Tuesday, August 19, 2008


This is Marfy 1661 from this year's catalogue. When I were a lass I used to wonder why those close fitting dresses, which I now learn are called "sheath"s never fitted proper, and concluded I must be a uniquely weird shape. Probably it is true, but now it I realise that because they are close fitting the ready to wear versions of these sorts of frocks probably fit very few people.

So first I made a test using some wool blend fabric from the Emma One Sock online store. The pattern size is 42 which seems to fit quite well for the other patterns I have tried, sometimes requiring taking in a bit at the hips or letting out a bit at the bust. So I cut the 42 with 1 inch seam allowances. It was quite easy to put together the fronts and backs but took a while with all the pocket details and top-stitching. The pattern has some lining/facing pieces for the top of the bodice. Since my fabric was pretty solid I just made these from cupro lining fabric.
According to this book I have on making Linings, when you line a sleeveless frock, before stitching the side-seams you are supposed to stitch right sides together fashion fabric and lining pieces and then pull the frock through both the straps. I was sure this was impossible, since my fabric was quite thick as well as sturdy, so instead I did the front and back linings separately and then stitched the shoulders together after having turned the attached linings right sides out.

Then it was time to put in the zipper up the back and stitch all the long seams. I basted them first and then discovered I had to take in the waist and hips a bit. Then I stitched it all together. The final result was a bit of a mess at the back. The hem hung at an angle and there was extra fabric at the back waist. I've had to make what they for some reason call a "sway-back" adjustment before when making close fitting t-shirts. This is where you take a horizontal dart out of the back. So I played around with the fitting and decided to adjust the pattern, taking both horizontal and vertical darts out of the back and, because of the low-hanging back hem, I didn't add the removed fabric back in again on the hemline. I didn't want to go chopping up the test version though, so to make it acceptable I just stuck a couple of vertical darts in the back and sewed the hem crooked. It looks a bit odd at the back but seems pretty much OK all things considered. I also adjusted the pattern to take a cm out of the back neckline since it gaped a little.

Next it was time to stitch a real one. For this I had some linen-cotton-lycra blend stretch fabric also from Emma One Sock. Since the fabric is a bit transparent and also a bit rough to the touch I fully lined this with some white stretch silk charmeuse from Sarah Veblen's online store. This time I did manage to pull the frock through the shoulder straps although only half the dress at a time since I did this step before sewing the centre front and centre back seams. These fabrics were both very nice since neither frayed much at all. This was a surprise since plain silk charmeuse seems to fray a great deal. With the stretch of the fabric I didn't need to insert a back zipper which was also a bonus. Weirdly I found that I had to take a a couple of cm out of the front of the neckline. I did this by altering the centre seam between the neckline and bust. The bad thing about this version is that I think the neckline was better before I went and top-stitched it. Apart from that it fits quite well. At least James says it is better than the practice. I have been wearing these two frocks at work quite a bit through the hot hot hot sweaty summer.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful dresses! You may wish to sew lingerie strap holders onto the shoulders to keep your undergarments from showing.

luckylibbet said...

Beautiful job fitting! Love those style lines - Marfy is terrific at giving one those gorgeous details.