Figuring It Out

Having completed my first Marfy dress, I now have the pleasure of reflecting upon its creation. Unlike my “Ghost Dress” which caused me so much angst (but turned out okay in the end), this ‘60s-inspired design went together without a hitch, although it definitely took some “figuring it out” along the way.

First I’ll cover the four changes I made to the dress, based on my muslin (toile). Initially I had to lower the apex of the bust darts, an alteration I am now used to making. Second, I decided to lengthen the sleeves by about 2 inches. I did this mostly to make the dress more comfortable to wear in the cold winter months. Even covering bare upper arms just a little bit more is helpful. I was hoping this would not detract from the lines of the dress otherwise. I made a tracing to try it out on paper first:

Marfy Dress

Somehow, the longer sleeves did not look good with the very distinct A-line silhouette of the dress. I thought they would look better with more of a straight skirt. I knew from the muslin that the front detailing had a built-in kick pleat, so narrowing the skirt was entirely doable. I would still be able to walk in it!

Alteration number four was the neckline. I widened it a bit, as I think that looks better on me. Then I widened it again later in the process (I’ll get to that in a bit.)

With no written and illustrated instructions to follow, I relied on my sewing knowledge and experience to execute the seaming on the front left of the dress. I was able to sew the seam by machine from the sleeve down to the lower angle of the point. From there down to about 8” from the hemline, I sewed the seam by hand.

An inside look at the this seam stitched by hand

An inside look at the this seam stitched by hand

There is a pleat hidden beneath the dress here, and sewing by hand seemed to be the only solution.

Showing the built-in kick pleat

Showing the built-in kick pleat, before the hem is sewn

And here is the finished kick pleat.

And here is the finished kick pleat.

When it came to the sleeves, they are shown in the illustration with a contrasting band. However, no band was included with the pattern. I did a muslin mock-up to test the visual appearance of the width of the band.

Marfy Dress

Because I had cut the sleeves with a slight curve to the lower edge, I had to make a muslin guide for the bands, which included the same curve.

The sleeves with bands attached

The sleeves with bands attached

With sleeves, hand-picked zipper and all seams complete, I turned my attention to the lining. Instead of cutting the lining with the same angled detail as in the dress, I chose to cut a symmetrical front, thus reducing bulk at that critical waist area. However, I needed to add a kick pleat to the front lining to coincide with the built-in kick pleat of the dress. Here is how I did that:

First I marked where I wanted the pleat in the lining to be.  By the way, the lining is Bemberg rayon.  I usually like to use crepe de cine for my linings, but I had this Bemberg in the right color, so I decided to use it.

First I marked where I wanted the pleat in the lining to be. By the way, the lining is Bemberg rayon. I usually like to use crepe de chine for my linings, but I had this Bemberg in the right color, so I decided to use it.

I centered a triangle of the lining fabric  (about 10" x 8") on top of the marked line.

I centered a triangle of the lining fabric (about 10″ x 8″) on top of the marked line.

I stitched on either side of the marked line, graduating up to a point at the top.

I stitched on either side of the marked line through both layers of lining, graduating up to a point at the top.

I cut along the marked line and turned the placket to the wrong side.

I cut along the marked line and turned the placket to the wrong side.

I sewed another piece of ling fabric (10" x 8") to the wrong side of the turned placket.  It is stitched around the edges - a little difficult to see.

I sewed another piece of ling fabric (10″ x 8″) to the wrong side of the turned placket. It is stitched around the edges in a 1/2″ seam.

After securing these stitched together pieces across the top through all layers, I had a kick pleat!

After securing these stitched-together pieces across the top through all layers, I had a kick pleat!

Back to the final part of the dress: the neckline. I still wasn’t sure I had a pleasing neckline, so I got out my French rule and re-chalked one with a little wider stance and depth.

Marfy Dress

For the top-stitching around the neck and around the angled detail on the front, I did what I did with my jacket out of the same fabric: I hand-picked it. I am so happy with how it looks. It’s very subtle, but adds just the right emphasis. The buttons are smaller versions of the (concealed) buttons on my jacket.

Marfy Dress

I set the lining in by hand, under-stitched the neck-edge by hand, and finally the dress was complete.

Marfy Dress

Marfy Dress

Marfy Dress

And of course I have to show it with the coat!

