Marfy 3201 On the Hoof

My usual photographer (DH) is at work, so I coerced DS the Elder to get a few pictures of me in the coat. It’s crappy weather here in Boston, so we got some shots near the tree.

On the Hoof
This is how I’ll usually wear it – unbuttoned at the top
Buttoned OtH
I’ll button it up when it’s really cold out
Good Morning Mr Scrooge
I was going for “Good Day, Mr. Scrooge” but I think it turned out more “Auntie Mame at the fox hunt”

And now, on to something completely different.
Happy sewing!

Pattern Review: Marfy 3201 Coat with Attached Cape

Well, that was epic.

But yes, folks, after a year, two months, and four days from when I decided to make this coat, it finally is finished! If you want to read the back-story, you can check out these posts:

The Muslin, Part 1
The Muslin, Part 2
Cutting it out
More Tailoring

And you can see the more recent progress in the last few posts. So, on to what matters… My opinions! 🙂

Pattern Description: Double-breasted trench-style coat with cape lined in tartan jersey, flared bottom, and short belt that emphasizes the waist.

Sizing: 38-58 (Euro/Italian Sizing). I made a 44.

Fabric Used: Bright Red wool flannel and Square Deal Silk Charmeuse in Red tones, both from Gorgeous Fabrics, of course. Both sold out, sorry.

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130 home sewing machine. All of The Pressinatrix’ favorite tools.

Needle/Notions Used: For the lining, Universal 60/8 needle. For the buttonholes, Topstitching 80/12 needle. For the coat, Universal 80/12 needle, Sew-in hair canvas interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, shoulder pads that I’ve had in my stash for a long long time, twill tape for stabilizing the roll lines, leather from my stash for the belt, belt buckle from M&J Trim in New York, buttons from Botani in New York, large snap from Pacific Trims in New York, Japanese hand needles and Sleeve Head Tape from Susan Khalje. Thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Anything by The Pressinatrix, A Tutorial on Topstitching, Hemming the Marfy Coat, a Tutorial. Probably some others that I’ll add as I think of them.

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? Hahahahahahaha! You’re so funny…
Seriously, Marfy comes with no instructions. You’re advised to print out the picture to use as a guide, and you are expected to know what you are doing. It’s best to have a Good Sewing Book next to you for reference when sewing Marfy. Marfy patterns, or at least this one, are beautifully drafted, and while a bit intimidating, they go together well. Just take your time, check your sewing references when you need to and trust your abilities. And if anything goes wrong? Well, fake it til you make it.

Construction Notes: I could probably write a novel, but I’ll keep it brief.

Marfy Patterns come printed without seam allowances. I used 1-inch SAs for the major seams, and ½ inch SAs for sleeves, facings and enclosed seams.

I shortened the length by about 4 inches, to make the coat less formal. I also found that there was a drafting error I pointed out in the muslin phase: the sleeve capes are not the same length as the back cape. I’ve only seen one other version of this pattern made up, and I notice the same issue on that one, so I think it’s fair to call it a mistake. But it’s an easy mistake to fix, so I didn’t get too wrapped around the axle about it. I shortened the sleeve capes and went along my way.

There are a few things you should note if you decide to make this coat. One is that if you make the caped version (there’s also a view that leaves the capes off), you must use a lightweight wool, like the one I used. Why? Look.

At one point, there are nine, count ’em, NINE layers

I’ve seen mille-feuilles with fewer layers. Be prepared to spend a lot of time grading and trimming.

For that same reason, I decided against sewing the epaulets into the shoulder seams. It would have been too much bulk, especially with the shoulder pads. Instead I finished the raw edges and topstitched them at the shoulders.

I put a large snap at the waistline on the inside to secure the under layer

Oh, snap!

I spent a long time last night testing out buttonholes. Originally I was going to take the coat to Jonathan in New York, but I won’t be able to get there before the end of the year. Instead, I broke out the trusty Pfaff and used the semi-automatic buttonhole feature to make corded buttonholes. I set the buttons so I can either close the coat all the way to the neck, or leave it open:

Note the roll of the cloth on the lapel. That’s on purpose…
Because when the neck is open they roll to the right side. Oh yeah!

Enough of that, let’s just cut to the chase. Here she is in all her glory, on Shelley:

With the lapels unbuttoned
With the lapels buttoned up
The Sherlock look
I love the cut of this
And, the back!

Likes/Dislikes: I LOVE this coat! It will be really really warm. I love the lines, I love the drafting (that one error in the capes aside), I love the fit. Yes, it was worth the wait!

