I Can Haz Options/help me choose the birthday dress

For the most part, Sydney this winter has been cold, bitter and never-ending.  It’s f-rrrrrrrr-eeezing!  I hate the cold so much that I barely have anything winter appropriate (I think I just sit wrapped up with my doona in denial and wait till it passes).

But the weekend threw us an absolute pearler.  Observe 20*C and sunshine:

Fagan Park

That was the local park on my Saturday morning run.

August is my second favourite month (after September), because you’ll get those magically warm days which remind you that, yes, the earth will keep turning and summer is coming, and you can SMELL spring coming.  (And tulips!  Magnolias!)  September is my favourite month because of those gloriously golden days, and my birthday.

Enter quest for birthday dress fabric.  Something that screams “SPRING IS HERE!” and is bright, colourful, beautiful, and oh-so-me.  Floral, impressionist or abstract work too.  Cotton, preferably.


1. Tessuti Fabrics, Sydney, Monet’s Garden.

Tessuti Monet's Garden

Monet’s Watercolour

  Pros: locally based, I can actually check this out.  It’s silk cotton – a dream to sew ad wear.  Excellent drape.  The close-up photo makes the colours look gorgeous

Cons: cost ($48/m) and the colours look a bit “meh” when there’s more fabric shown.

2.  Spoonflower prints 


L-R, from top clockwise: Library Stained Glass (in watercolour)Geode TreasuresRadiant Rainbow Watercolour Ogee Pattern

Pros: I have samples of option 2 + 3, in silk CDC, cotton lawn, and cotton sateen.  I would choose either the lawn or sateen.  Colours are printed strongly, pricing is reasonable

Cons: It’s a voyage into the unknown with Spoonflower.  I’m a bit wary of the pattern repeat, and also pattern size (the stained glass one especially).  I’ve never bought fabric yardage-unseen before.  Postage last time was 4+ weeks to Australia, which means it likely won’t be here in time.

3.  B&J’s Fabric, New York, Cotton Digital Print (watercolour brushstrokes)

BJs Cotton Digital Print

B&J’s Digital Cotton Print: Watercolour Brushtrokes

Pros:  I did see this one and fall in love with the colours.  I already love B&J’s.  It is reasonable priced, and the closest to what I’ve been looking for.

Cons: I can’t tell the weight of the fabric by the photo or description – and I am suspicious it is mid weight (which might lessen the drape factor).  There’s also a $50 flat international shipping fee doesn’t translate nicely when the AUD currently buys $0.75 USD.  That means I would be smart to order other items to balance out that fee.

I’ve also looked at Mood Fabrics (which, too my surprise, had nothing of great appeal – although also a relief, as their international shipping is horrific), Gorgeous Fabrics, Emma One Sock and fabric.com.  I’ve seen what current stock our local Spotlight has.  What else am I forgetting?  What do you like best?

Update/My take on Kay Unger’s Vogue 1335

Update/what I’ve been doing for the last while

Well hello.  It’s been quite a while, has it not?  There has been plenty of sewing happening, just not a lot of photo-taking and publishing (obviously).  I think photos will be the limiting factor in ever being a ‘regular’ blogger – so until I move beyond a self-timer and whatever I can find to balance my camera on, sporadic posting may just be it.  (Instagram gets a lot more activity if you want to stalk my creative pursuits).

Aside from sewing whatever takes my fancy, I set a goal in May to 1) sew for at least 20 minutes daily and 2) To bust the UFO status.  This was largely motivated by a trip to Melbourne at the end of the month, for which I wanted to ‘earn’ the right to buy fabric.  I went around my room and entered 25 items into a spreadsheet of projects that needed attention!!  Blimey!  What can I say; I’m like a magpie.  Oh, shiny! Oh, new idea!  I’m passionate and not so great on the follow through when things start to get boring.

