Category Archives: Marfy

Alabama Chanin Jacket and Skirt

img_0559Yippee!  I’ve been working on this Alabama Chanin jacket and skirt since April.  They weren’t on my SWAP list but looked like a great challenge.  I was inspired by the prolific Ruth at Corecouture.  My plan was to stitch during my train commute instead of reading blogs and going down the Pinterest rabbit hole.  That part was a success but it crowded out my regular machine sewing as it’s quite addictive!  I sewed on the beach, at soccer games, at my mom’s, on the deck overlooking the lake….. It’s a whole new world once you’re not connected to the iron and sewing machine!

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For those of you not familiar with Alabama Chanin, it’s a high end 100% hand-stitched clothing line designed by Natalie Chanin and created by local seamstresses in Alabama.  The garments are all sewn from locally sourced organic cotton knit with various techniques such as appliqué, reverse appliqué, embroidery, beading, and sequins.  It often has raw edges and reminds me of folk art.  Natalie is happy to share her techniques with intrepid sewists and has written several books on her techniques complete with stencils and patterns.

THE PATTERN/SUPPLIES

Except for the peplum detail borrowed from a Marfy pattern, the jacket and skirt were both drafted from my slopers.  The fit is pretty good except that the front of the jacket doesn’t hang quite right.  It falls open at the waist and the bust feels bosomy which I am not.  I have several theories as to how to fix this but that will be another post.

The fabric and most of the thread (embroidery floss and ordinary button and craft thread) are from AC.  I also found some “hand quilting” thread at Joann’s which seems to be the exact same stuff as the button & craft thread except it comes in more colors.  The stencil pattern is Alabama Chanin’s Anna’s Garden.

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IT’S ALL ABOUT THE TECHNIQUE

This project had a lot of ‘firsts’ for me.  First hand sewn garments, first time stenciling, first appliqué, and first “embellishments” except for that denim skirt that I embroidered in high school.  I’ll try anything once.

I did a lot of experimentation with markers and paint colors and finally decided on Tulip spray paint.  The jacket is a teal paint on turquoise fabric overlaid on camel fabric.  This was originally supposed to be a reverse appliqué but after cutting out the shapes on several pieces I decided that I didn’t like the way the camel was working against the teal so I restitched about half the back.  The layers are connected using a backstitch with embroidery floss which takes forever.  Let’s say 6 to 8 hours per piece and I think there were 17 pieces.

Finally I added some sequins and beads around the front neckline.  I know, I’m a wild woman!  Oh and I almost forgot the snaps which have crocheted covers thanks to a tutorial on the Alabama Chanin blog.  I’m a newbie crocheter and this was amazingly tiny, done with thread like lace!  I just kept redoing it until I had three that looked similar.

The skirt is the opposite colorway with brown paint on camel fabric over a turquoise layer.  This was done with a running  stitch in a tan button thread which is much much faster.  It’s cut with a reverse appliqué and a raw hem that curls up ever so cutely.  The waistband is a foldover elastic sewn on with a stretch stitch.

THE MANY LESSONS LEARNED

  • Don’t spray paint outside, when it’s windy.
  • Have an excuse ready for when your husband finds a needle on the stairs.
  • Check the sofa throw for needles before sitting on it.
  • Use a the thickest mylar you can find.  Mine was too thin and would roll up when the paint was wet and stick to itself making quite a mess.
  • Needles travel well in a magnetic tray with a cover.
  • You will find tiny bits of fabric behind the car door handle, on the coffee table, in your tote, and in your bathrobe pocket.
  • Watch the thread tension on the backstitch.  I started with the back of the jacket which turned out a bit tighter than the front.
  • It pays to experiment.
  • This is not a race.  Savor the journey.
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Marfy F1973 – Winter Coat

Last Fall I was experimenting with with different winter coat patterns and finally settled on Marfy F1973.  The most important feature for me was the raglan sleeve.  For a winter coat that I will be wearing over jackets and sweaters it’s easier to get on and off and doesn’t seem to bind at the armhole with a raglan cut.  It has generous sleeves and I liked the look of the swirly skirt and wide collar that I could use to showcase some faux fur.  The belt is plus to keep out drafts and the length works for most of my skirts.