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I won’t do it again. This is a statement coat and I only need one. I definitely recommend it, as long as you have the skills and patience to do it well. This is a demanding coat, and it demands attention at all phases. But if you’ve got better-than-intermediate skills, and you like a challenge that pays off, absolutely go for it!

Conclusion: Love. It! I’ll try to get pictures on me tomorrow. Now I need something easy and fast for my next project.

Happy sewing!

Hemming the Marfy Coat, a Tutorial

Toby asked about hemming the coat, so I figured it was worth showing what I did. There are lots of different ways to hem coats, depending on the finished look you desire. You can interface the hem, in which case you hand stitch bias-cut 2 or 3 inch wide interfacing (for a coat you usually use hair canvas) along the hemming line. You can also pad the hem with a 2-inch strip of lambswool. I didn’t do either of those for my coat. I didn’t want to add any body to the hem, and I didn’t want to have a very soft edge, which the interfacing and lambswool would do, respectively.

The first thing I did was to trim out a triangle of fabric within the seam allowances at the hemline, to reduce bulk:

Trimming a triangle on both sides of the SA, with the point close to the seam, eliminates much bulk when folded.

I pinned up my hem (2 inches, in this case)

Note there is fullness that needs to be eliminated, thanks to the cut of the hem.

Now, there are several ways to eliminate the fullness at the hem. One is to use a gathering stitch to ease the fullness into the hem. That works very well with lightweight fabrics, especially when you have a circle skirt or any other type of skirt where there is a pretty good-sized difference in the circumference of the raw edge and the hem. Another thing you can do is to cut little triangles out of the hem allowance. That also works very well when you are dealing with a large cut-edge/hem circumference differential. But neither of those were really appropriate here, thanks to both the hem and the type of fabric that I’m using. Instead, I decided to shrink out the excess with steam and a very light hand

I don’t put the iron on the fabric, but hold it about 1/8th inch above and steam it like crazy

This leaves a soft, rather than sharp, hem.
Much better fit!

Shrinking it down took just a little time, and once it was done, I used a catch-stitch to secure the hem.

Yeah, that looks pretty nice

To affix the lining, I pressed a ½ inch hem along the bottom. I matched this to the raw edge of the coat hem and used a slipstitch to attach it to the coat hem.

Lining attached to the coat

And a closer view

So that’s how I do it. No rocket science. I’ll do the same thing on the sleeves, then I’ll attach the closures and be done. Hopefully it will be all finished this week. Hope that helps, and
Happy sewing!

Progress on the Marfy Coat and a Tutorial on Topstitching

Happy Holidays, Campers! Now that I’ve picked up the Marfy coat again, it’s coming along very nicely. It’s amazing how taking a break from a project gives you a fresh outlook. The major construction is pretty much done (and there are some serious construction considerations that I’ll put in the review, for anyone who wants to make this coat – nothing bad, just stuff you need to know). I spent a lot of time thinking about the topstitching on the lapels and front. I wish like all get-out that I had thought about it last year when I was topstitching the pockets and the chest shield. The topstitching on those is not bad, but it could be better, and it could be closer to the edge. Live and learn, eh?

Recently I saw a blog post from a self-styled ‘expert’, where the topic of topstitching was discussed. I have to say, it was appalling. Seriously. I try very hard not to criticize, but the information in the post was so wrong, and it is read by many new sewing folks, that I have to say two things right up front. (Bad language alert)

1: Topstitch all the way around any piece. Half-way is half-assed, people.

2: Topstitching is not used to finish an open seam. And most certainly not partial topstitching. See #1. Slipstitch your openings, then topstitch. It takes less than 5 additional minutes and you won’t have your seams falling apart after the first washing. Just do it, dammit.

Okay, now that’s out of the way, let’s talk about topstitching in general terms. The Marfy coat has a fair amount of topstitching to it. I haven’t done the topstitching on the cape pieces, yet, but I did topstitch the lapels and smaller pieces. When doing the lapels, I decided to test out a few different options for getting my topstitching done well. I have to tell you that, while I have very little OCD, seeing wobbly topstitching is one of the few things that makes me want to take a seam ripper to someone else’s work, especially when there are so many different tools to help you do a nice, even line of stitching. Let me show you some of the options that are available on my Pfaff machine. I suspect there are similar options for just about any machine. I made tests of each of them on some scrap wool. I’m using black thread for contrast so you can see it clearly. I’m only using a single thread (I’ve seen recommendations to use doubled thread for topstitching, but it’s not the effect I’m going for here). I set my stitch length to 3.5 mm. And I have several different feet that I can use to get an even topstitching line. Here are the results for each:

I prefer to sew my seams with an open appliqué foot.