The tasks vary: alter something I made (yawn), alter something RTW (double yawn), move beyond whatever obstacle caused me to stop previously (e.g. fitting, sleeves, painful techniques, no supplies, etc), or magic up a muslin.  I achieved 7 tasks (some as simple as sew on buttons!) and it is satisfying.  I’m not concerned if the project turns out a dud; I want to only keep things that are functional!  (I also sewed for 21 out of the 24 days I was in Sydney for).

My take on Vogue 1335

  The fabric inspired this dress!  One Friday afternoon I spied this digital print of roses in Van Hung, Cabrammatta.  Despite my liking for naturals-only, this synthetic was drapey, like liquid and oh-so-pretty!  I’ve never turned fabric into a garment so fast!  By 6pm the fabric was washed and pressed, by late evening a pattern decided upon and bodice muslin made.

kay unger 1335

I liked Kay Unger’s V1335 from the start; there are many beautiful versions on the web.  But I was  wary of the shoulder width – not only were the straps wide, but the bodice also was also wide on people’s bodies.  Remember those design principles you learnt in high school?  Correct proportion plays key in getting a flattering design. I’m so glad I made a muslin, because as you can see in the dodgy phone photo, all I could see was boobs.

kay unger muslin

I’m not busty, nor do I wish to create that impression.  The muslin didn’t match my frame, so I played.  I’ve always wanted a dress like what I drafted (what is that neckline called, anyway?).  I kept the bodice pleats, darts and princess seams and (from memory) played with the angle of the neckband until it was both flattering and lay flat against my body. IMG_2739

  The back is quite low, but it’s a pretty shape.  Perfect for summer (and definitely not bra friendly!)

  The reality of altering a pattern so much is that you need to re-think construction order, and how much seam allowance you need.  Attaching the neckband to the bodice gave me some errors – do I sandwich the bodice between both layers of neckband?  Do I stitch it on top?  How do I finish the edges?  Where is that zip going to go?  I ended up lining the bodice to finish the armholes, and sandwiching the neckband to the bodice top edge (which was raw).  I’m not convinced that is the most efficient way – there are moments of trickiness and hoping you were really accurate.  If you look closely at the centre back, you can see the line of understitching peeking out under the neckband.  The topstitching is also not the greatest, which is part user error, part slippery fabric, and part my machine’s tension going bonkers. Kay Unger collage

  From top, clockwise: the skirt pleats, the belt I wear with the dress, close up of wiggly topstitching.

  The skirt from V1335 is a rectangular piece with darts.  I was incredibly annoyed by that, and I know it’s not a flattering look for me.  So I used my A-line skirt pattern, slashed and spread to add some width for pleats, and morphed it onto my bodice.  For the most part, I like it, although sometimes from the wrong angle it does give me a pregnant look.  I think that is due to the placement of the pleats – do you think there is a mathematical reasoning for flattering placement?  Also, annoyingly, the side zip is heavier than the fabric, and the zip end tends to make that part of the skirt stick out sideways.  I’ve already shortened the zip end (and stitched it to the seam allowance), but any other ideas?  Other than that, I will happily live with the flaws of the knee-length, swishy skirt. IMG_2672

See that little growth from my left hip?  Yep, totally not real.

All I had to do to rescue the dress from the UFO pile was to slip-stitch the lining to the waist seam.  I’d even already basted it.  How ridiculously simple is that?!?!  But I had stalled for good reason: despite my muslin fitting great in single layer, the double layer of fabric + lining made it quite snug, and now turning up this seam allowance would make it even tighter.  I could see a visible ridge at the waistband and I didn’t know how to do away with the bulk.  It was catch 22 – turn the seam allowance up to slip stitch, and get a ridge above the waist seam.  Keep the seam allowance flat against the waist seam, and potentially have a ridge below the waist seam.  I ended up keep it as was (turned up) due to the way I’d attached the lining to the zipper, and chalked it up to drafting experience.  Now I know to consider the thickness of fabric when designing patterns! IMG_2463

Can you see the ridge above the waist seam?  It was hard to photograph, but it definitely caught the light in real life.

