How I've missed shivering half naked on the driveway in twenty degrees!
Anyway, Marfy 3520 is finished and I love this dress, its simple, understated and incredibly comfortable.
And while I am really very happy about that, there is a tiny part of me that wishes it looked a little less simple, as the hours and hours of pattern matching and fit issues that went into this dress were absurd!
The fabric is a wool silk with an obvious pattern and no stretch, so I cut the seams as wide as I could on the upper bodice and kept them short on the skirt panels, choosing to gain length instead at the top and bottom skirt length for pattern manipulation.
Barely enough for the shorter sleeves and peplum panels!
To get close to a pattern match up before cutting, I first laid the organza underlining on the right side of the fabric and made sure that things looked reasonably good before slipping carbon paper underneath and tracing the patterns to the underside.
From there, I removed the organza, flipped the fabric to the underside, replaced the pattern pieces to their traced shapes, pinned and then cut... before thread tracing the two together permanently.
I choose to keep this dress fairly close to the original but thought there was a chance it could look quite heavy if I kept the neckline that high and the sleeves that long, so I changed the pattern to a basic boat neck and shortened the sleeves to the elbow.
I ended up with a lot of excess on my upper back, shoulders and a pooling around the lower back after the boat neck adjustment, I have big shoulders and a wide back, something my dress form does not share sadly when I initially draped a new muslin, and this was where a lot of the little fit issues came in..
For me, the quickest way to adjust this, was to change the shoulder angle stitching line to 45 degrees on the back bodice favoring the neck which pulled the back neckline tighter, from there I lowered the overall back neckline an inch so it could not be seen from the front and then removed any residual excess left by making the center back seam equally smaller on both sides of the bodice.
as well as two very deep must have pockets!
and then.......the OCD kicked in and I spent way to much time basting seams, taking seams apart, moving panels a 1/2" sewing them up again, and then going back in to tweak another 1/8"...over and over again, and each time every stitch pulled out without a mark, it remained crease free and malleable and was truly just a dream to work with.
and I kept thinking every time I reached for the seam ripper or snipped a basting thread, just how extraordinary a good quality fabric is, and it reminded me again why I love them so much...which in turn had me thinking about a conversation I had a few weeks ago with a very experienced sewer...
We were talking about fabrics, and price, quality vs quantity etc and she asked if I purchased certain fabrics because of a designer name or runway outfit I had seen...... and initially, I admit I was a bit taken back - because while I understand the appeal of doing that, it's not the reason I will spend more per yard and buy less fabric overall.
Fabrics from the oldest mills in France and Italy are different, substantially different. The grounds used for the base fabric are of the highest quality in the world and have a depth and recovery cheaper fabric won't. The fibers will be stronger, the dye more saturated, and the weave tighter
Designers use these mills for that very reason, you can't ask $20k plus for a hand sewn couture dress made in a synthetic fabric from China.....it won't last, no matter how much time you spend on it, it will always look cheaper than it should and it won't have that quality feel that good fabrics do.....
I personally spend days and weeks on my garments, trying to replicate to a small (amateur) degree old school couture methods... I underline using silk organza, thread trace with the best Japanese basting thread I can find, and line with silk crepe de chine...in the hopes of making a garment that has longevity, and emulates that designer quality without me having to pay a designer price. I buy fabric regardless of what atelier it originated from...because that European mill stamp signifies a quality that's becoming rarer and rarer to find.
and while I would never use fabrics like this for quick projects, I think it's more than justified on the bigger ones...
Now it remains to be seen if that makes her buy some more expensive fabric!!!
(However, it did make me wish she had been able to hang around for the week to see all the abuse mine took.....but, of course had she been here it would never have happened ... because in reality, she would have slapped some sense into me about the time I started the fifth round of tweaking and locked me out of the sewing room when I started in on the seventh!)
and while we are on the subject of fabric abuse and construction, I thought I would do something a little different this year with regards to each finished project.......
I love seeing the guts of any garment, and as I hacked away at this dress, lopped off seams and snipped corners, I thought why not show the inside from each of mine in detail from now on as well?
I love that I can see each stitch and each snip, and learn what works and what does not from them.......because while I am seriously envious of those sewers that can make the inside as beautiful as the outside, it's simply not me....I am a messy sewer when it can't be seen from the outside, and I'm making peace with it slowly......
and realistically anyway, a hand sewn lining covers all this up, so what's wrong with a little Edward Scissorhands beneath that?!?
Not sure if you can see it but the sleeve hangs at a slight forward rotation as shown by the grain line...a true Marfy detail which results in a beautifully fitting and very comfortable sleeve.
I'm hoping my airing of my shameful insides will be useful to somebody out there!
Some more Marfy makes..
I've said it before and it has to be said again - I love these emails..they make me so happy when I open them and inspire me to keep going on this Marfy journey, so keep them coming - please!
I first met Bernice in Baltimore a couple of years ago, and we did of course get talking that week about Marfy and why I love them...... and she told me before she left that she was going to try a pattern or two ......but I can't believe what a prolific sewer she has become with them....
She is making more than me I swear and then wearing them to actual grown up events!
This beautiful dress was made using a silk dupioni...
She says "I changed the front darts to pleats just because I liked the look for this dress. I added darts at the back shoulders to deal with my rounded back.
I was thrilled to wear this dress to my niece's wedding."
Is this not the most beautiful classic looking jacket? Rita made this using Marfy 1756 the free pattern sew along... and now I want another, because this is gorgeous.
She says there is another planned with a madarin or collarless, can't wait to see pictures of that!!
The Couture Skirt - Claire B Shaeffer Really good as always....lots of great little details that will be so useful to refer back to..
The Book of Strange New Things- Michel Faber. This is, he says his final book, which I hope is not true. I've read his others and find him to be a wonderful writer but had also heard that this was a little different. Its based on a Christian missionary and set in the future, and while the story is about the characters faith, its not a book about faith. Its dark, and deep, and a little sad. I read it in three days and then thought about it for weeks..in the end I downloaded the audio book and listened to all 20 hours again. Its one I will return to again and again I think...
The assassination of Margaret Thatcher - Hilary Mantel. 10 short stories unrelated to each other...a little dark again, unexpected and diverse. Well worth a read.
In the lake of the woods - Tim O' Brien. This was selected for a best novel of the year by Time, a very good mystery, with a little Gone Girl running through it.
& Sons - David Gilbert. NPR said this was smart and savage, with comedy and heartbreak. Its most definitely worth a read.
Yes please - Amy Poehler. I want her to give up her day job and just write books all day long..
We are what we wear - Lucy Siegle. Awful narrator, but a powerfully though provoking short book about the third world garment trade.
Not my Fathers Son - A Memoir - Alan Cummings. Read it, please...its sad, and awful and wonderful.
The book of Strange New Things - Michel Faber. I bought this after I read the book, because I wondered if one would be better than the other....the narration by Josh Cohen is wonderful and I found myself just drifting away with the story...it also makes understanding the alien language easier!
Sons of Anarchy - late to the party as always, but this dress was built on Sons....I can't.stop.watching.. four seasons to go!!!
Newsroom - Smartest show on TV seriously..
I'll be back next Monday with a muslin of something, I can't decide quite what to make right now!
Have a wonderful week :-)
Disclaimer: Although I did mention this is my last post, I did want to state again that this Chanel wool was a gift from Alice at Mendel Goldberg....which is also where I work part time on the website......and while free fabric gifts do not happen often, its lovely when they do!