When I sew seams, I use an open appliquĂ© foot. I find that it Gives Me Good Control. If you have a steady hand, and don’t have to go over many layers, it can work well. But in a coat, it can move around a lot, giving you uneven topstitching.

One of the standard feet included in my machine is a Blindstitch/Overlock foot. It has a little wheel that rides (in this case) along the edge of the fabric. It’s rather like a stitch in the ditch foot (which I don’t own). I think that foot could also work well for topstitching along an edge as well.

The little wheel runs along the edge of the fabric

I also have an edge stitching foot. The only difficulty with it is that it is left-handed, meaning the bulk of the coat has to fit under the harp of the machine. When you are dealing with a big ol’ winter coat, that’s pretty much a non-starter. It’s perfect for shirts, though.

This foot has a two-tier bottom. One is lower than the other to easily run along the edge of your fabric.

Last but not least is the regular foot (or I could use the appliquĂ© foot) with an edge guide. I don’t know if other manufacturers do this- I would assume they do. The nice thing about this is that it’s adjustable to whatever distance you want from the edge of the fabric, so you can topstitch wherever you would like:

The distance from the edge is adjustable


So what was the winner in this case?

The Blindstitch/Overlock foot!

For my preferences, it gave the best results. I moved the needle over all the way to the left, so I got a wider edge.

I liked this foot the best, though all of them have their merits. Of the four feet I tested, all but one of them (the appliquĂ© foot without the edge guide) give you good, solid guides for topstitching. Here you can see the coat in its still-unfinished glory. It’s getting really close. I need to hem it, then I have to figure out when I can get to Jonathan to put the buttonholes in. I hope to finish it before Christmas, so it’ll only be a year late. More shortly.

So far so good…

Happy sewing!

Guess What’s Back on the Sewing Table?

Yep. After getting so tired of winter last year that I couldn’t even stand to look at my Marfy coat, I put it aside in the sewing room to ferment age like a fine wine. Today I picked it back up, refreshed and ready to go.

Taking a break gave me time to think about and plan out the changes I needed to make to the sleeve capes to make them the correct length. And today I jumped back in! The sleeves are now attached, as are the epaulettes (yes, they are supposed to go down the sleeve, not up the shoulder). Tomorrow I’ll work on the facings and lining. I would like to get this done over the next week or so, and see if I can sneak in one more trip to NY before Christmas to have Jonathan do the buttonholes.

The Pressinatrix has a few choice things to say about coats and coatings, so I’m sure you will all be hearing from her soon. But for now,

Happy sewing!

Some Sewing, Scary Fabric, and a Giveaway!

It feels like forever since I’ve done much blogging, or sewing for that matter. As you might imagine, launching the new Gorgeous Fabrics Website has been all-consuming. And thanks to everyone for your kind words and compliments – I just love the new site, and so do most all of you! Man, it was like giving birth both in time and effort. But the result was totally worth it!!

Now that the site’s up and running, I have had a little time to spend on sewing for me. Yay! I’ve pulled the Marfy coat back out and started the major construction. The biggest slowdown (after work, of course) was the belt. I determined that I wanted a leather belt, rather than fabric, so trying to get just the right leather (patent) and buckle (dark nickel, D-shape with a prong) took a lot of time. But I found the right ones, and now I’m on a roll! The shoulders are basted, and I have the back cape attached. I’ll add the sleeves/sleeve capes later this weekend. The lining is done and waiting to be sewn in when the outer shell is ready. Here’s a picture of the progress so far.
Marfy Coat 3-15-14

Next Saturday is International Cut Into That Fabric Day!
So how are you coming along on your planning for International Cut Into That Fabric Day? You have a week to plan. Next Saturday, we do it! Want to see the fabric I’m going to finally cut? It’s a fabulous stretch cotton from Armani. I’ve had it in my stash for years, but I’ve been stymied by what to make with it. While the fabric itself doesn’t scare me, the size of the motif does. I still haven’t decided completely but I’ll have the pattern picked out by March 22. So how about you? What are you going to cut into next week? Inquiring minds want to know. 🙂