  All in all, this dress is quite flattering, and I would love to improve it.  I can think of a few variations already – adding a 1/2″ waistband in a corresponding colour to the neckband (how much more would the features of this dress stand out if the neckband were in, say, rose pink?); drafting a full length maxi dress in a navy blue shiny silk, with silver accents; or, as I’m working on right now, a fitted top. IMG_2732

Marfy 2826 in progress

A good friend of mine is getting married this weekend, and a few months back she turned to me and said, ‘so you’re going to wear something you made to my wedding, right?’  I ummed and ahhed for a while over what to make – made some muslins, stroked some fabric – and after moving past the fear of I’ll-look-like-a-bridesmaid/it’s-far-too-fancy, I eventually bit the bullet and went for Marfy 2826.  If you can’t look fancy at a wedding, when can you?

Marfy patterns are Italian couture, seam allowance free, no instructions, directions or construction order.  They come single sized, pre-cut, and are marked with letters, grainlines, notches and some brief statements in English, Italian, Russian and French.  You can find an image for some patterns on BMV; Marfy’s website; in the annual catalogs; or by emailing Marfy directly.  Those pictures are important, because they hold details that are easy to overlook.  But Marfy’s don’t have to be all that tricky to sew!  Definitely, you should know what order of operations clothing construction follows (and start with easier items i.e. simple dresses).  But there is great freedom in deciding if you want a) seams turned under b) seams fully lined c) seams bound by bias, by machine or hand d) seams rolled, by machine or hand…etc.  Marfy is a good introduction into thinking about what your fabric requires.  And then there is the web for everything else!

Marfy 2826

From looking at the picture, we can see the following:

  • There is an ‘underdress’, consisting of a strapless bodice and skirt, in the white/blue polka dot fabric;
  • There is an ‘overdress’, which is attached at the waistline (slight gathers?), and perhaps side seams, would need to be finished at the boat neckline and edges in a manor appropriate for sheers, and is gathered (and therefore not attached to the side seams) between a bow and the underdress, which then flows into a butt cape. The white/blue polka dot fabric is sheer, has drape, and is easily gathered.
  • There is a waistband ribbon, which forms a bow at the CB. This fabric is not as drapey as the overdress.
  • There are totally awesome shoes unfortunately not included.

What we can then deduce is the following:

  • Chiffon, even with French seams, is not good at taking strain. Therefore that underdress better be able to hold itself up by it’s own merit. (Especially as the overdress is not attached at the back waist – therefore not equally supporting itself).
  • Clearly the underdress had some sort of lining/foundational fabrics to it.

So essentially, if you are making this, you are making a strapless dress which just happens to have a gorgeous chiffon overlay.

I started with size 42, the smallest Marfy offer.  It is too big for my waist and bust measurements, so I make a muslin, take it in from CF/CB, and then shape from there.  I boned it with the plastic rigelene, but found that was too curved for my bust shape, and wasn’t moulding to my body.  A less-than-stellar trip to Metro Fabrics in Tempe gained me some spiral steel boning, which I’m hoping will prove a better option.  Once the bodice fit, I could attach the skirt and begin to play.

I played with length, ribbon placement and thickness and attaching the skirt to bodice via gathers or pleats.  Once that was decided (slightly above knee with a 2-4” hem facing; ribbon looked good, but had some wrinkling issues to contend with; and 3 pleats in skirt), I transferred any changes to the pattern, and cut my fabric.  That was a high tension evening!  The CDC did NOT want to play easy to lay flat and on grain.  (Nor did it rip).  The skirt is 1 piece, cut on the fold.  Once finally cut, it could be hand basted to the underlining, and then all markings thread traced in.  I spent a day doing this, basting in pleats and the CB zip seam, and then hung the skirt to allow the bias to settle.  The skirt looks amazing on: HURRAH (and phew)!!!!


I was holding the skirt together to take this shot, hence the waist seam is far lower than it will be.  But I love the look of this skirt – the pleats work perfectly, and it is my new favourite skirt pattern!

