couture sewing

Marfy Top Chiffon Version

chiffon topOne more version of the free Marfy top pattern before I retire it for awhile. I needed a simple black top for under suits and this seemed to fit the bill. The flocked silk chiffon is from B&J Fabrics in NYC ( ). Using this fabric without lining was out of the question. I’m not into that see-through of a chiffon
I tried a layer of flesh tone china silk but wanted a softer effect.
chiffon and nude
Tried a black lining but that muted the dotted pattern too much. It looks much darker than the photo shows.
over black
Finally the right combination was to underline the dotted chiffon with a layer of plain black silk chiffon and use the nude chink silk as a lining.
three layers
I also chose to extend the shoulder about an inch for less of a cutaway armhole.
extended shoulder
I basted the two layers of chiffon together and seamed them using French seams. The lining was also stitched at the shoulders and sides with French seams. Baste all layers together before finishing the armhole, back opening and collar. I used silk tulle to create armhole facings. If you’ve never worked with silk tulle before it truly is a magic fabric. I use it to underline laces, stabilize seams and do loads of other finishes where you don’t want any added bulk. It is PRICEY and few shops carry it. It is available in black and off white but dyes easily if you need a special color. Expect to pay $125 to $160 per yard but I save every scrap as it can be used for so many things.
The tulle will stretch more in one direction than the other, (no need to cut it on the bias) so cut two pieces (one for each armhole) two inches wide and longer than the length of the armhole seam. Fold it in half and press. armhole shape tracing
I use a scrap of muslin and trace the armhole shape (no seams) onto the muslin with a waterproof fine point sharpie. You don’t want water soluble ink coming off when you steam. Then shape the tulle to match the traced edge. The folded side goes towards what will be the inside of the garment.
shaping silk tulle
Now you have a perfectly shaped strip to use as the armhole facing. Sew, understitch and press. Tack it to the lining being careful not to catch the face fabric.
facing basted
Inside of the finished top showing edge finishes.
tull binding
The back opening is a slit finished the same way with a narrow strip of silk tulle cut on the straight grain.
back opening
I completed the top with a velvet neckband, buttons and handworked thread loops. The fabric layers are joined together at the side seams with French tacks.
inside french tack
And the back view.
back view

couture sewing

Marfy 3182 Continued

I’ll give more info about changing the sleeve bands.  This is a long, detailed post so skip to the end if you would just like to see the finished photos.

I decided I would like the sleeve trim to extend to the vent rather than just a band encircling the hem. I chose black silk peau de soie for the trim on this jacket. Peau de soie has a satin weave and is moderately stiff so it will provide the support necessary for the collar and cuffs. The silk version behaves much differently than polyester so be sure you are buying the real thing.

sleeve trim layout - Copy

I made the trim slightly narrower than the Marfy pattern, decreasing the width from 1 and 3/8 to 1 and 1/8 inches. I also narrowed the trim bands around the neck and front to match.  Not a big change but I felt it looked better. Here is the new pattern with circles for the buttons so I can visualize the finished look. I use paper towels or shop rags for this. They are flexible,cheap, can be written on, pressed and don’t tear easily.

Completed pattern and marking the peau de soie trim. Cut it on the true bias so it curves smoothly.

satin trim layout - CopyI allowed 1/2 inch seams.  Cut 2 for the right side and 2 for the facing side. I allowed wider seams at the upper edge of the facing pieces so the sleeve lining can be sewn to them. Press on a quality fusible interfacing, also cut on the bias. Peau de soie curls like crazy but the fusible will tame it. I used satin weave fusible here.

peau de soie curling

Next take your pattern back to the sleeves. You will sew the underarm seam first. It’s much easier to work on this before the sleeves are set into the jacket. Now mark exactly where the trim will be and staystitch on that line.

