Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Marfy pattern for my Birthday Dress - part 1

Each year I make something special to wear for my birthday, usually a Vogue designer pattern if there is one that grabs me. This year I tried something different and chose a Marfy pattern. These patterns are hand made in Italy and come in specific sizes, with no seam allowances or instructions. Here is a link to their website with background on their philosophy and history.
Marfy sewing patterns have a very low profile in the sewing blogisphere, at least among the blogs and sites I visit. My interest in them was sparked last year when someone at a sewing group asked me if I had made one and was surprised that I had not. A selection of them are sold on the Vogue patterns website so I kept checking to see if there was one I might try. The actual Marfy website has their full offering, but in both cases they provide illustrations only, with no technical drawings. It took me while to choose one for a lot of reasons but I finally put in my order for model F2422. If you look at this link on that site you can see the size chart below the illustration.

Marfy F2422 pattern illustration
The next decision was the size. Their patterns come in specific individual sizes so I ordered a size 42, described as B 34.5". W 27" H 36" which is close to a Vogue pattern 12 that I always start with.
Here is my pattern as received. The outer envelope is about 6" x 9" and the pattern pieces are all folded up as shown here. It seemed so minimalist as compared to the usual Vogue pattern stuffed with tissue and instructions. Not necessarily a plus or minus, just interesting.

Marfy pattern envelope

It actually took me a while to figure out what all the pieces were, partly due to the very limited labeling and partly because there were a lot of pieces that were almost the same shape. The pieces on the right are the mirror images of the neckline pieces, labeled as facings, and then a hem facing, which kind of puzzled me and I didn't use.
Marfy all pattern pieces1
Abandoning my "I rarely make muslins" philosophy I figured it was a necessity here, particularly since I was trying a new pattern company and had no idea about their fit. I knew it would be too small in the waist and hip so in my lazy late night haze I decided to add 1 inch to the center front and center back seam. I figured that would give me the bit of extra room needed which turned out to be a bad idea.
Here is the first muslin, shown on a dress form that is adjusted to be pretty close to my measurements.
Marfy muslin version 1 front
Notable problems are the bust area is too big, there is gaping across the front and back border pieces, not enough shaping at the waist and too tight in the hips (which I anticipated) and the whole thing is a bit boxy for my taste.
I have stated before that fit is the final frontier in home sewing, the topic where I see the most angst-ridden comments or painful confessions so here we go with all the gory details of fitting this dress. And speaking of gory, I have become quite a slasher lately - not anything too grisly, just slashing away on test versions of things to release the fabric and see what adjustments are needed. So I will show you the result of my slashing here, on the dress form. Nobody needs to see this on the live model - me, eek! But even my slim hipped dressform needed a bit more space for her backside :).  By slashing I could see how much extra was needed and where. 
Marfy first muslin back view
Once I made this up I had a better feel for their shaping, ease and other features so I was able to modify the pattern, sew a second muslin, do a few adjustments on that and get the fit accomplished. I will show all those details in the next post. 
Seeing the backside on this muslin combined with the fact that Marfy is an Italian pattern company reminded me of a shopping day I had in Italy. I was buying a wool suit, the jacket fit perfectly but the pants were a touch snug. The very snooty sales girl looked me up and down and then pointing to my backside said "La problema é la" which I bet I don't even need to translate. Despite her I found a gorgeous charcoal grey suit with a great fit which I wore endlessly and always looked good. Made in Italy - the real thing, is certainly worth it if you can find something in your budget. Shoes, gloves, scarves, sweaters, lingerie, handbags - those are the items I always shop for when in Rome :) No plans to travel there soon but a girl can dream, right?  

Late September in northern California - a few swirling leaves, slight chill at night but shorts and a tee weather today. I hope it holds up so I can wear my summer dresses a few more times before a jacket is needed. Still picking plenty of Sun Sugar tomatoes and thinking of planting some lettuce for a fall crop.
Did I show you this one? I am crazy for these teddy bear sunflowers, only about 18" tall but so cute. 

Happy sewing,  Beth

Teddy bear sunflowers


  1. Nice work on the muslin. Your birthday dress is going to fit so nicely now.

  2. Happy Birthday Beth!
    You tell the truth, fitting is the final frontier in home sewing. ANGSTY.
    Oh, those Italian salesgirls.
    I couldn't find any clothing to fit me in Japan, but the lingerie in France was pretty fabulous. :)

  3. Such a wonderful birthday present!

  4. This is going to be a wonderful dress, I love the design! I've always been curious about Marfy but not tried one yet, since they are pretty difficult to get hold of here, would have to order online. I'm really looking forward to seeing how yours turns out.
    Your story about the Italian salesgirl made me smile! yes Europeans just say it how it is! I have Italian relatives by marriage so have firsthand experience of that :D and it's not considered rude but intended to be helpful, and if its any consolation she would probably be quite surprised to hear that she caused offence!

  5. Happy Birthday, Beth! I'm looking foward to seeing the dress--I know it will be great!

  6. Ah... delving into the unknown - so good to see this surface on le blog!! Fitting really is the final frontier - but so necessary. Patterns are really just a starting point, and whilst I find it amusing some people direct their frustrations towards the pattern (totally understandable!) it's really not fair on the pattern. After all... are 8 standardised sizes really going to cover every single body shape the human form has to offer? I think not. That said, fitting oneself is truly a difficult thing to do, especially when working with a new and unfamiliar pattern company :) Are you still thinking of persevering with this one? Or switching back to something from the TNT zone? Either way, I know I'll love your end result. Have fun! :)

  7. As always, thanks for the detail Beth, really illuminating seeing the outcome of the slashes. It's a lovely idea to make something special for your irthday, this pattern in interesting and am looking forward to seeing what fabric you choose.

  8. I'm happy to see that you're working on this dress - I've no doubt your final result will be smashing :)

  9. Actually Marfy don't have their entire range on their website either. The only way to see all of them is to buy the catalogues.

    I look forward to seeing your finished dress.


  10. Those little wait details are very cool- I can't wait to see it done!

  11. Thank you for showing your marfy pattern. I've been wondering about them, but have seen few reviews. I'm looking forward to seeing your birthday dress!

  12. Thank you so much for this. In my quest for learning new things, a Marfy pattern is on my list. i will be following your journey with great interest!

  13. Very interesting info on the fit differences and beautiful sunflowers!

  14. Happy Birthday and I'm sure the dress will be smashing. Love the story about the Italian salesgirl...I tried to buy clothing in Tokyo years ago and was told "Perhaps another store where the sizes are larger" :-)

  15. I had no idea that Marfy sent pattern *pieces* instead of a sheet! One would think that a printed pattern sheet would be less labor intensive.

    Looking forward to seeing the evolution of this dress!

  16. I have sewn several Marfys and I find the fact that you only get a small envelop of pattern pieces refreshing You get the pieces you need in the size you need and nothing else. You did the right thing, laying out the pattern pieces matched together like a finished garment and taking a picture has really helped me in the past. Sometimes you do get lost in all the pieces, having a reference really helps.

  17. Cute dress! I like the idea of making a dress for myself for my birthday...that will be my new tradition.
    I am using the picture of your sunflowers as my desktop background...hopefully you don't mind...