Sunday, August 11, 2019


Hubby and I celebrated a wedding anniversary recently. One of those landmark ones  where the number ends in a zero.  A great reason to sew a special dress.

On a sewing related  Facebook group, there was a post from a woman making a dress with an embroidered lace fabric she had purchased at JoAnn's. The embroidered flowers were described as Dahlias, but did not look like any I grow in my garden.

  I instantly recognized it as the fabric used to make Vogue  9372,  Hmm, a bit much for me.

 and  the  April 2019  Burdastyle style 118. This one I like.

The Burda dress is a great special occasion style. Fitted through the body, with an  off the shoulder neckline and asymmetrical collar. There was a couple yards of the fabric available at my local store and it was on sale.   In short order it was on my sewing table.

The dress is underlined, except for the sleeves.  I hand basted the rayon underlining to all the lace pieces, then treated these basted pieces of fabric as one for further sewing. My serger and sewing machine were able to handle the  layer of underlining and the random heavily embroidered areas of  the lace, but they both sounded like an all terrain vehicle traveling on rough ground.

hand basted underlining

I made a size 42 from the waist up and a size 44 below. I have smaller, squarish, forward shoulders and I wanted the shoulder area to fit well so I did a lot of fitting in that area and customized the darts on the RHS sleeve  and collar. I  applied twill tape to the shoulder seam of the unlined lace sleeve to stabilize that part of the neckline  during fitting, and sewing on the collar.

Twill tape on neckline seam 

 Since all garment sections are underlined (except for sleeves) there is no lining, and the neckline is supposed to be finished by a facing. The facing  pattern was a rather odd shape.

 Since I had custom fit the neckline, I didn't want to transfer those changes to the facing pattern and add even more layers of fabric to the neckline seam,  I chose to face the neckline with a 1.5" grosgrain ribbon that I shaped to the neckline.  
Burda 4 2019 dress 118 side

Burda 4 2019 dress 118 front

Burda 4 2019 Dress 118

Dahlia flowers on my dress, to celebrate 40 years of marriage (and no dalliances).

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Marfy Blouse Trio

Over the years I have purchased many  Marfy patterns, but I have only sewn 2, a blouse and an unblogged pair of pants.  Motivated by a recent Marfy Challenge sponsored by online fabric retailer Sew Much Fabric Marfy Challenge  and a Facebook group that was having a Marfy blouse sew along, I decided to sew several Marfy blouse  patterns.  Sort of like an intensive self directed study of Marfy blouse sizing, drafting and ease for by body.  And to document it in writing for future reverence, something I don’t usually do

Marfy  patterns are described as offering a “high-fashion, sophisticated home sewing experience for expert-level sewers”. They  are available from McCall's Pattern site McCall's Marfy and Marfy's own site. 
Marfy Patterns:
  • Do not have cutting layouts
  • Do not have seam allowances
  • Do not have hem allowances
  • Do not have instructions for assembly
  • Are expensive...…..But they have such unique styles.
First sewn was Marfy 5187 

  Description: “This shirt has a little collar, front placket, yoke and sleeves with low-cut armhole. To be made of various colors, or even in a crew-neck version with box pleat and hidden fastening. I made the collared version. The fabrics are sand washed rayon’s and silk ( dark blue).   My Marfy size for blouses, based on my bust measurement, is 46. For reference I make a size 42 in Burda and a Size 14 in Vogue for tops.  For some reason I had purchased this pattern in a size 48.  So I made a muslin.  It had loads of wearing ease, and the cross-back width and shoulders were too wide for my body. I reduced the shoulder width 1/2 inch and took out some of the upper side width allocated for side bust tissue, where the side seam curved out.  I essentially moved the armhole in ½ inch on each side.  I like the look of the extended shoulder seam of this blouse, but will  have to play around at styling  the blouse since I do not usually wear loose blouses like this.

Marfy 5187 front
Marfy 5187 back
Marfy 5187

The second blouse was Marfy 8509.

