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Monday, October 31, 2011

No Sewing Today

That post title is a bit misleading... I did sew a bit today, but not much.  I've been way too busy getting to know the newest member of our family.

This is River, our yellow lab puppy (6 months old) that we brought home today.  The boys are so excited, but she is super shy.  Luckily, she's progressed nicely from hiding between the washer and dryer this afternoon.  She's now doing laps around the downstairs, trying to get the lay of the land, I suppose.

I've never had a dog but Hubs has, so wish me luck!  I think I'm in love with her already... but I haven't had to do much taking care of her (or cleaning up after her) yet.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Tweed Jacket has begun

I got home late Wednesday night from an exciting trip to see my brother-in-law's wedding.  Picks of the lace dress and Marfy gown in action are on their way...
In the mean time, my most recent project is a jacket using McCalls 5759, the red version in the pic below.

The fabric is a lightweight tweed from Sawyer Brook, recently sold out.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Marfy 1776, complete!

Hubs, Kiddos, and I leave bright and early in the morning for a South American adventure (primarily to go to my brother-in-law's wedding).  So... here is the formal wedding guest dress.

I am quite proud, having made a formal gown and two cocktail dresses in the past month. 
 The top is Marfy 1776, unaltered.  I explained a bit about it in this post, and I showed what a Marfy pattern looks like here.  The lace-looking fabric is a novelty, open-weave silk.  The solid portions of the top are a drapey crepe (can't remember if it is silk or poly) that I got at Marisu Miranda Moda/Queen's Fabrics in Tampa.  The lining is ambiance. 
 The skirt and top are separate pieces.  I originally tried to connect them and keep the two-piece look, but I couldn't get the skirt un-poofy enough.  This skirt has an A-line shape that I think is more sophisticated than my first, gathered attempt.  The skirt is a bit long in these photos.  I have since gotten some higher heels to wear.
 Another challenge I am glad I attempted.  I'm very happy with how it came out, and my husband seems thrilled.  I'm not convinced the halter-style top is a friend to my broad shoulders, but he likes it, and that makes me happy.  :-)
 I couldn't find a nice, red separating zipper in the right length for the top (if such a thing even exists), but luckily (in this instance, anyway), my bust is a bit smaller than my hips, so I used a regualar invisible zipper and just sewed the bottom two inches closed.  I slip it over my head and zip it up.  I now consider myself quite skilled at making boned foundations.  :-)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Blue Lace Dress

Thanks for the nice comments on Marfy 2608

Here is the second fancy dress I've made in the past month.  Don't tell the others, but this is my favorite!  I had a vision in my head, and against all odds, the finished product is exactly what I had hoped for!  I was able to find the lace I wanted and a suitable pattern to make it happen.

I showed some of my construction process, including the lace muslin, here.  The pattern I used is Vogue 7852, so out of print, it's not even on the website anymore.  The entire strapless underdress was made exactly from the pattern.  The lace shell is cobbled together from pieces of that pattern to make a darted sheath. 
 On the back, I decided to leave the lace unfastened between the top of the lined portion and the neckline.  There are hook and eyes at the top of the lace and at the top of the strapless dress.  There is also an invisible zipper.

 The zipper is the only place where the lace shell and the strapless dress are connected.  I treated the lace shell and the outer layer of the strapless dress as one to put in the invisible zipper.  Then, I hand stitched the lining, including the foundation, to the zipper.  I think it's a nice clean finish inside.  I constructed the foundation on the lining, after using a lightweight, woven interfacing in the boned portions.  The outer layer of the strapless dress has a cotton flannel underlining on the boned portion, to pad and camouflage the boning from the outside.

 Here is a look at how I finished the neckline and armhole edges.  I considered hand stitching the scalloped edge (cut from extra lace) to the openings, but in the end, I used two rows of machine stitching, and you absolutely cannot see them in the intricate lace.  I'm just glad I didn't have to rip any of those stitches out!

