Another dress that I’ve made before…but this time I used a different fabric and used the skirt pieces from the Sewaholic Lonsdale instead. I’m happier with this more traditional and less dramatic look. (I also find the pockets rather handy!)
The fabric I used is a silk jacquard/charmeuse, purchased over four years ago from Fabric Mart. I used the matte side as the right side. As expected, this bodice has a softer feel to it than the linen dress bodice, and it definitely doesn’t stay in place as well (as you can see from my exposed bra strap in the back view).
I should also mention that while my linen and cotton Sewaholic Lonsdale skirts didn’t require any special hemming treatment, this one was very, very uneven (after hanging for a day or so). After I evened out the hem I finished it with a narrow hem (instead of the 1″ hem included with the pattern).
Burda 6/2016 #112 is a fairly simple tailored sheath, but the cutouts and unusual darts bring it up to the next level. I absolutely love the neckline cutouts – it eliminates the need for a necklace while still drawing the eye upward. It isn’t obvious from the line drawing, but the waist attachment seam is approximately 1/2″ above the waistline. The skirt length is 24.5″ from waist to hemline.
This pattern is the illustrated “sewing course” pattern for the 6/2016 issue.
The fabric I used was a stretch sateen, purchased a little over a year ago from Apple Annie Fabrics:
Normally I’m not crazy about even a part-polyester fabric, but I have to say that this sateen wrinkles less and holds its shape better than a normal cotton/lycra sateen.
I kept the front of the dress as-is, but for the back I rotated out the darts to be in the more traditional vertical position as I knew there was a 99% chance I would need to take them in.
Other adjustments for the size 38 I cut include:
Added a 3/4″ back shoulder dart (and 1″ width across the mid upper back)
3/8″ rounded back alteration
Added 5″ to the hips
Added an additional 1/2″ to the front of the skirt at the thigh level
1/2″ swayback tuck
Lowered the back kick pleat 3″ – the drafted height is very high!
Added 1/2″ to the hem length
Added another 1/2″ to the center back hem
Added 3/4″ width to the front waist and removed 3/4″ from the back waist
Extended the back waist darts down another 2.5″
After trying on the dress I took in the waist 1.5″ and the hips 2″. This is a fairly stiff fabric and it looked best with minimal ease in these areas. From the looks of the photo Burda used a softer fabric with more drape.
Originally I also changed the skirt from pegged to straight, but after trying it on decided to peg the hem 1.5″.
I am not sure if this is an issue unique to this pattern or just the Burda draft, but I found the back neckline was drafted very wide (I compared it to some of my other dresses). It made for a lot of gaping at the back cutout. That’s why I ended up overlapping the back neckline instead of having the button at the center back.
In addition to interfacing the facings and neck band pieces, I also interfaced the back vent. In my opinion it helps it hang better and keep its shape. I also mitered the back hem. (The instructions don’t show you how to do this.)
Instead of having you cut out those neckline ovals on the cutting table, Burda provides a neckline template pattern piece. The front bodice is like that of a normal dress without cutouts. When it comes time to attach the front facing to the front bodice you use the template to draw the cut-outs on the facing. Then after you finish sewing this section you cut out/trim/clip the ovals. I made the cut-out template from a couple of pieces of card stock paper so I would have a firm edge to trace against.
I think the most tedious part of constructing this dress was turning out the cutouts, particularly the center front one. The edges for that one are particularly narrow in one section – I really had to work at it for a while. I couldn’t have done it without the help of my collar clamp tool from Fashion Sewing Supply.
After you sew the cutouts it is crucial that you be aggressive when it comes to clipping/notching the seam allowances. I clipped every 1/4-3/8″ to make sure that those ovals ended up nice and round.
I would have liked for Burda to have included placement notches on the front neck band piece. It was a little tedious having to keep measuring the distance between the cutout edges on the template.
I should also mention that Burda has you sew the bottom edge of the inside neck band by hand. Normally I do anything possible to avoid having to sew something by hand, but in this case it gave me far more control – and a better result – than stitching on the machine would have. It also looks much neater.
