Monday, April 10, 2017

Another Way to Buy Patterns

I've been using patterns from the Big Four (Vogue, Simplicity, McCalls, and Butterick) my entire life.  Occasionally I would buy an "indie" pattern -- an unusual jacket, for example, at a quilt show or sew expo.  

But this is my first venture into an entirely different system, the magazine method.  Basically, the idea is this:  an entire collection, usually released for a new season, is sold as a catalog with individual patterns on a sheet to be traced off.

I had a hard time picturing how this works, but recently I was tempted by Marfy's special offer, made on the occasion of their 50th anniversary.  They have published a 250 page catalog, which they say contains 380 designs.  Also included are ten flat patterns to be traced.  The special price is just 20 euro for the catalog.  I paid another $20 or so for the shipping.  I ordered directly from their web-site:, and it arrived in 4-5 days, directly from their headquarters in Ferrara, Italy!

I have gone through the entire collection, and marked with stickies those patterns that are included.  Here is the fashion illustration of what appears to me to be a boot-leg pant.  Oddly, there is no mention of the pant on p. 70.  But the paper pattern definitely references that page:

The line drawing clearly shows a slim leg pant, which is exactly what is printed on the paper pattern.   Guess I will have to go through the catalog again to see if there is another fashion illustration featuring a slim leg pant. 

Next, I am showing you what the paper pattern looks like:

The paper measures 34" x 50" and is printed on both sides, and furthermore, has multiple sizing, 42 to 54 (Italian sizing).  That's a lot of lines!!

Needless to say, Marfy patterns aren't for people new to sewing; there are no directions, and no seam allowances.  But the designs--classic, timeless, figure-flattering!  

Friday, February 3, 2017

How I Shop for Patterns #3

My latest order from Club BMV has just arrived!  I always look at the pattern web-sites when the new releases are first announced, so that when Club BMV announces a sale, I am ready.  Now, I would have passed on the above because you can't really see the design.  This is because they chose to photograph the designer's original, which was made up in black.  That's why you have to look at the line drawing:

I've always liked Anne Klein designs, but a few years ago the company went "down-market," and now the clothes that are available in retail are classic designs, but made up in inferior fabrics.  Have a look over at to see what I mean. 

Look at how many opportunities there are to fit this jacket!  I have a RTW jacket with these lines and it fits me well.  The princess line on the jacket front will allow me to make a deeper curve for my "C" bust (easy FBA--full bust adjustment), and the waist seam along the back will let me adjust for my sway-back.   There's even a center back seam.  I'll definitely need to make a muslin, but at least the lines already exist.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Italian Collection #3

Here's another piece from Salvatore's shop on Via Romana.  It's another "end-of-the-bolt" piece, 55" wide, and slightly over two yards.  He let me have it for 30 euro, so about $33 US.   It's very light weight, a mix of silk and wool, mostly silk is my guess.  You can't see it very well in the photo, but there's a gold metallic swirl in the print.  

Here's Salvatore himself, showing off the folded fabric:

It has a drape like a challis, and goes beautifully with this:

This piece is a (mostly) wool boucle, with some gold metallic threads.  It came from Valli Tessuti, a very high-end store located just off Via Tornabuoni, at Via della Vigna Nuova, 81/R.  Here's the clerk who helped me, who very kindly let me have the entire bolt, although I only asked for (paid for) enough for a jacket.  I ended up with 2.75 yards of 58" wide fabric, enough for a skirt as well!  

Of course, I had to have a complete outfit, so I headed over to Bacci for the blouse and lining:
I found the perfect olive colored silk  in a crepe-backed satin (or satin-backed crepe, if you prefer), and got three yards (it's 56" wide).  Bacci Tessuti Shop is located in Via dell Ariento 37/R (tail-end of the San Lorenzo market), and definitely has the largest selection of reasonably-priced fabrics in all of Florence.  If you have only time for one store, this should be your destination.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Italian Collection #2

Here's the Casentino wool again, along with several other pieces. Actually the very first piece I bought was a black wool end cut from Valentino.  Stephanie, who blogs over at "My Vintage Inspiration" has mentioned Salvatore Magherini's Tessuti store on Via Romana 1/R in Florence.  

