just cut out skirt pattern pieces freehand.

I think you now know how this story is going to end…

It wasn’t long before I discovered that the skirt panels weren’t wide enough at the waist. And not just by a little – it was a lot. Then I discovered that I didn’t have enough fabric to cut out an extra panel to ‘plug’ the gap I had around my waist. Thankfully I’d given the skirt panels a fairly generous length (my shoes that I wanted to wear with the dress hadn’t arrived in the mail yet so I wasn’t too sure of length when I cut the fabric). In the end I managed to move the waist lower down in the panels, reduce the seam allowances between skirt panels & change the the lower hem to a teeny tiny hem. Even then it was a bit of a tight fit so I still had to try & squeeze an extra panel out of the scraps of fabric I had left. Eventually I found a way to make it work.

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So in summary, the source of all my problems with this dress was that I was too lazy to tape a couple of pieces of paper together & then draw out a basic skirt pattern. Seriously.

For all my moping I should say that I’m actually quite happy with this dress. My one big complaint is the location of the seam lines at the waistline at the front of the skirt, they’re just too close together & I wish I could have widened that panel a little at the top. Other than that, it really worked out quite well.