The Style Arc Jacinta (note: affiliate link) is another one of those patterns I made a few years ago and decided to make again. It is my go-to pattern for when I want to make a maxi dress out of a bold patterned knit.
I made three new Jacintas for a little vacation I took last month to Virginia Beach. I have a close friend from college that lives down there, and after literally years of her telling me to visit, I finally got up the courage to take her up on her offer. I’m a nervous and inexperienced traveler, so getting on a plane by myself was a HUGE deal to me, especially since I had been on one only once before in my entire life! I’m glad I went though – it was great to bond and re-connect.
The first Jacinta was from a rayon/lycra jersey I purchased a few years ago from Fabric Mart:
The second Jacinta was made from another rayon/lycra jersey, purchased a few years ago from Gorgeous Fabrics:
One thing I did differently from last time is instead of sewing a tuck at the V, I cut the ends of the binding strip at a 45 degree angle, making a seam at the center front of the binding. This gave me a nice sharp angle at the center front. I then attached the V section of the neck binding to the dress via my regular sewing machine, but only for an inch or two past the center front. Then I finished attaching the binding on my serger, and topstitched with a chain stitch on my Janome Coverpro. I think it gives a neat, professional finish, and doing that little section on my sewing machine gave me greater control vs trying to manipulate that corner on a serger.
As promised, here are my other two Lonsdale dresses…
The fabric for this Lonsdale is a very, very crisp 100% cotton poplin from Apple Annie Fabrics. I love the print, but I don’t love how the slightest breeze threatens to lift up the skirt! 😉
The second Lonsdale was made from a hot pink midweight linen/rayon blend, purchased from Fashion Fabrics Club about four or five years ago. I think the drape of the skirt on this version is particularly beautiful.
Very quick and dirty photos for this particular post, because it was starting to rain!
I first made the Sewaholic Lonsdale a few years ago. This is my all-time favorite sundress; for my very pear-shaped body I’ve found the cut and design is difficult to beat. My Lonsdales get lots of love when I wear them to work (ahh, the beauty of no dress code in the summer!) It is a GREAT style if you want to let your shoulders shine.
Since the shoulders are open and the skirt full, I was able to get away with hardly any alterations to my size 6 pattern:
Removed 3/4″ width from the back waist, and added 3/4″ to the front waist
Added 1/2″ width to the waistband; the actual finished measurement is slightly shorter than what is stated on the pattern.
Took in the center back seam 3/4″ between the tie tabs, tapering to nothing at the waist.
1/2″ swayback tuck
I measure closer to a size 8 than a size 6, but I feel more comfortable sizing down to a 6.
The bodice does have a slight flattening effect on the bust, depending on how high/low you wear the knot, but I’m willing to overlook that. You can easily wear a strapless bra under this dress, but if you’re smaller and still self-supporting (like me) it isn’t necessary due to the fact that the bodice is fully lined. (The skirt is not lined out of the envelope.)
The fabric I used was a white diamond weave cotton shirting fabric from Fabric Mart. It had been sitting in my stash for over three years now, and I decided I needed to just go ahead and do something with it. The Fabric Mart description was spot-on – the drape has some body without being totally crisp. For the sake of modesty I lined the skirt as well as the bodice with the same fabric.
The Style Arc Ali knit skirt is another project I first made a few years ago:
I’m not normally a fan of slim knit skirts, but I find the ease and design line the tucks provide over my thighs make the Ali a little bit easier to wear than most.
Since my original Ali skirt was starting to look a little shabby I decided to make up a new one this weekend. I have much better photos of it this time around! I’m wearing it with my Style Arc Anita peasant top.
As you can see from the side view, this is a very figure-hugging skirt. A tight fit is necessary in order to keep the tucks in place.
I sewed and topstitched the tucks using the chainstitch function on my Janome CoverPro 2000CPX. A chainstitch is much stronger and provides more stretch versus using the straight stitch on a regular sewing machine.
The fabric I used was a charcoal rayon/nylon/lycra ponte I purchased from Sawyer Brook a few years ago.