staystitching first
Just a quick note about my serged edges. Sergers are generally a BIG no-no in couture sewing. I do use one for certain things. This fabric was so loosely woven it ravelled like crazy and I’m not sure hand overcasting would have kept it together.  I serge only the face fabric after basting to the underlining. This ensures the serging won’t distort the fabric. I use fine cotton embroidery thread, a three thread stitch and set to the longest length possible. This gives a very flexible fine edge and doesn’t destroy the drape of the fabric. Note how the underlining is turned back and I am only catching the outer layer.
Next staystitch the trim exactly on the stitching line. Stitch only the inner edge; I will double check the trim width after sewing it to the sleeve and readjust my seam lines if necessary to have an even width band.first stay of facing
Now carefully line up your seams and stitch the long edge of the trim to the sleeve. Don’t cross seams; leave long thread tails and tie them off. You might not think this would make a big difference but it really does. Seams will press much easier and the garment won’t be stiff, especially where multiple seams cross. Takes more time but it really is worth it.
trim stitch 4
Work your way around the trim, stitching each segment after lining up the seams. Make sure you cross the corners at a sharp angle to give a clean line to the finished trim.
trim stitch 2 - Copy
finished first step
Double check that your bottom edge seam is an even width all the way around and remark if necessary. Now you need to apply stay tape to that bottom edge (remember this is cut on the bias) so your hem doesn’t grow. There are commercial tapes and some books suggest using the selvages of silk organza but I have found this too stiff. Make your own by cutting bias strips of china silk. Pin one end down to your pressing surface and pull hard on the other end while hitting it with a good blast of steam. You will feel the fibers release and stretch. Pin the other end down and let it cool. Steam and stretch again to make sure you have stretched it as much as possible. Don’t unpin until it’s totally dry and cold! You will have the best stay tape that’s fine, flexible and won’t show through to the right side. I cut 1/2 inch strips and wind up with stay tape about 1/4 inch wide.
trim stitch 6
One more quick pressing note. I dislike using a spray bottle as it’s tough to control where all that water goes; not good if you’re working on silks. I use a cheap chip brush and brush water on top of my press cloth exactly where I want steam, then press dry without using steam. Much more control as to where you are putting steam. Then weight the seam (I’m using an old, heavy iron, not plugged in of course) and let it sit until cold. Amazing how much flatter you can get bulky fabric using this technique.pressing 1
pressing 2
pressing 3
Now attach the facing to the lower edge. Notice how this is wider than the 1 and 1/8 on the right side. This gives me room to sew the sleeve lining high enough that it doesn’t peek out. Sew only the lower edge as I’ll show you how to turn the corner and get it perfectly sharp and straight.
sleeve facing 1 - Copy
Press the seam open and then turn all layers away from the right side.
turning corner 1
Now fold the right sides together keeping all the seam allowances to the wrong side.
turning corner 3
Stitch and press open using a point presser.point presser
Some books tell you to trim the fabric at an angle but I’ve found I get much sharper corners if I don’t trim anything. Insert a point turner or I use a pair of blunt end scissors or not too pointy knitting needle and turn the corner. Carefully work the fabric over your instrument until the fabric forms a sharp corner. Work carefully as you don’t want to poke through.turning corner 5
If the fabric bunches up and won’t cooperate turn everything wrong side out and try again. Try placing your turning instrument next to the inside of the right side and turning the seam over.

The completed sleeve:trim finishedAnd a closeup of the finished sleeve:

Cuff detail
Cuff detail

This side was just off. Notice the stitching line at the top of the trim is slanted.
I do try and fix these little details. Maybe someone else woundn’t notice but I know it’s there and it would bug me.  The top edge unpicked and restitched.
mistake fixedInside the finished sleeve with lining hand stitched around the vent.
inside ventI’m still not sure about the buttons. I need to wear this tonight and this was all Joann’s had. I tried black but everything had a rough surface which I was afraid would snag the peau de soie trim. Also undecided about whether or not to have the buttons contrast.  I’ll wear it for awhile and reevaluate when I can get to M&J or other source. Also, the front buttonholes are just openings in the seam which joins the trim band to the jacket. That makes them invisible; it was just a bit tricky getting all the layers to line up so the openings were in the same place on both sides. I then slipstitched all layers together around the buttonhole edges.