  I then moved back to the muslin, playing with the chiffon overlay and it’s proportions.  I’d very much recommend having the strapless dress not able to move (and ideally a waist stay inserted) so that you can accurately judge the length aspect of the overlay whilst the dress supports it.  That’s currently where I am at – decision making time.  Marfy very typically like to cover parts of the shoulder on a 30* from vertical (extending away from the body).  It is flattering, but be aware it can restrict movement if using heavier fabrics!  Once that decision is made, I will be able to cut my chiffon, and move onto finishing the edges.  (The silk thread I needed arrived; unfortunately, I may have to mix two colours to get the right look).  Then I should double check the ribbon placement, construction and mark as necessary, and then I can cut my bodice and get along with attaching it all together.


 This is where I currently am at with the overlay muslin.  I’m still unsure about the pleats into the waist seam (they will be covered by a ribbon) – they look bulky and unpleasing, but chiffon is quite soft and malleable so it may be irrelevant.  The width is something I’m still not sure on.  It just seams to fall off my shoulders, so perhaps more will come off.

  At every step I am taking photos, and taking my time to make decisions.  I will go running, and think about each step until an answer (or obstacle) comes to me.  I have been stalking all my favourite couture inspirations (the blog A Challenging Sew, Susan Khalje’s Bridal Couture book/CD and her Craftsy class; sewing forums, and the web in general) for ideas and things to consider.  It is amazing how much a Marfy will put you in the position of ‘designer’, vs blindly following a Big4 pattern.

Lastly, the star of the show: the fabric.  I bought this silk crepe de chine from Sago Fabrics in Cabramatta AGES ago.  (They still have it in stock, also in an orange/pink colourway).  It’s has silvery base which means it’s annoyingly impossible to match to a lining.  Seriously, I have taken a swatch of this fabric across Sydney, Melbourne and the USA, and not even in Mood NYC could we find a match!  (If you do ever find something though, let me know.  I’d love some long gloves).  The answer came when I was researching underlinings (because how else would I get a deep hem?).  I wasn’t keen to line silk CDC with silk CDC; the internet said silk charmeuse would be too heavy for the lightweight fabric; but perhaps cotton batiste would work?  And I had some soft, thin cotton batiste in my stash which I knew sewed well.  Underneath the CDC, it turned to an opaque white, and made the greens, purples and blues stand out.  It also draped nicely – what more could you want?

The blue shot silk chiffon (Van Hung Fabrics, Cabramatta) was also a long-time decision.  For a long time, I thought that in the picture, there were two matching fabrics, one of which was chiffon.  But I couldn’t exactly colour match, and all teal chiffons I found were too overwhelming on the fabric.  In hindsight, a deep chiffon on all of the dress would have competed with the floral CDC.  Once I saw the picture for what it was, I could reapproach the decision as there was now less of it, wouldn’t overwhelm the dress.

So clearly there are quite a few decisions to go, and the accompanying work.  But I’m looking forward to it and can’t wait for the end result.


My nephew recently turned 1, and I made him some singlets for his present.  His love of ducks has been somewhat…encouraged by myself.  But aren’t they cute!

I made four in all with some creative sourcing.  I found a duck outline I liked on Google, resized, printed and used that as a template.  For fabric, the singlets were in a pack (4 for $10) from KMart, and I bought 4 kids’ shirts from Target for $10!  A big win considering if I’d bought fabric yardage I’d have spent more, and have plenty of leftovers.  As kids clothing goes through more seasonal changes more colours are available year round – more variety than a fabric store.

I used a glue stick to hold the duck in place, did some hand basting, then 2 laps of zig-zag stitch around the duck.  It’s not the most perfect looking result, but it should hold well and allow the singlet to stretch.  Plus, these are designed to be spewed on/crawled in/grown out of.  I embroided some details in and handed them over to one very happy boy.


Good progress has been made on the Style Arc Cindy jacket – hopefully that will be finished in the next week.

Red “lace” Marfy 2837

I started this dress in August 2013 and finished it (ahem hemmed it) in December 2014. It’s a stunner! I wore it to the Australian Ballet – classy events need classy clothing, people!