Due to the stretch of the fabric, fitting adjustments were pretty easy:
Removed a total of 4″ from the waist
Straightened out the side seams a total of 1.5″ to make the hem less pegged
Since the hem was rising up in the back, I ended up taking up the hem an additional 1″ in the front
Took in the side seams a total of 2″- this fabric was quite stretchy, and as I mentioned above, you want to make sure the fit is snug so that the tucks stay in place.
I first made the Style Arc Brenda blouse a few years ago. On Saturday I decided that I wanted a plain white sleeveless blouse to go with some of my summer skirts, so I decided to make up this pattern again. (I finished the armholes with self bias strips.)
The fabric I used is a lightweight linen from Fabric Mart:
I interfaced the front plackets with Pro-Sheer Elegance, and the collar/collar band with Pro-Crisp Light. Both interfacings are from Fashion Sewing Supply. The buttons are from Cleaner’s Supply.
Fitting gets its own heading for this pattern, because it was pretty involved ;).
In addition to the original alterations listed below I took a 1″ tuck between shoulder and bust to remove some gaping. I also lowered the bust dart 1/2″, though due to my 1″ tuck I think that I should lower it a little bit more for next time. Next time I will also do a 3/8″ forward shoulder adjustment and lower the armholes 3/8″.
Here are my fitting notes for my original Brenda blouse, which I had made from a silk crepe de chine:
This blouse was an exercise in fitting. I very carefully measured the pattern and made a muslin of this blouse because I heard lots of people say that it ran small, especially through the waist.
My fitting adjustments were:
3/8″ broad back adjustment
3/8″ rounded back alteration
Added 3/4″ width to the sleeves
Lengthened the body 1″ just above the waist
Removed 3/4″ width from the upper chest
Lengthened the sleeves 1/2″
Added 2″ width to the hips at the hemline
Those are normal-for-me Style Arc fitting alterations. I did not need to add any extra to the bust, despite the close fit. The gathers in the front add a surprising amount of room, though if you are above a B/C cup you should consider doing a FBA.
There were a few more issues to fix that mostly fell under the “sometimes but not always necessary for fitted Style Arc blouses” category:
Added an additional 1″ width to the back only at the hip (it was pulling across my butt and causing it to ride up in the back).
Added 1/2″ width to the front only across the waist. I expected to have to do this because while my waist is a size 8 I need more width in the front than the back. (My ribcage is slightly flared in the front and I have a very lean back.) I didn’t bother taking it out at the back because 1/2″ of extra ease is a small amount for a pattern that uses lightweight fabrics.
Added an additional 1″ to the front from just below the waist to just below the high hip. I didn’t bother taking out the amount I added from the back because when it comes to a lightweight fabric like this a little bit of extra ease is a good thing.
I found I had weird diagonal pull lines in the back from just below the shoulder blade to the waist. I almost considered posting a photo and asking for feedback. But that’s taking the easy way out and doesn’t help me enhance my problem-solving skills, so I persisted. After looking at it for a bit I decided the problem was that the back was too shaped at the sides and not shaped enough at the dart. So I basically straightened out the back side seam curve, and took out the width I added to the side seam by increasing the size of the back darts.
Rotated the front dart to be 1/2″ closer to the center front. My bust is slightly closer-set than most patterns draft for so this is a common adjustment when I make something with vertical darts in the front.
I also added a 1″ dart to the back shoulder, a normal-for-me Style Arc alteration when I’m making something with a very fitted woven bodice. (I have prominent shoulder blades and this prevents gaping at the back armhole.) To facilitate this I moved the shoulder seam back 1.25″ so it would be in the normal shoulder position and not set forward as designed.
This is an OOP swimwear pattern from Kwik Sew, which I think I bought about six years ago.I made View A. The bikini top has drawstring ties at the side and center front, and the bottom has drawstring ties at the side.
I made my bikini using a hot pink swim Lycra from Mood Fabrics. Don’t let my crappy iPhone photo fool you – the color is practically fluorescent in person! This fabric is slightly less stretchy and probably beefier than what Kwik Sew intended for this pattern, so even though I find Kwik Sew sometimes runs a little bit and my measurements put me at the smaller end of the scale for each size, the sizing was spot-on for me.