 This was purchased from the 2002/3 catalog and is not available either in the current catalog or on either website. This pattern too was  a size 48 . I did not make a muslin. Again the shoulders/back width were way too wide. I decided in my confidence to reduced the width in the  hips as well as the shoulder. This was before reading the description  ” tight-fitting single-breasted tunic has a shirt like collar. It has 2 pleats at the back which are closed at the waist and open into a slit at the bottom. It is closed by cross strings as are the flared cuffs.” I should have double checked the hip width before cutting.  The hip area is too tight, even using  ¼" seam allowances on side and front princess seams. The fabric is a thrift store find. I am guessing rayon/cotton.  Wrinkles like crazy. So this one is a wearable muslin. Love the style.  I plan to make this one again in a firmer fabric with more room in the hips.

Marfy 8509

Marfy 8509  Side

Marfy 8509 back

The third blouse is Marfy 5209 described as “Sculpted blouse and shirt-style stand-up collar forming a bow.”

This is one of the patterns sewn in the challenge.  I was intrigued by the bias-cut side panels used to shape the blouse. Darting is built into both the back and front side panels. To emphasize the bias, I chose a blue check silk from my stash.  Only problem was the check was very uneven. They were not square and there is a faint white line woven in on one side of the check.   So matching was difficult but IMHO, still better than RTW.  This pattern was a size 46. Surprisingly the shoulder seams were still too wide.  I removed width from the back and shoulders, and after checking the hip width, added some extra in this area.  I love the fit through the bust. The length is a bit to long for my preferences.
Marfy 5209 Front

Marfy 5209 Back

Marfy 5209
This was a fun exercise,  I feel more confident,  and incented to sew  some of  my  Marfy dress patterns. Especially since I have received  "Save the Day"  cards for two winter weddings. One for the palindrome date of 02/22/20. Isn't that cute,  and easy to remember?

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Blue Mix

The inspiration for my latest sewn garments is this picture. I liked the combination of the crisp blue striped jacket and the floral print top.  I had similar fabrics in my stash. A medium weight blue stripe cotton chambray fabric and a blue and white silk  scarf print.

For the shawl collar jacket I considered  a recent  BurdaStyle magazine jacket and Kwik Sew 4223

 I chose Kwik Sew thinking it would be the easier sew.  In hind sight I would have been much more satisfied with the Burda pattern fit. I had forgotten how much ease  Kwik Sew patterns have. My measurements put me in a Large size. I chose to make a size Medium based on the finished garments measurement for that size,  which still had 3-4 " wearing ease over my measurements. The shoulder and back widths are also wider than other patterns I use. I  reduced both of those areas which was easy enough to do by moving  the armholes in about an inch on each side.  I changed the front  lapel,  which was double breasted, to single breasted and adding elbow darts to shape the sleeves. To make the chambray fabric a bit more robust and reduce wrinkles,  I underlined all the pieces with a white silk jacquard fabric. Another piece from the box of fabrics gifted to me by my aunt.

The fabric for the top was a "remnant" or "by the piece".  I am a sucker for these types of bargains.  Buyer beware. Below is the website description.

When the fabric arrived, the colors coordinated beautifully with my jacket fabric and the silk was a lovely weight. But the new guy must  have been running the printing machine because this is what the print looked like.

The pattern and style of top I had planned to make required two full square scarf panels. Sigh! The project stalled until one day I was  sitting in my car, at a very long red light, with a  bag of "to be donated" sewing patterns on the passenger seat beside me.  I grabbed a few off the top to confirm they were no longer need.  One was Simplicity 2570.

I noticed the top was designed for wovens and had gathering at the center front, sort of like a scarf might be gathered if worn under a jacket.  I decided to play around with the pattern pieces on my weirdly printed fabric.  With some creative pattern layout I was able to get a top I liked.