And of course I have to show it with the coat!

Fifty Dresses

Marfy Dress

It is probably unfair to do an assessment of Marfy patterns after just one make, but I’m going to anyway! The things I really like, so far, about using a Marfy pattern are 1) its preciseness, 2) the individually sized patterns, 3) the pattern pieces without seam allowance added. And is there anything I dislike about Marfy so far? Yes, one big thing! I really miss having a pattern envelope with an illustration, variant views and back views. I am so accustomed to vintage patterns, most of which sport envelopes which are like small works of art. There is so much pertinent information on them (fabric suggestions, zipper sizes, garment descriptions, thumbnail pattern piece diagrams, etc.) and even wearing suggestions. The illustrations show outfit styling suggestions (hats, handbags, shoes, etc.). I love studying them. So, yes, it’s true – I feel like something is lost without a pattern envelope for this dress which I like so much.

I won’t be waiting long to wear this dress. Our American holiday of Thanksgiving is this Thursday, and Marfy will be one of my dining companions. To my fellow citizens, may the day be as meaningful and blessed for you as it always is for our family. To all my readers around the globe, my thanks to you for sharing your love of sewing with me!

 

 

37 Comments

Filed under Buttons - choosing the right ones, car coats, Color blocking, couture construction, Marfy patterns, Mid-Century style, Uncategorized, woolens

37 responses to “Figuring It Out

  1. Cissie

    Simply stunning! Impeccable work too! Happy Thanksgiving.

  2. What a super suit! And what patience you have when it comes to seeing things through to the finish. Great dress, great coat, great together!

  3. Trish S

    What an amazing dress. You have sewn it beautifully. Thanks for writing your,alway interesting, blog. Happy Thanksgiving from the UK.

  4. This is gorgeous! I am speachless! What a fabulous dress! I love it. You look so special in it! Enjoy wearing it!

  5. Mary Lynn

    So, so beautiful! You must not be the Thanksgiving chef to wear that gorgeous dress!

  6. Bernice

    What a beautiful dress and coat!

  7. I love how you made the pattern yours! The dress is absolutely perfect with your wonderful coat! And as always, such beautiful handwork and details!

    I miss the envelopes with Marfy patterns too. I print out the sketches and charts from their website and tape them to small manilla envelopes for storing the patterns. Still not the same, but easier to flip through along with my other patterns.

  8. This is so lovely!! Nevermind how it looks paired with the coat.

    Such nice work, and the shape looks so good on you.

  9. Gail B

    Beautiful dress and coat! You have convinced me to try a Marfy pattern!

  10. Fabulous, and inspiring for this intermediate sewist.

  11. Totally fabulous! More than wonderful. And marvellous an an ensemble. Enjoy thanks giving. And thanks so much for sharing your expertise with us.

  12. Perfect! I just adore the dress with the coat. “Watching” you sew is a true inspiration.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you as well.

  13. Jackie

    I do so envy your sewing skills! Your outfit it amazing!

  14. Heather Myers

    Gorgeous on both counts. I look forward to your blogs. Happy Thanksgiving! You will be stunning.

  15. Beautiful job and I LOVE the way you did the color blocking. What a fabulous ensemble. I enjoy working with Marfy patterns but know what you mean about no illustrations. I write the number on all pieces as soon as I open the packet. I print a color pic of the design from the website and store it and the pattern in a large clear plastic envelope. Happy Thanksgiving.

  16. Loved reading about your changes and the process! And it looks amazing with your matching coat – just fabulous. The same things annoyed me about Marfy patterns to start with… until I got organised and scanned/printed a copy of the sketch, and wrote on it the recommended fabric types. I keep all the originals in a plastic sleeve with their sketch in a folder, and traced/adjusted pattern pieces in a different binder. Hope you get lots of wear from this combo – they look great!

    • Thanks, Mel! Yes, I’ve decided that if I sew more from Marfy patterns (which I suspect will be the case), I’ll have to make my own illustrated envelopes for the patterns. Not as much fun as a mid-century pattern envelope, however!

  17. This is so sharp and classy- great post!

  18. Marguerite

    So classy! What a beautiful example of your talent…and patience!

  19. I love love love your outfit! The dress is beautiful and I can’t get over how perfectly the coat and dress match. You look amazing.

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