I used my Janome 1100DX serger’s “stretch wrapped” stitch (#10) to sew the drawstrings, crotch seam, and attach the elastic. It is a three-thread stitch that the manual especially recommends for swimwear. It was especially fantastic when it came to attaching the rubber elastic. I used wooly nylon for the looper and regular thread in the two needles:
I topstitched everything in place on my regular sewing machine using a zigzag stitch. I know that RTW swimsuits tend to use a coverstitch, but personally I find a zigzag stitch is stretchier and a little bit more durable. I also had some bulky sections that I know would have been made more challenging had I sewn them on my coverstitch.
You probably noticed that my bikini top slightly different from the one shown on the pattern. Out of the envelope the top felt very insecure. The drawstring casing at the side just doesn’t keep things in place that well. I think it has something to do with the fact that this style works best on someone whose bust is fuller on the sides vs in the middle or front. It also just didn’t look great. As a result I altered the pattern to be more like a traditional triangle top by removing most of the curve at the side and replaced the drawstring casing with elastic. Due to my alteration I sewed the cups in this order:
Attach the elastic to upper edge and fold/topstitch in place.
Attach elastic to side edge. Tack one end of the neck tie in place to the elastic before folding over and topstitching the side edge.
Attach elastic to lower edge. Tack one end of the back tie in place to the elastic before folding over and topstitching the side edge.
Sew the drawstring casings at the center front.
It is a little bulky, but everything feels very, very secure. Much more secure than the original design.
I also snugged the elastic at the bottom of each bra cup a little bit more than what the measurement chart indicated, cutting the elastic to the XS rather than S length. With Kwik Sew patterns I’ve noticed that XS seems to coordinate to someone that would wear a 32 bra band, S to a 34 band, M to a 36, etc. (I wear a 32 band).
In case if you’re wondering, I didn’t add bra cups to my bikini top. The cups are fully lined and the drawstring at the center front and underbust elastic provide adequate-enough shaping for me, and I don’t really need the extra support. I also found the gathering at the center front combined with where the cups would need to be placed complicated matters to an extent that I just didn’t feel like dealing with ;).
I was really happy with the back coverage (both width and height) and overall fit of the bikini bottoms, but there were a few minor issues that I needed to address:
I found the bikini bottoms too wide across the front leg openings/crotch. (I’m not sure about more recent patterns, but an overly-wide crotch is an issue common to many older Kwik Sew patterns.) I ended up removing a total of 1″ width from that section.
I also lowered the center front waist 3/8″ to remove a fold that was appearing at the waistline.
The main difference from last time is that I did a 3/8″ sloped shoulder alteration, and skipped the pocket flaps and shoulder epaulettes.
I used a lightweight silk jersey, purchased from Mood a few years ago:
Since this particular fabric was only 39″ wide I needed 5 yards (!), making this one of my more expensive wrap dresses. (Good thing Mood happened to be running at sale at that time!) I ended up using all five of those yards too. I think it was worth it though – I love the print, and I tend to keep my silk jersey wrap dresses longer and wear them more frequently than other styles.
I sometimes get questions from people about Marfy patterns, so I thought I would write a post that explained a little bit more about them.
Marfy is an Italian pattern company. Their branding is described as “high fashion.” The aesthetic tends to be ladylike and refined, and the designs (especially in older catalogs) sometimes have a vintage details. They are often bold and very distinctive. They have tons of dresses, a good amount of jackets and tops, some skirts, and quite a few capes and coats for outerwear. Not a whole lot of pants patterns – I don’t think there was a single pants pattern in the 2016 catalog. IMO their biggest strength is formalwear.
Unlike most pattern companies, Marfy does not post most of their designs online. They also not not publish technical drawings, and photos are rare. Instead they publish the roughly 200 new designs they produce every year as fashion illustrations in an annual catalog. The catalog is usually available for pre-order sometime in December. (If you pre-order the catalog you usually get a special reduced shipping rate.) The catalog includes a limited selection of free patterns, of which you can preview in the catalog’s description on their website.