Photos of the finished work

finished 2
Collar worn folded down or flipped up.
finished 3
This pattern could also be made as a quilted unstructured jacket and I would make the following changes:
Eliminate the collar and trim
Raise the underarm an inch or so
Eliminate all facings and canvas interfacings
The front neckline might need to be raised/reshaped
Take at least an inch off the sleeve width.
Here is my test version in polar fleece and I think it will work out nicely as a quilted jacket.
test version
I liked the raglan sleeve lines on this and will try and get a quilted version started before too long.


Marfy 3182 Finished

front viewIn December I was lucky to have an unexpected trip to Paris and PROMISED my husband if I could have an outing at Janssens & Janssens (probably one of the most spectacular fabric stores in the world) that the my purchases would NOT wind up as collectibles.  Marfy 3182 was an ideal design for this fabric so this post is also a review of the pattern.

Additional views:

side view

Sorry for the blurry photo
Sorry for the blurry photo
Closeup of the fabric
Closeup of the fabric
Cuff detail
Cuff detail

I made a few changes to the pattern, although Marfy styles don’t usually need much tweaking. The jacket IS boxy, as the illustration shows.Pattern View

I chose to raise the front shoulder seam 3/4 inch at the front neck edge, tapering to nothing where it meets the armhole seam. The corresponding amout was removed from the sleeve.

altered front shoulderGreen thread shows the origonal pattern, red is the new line. I also removed an inch from the sleeve width. I underlined the jacket with washed silk organza which also provided a much needed layer to attach all the interfacing needed to support the lapels and collar.front interfacing

Hair canvas was inserted into the front, back, sleeves and underarm. Cut the canvas inside all stitching lines except the underarm seam; it is needed there to support the armhole. Catchstitch all interfacing to the silk organza underling being careful not to catch the face fabric. A back view of where the canvas is needed.

back interfacingI also added a layer of heavy silk organza to the collar to provide support but not add weight. This was loosly pad stitched to the under collar.

collar supportI changed the sleeve banding shape and will detail that in the next post as it is somewhat involved for anyone who wants to try it. The pattern went together easily and all necessary match points were clearly marked. The banding requires precise measuring and stitching but it all fits together if you take your time and align everything first.

lining up bands

More details in the next post.


Bias Fringe

This is in response to several requests for more detail on bias fringing after viewers saw my jacket in the Reader’s Closet section of Threads Magazine. I don’t have any more of the fabric used in the jacket available but have used a close substitute in these demos.

The pocket fringe is made by cutting 1 inch wide strips of fabric on the true bias. Staystitch 1/2 inch from the edge using a short (about 1 mm) stitch. Stitch again on the same line. You don’t want the fabric threads pulling loose. Use a knitting needle or tapestry needle to gently unravel the fabric along one side.Bias Fringe stripMeasure the outside edge of each pocket flap and make a strip of fringe long enough for each pocket. Sew the fringe around each flap edge rght sides together. Turn, press and fell stitch the lining to the wrong side. Trim the fringe to the finished width you want either with scissors or rotary cutter.


pocket underside

For the front lapel facing, cut a bias strip 6-7 inches wide and about 6 inches longer than the jacket front. You will need this extra length as the lower curved edge is treated like giant piping. Staystitch and unravel as before. At the top where the lapel makes a right angle, cut your bias at a right angle leaving extra to cover the underside of the neck facing.
lapel facing
Shape the bias strip to match the contour of the front lapel using a steam iron.
front jacket lapel
Turn the jacket seam under, slip baste, and sew the shaped lapel to the jacket. You won’t be able to ease all the fabric out at the lower edge where there is a curve. Sew a couple of darts in the facing to curve it around.finished corner
Red threads highlight where two darts are sewn to allow facing to curve.
facing darts
Hope this helps clarify the techniques used. Please leave a comment if you need more info.
I’m working on Marfy 3182 and hope to have that post ready tomorrow. Here are a couple of preview shots.
Marfy 3182
Marfy 3182 Jacket facing