Marfy 2837 can be found in the 2012/2013 annual catalogue, and you can order it by emailing Marfy directly.  (US readers can buy it through BMV online).  Don’t be scared off by the no seam allowances/no instructions/advanced seamstress requirement.  This is a simple princess seamed dress, and if you’ve made one before it just takes some simple intuition to put it together.  I’ve come to favour no seam allowances; they can fool us into thinking we can whip an item together with no consideration for fit, personalisation or fabric and still expect it to look fantastic on our bodies at the end.  Marfy are super helpful and have fantastic customer service, and of course their patterns are drool-worthy.

Marfy 2837

A big thank you must go to Maria from Sydney Spoolettes who graciously assisted me in levelling the hem.  She had the thought to raise the lining higher than my standard 1” approach to show off a row of flowers.  Although now shorter than I ever wear dresses, paired with the lace it balances some modesty and va-va-voom perfectly.

Although this is “lace”, it’s not really lace.  It’s a synthetic something with embroidered flowers and sewn in sequins.  You can see the clear thread at times, it feels quite stiff and plastic-like, and doesn’t completely fold in half.  It meant I didn’t follow any typical rules of lace – all I was trying to achieve was a perfectly scalloped hem!  And no grain line – bonus!


I paired it with a polyester satin lining, both of which I bought at Van Hung Cabramatta.  This does make the dress quite hot and unbreathable, which is also not helped due to it’s limited ease.  It will definitely be a cool weather/special occasion dress.  The colours did however work together to give the dark-red/raspberry colour I really love.

This dress was entirely constructed with French seams and a fake-french seam (aka roll your fabric over) for the side invisible zipper.  I can get away with French seaming princess seams because I’m small busted; however I would caution against using this technique for women with boobs, or on delicate fabric.  (Practice + hand basting your seams may indicate potential success/flaws).  I then topstitched the seams down on the lace shell, both to help them lie flat and also because the lace has a very open weave.  Not standard lace techniques, for sure!


The intereriors are somewhat unspectacular, but that’s because they need a body to fill them to show off their shape!  They show off the pattern lines beautifully.

You can read about the original muslin here.  From memory, I ended up taking every seam in, around 1-2cm (it was a long time ago) to reduce the general circumference of the dress.  It then looked SO much more flattering.  The only other adjustment I made was to remove 2cm of length from between my shoulder blades in the back piece, as it was wrinkling and the princess seams weren’t cooperating nicely.  I then added this length back in further down in the skirt.  I’ve been watching plenty of Peggy Sager’s videos – make the length, circumference and depth of the garment match that of your own body; as in, put the fabric where you need it!  I will add a disclaimer now – I am bigger than I was 2 years ago – so yes, after the original adjustments there was more wearing ease!  Getting this dress done up with the relevant undergarments nowadays is quite a challenge.


One thing I don’t remember considering was the shoulders.  I remember the shoulder seams ripping open a little as I moved around, and especially reached forward.  Move forward to real-time when I got into my car and tried to reach forward to the steering wheel.  Ouch!  It’s an inbuilt flaw of this type of shoulders: they really aren’t designed for you to “do things” in them.  (Just stand at your ball, drink champagne and look fantastic).  I had some deep red marks in my arms by the end of that night.  I don’t think I will go back and change the dress – it would be a big headache for ?minimal? gain – but now I know for future dresses.


What I made last summer (and last year) part 2

Original By Hand London Anna in size UK 8 (The Fingerpainted dress)

This dress was my first BHL Anna dress.  It’s my favourite dress; bought or sewn.  It’s the go-to when I know I need to look good!


I think SewBusyLizzy’s multiple versions inspired me to order this pattern.  I remember getting the package and going “oooooh” – the envelope was so different from the standard BMV patterns you get from Spotlight!  Someone clearly had thought about how to market their company’s image with every aspect of their product!  Without much consideration, I traced a size UK8, and then cut into this bluey-purpley “fingerpainted” cotton I’d bought from Spotlight a long time earlier.