Another thing I should mention is that this is not a pattern company for people that are budget-minded. Nowadays the patterns are roughly $20 each. (That’s why I’ve been making a conscious effort to sew more of them lately!) The pricing is in euros, so the current exchange rate has a lot to do with how much I ultimately end up paying for them.
Marfy patterns often to have a limited size range, which IMO is their biggest weakness. Fortunately for me, every design they offer comes in size 42 (which is similar to a Style Arc 8 or Burda 38). I also think everything comes in a 46. As you can see from the size filter on their website, selections start to get reduced for size 44, sizes 48 and 50 have even less options, and pickings are slim for sizes 52, 54, and 50.
I suspect the limited size range is due to the fact that Marfy is a small team, and designing and drafting around 200 fairly complex patterns every year must be a considerable undertaking.
As far as I know, Marfy patterns are not sold in stores. If you want to buy one, you have three options:
Directly from Marfy: the people at Marfy speak Italian and English. I believe they also speak Spanish and French.
If the pattern is listed on Marfy’s website: Marfy lists their most popular styles on their website. Just add it to your shopping cart and check out like you would with any other e-commerce website. Be aware that pattern prices are in euros.
If the pattern isn’t listed: if you go to Marfy’s website and click on the Contact Us navigation item, you can fill out the form and enter the number and size of the pattern(s) you want to buy, and also indicate the shipping method you prefer. I also add my full mailing address and email address. Marfy then creates a Paypal invoice/money request for the full amount (in euros), I pay it, and a week or so later my patterns arrive in the mail.
Nancy Erickson (US customers only):Nancy Erickson from Fashion Sewing Group offers special deals on Marfy patterns in the form of postage amnesty days. There’s usually four of them a year. If you’re not in a rush this is your cheapest option. Be aware that before placing your order you’ll need to contact Nancy and give her your payment information, which she then keeps on file. For more information view the Marfy pattern page on Nancy’s website.
When you order a Marfy pattern, you get a small packet of pre-cut pattern pieces. You don’t get a pattern envelope or instructions (more on that in the next section). I always scan the catalog fashion illustration, print it out on card stock, then place it with the pattern pieces in a high-capacity sheet protector.
The fashion illustrations really throw a lot of people…it seems like people either love them or hate them! The exaggerated proportions seem to throw off/confuse a lot of people, as they’re used to patterns having photographs and technical drawings. Personally I see Marfy’s fashion illustrations as more of an expressive/artistic framework rather than literal representation of a design. It is meant to convey an idea that isn’t “real” yet. Something about the abstractness of them taps into my creative side and really gets the gears in my brain going.
When I look at a Marfy fashion illustration I pay attention to things like “How is the general fit? Is it snug around her waist, or is it a little looser? Does the hemline fall below her knees or a couple of inches above?” I’ve made both of the dresses shown below, and I can tell you that the black and white dress on the left was definitely snugger and longer out-of-the-envelope than the black and leopard print one on the right.
Another thing I look for is overall flow and fabric characteristics. You can see that the black and white dress is suited for a more structured fabric, and the orange, blue, and purple dress is meant for a fabric with more drape and flow. (A more structured fabric, during movement, wouldn’t have the fabric folds and flippy hem shown on the skirt of the orange dress.)
I also pay attention to the general details – seams, darts, proportions, etc. This is where exaggerated proportions come in handy. From the fashion illustration below I see an outerwear-style jacket with a zip front, two-piece sleeves with zippers, a dart and princess seam in the front and princess seam in the back, a belt that looks to be about 1.5-2″ in width, a subtle peplum that will hit at around the mid-to-low hip level, patch pockets with flaps, and a double collar with fur trim. The overall vibe I get is part sporty jacket, part trench coat. Marfy suggests gabardine, but I would consider any medium weight woven wool coating.