Simplicity 2570 top in scarf print

Simplicity 2570 top back  in scarf print

Kwik Sew 4223 jacket, Simplicity 2570 top

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Blending In

Ah, the quick trip to the sewing store to find some buttons for the current project. But the buttons are located way in the back of the store, probably on purpose. Does anyone study the meandering of customers in JoAnn's Fabrics?  I stay in the main aisle, eyes forward, reach the button section and amazingly find buttons in the perfect shape, size and quantity. I turn to retrace my steps. Just a quick glance in the direction of  the discounted fabric table.  And what do I see, a print in the same colors as my current project, in a natural fiber, and on sale.  How can I resist.

A soft cotton  pin wale corduroy with the name "Red Watercolor".  It had many shades of red and purple in it. I love red. It is my favorite color.  

Red Watercolor
Did I decide what I will make with it before purchasing.  Heck no, what fun is that? It is only later that I ponder what corduroy garments I need in my wardrobe, and nothing comes to mind. So I research what designers make from printed corduroy. Just about anything really.

Designer Printed Corduroy Garments

In the end I decided a top or shirt would be the best for me.  Something that would not to be tucked in as even the softest cotton corduroy has a bit of  rigidity due to the raised wales. I chose  Burda 10 2018 #117.

It is described as a classic white blouse with a modern wrap style. With the promise that the” full dip of the V-neckline and a tying waistband make it an incredibly figure flattering look.” The few I could find online, one at Patternreview and several on the Russian Burda site, were made in solid shirting fabrics like the inspiration picture.  All looked very nice.

 Both my fabric and the design were easy to sew. No issues of any kind.  Of course because I had not planned my project when I purchased my fabric, I did not have enough fabric for the tie belt. 

When I was looking for spots in the yard to take photos, I discovered that my yard was going through a red/purple phase. If I am anything, I am consistent in my color preferences, even for garden shrubs and flowers.

Loropetalum,- Chinese fringe bush and top

one button on cuff

Crab Apple tree and me

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Fruity Suit

Spring has sprung where I live. Flowers are blooming, leaf buds are bursting out, and weeds are popping up everywhere. All excuses to get outside, either to enjoy the color or work in the garden.

Speaking of color, fashion sources are featuring lots of pantsuits in bright colors.   Vogue Magazine UK calls the trend Fruity Suiting.
courtesy British Vogue
  The styles are often  longer “skim the body” jackets with either tapered/cropped, or wide leg pants.   Similar to the styles of the 1990’s. Being a sewist of mature age, I have many patterns from that time period.  I have wanted a reason to make Vogue 1395, a Claude Montana design, circa 1994 for like..  maybe 25 years. Lest you think Claude is long forgotten, e-commerce site Farfetch recently  partnered with vintage site Byronesque to re-create 11 of Montana's classics.

Vogue 1395 State of Claude Montana

When a  wool blend suiting in "bright plum" (LOL, a fruit color name)  popped up on sale at Fabric Mart, I knew I had found the perfect fabric.

The jacket is unlined, except for the sleeves, and all seams are finished with a Hong Kong finish.  What I really liked about this jacket is that it is all business in the front and back, but with side slits up to just  under the sleeves.  The bottom edge and side slits are bound with bias binding. I stressed and sweated over that bias binding.  Cut from the wool poly blend, I wasn’t sure how well the bias binding would shape to the wide bottom edge curves and the tight curves of the slit top, or if it could be pressed neatly.  It took many samples, careful work, and massive amounts of hand basting, but it turned out great.   I did shave 1/2 inch off the shoulder width as I have narrow shoulders to start with.  Other than that, no changes to the pattern. The jacket is paired with high waisted pants, to provide color continuity from a side view.  I made my matching pants using an old favorite for a high waisted style, Burda 12-2010 108, rather than the pattern pants. For my waist (mis) shape,  darts are better than pleats and a separate  waistband. And quicker to sew.