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Marfy F1973

This was meant to be a ‘super coat’ that would withstand the Boston weather on my daily commute and it did not disappoint!  I finished in December so I was able to put it to the test during our winter from Hell.  It’s definitely not very svelte but I’d rather be warm than chic.

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Faux Fur Collar

FABRIC

The fashion fabric is a very soft tweedy wool twill that I purchased from Sawyer Brook several years ago.  Amazingly it’s not itchy at all!  On my screen it looked like a very warm brown, sort of a camel color so I pounced without ordering a swatch.  I should know better when spending the big bucks.  It’s actually a very cool brown and drab tan and not something I would have selected if I had seen it in person but heh, I’m already over it.

A Live Model!
A Live Model!

I got the faux fur from Kashi at Metro Textiles the last time I was in NYC.  Buttons are from Joann’s I think.

Lining.  Support buttons on inside.
Lining. Support buttons on inside. Photobomber: Waffles

CONSTRUCTION

Marfy patterns have no instructions so I used my trusty ‘Jackets for Real People’ by Palmer Pletsch.  I also drafted the lining.  Big picture:

  • Construct the outer shell complete with the undercollar
  • Assemble the facing, lining, and overcollar.  The lambswool was basted to the individual lining and facing pieces before being stitched together.
  • The windproofing is a seperate interling extending from the neckline down to the waist.  The sleeves of the windproofing are only connected only along the top half of the armhole and are cut back a bit at the underarm to reduce bulk.
  • Attach the entire outer shell to the inner shell along the front and collar edge.
  • Buttonholes at the front are bound.  I made standard buttonholes on the sleeve tabs.
  • Oh the collar – it’s actually a double collar.  The faux fur is a separate piece that is tacked on for the season so I can send the rest of the coat to the dry cleaners.
Marfy F1973
Marfy F1973

PATTERN/FIT

Since it’s not very close fitting I only made a couple of changes:

  • Lowered the beltline by an inch
  • Lengthened the sleeves by an inch -something I should be doing on all my Marfy coats/jackets.
  • Flared the side seams out starting at the waist so that the circumference at the hem is 4″ larger.  It just didn’t have that twirly Mary Tyler Moore thing going on that the pattern image shows.  Not sure it was necessary.
  • Added 20″ to the length of the belt!
  • What I didn’t notice on the muslin is that the back neckline is a bit low. It’s drafty at the back neck unless my scarf is positioned just so.  Not sure if I needed to just raise the back neckline or make a rounded back adjustment.

LESSONS LEARNED

  • Order a swatch!  Don’t be so impulsive when ordering fabric except at Emma One Sock.
  • Check neckline when reviewing fit.

White Jacket – Marfy 9636

As part of my record of makes I’ll be including some things that were made a few years ago and posted on Pattern Review.

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I am a big fan of Marfy jackets. I made this when I really had no idea how to properly fit myself or properly interface, etc. I had an image in my head of an off-white jacket that I could wear in the summer when it’s cool in the early morning and cold in the office. After studying the Marfy options, I went for this one because of the collar design, princess seams, faux pocket flaps and peplum. It’s OK for a first pass, but I am itching to do this one again in another fabric.

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The fabric consists of two coordinating cotton upholstery fabrics, one smooth, and one textured. I fell in love with the textured fabric but won’t use an upholstery fabric again. Promise. This jacket practically stands up by itself.  The lining is a basic Bemberg, but it has a bit of show through.

Check out the Marfy sketch below. It has a companion stole with it so you can’t even see the front of the jacket!

marfy 9636

The red in the sketch above shows how I was studying the style lines.

Lessons learned: Don’t sew jackets from upholstery fabric.