This is probably the most expensive dress I've made - 1.5 yards of lace at $82/yard plus the other materials - but it was completely worth it.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE this dress and it will be my go-to cocktail dress as long as it fits.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Marfy 2608

Well, I have finally taken the photos of Marfy 2608.
Where to begin?  I had planned to make Marfy 1776, my gown, first, but while at my favorite local fabric store, I found the skirt fabric (a nice, thick poly stretch satin) and knew I needed to use it for something!  I decided it would make a great skirt for this pattern and got the cooridnating navy for the bodice. 

I showed you a Marfy pattern here.  I basically just jumped in, starting with the easier parts.  I put the darts in the skirt and sewed the skirt together.  Ok, don't need directions for that... so far, so good.  The top was trickier.  I sewed the darts first and then just kind of thought through each step carefully.  I was afraid this would require tons of hand-sewing, but I guess I did the order of operations pretty well, because there was very little of it.

My one regret - should have used a navy zipper.  I was more concerned about a dark zipper showing on the light skirt, but I didn't think about the white zipper pull hanging down on the navy.  I left the scarf thingy free for now.  I'm on the lookout for a fabulous buckle or brooch to fasten it up like in the pattern drawing.

Note to self:  pull that skirt down!

Inside of the bodice.  The shininess on the upper left is a piece of fashion tape I use to keep that section affixed to my chest.  Cheating?  Perhaps.  At least it's not hot glue, a la Project Runway.

I was careful to match the fabric design at the center back seam.  It's distorted up higher, where the seam curves in for the sway of the back, but the bottom looks nice.  I used interfacing at the all the bodice opening edges to keep everything laying as flat against my skin as possible.

Inside detail. I lined the bodice but not the skirt, since that was quite heavy already.  I used bias tape to finish off the inside zipper nicely.

I'm very proud of this dress, both for me figuring out how to construct the interesting design with no directions, and also just because I think it's a pretty awesome dress!  I can't wait to wear it out to a nice dinner. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pattern input please?

On a totally different topic from gowns and cocktail dresses, I got this fabric from Sawyer Brook for a jacket.
Gorgeousness, amirite? 

Anyway, I need to pick the pattern since the Marfy I was going to use has gone AWOL from my pattern stash.  I've narrowed it down to these:
Since I took this photo of my options, I've rejected the one on the right, McCalls 5525.  I don't want it to be strictly outerwear.  So it's between the red version on the envelope of McCalls 5759 - collarless, asymmetrical and a bit edgy... and Vogue 7975, about as classic Chanel-esque as you can get.  I've been wanting to make a sweater jacket FOREVER and always put it off, but the McCalls is really speaking to me. 


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Marfy 1776 complete!

Here's a first look at Marfy 1776, complete! 

Obviously, I have to finish the skirt to get the whole look. :-)  I originally tried a gathered skirt attatched under the top to make it all one piece, but I didn't like how it poofed out right under the top.  Way too "princess" for this almost-30-year-old.  I've settled on an A-line separate skirt, which just needs a lining and zipper to be complete.

Wow, was this a challenge!  I don't think I've ever resewn so many seams in my life, but I wanted this to be as close to perfect as possible.  I'll save the nitty gritty details until I have the whole look together.  This has been hanging up for a few days and could use another pressing.  I also plan to use that special garment tape to tape the cups to my skin.  I don't want my strapless bra to peek out, and you can probably tell this is quite plungeing.

The structure I used worked really well: fashion fabric underlined with cotton flannel to camoflague the boning.  The boning is underneath, on the interfaced lining.  This method of construction worked so well that I'm using the same on my blue lace dress (also almost complete).