ICITF Fabric
I’ll be using single-layer layout for this one, that’s for sure

Giveaway Photo
Seriously, this is one of the best fitting resources out there

Giveaway, Kittens!
To celebrate the launch of Gorgeous Fabrics’ new website, and just because I’ve been wanting to do one for a while, I’m holding a giveaway! As you know, I’m an advertiser in Threads Magazine. They were kind enough to give me a 4-DVD set of the Threads Fitting Series. They didn’t know that I had already purchased a copy when the set first came out. So you wonderful readers, along with all our Gorgeous Customers who have purchased from us since the site went live, can have the chance to win this great resource! Anyone who purchases from Gorgeous Fabrics between March 1 and March 30 is automatically entered into the drawing, but you don’t have to buy anything for a chance to win. Just leave a comment on this post and you’ll be entered as well! This is a fabulous resource for getting a great fit. On March 30 at 6:00 PM Eastern we’ll draw one name and that person will be on their way to better fitting garments!
Leave a comment here and good luck!

Happy sewing!

Missed the Deadline

Thanks to other deadlines that are more important (I know, what could be more important than my Marfy coat?) I won’t have a coat to send with DH to New York.

Bits and pieces, pieces and bits
Bits and pieces, pieces and bits

I guess I’ll just have to brave the hordes and make a day trip to Jonathan in December. Oh, the hardships, right? 🙂

Happy sewing!

The Pressinatrix Would Like a Word…

Darlings, Sewing Kittens, Minions Dearest Readers,

Your beloved Pressinatrix would like a word with you. Dears, it has come to The Pressinatrix’ attention that there has been some inquiry in the blogosphere lately about pressing and pressing tools. Well never you fret, my pressing poppets. Your Pressinatrix is here for you, with information that while being witty and pithy, is also going to make sure that you always, always have results that will elicit coos and gasps of admiration from the hoi polloi non-sewing masses – and even (especially!) from the sewing cognoscenti – when you wear your perfectly pressed garments in public.

First up, let us review the basics. Of course, you all read religiously The Pressinatrix’ posts about proper pressing technique and tools, no? Of course you do. But just to remind you,

Click Here to See a Compendium of The Pressinatrix’ Posts on Pressing and Pressing Tools

And if you prefer your information in a more videographic medium, Click Here to See a Video About Pressing.

There, isn’t that refreshing? But that’s not all that The Pressinatrix has to share with you. Currently, Ann, The Pressinatrix’ lesser self alter ego, is working on a marvelous Marfy coat. Very Burberry, darlings, but with a longer capelet. She will, thanks to The Pressinatrix, look fabulous in it. Why? Because The Pressinatrix is making sure she properly performs each pressing process with particular precision. Oh, The Pressinatrix does amuse herself!

But seriously…

This coat requires work to make sure that it looks like the many-thousands-of-dollars garment to which it is equal or superior. That means much time and care will be spent shaping it with steam, heat and pressure. Not all of these are applied at the same time, which is a very important point. Remember, kittens, it is possible to over-press a garment, and your Pressinatrix would never want you to do that. So here are a few illustrations to show you how to use your plethora of pressing tools to help you achieve great results. First up, let’s talk about the biggie – your iron. Believe it or not, when working with many fabrics: wool, cotton, linen and more, you don’t have to press down hard, or even apply the iron directly to the fabric. You can let the steam do most of the work. Steam is a wonderful tool for shaping natural fabrics (and even many synthetics). You don’t need to slam your iron down onto the fabric. In this picture, The Pressinatrix is holding the iron a teensy bit above the collar seam. Note the ham, darlings, note the ham. Always press curved seams over a curved surface. After blasting the seam with steam, flat on both sides of the sewn seam:

Please pardon The Pressinatrix' cell phone pictures.
Please pardon The Pressinatrix’ cell phone pictures. Now hold your iron about a quarter inch above your garment and blast that puppy with steam.

then open, the results are simply, well gorgeous.

Oh, isn't that seam just glorious?
Oh, isn’t that seam just glorious?

Next up, The Pressinatrix used a marvelous little tool called a clapper. The Pressinatrix bought hers from a wonderful eBay seller, but you can use a smooth block of hardwood (maple, oak or cherry, for example) with great results. To give a crisp edge to the finished cape pieces, The Pressinatrix simply holds the iron right above the edges and steams  thoroughly. Immediately after taking the iron away, The Pressinatrix takes the clapper to the edge and lightly applies pressure until the fabric has cooled to the touch.

Light pressure will do the trick.
Light pressure will do the trick.

Contrary to what you may have heard, you don’t need to lean on it with all your body weight. Yes, there are some wools (meltons, very heavy boiled wools are two) where you need to put a lot of pressure on the fabric, but it is most definitely not the case in every instance. So The Pressinatrix urges you to test some scraps of fabric. After all, we want your garment to look couture, not, “pressed to death”.