I’m not proficient in matching patterns and fabric, but this combination was PERFECT and it was LOVE.


Nice job on the seam matching!

  I French seamed everything in this dress – yes, even the lining to the shell at the neckline and sleeves. I also attached the lining to the zip by machine and OH MY, what a result.  (Sewaholic has a great tutorial here, based on the Cambie dress).  That DOES change your order of operations (and there can be a hit-and-miss factor to getting the zipper top to be level and lay flat; resolve – practice more), as you do sew the lining to the zip prior to sewing the neckline seam.

IMG_0814     You can just make out the white french seam lining in this picture.  French seams don’t account for turn-of-cloth (a method of ensuring the inners do not show on the outers), but the way I ironed this dress does!

  I do also recall taking a whole lot of length off this skirt pattern.  I believe this is an area of contention with BHL (varying skirt lengths) – the best solution is to mark your bodice seam on your body, and measure the flattering length you want and then compare to your pattern.  (As the dress comes ready for maxi-length, it’s easy to mark your new hem).


This dress came with me to America, and ventured onto the competition floor at NCAA’s, met Olympians and also to a few sewing meet ups in NYC.  It is a great feeling to wear something you’ve made that you love!


The Birds BHL Anna dress…miss.

Ahhh, I’m not ok with this dress.  It’s a miss for me.  Quite sad because I knew for a long time what I had in mind for it.

I bought this silk cotton blend from Mood NYC when I was there in April 2014.  I also bought a corresponding purple silk cotton blend to line it.  I immediately could see it: V-neck style, Elie Saab-inspired, strappy sundress.   This fabric is soft and gorgeous to sew and wear!


In November 2014 I decided I’d use this fabric to make a dress for my friends’ wedding in December.  I worked for about three weeks on making a pattern that matched this image.  I tried, tried and kept trying, but I could NOT seem to get the bust darts to leave a smooth curve.  They just wanted to stand out!  We were getting closer to the wedding, and I began to panic.

Making another Anna seemed like a good idea, but I already had several of them.  I then was struck by the idea of making it full length – how luxe – only to discover I didn’t have enough fabric.  I then settled on making it Vneck.  I took a muslin I had stashed, made it Vneck until I liked it, converted those changes to the pattern, then used that as the base.


Despite trying to extend the neckline the bra still peeps through!  And yes, if I were to keep the dress as is, I’d press the neckline flatter.

  Unfortunately, once fully made it just seemed ‘off’.  The print looks flat, when really it should stand out.  It seems dark, dull and not the vibrant fabric it is.  There needs more skin; or something bright yellow (some piping, perhaps!) to make it sing.  I’ve yet to figure out how to resolve this, but boy I want to.  I don’t have much fabric left so it will be hacking from the bodice I already have      and then piecing.  Such good intentions.  One day I’ll get it.




What I made this summer (and last year) part 1

I splurged and bought a new camera.  Hurrah!  My previous one has taken a few tumbles, and now is permanently stuck on video mode.  Luckily for me, that was the camera’s greatest strength!  (Loved the slow-mo options when doing coaching analysis).

So apologies that all upcoming photos have the same background; new camera also automatically applies a bazillion filters so apologies whilst I squee in excitement over different colour worlds!  (Yes I’ve heard of Instagram).  I’m sure I’ll get over it eventually :)

I’ve made quite a few things lately.  Once on summer holidays from work, I really pushed myself to sew from my stash and challenge myself with reality: is the fabric I buy really going to become something I can wear?  I was also keen to try out some different patterns, and thank goodness I’ve become a lot more relaxed in the past year – it’s definitely helped me deal with oh-that-looks-hideous-and-I’ve-just-spent-all-this-time/-emotion/-favourite-fabric-on-it.  That and Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off.

Burda 6836

My sister expressed an interest in making a skirt, and in a pattern sale I bought some skirt patterns.  I made this up as a wearable muslin, to see whether the style would suit her and what sizing to play with.

Being the good sister that I am, she’s not yet seen the skirt.  I’ve worn it.