Any ideas on a hairstyle?  I think I need an updo, but not sure what I'll do now that my hair is pretty short. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

T-Shirt Infinity Scarf

I whipped up this scarf today in 30 minutes and am quite pleased with myself.
 I bought this t-shirt last spring, and although I haven't had it more than 6 months, I have worn it a LOT, and it shows.  There are some small stains, the neckline is irreparably stretched out, and it has shrunken to a shape shorter and boxier than it was when I bought it.  I was going to get rid of it, but I LOVE it - the stripes, the sequined embellishment, the soft fabric!  So I hacked it up to make an infinitey scarf.

First, I cut out the embellishment section.  Then, I cut the front and back into 2 vertical strips each (sorry, no pic).  Next, I stitched the 4 strips together at the end to form a long loop.  Finally, I top-stitched the embelishment on using a zipper foot.

 Now, I can wear it doubled loosly with a t-shirt or sweater.
 Or triple it and wear it under a fabulous white jacket.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

10 Minute Fix

When inserting the zipper in this dress (which I still haven't photographed on me... bad Jenny), I ended up with this, despite using my usual matching technique:
The match between top and botton was off by about 1/8". 

I tried to convince myself it was good enough, but I wasn't happy with it.  After a few hours of thinking about how much I didn't like it and how much time it would take to fix (hours, I was sure), I bit the bullet and ripped out a 3" section to adjust.  I timed myself.

10 minutes, including ripping, is the time it took to fix this zipper.

So go for those little fixes that will make you happier with your projects!  I'm pretty sure this applies to cleaning things in my house, too, but I'm not ready to make that leap yet.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Marfy notes

I wanted to address the comments on my post about Marfy patterns.

       Emily said "I would love to try a marfy...but I'm never sure where to start! Thanks for the post!"
       and Rachel said "Thank you so much for showing this. I have always been scared of Marfy because of having no instructions, but actually seeing one takes some of the fear away."

Yea!  That was my hope for that post.  I hope you give them a try.  I'll walk through my experience with this one.  I really think the confidence boost for your first Marfy is to find a similar pattern or patterns in your stash and use those instructions to guide you.

       Patsy said "Wow, I'd never seen those before. I followed your link and looked at some of them. They look 'interesting' and challenging. But since they require a bunch of measurements, they might fit (me) better than some of the other brands. I always end up altering them like crazy."
They do give lots of measurements to compare, and they do run true to their sizing (unlike some pattern companies, where I sew 1-2 sizes down from what my measurements would suggest).  One downside I didn't think to mention is that they offer a pretty limited size range for most of their patterns, and grading some of them down or up could be a REAL challenge. 

       Lois said "My goodness, Marfy patterns do just about everything they can to keep people from using them!"

I know!  That page always cracks me up.  I mean, yeah, they have no directions, but apart from that, they're not substantially different from a Vogue pattern. 

       Kaydee11 said "That's going to be a beautiful dress! I have a couple of questions about your pattern. It only has the bodice pieces, so where will you get the skirt pattern pieces? Did you know the skirt pieces were not included when you ordered it?"

Yes, I did know I would receive just the bodice.  Marfy always sells single garment patterns.  There are no separates patterns.  The skirt is 1777, but I didn't buy it.  It's $14.50 and a pretty simple skirt.  I'll either use another skirt pattern I have or just make a simple A-line or gathered-waist skirt.  I haven't decided yet.

Marfy 1776 - part 1

I've started sewing Marfy 1776.

First, I want to show you how I cut it out, since the pattern pieces have no seam allowances.  I showed you the pattern here.
I SHOULD trace the pieces onto large paper, add seam allowances, make a muslin, adjust the muslin, cut the muslin apart, and use the pieces to cut out my dress.

What I did:

 Oh yeah.  I'm a rebel, man.  I mentioned before that I've made just a few Marfys, but they've all fit pretty perfectly with no adjustment.  I also have a deadline, so I just went for it.  I'm using one-inch seam allowances in case I need to make some fitting adjustments.  I didn't even trace the pattern pieces, just laid them on the fabric, held them down with cans (sun-dried tomatoes and cream of mushroom soup optional) and used a ruler to guide my cutting.