 And interesting video on high waisted pants and how they can elongate the legs was discussed on a  Facebook group I belong to. It is targeted towards men, but some of the principles apply to women. Should you wear high waisted pants

I mentioned in an earlier post that my mom now lives with us. She moved to Richmond from a small Delaware town. She is making up for lost time on the cultural activities.  This week we attended  both the play The  Book of Mormon, and the Richmond Latin Ballet’s dance tribute to the life and works of Edger Allen Poe (an interesting mashup,  but surprisingly entertaining). She and I like to dress up for these types of events, and this suit was the outfit of choice for me.

The suit jacket and pants can be worn separately with other garments.  While making the pants I noticed that one of the silks, received in a gift box from my aunt, coordinated beautifully.  It was a 4 yard piece of paisley printed chiffon with a jacquard stripe.  Perfect for the New Look 6303 blouse with bias cut, draped double layer (lots of fabric) front.

 Such an elegant, comfortable blouse to wear when made of silk.

New Look 6303

Thursday, March 7, 2019

In The Pink!

I started 2019 “in the pink”, which means in very good health and spirits. I also sewed several items that were pink, so I thought it was a good title for this post. The item that started it all was a holiday gift. A throw for my son’s girlfriend. She loves pink.  She spends her weekend visits to my house wrapped in the wool throws I have scattered in the living area.  When I saw this medium weight wool blend houndstooth knit, I knew it would be perfect for a throw to add color and snuggle warmth to the great grey slab of a couch she and my son have in their apartment.

 As for my son, I reasoned that grayed pinks in a masculine pattern shouldn’t scare a male confident in his masculinity.   I order two yards or the fabric, machine washed and dried it, serged the edges and spent several evenings hemming the four sides by hand.  They also needed some cushions. I bought a gray sheepskin pillow and sewed two others. A pink corduroy and velvet stripe appliqued with the letter “e” cut from sweatshirt fabric.  Both son and girlfriend’s names start with “e”.  And a knitted cabled pillow made from a thrifted wool fisherman’s sweater (a Pinterest idea).

While the threads in the machines were pink, I decided to sew up the asymmetrical wrap jacket from an older Burda pattern 8848.
Burda 8848
Burda 8848 envelope back

 The suggested fabric for the jacket and skirt was “wool”.  No specifics on  what kind of wool, knit or woven.  I used a brushed wool knit. It had the minimal stretch and the feel of a boiled/fulled wool.  When it arrived, the surface was brushed, but flat and matted. After washing (cool water, delicate cycle) and drying fabric by machine, the surface was fluffier. There was very little shrinkage.

This jacket is very easy to construct. The seam and hem allowances are included in the pattern. The only task that takes some time  is mitering the three corners on the front pieces. No mitering lines are given, so use your favorite method.   Hems were sewn with the cover stitch machine.  I like to fuse of hems on knit fabrics in place with Steam a Seam before coverstitching. It prevents stretching and bunching of fabric while hemming.

It is warm and cozy, and reminds me so much of  a blanket sleeper.  Some of you may remember what they were and the way they felt.

Blanket Sleeper

The third item is a loose-fitting  blouse from the Jan 2019 Burdastyle magazine.  It is described by Burda as a raglan sleeve.

BurdaStyle 1 2019 109
 I have always called a design like this, which combines the sleeve and the yoke into one piece, a saddle yoke. I was  interested in sewing a garment featuring a saddle yoke, but had only seen them in older patterns until recently.

The fabric is a hand painted silk.  Several months ago, my aunt, having heard I sewed, sent me a surprise box of fabric. It included many beautiful high-quality fabrics she had purchased while living overseas. This fabric is a Japanese hand painted silk. Really pretty.

Hand painted silk

BurdaStyle 1 2019 109

BurdaStyle 1 2019 109

Life has been a bit busy as we were preparing our house for moving my 82 year old mother in with us. Painting, installing  hand rails on stairs and grab bars in showers, as well as curtain alterations (hemming and converting tabs to pleated headers). Mom is now moved in and we are in the process of blending cat families. My one and her two. If you are a cat person, you probably know how this process is going. Any suggestions  are welcome.