It’s a pleated straight skirt with a centre back zip and straight waistband.  I sewed a straight 38 and managed to fit the pattern onto the last of this purple dotted cotton which I’d had for ages.  I underlined the skirt with the last of the plain white cotton.  Both fabrics from the stash, as was the zip and slightly un-matching thread!  Stash busting win!

I didn’t want any bulk in the waistband, so I attached the waistband to the skirt, serged the edges, then pressed the seam down.  That did mean I had to hand-stitch the waistband to the zip, but smooth waistbands FTW!


The zipper was also too long, but you can shorten a zipper by zig-zagging over it to create a new ‘stop’.  (Zig zag setting width 3-4, length 0).  It’s not the most robust solution, so my stop is 1″ lower than fabric seam, so it will never really be needed.

Now, as simple as this skirt was to make, would I do it again?  Likely not.  It’s VERY boxy (literally: a rectangular piece with dart markings), and unfortunately as it’s an ‘easy’ pattern, there is no consideration for back vents in the pattern.  Not hard to install one, of course, but a place for a beginner to get caught out, and then wonder why their skirt doesn’t let them walk too far forward!  A-line is a more flattering line on me and this skirt didn’t change my preference.

The other big cross is the waistband.  I dislike straight waistbands – and here’s why:


In reality, I don’t wear high-waisted, and I like the loose-ness of clothes that can fall to my hips and stay there.  So curved waistbands only, please!

Burda 6836 collage

Overall not a bad temporary addition to the summer wardrobe to help deal with multiple 35*C+ days (95*F), but unlikely to permanently feature.

Marfy 3705 Shirt

  This is one of the free patterns that came with the 2013/2014 Annual catalog.  Unlike regular Marfy patterns, these patterns are multi-sized and nested, and often in the 8 or 10 freebies include a jacket, a shirt, a dress, a skirt, and a pant.  That helps you determine your sizing before purchasing regular patterns.


I’ve had “nice shirts” on the mind for a while.  My life means I spend my time in official work shirts or training shirts, but never in nice dress-up-for-dinner shirts.  I also find a lot of the RTW on offer not flattering on my body, so it was time to experiment.

I cut a straight 42, the smallest size on offer (aside: not that I’m tiny or anything, but why do Marfy patterns not go smaller?  I’ve been to Italy; they’re all tall and slim.  I’m surprised that this couture company doesn’t focus on what tends to be the typical sizing for couture: small!).  I added seam allowances, and luckily I did, because I wouldn’t want the shirt to be any smaller – I wouldn’t be able to get it over my shoulders and chest!  It was a funny experience given the 2826 I’ve been working on forever, in the same size, is swimming on me.

Both front and back pieces are cut on grain.  The front piece has a fold-down cowl, and the pattern is marked perfectly for all stitching lines to match.  I experimented with order of construction, and whilst didn’t get it perfect, can tell you that a) overlock everything – it’ll just be faster and you won’t “care” what it looks like or b) choose where to lose out on the pretty finishes.  I did seam bind almost EVERYTHING (nerdy love for cutting bias strips!), and the only thing that missed out was the shoulder seam at the neckline, due to the cowl.


This was also the first time I’d ever sewn a zip into a seam that was both above and below the zip.  It took a few goes to get it non-lumpy and balanced, but I got there.  Any tips on this?


IMG_1030   IMG_1036

I also muslined up a sleeve, and it’s very flattering and schick – very like the illustrations, and mostly a “pointing down” sleeve, so more ladies-who-lunch range of movement appropriate v.s. I-spend-my-day-picking-up-after-children ROM appropriate.  

Lastly – there has been something funky happening with my straight stitch on my machine.  It doesn’t want to sew entirely straight.  I can’t figure out if that’s a tension issue (any changes I make seem to have no effect), or whether it’s the result of having my sewing machine take a car trip.  I’ve had my machine serviced recently (for some big adjustments), and when it was returned it seemed fine.  I don’t think it needs another service, but any advice?  It’s my mother’s Janome MyExcel (circa 1990s).