Sunday, August 19, 2007

Marfy Catalogue

Recently I ordered the Marfy Catalogue for autumn/winter 2007-2008. Unlike most magazines which make you wait 15 weeks for their editions by which time they would be completely out of season (although perhaps it makes sense for Australians) they actually shipped it by airmail and it arrived in a week or so.

Included in the catalogue are 6 actual patterns as well as lots of piccies of other patterns. Although they are multi-size the included patterns cover different ranges and actually only 3 of them include my size, a skirt, a top and an odd cape thing. When you order the individual patterns they come in only one size I think the idea is probably supposed to be that you test out your size on the included patterns and then order with confidence.

I started with the skirt pattern since I had some cheap heavy denim hanging around waiting to be used up. The mistake I made was that I cut a 44 instead of a 42, although I didn't realise this until the end. Having worked this out I now feel quite confident that 42 is the best size for my lower half at least. The pattern has 8 quite small pattern pieces which makes for easy work cutting out, since I don't really have room on my little kitchen floor for laying out huge amounts of fabric all at once.

Since the denim was quite thick and the start of the catalogue swore that frayed edges are way-cool :-o , I adopted flat construction techniques and so with the aid of some fancy stitches on my machine to stop fraying beyond the decorative I slapped the skirt together in a day. Even though I had to take it in rather a lot (due to cutting the wrong size) I really like the shaping of the skirt. James thinks the details (like the pocket and my top-stitching) are weird but I quite like them, even though people do keep telling me they are "cute".

The really cool thing about Marfy patterns is that they have no instructions beyond a few labels written on the pattern. I thought this might be a hindrance to construction but turns out that it enabled me to make a skirt in only a day! No pattern instructions would ever have allowed me to make this skirt the way I did. Maybe it will fall apart in a year but by then frayed edges will probably be well-uncool so it will probably be for the best... The word "couture" is all over the Marfy website, which is quite funny - I don't think this skirt could have been made any less couture...


An American Shirt

Kwik Sew 2777. Some barrel scraping conveners at the AGU have asked James to submit an abstract to their session, so for the first time we might be attending the "Fall" AGU meeting in San Francisco. How exciting! Taking place in mid-December this meeting really does coincide with the time the leaves are falling in Kamakura, while British people are more likely to consider mid-December to be mid-winter. I wonder what it is like San Francisco in December - don't they have summer all year?

Anyway, of course James will seek to blend in with the locals so what better than an American shirt? Question is what makes it look so American? The consensus of the comments on my review on PR seem to think it is the extra (muffin and steak?) space in the body and arms and the sloppy off the shoulder fit (for putting your muscles in from working out at the gym?). But I think there is summat funny about the collar. I think British collars are more square...? Of course it is not fully American because it does not contain a pocket to fill with leaky biros and notepads which, at least when I used to visit labs in the US with my Pa when I were a little girl, is a vital accessory for all American scientists.

In reality, this is a practice at men's shirt making using some incredibly cheap (100¥/m) and less than lovely fabric. It doesn't drape well which I think may make it look even baggier than it is. The real reason for making it is to see if I can make James some shirts which fit. All his long-sleeve shirts are too short in arms and body and too wide.

I've got the length sussed at least. I made size M adding several inches to body and arms to make the equivalent of XL lengths. I had some fun practicing some shirtmaking techniques. It is hard to keep edgestitching neat on such inordinately huge lengths (much easier on tiny blouses for jules). I had one or two other problems, getting the machine stuck on the collar points and finding that the top cuttonhole was in the wrong place. The are discussed further in my review on PR.

I have David Page Coffin's famous shirtmaking book. When I read his book I can't get the image of the pedantic and murderous George from Desperate Housewives out of my mind.... Anyway this time I followed only a few of his simplest suggestions - how to turn collars and how to roll-hem the hem. Next time I will probably try and incorporporate more of his clever techniques but this time I thought I'd try the pattern instructions - which seemed good enough for a practice.

I have now adjusted the pattern a bit, taking 1.5cm width out of left and right body and yolk pieces. Then I took 0.5cm off front and back at the edge and so 0.5cm off the edge of each sleeve top tapering to nothing the cuff. I also very slightly reshaped the back armscye moving it in 0.5cm at the base of the yolk. I wonder if that will mess everything up and mean poor James can't wave his arms, but that part really did seem like it had loads of extra fabric.

summer top thing

This top is based on Burda 8361. When I compared the pattern pieces to my own t-shirt pattern they were so radically different that I thought this was a chance to have some fun attempting to transfer the pattern details onto my own pattern.

I started by finding the height on the back to chop the t-shirt pattern in half horizonatally. Then I cut the front in half but with a curve like on the Burda pattern. The v of the neckline seemed low (why should become apparent later in this story) so I added a short CF seam to raise it a bit. After that it was just a case of swivelling the bust dart to the horizontal seam and drafting the pseudo-arms, which are just extensions of the shoulder.

The mistake I made was failing to realise that the shoulder to tit distance of the Burda pattern was too long for lil me. As a consequence the bustline was too low. Of course I only realised this after cutting out the fabric and basting the top together to try it on. To compensate I raised the shoulders an inch but of course this means the top is now a bit tight round the ribs and also it meant that I had to do the view with the unstitched arm-shoulder seam, since the arms would now be rather tight stitched up.

The top came out fine really and I have been wearing this quite a bit in the hot summer. Made of "onionskin" knit it is slightly sheer and feels best with a lightweight vest worn underneath. The vest is silk and I think the onionskin is polyester so that might be why it feels so much better with the underlayer.

This pattern used so little fabric (<1m) that I have enough left over to make a repeat. It is for fun since I rather enjoy the pattern-geometry stuff. I've already drafted a hopefully improved pattern so now just need time to stitch it and see if I've made things better or worse.