The Infamous Lack of Instructions
I don’t wish to be discouraging…but I have to say that this is not the pattern company for you if you like having your hand held, and need everything laid out for you. Beginners could be easily frustrated, as you’re expected to already have a solid understanding of sewing concepts (or be willing to do the research), be able to determine proper seam finishes, draft linings (and sometimes facings), etc. With no formal instructions you’re forced to think more about what you’re doing and be more strategic in your approach. At this point I find the lack of structure and guidance freeing and exciting rather than frustrating. (It must be my love of puzzles and INTJ personality – my mental wiring is a little different from most!) As Marfy says on their website:
Consider Marfy patterns an opportunity to let your creativity pour and make the garment with the details you prefer.
I think I had been sewing for around five years when I made up my first Marfy pattern. If you’re at an intermediate sewing level you should be able to tackle some of them. For example, Marfy 3399 is a pretty simple blouse. Just use a fabric with decent drape, and draft a facing or do a binding to finish off the neckline.
Some people like do a muslin because it helps them work out the construction, but unless I’m worried about fit/proportion, working with an expensive fabric, or the project is potentially very labor-intensive (like a coat) I usually skip on the muslin. (That’s actually the same approach I take to muslins of when it comes to any pattern brand.) Instead I prefer to do flat pattern measurements, compare the pattern pieces to those of other patterns I’ve made up (and know that fit), and include more generous seam allowances at the side seams. If I’m not sure about how to finish off or do certain things I just think about it for a while, and maybe play with the pattern pieces until the answer comes to me. I often have a general plan in mind and figure out the specifics as I go along. I pay attention to what the fabric is “telling” me, and if it is becoming obvious that Plan A isn’t the best approach, I move on to Plan B. Or Plan C.
As I mentioned before, the Marfy patterns arrive pre-cut and are folded into a little rectangle with the pattern number and size listed on the outside.
No sleeve or hem allowances are included. I use the SACurve ruler (available at The Wooly Thread) to add seam allowances after I trace them. Even though they arrive pre-cut I always trace them because like with any other pattern line, I always do a lot of fitting alterations first.
When I first get a Marfy pattern I open up the packet and lay them out on a flat surface. I keep my printed fashion illustration handy and start matching up the pieces according to the letters stamped on the pattern pieces, which are usually by corners and notches.
The pieces are not labeled (e.g. “sleeve”, “front bodice”, etc.) However, after you line them up you can kind of figure out what they are. The pattern pieces shown below are from Marfy 4009.
One thing I should note is that Marfy usually includes two pieces for collars: an upper collar (the section that shows on the outside) and an undercollar. The pieces include a turn of cloth allowances. The turn of cloth allowance is for medium weight fabrics. You’ll need to add to it for heavier fabrics and remove a little for lighter weight fabrics.
One thing I don’t like about their sleeves is how they notch both the front and back sleeve cap with a single notch. I usually add a second notch in the back so I can easily distinguish between the two when I’m at the sewing machine.
Marfy will often include little instructions on the pieces, such as:
“Easing” – fabric is meant to be eased in that section. You’ll normally see it on sleeve caps.
“Stuffing” – shoulder pads are required.
“Pleat” – usually means gather. Actual pleats are usually marked.
“Uplifted” – means that section is not sewn down, ie it is more of an overlay. An example of this is the twist detail of Marfy 3784.
Marfy patterns are cut quite slim. If you are between sizes, size up rather than down.
For a Marfy size 42, the waist is cut slimmer and the bust/cup size is a cut a little bit more generously than a Burda 38 or Style Arc 8. The hips are cut about the same as a Style Arc 8, and slightly less generously than for a Burda 38. The waist-to-hip measurement is only around 7.5″, whereas it is at least 8″ for both Burda and Style Arc. The sleeves usually have high and narrow sleeve caps, especially when compared to Style Arc. I find that my fitting adjustments are very consistent, though in order to work on my body some styles need more/less adjustments than others.
One thing to watch out for is that Marfy cuts the upper back narrower than most. If I’m working with a woven, particularly a non-stretch woven, I always add at least 3/8″ width to each back armhole. If I don’t it makes reaching forward rather uncomfortable.