My apartment was very near to Salvatore's store, so one afternoon I just popped in and asked if he remembered the "donna di Canada" and he did, of course.  We had a nice chat about his fabrics, which are mostly from a store in Bologna that went out of business.  At one point Salvatore was a sarto, a tailor, so he is quite the expert.  The black wool has a subtle pattern, almost like a plaid, created with yarns of a different thickness.  I'd love to find a Vintage Vogue Valentino skirt pattern, but the only one I've seen on eBay is a wrap style, and the fabric is too heavy for that.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Italian Collection #1

I spent the month of October in Florence, Italy.  Here's a photo of me in the T.A.C.S. Casentino wool store at Borgo Santi Apostoli 43r, just off Via Tornabuoni.  One can order yardage in the colors shows on the chart, in any amount.  This traditional fabric has been made for over 500 years in the Tuscan countryside, and is commonly used for men's overcoats.  I ordered two meters of the reddish brown second from the left.  Here's what I got:

Brighter, and lighter than I expected, but it's a nice rust that will go well with black, brown, gray and ivory.  And, a close-up of the textured surface:

It's quite a thick, heavy fabric (as befitting overcoats), so I am going to look for a simple design.  I'm thinking maybe a cape??  Does anyone have a pattern suggestion?

Friday, August 26, 2016

A New (to me) Online Fabric Resource!

Fashion Fabrics Club ( is having a sale!  The last time they had a sale, I ordered three pieces--this Black/brown butterfly print (#44230) is a gorgeous quality silk charmeuse, and still available.   It's getting harder and harder to find silk charmeuse in a wider width (this is 56" wide) at a price like this--$12.56 until August 29, and thereafter $13.95.  I've been seeing prices double these for quite some time.

I love the colors, but because the scale of the print is so large (and I'm petite), I will probably make a kimono style robe--maybe V9218.  When I travel I like to take a silk robe and pajama pants.  I use them with cotton knit tops for comfort.  The silk is lightweight and packs down beautifully, plus, charmeuse is hand washable.

This cheetah print is also still available (#43932) and is much more beautiful in person than either my photo or the one on the site.  It's not an allover print--there's a definite center that's darker, with larger spots.  I got this for my intended Safari Suit--it will be the lining and a blouse, for sure, and there will still be fabric left over!

I wish the website would do a better job with their photos.  They also don't do swatches, but you can order 1/8 or 1/4 of a yard, which is enough to make an infinity scarf.

I did get another cut, but it's sold out now, and my photo doesn't capture it well.  It's a cotton/silk voile, the perfect weight for late summer.  

There are literally hundreds of silk fabrics at Fashion Fabrics Club, as they have just bought out an entire inventory.  I urge you to go over and have a look--these are truly bargain prices, roughly comparable to what I've seen in LA's Fashion District.  These silk charmeuse fabrics are perfect for the lining of a LFJ and a matching blouse.

Monday, August 15, 2016

How I Buy Patterns #2

Previously, I wrote about how I buy patterns (3/7/16).  Today, I thought I would show you in a little more detail how I order from ClubBMV.  

First of all, I review the patterns each season when they first come  out.  I've signed up to receive notices directly from ClubBMV when a new group of patterns is introduced.  Also Shams over at Communing with Fabric often reviews a new collection, musing about what she might buy.

I do the same, and add the pattern numbers to my cart.  Then I wait (this is the hard part):  usually within the month a huge sale is announced.  A one-year subscription to ClubBMV costs $9.99, and you get 20% off right away.  But, if you wait, even the $19.95 Vogue designer patterns are on sale for a limited period of time for $4.79!

V9204 (see above) looks perfect for the silk blouse I'll be making next winter to go with the LFJ which is nearly finished.  Fortunately I had ordered 2 1/2 yards of this 54" wide silk from (#47222), so even though I have used some for the lining I think there's enough for a blouse.  I like that there are no buttonholes, and some choices for hemline and sleeve length.

Another benefit of these on-line retailers is that both emmaonesock and ClubBMV keep your orders on file, and you can look at them anytime.  I love this feature--hopefully it will save me from buying duplicates!