Now, isn't that Gorgeous?
Now, isn’t that Gorgeous?

And finally for this evening, let’s talk a little about darts. Your Pressinatrix sewed the darts in the sleeve cape and pressed them open over a ham:

It is important to position your dart carefully on the ham to match the curvature, thus avoiding the dreaded "dart end bubble"
It is important to position your dart carefully on the ham to match the curvature, thus avoiding the dreaded “dart end bubble”

As with the rest of this garment, I have used lots of steam and a modicum of pressure to get the results I want. And this is the result The Pressinatrix wants:

A no-bubble dart
A no-bubble dart

My dears, The Pressinatrix is tired, and has much to do on her lesser self’s alter ego’s coat before it is done, so I shall bid you bon soir, bon nuit, and

Happy pressing!

No Really, Things are Happening

It’s just that, between work, family, tailoring, and everything else, the coat is coming along slowly. But surely! The collar is all pad stitched, and today I spent the afternoon with Phyllis, and we worked on our projects. I did a lot of hand stitching, applying interfacing to the outer shells. And tonight I did lots and lots of pad-stitching. Since pictures are way more interesting than my words, here you go. First, I attached the interfacing to the lapel facings with catch stitching, then I basted it:
3201 Facing Before_1024
After it was attached to the facing, I pad-stitched the lapel:
3201 Pad Stitching_1024
Here’s the fully pad-stitched lapel
3201 Pad Stitched Facing

I still have to do the other lapel. This is the really slow part. Once the hand stitching is done, the rest should hopefully go together quickly. I hope so, because after this week I think it’s supposed to get cold around these parts!

I hope you’re all having a great weekend. Happy sewing!

The Marfy Coat is Coming Along…

It’s just that this is the part of the project that’s like drywall. Lots happening but nothing is very interesting to look at. The coat is completely cut out – shell, lining and interfacing. We had guests again this weekend (more on that later) so I wasn’t able to work on it much until today. And what I worked on today was getting the inner structure ready to go.

Like any tailored coat, this one will be well interfaced. I cut out all the base interfacing pieces: the facings, the collar stand, the under-collar. And I’m considering what to use for a chest shield, or if I even want one on this coat. I spent a lot of time today going through some old Threads books (Great Sewn Clothes and another whose name currently escapes me) to remind myself about tailoring techniques. I’m trying to balance the standard techniques with current style mores, which is always an interesting mental exercise. Most of the tailoring books (not the textbooks: I’m talking about the books written for the home-sewing public) were published before 1990, so it is a fun mind game to figure out how to adapt to current technologies.

So what did I do today? I attached the interfacing to the collar-stand and under-collar pieces. Thanks to the Threads books, I tried a technique on the under collar: stitching the interfacing to muslin. Basically, you cut the interfacing up to but not into the seam allowance, then you stitch it to a piece of muslin, which is cut to the size of the pattern piece including the seam allowance:

3201 Under Collar Stand and Collar Stand
I haven’t decided if I want to interface both collar stand pieces. I’m thinking only the under collar (the one with the machine stitching). I was going to do the same thing with the under collar, but I could only find one muslin piece from my test garment, so I decided instead to just catch stitch the pieces to the wool.

3201 Undercollar Ready for Padstitching

I sewed the under-pieces together, and I’ll be doing pad stitching over the next few days. So like I say, lots being done, not a lot to look at.

I mentioned that I had company this weekend? Last night was the Winchester Hospital Gala to benefit the Breast Care Center. We got the band back together – every year a bunch of us from our ‘hood go to this event. Can I tell you? We are THE party table. 🙂

This is the only fancy dress event I go to all year, and I usually make a new outfit. This year, thanks to my Marfy coat, I didn’t have time to make a new dress, so I wore a bright red four-ply silk dress (Butterick 4343) that I made several years ago for a recital. It’s very plain, very Audrey Hepburn-esque, with a little fun detail that you can’t see from this picture – I used Susan Khalje’s embellished zipper technique and sewed sequins with seed beads along the zipper. It’s one of those things that people look at the dress and then go – hey! That’s really cool!

Here’s a picture of most of the group. BFF Barb and BFF-in-law Kevin weren’t able to make it in time for the group photo.

That's Hoover in Front
That’s Hoover in Front

A great night was had by all, and a lot of money was raised for the Breast Care Center. And at the end of the evening, they gave us a beautiful floral centerpiece to take home!

How did that shot glass get there?
How did that shot glass get there?

Happy sewing!