I've assembled the lining with a lightweight woven fusible, and I just added the boning (one of my least favorite tasks for some reason).

Here is the side that will be against my body:

And here is the boning:
I made the lining first to check fit, which seems good.  Now, I need to cut out the flannel underlining (after cutting out the fashion fabric, lining, and interfacing, I stopped cutting) and assemble the outer layer.  More to come on this adventure...

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Have you seen a Marfy pattern?

About a week ago, the two Marfy patterns that I ordered arrived, and I couldn't help myself.  Even though I have chosen 1776

for my formal dress, I whipped up 2608
in about 4 days.  I didn't even make a muslin, which I probably should have.  I've had success with Marfy pattern drafting in the past, though, so I went for it, and it turned out great with only minor adjustments along the way.  More to come about that dress after I get photos on me today, but for now, here are quick hanger shots.

The real purpose of this post is to show you what a Marfy pattern looks like.  You may have read the description on the website, which includes in large type

"Alert! These patterns are for experienced sewers only. Expert level sewing skills are recommended for those interested in sewing with Marfy sewing patterns.

• Do not have cutting layouts
• Do not have seam allowances
• Do not have hem allowances
• Do not have instructions for assembly"

I have to say that I think my sewing skills have progressed into "Advanced" territory, but I wouldn't consider myself an expert.  There are still so many things I don't know how to do, or have read about but haven't tried, but I am telling you, Marfy patterns aren't that hard!  Each online pattern description gives you a rough idea of yardage requirements and suitable fabrics, and the only other obstacle is no instructions.  You just need to have enough experience sewing to know the general order of construction.  Past that, you can use books and other patterns to help you, if needed.

Ok, on to the photos.  This is the other pattern I ordered, 1776.  Only the bodice is included in this pattern.  You would need to use a separate skirt pattern.  The pattern arrives folded in a nice little rectagle, bottom left.  That's all you get.  :-)  I store each of my Marfys in a Ziploc bag with a printout of the drawing from the website, so I can remember what they look like.

I had already opened this pattern before taking these photos, so I refolded the pieces.  It gives you a general idea of what you'd see.  If you have any individual pattern pieces large enough, a big one will be used as the "envelope."  For instance, in my Marfy 2608, shown above, the "envelope" was one of the skirt pieces.  For this bodice, no pieces are large enough,  so the "envelope" is just a rectangle of paper.

Here are all of the pattern pieces unfolded.

I've zoomed in on one piece to show you all of the markings.  They don't tell you what this piece is.  All they give you is some letters to match up between pieces and a few cryptic instructions in four languages.  The bottom and top instructions say (in English, on the third line) "fold inside" with a line.
 To help myself visually see where everything goes, I fold along the lines per the instructions.  Once seam allowances are added and sewn together, you can see this will actually be a tube.
 I always lay out my Marfys to see what's going on.  This helps me know how to cut everything out and what kind of seam allowances to add.  By the way, the instruction "whole half-front on the grain" means "cut on the fold."  "Whole" in this instruction is a verb.  You are supposed to "make whole" this pattern piece which is "half of a front."  Clear as mud?

Here are all of the pattern pieces laid out, letters matched.  The piece I folded above is laid on top of everything so you can see all of the pieces...
 ... but it actually goes here, forming the lovely little bust shelf.  Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's not really the right term.
The point of this is to show you that Marfy patterns aren't that different from what you're used to.  They just don't have instructions and you have to add your own seam allowances.  I love Marfys for their interesting patterns, and the challenge they can present.  Go on - check them out.  They are more expensive than $4 Vogues at JoAnn (which I love as much as the next seamstress!) but I think it's worth it for some variety. 

Just in case you're wondering, this isn't any kind of ad to get you to try Marfy.  I don't get anything for you checking them out.  Marfy has no clue who I am.  :-)