Marfy Patterns

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A McCalls email introduced me to some of the most beautiful sewing patterns. They are by an Italian company called Marfy and sold by Vogue and McCalls. If you love designer clothing you will have to take a look. I am definitely going to buy a few pattern this year.I can not believe they have been around since the 1960’s. The internet sure helps sewers share.

According to Vogue each Marfy pattern is cut and prepared totally by hand with great care and precision on onion skin paper. To ensure a perfect fit, line and elegance, each pattern is tested, studied and perfected on fabric by a skilled team of professionals. The Marfy patterns are for skilled sewers.

Marfy Patterns:
  • Do not have cutting layouts
  • Do not have seam allowances
  • Do not have hem allowances
  • Do not have instructions for assembly
  • Here are few styles. Click on the web site link here to see more.
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Jenny’s sewing history

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Here is a history lesson about Jenny and sewing! I thought it would be fun to look back.

I received my first sewing machine at age 7.  See my picture below with no front teeth. I remember I did not like the toy machine as it did not work well. I graduated to my mom’s featherweight pretty quickly.  Most of my sewing was doll clothing.  Sewing and embroidery were usually done by hand. I can still remember my uncle showing me how to design cross stitch on graph paper and I was making samplers with my own designs for a year or 2. It is a wonder I continued to sew. My mom  “made me” hem a gathered shirt by hand. I hated it. I guess I got over the trauma.

In Home economics class my first project was an apron. After that it was a jacket dress and a shirtwaist dress with pin tucks.  By the time I reached the 8th grade I was sewing with wool and made pleated shirts and jackets.  I took home economics all 4 years I was in high school. I made costumes for school musicals and even a bicentennial dress. I am a prolific sewer but most of my garment sewing was done when I learned to sew in junior high and senior high school and the first few years I worked for Singer. I bought most of my fabric from Dannemann’s, Butler’s sewing Center and Woolworth’s. I sewed everything I wore. I even sewed bathing suits because I needed a few. We lived on the water and believe it or not I water skied every day. Those were the days. I could not afford a wardrobe so I made it.

When I reached college my mother gave me her Singer featherweight to bring to school.  I was popular because I had one of the few sewing machines in the dorm.  I sewed for class or special occasions because the budget was small.  I made a Vogue designer tailored suit. The ensemble included a wide high waist lined slack with cuffs and a ¾ length tailored jacket with belt by Yves Saint Laurent.  If only I could wear that fashion statement now.  In one class we designed our own fabric.  I created a pair of bell bottoms with hand stamped butterflies. I wish I had a picture.  I also made a long peasant dress that was tie dyed and wore it for years.  Again you have to picture the fashion statement as cell phones were not around yet.  I guess I should be grateful.

Once I started to work for Singer I sewed complete wardrobes.  We had so many choices as sewers back then. When I moved to Atlanta, Ga I found the greatest place to buy fabric. It was called Cloth World. I loved that place. They had endless round tables displaying fashion fabric stories of colors and coordinating fabrics.  Singer was a close second in fabric display.  Now days you do not see that many fashion fabrics and a lot of times it is displayed like at Mood from Project Runway, in tubes that are stacked on top of each other and impossible to view. G Street had some great fabrics but again I was not thrilled with the display. I always had to fight the fabric to find something.  I was and am a bit spoiled.  I guess we should be grateful for the few stores that are left to service the sewing public. It is funny when you think about it. Retail is struggling today just to remain open, yet they still have such possibilities. Recently I went to Hobby Lobby to touch and feel the fabric there. They had a few nice pieces and the display was well maintained. I saw a lot of old friends in that fabric department. Thing is, it is a city block and ½ from the store entrance. I do not like to hike that far for interfacing. I will buy it on Amazon. See, I told you I am spoiled.

I remember driving to Clear brook, West Virginia to buy the wool to make a winter dress chesterfield coat and a double breasted pinstripe suit in wool and the black suit you see the pattern of.  I looked up the woolen mill and it is now a Grille. Times have changed a lot of things.

When I first went to work with Singer I traded in my featherweight complete with table and all accessories for the new Singer Futura II and then the Athena. I had one of the first electronic sewing machines. I also bought one for my mom. We had a lot of fun on that Singer machine model 2000.

The age of double knits appeared and I was in love with the techniques and the fashion.  I even free motion embroidered complete floral vine patterns on several suit jackets.  See the picture of the blue pantsuit I am wearing.  I made my own sweaters and had a coordinating jacket and pants for every look.  It is hard to explain how inspiring the fabrics were back then.

I was sorry to see our local Kmart close here in Salisbury, MD.  If I remember back to the 70’s and 80’s it was Kmart and Sears that introduced cheap clothing to the public. That started the end of fabric retail because it was now economically as cheap to buy your own clothing, rather than make them.  Now Kmart will soon be gone. Walmart hit us in the 90’s did a number on retail too. Walmart has tried to own and sell everything. Walmart started with fabric, then they took it out, now fabric is back in the store again. It goes against my small business sense to shop at Walmart although I know a few people that do.

When I opened Jenny’s Sewing Studio in 1982 we were on the start of the quilting and sewing craft craze. I offered about 2,000 bolts of colorful cottons. When we opened the cotton was 2.99 to 3.99 a yard. When we closed our quilt shop in 2008 the cotton was selling for 7.99 to over 10.00 a yard.  I have probably made over 100 quilts and wall hangings.  I also enjoyed making lots of quilted clothing, dolls and crafts.  I still have a few quilts I saved and display  for the different seasons.  Quilting really revived sewing for many years. Machine embroidery and quilting helped sell a lot of sewing machines .

I sold Singer, Janome, Bernina, Pfaff, BabyLock, Brother, Juki, and Simplicity sewing machines. I owned one of each top end model and used the machines to learn the features and create samples for my store.

Hancock Fabric came into Salisbury for a few years. Jo Ann fabrics and Mays fabrics also had fabric in Salisbury. I saw them come and then go. None of these fabric chains lasted over 10 to 15 years here. 

We had some really great customers and held some great classes and seminars on sewing, embroidery and quilting. I knew most of my regular customers by name and enjoyed their visits to the store. Life is about sharing and I think that is the number 1 thing I like about sewers, they share. I offered in store clubs for the sewing machine brands and software classes on machine embroidery. I still offer hands on classes on a “one on one” basis.  Hours I spend with these sewers is priceless to me. I try to capture the customer and project unless I get so busy time gets away from me.

Lately I have offered some custom sewing for customers. I am picky as to what I will sew but enjoy being creative.

We will see what the future of sewing brings.  I hope a new generation of sewing enthusiasts opens new markets for the creating fashion. Of all the sewing I have done,  I still liked sewing my own fashions the best.  I loved to make something out of a mistake or pull all my scraps together and create from them. It was the heart of my sewing. Today I enjoy teaching students how to sew and hope they will continue for years to come.

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Happy Spring Sewing from Jenny’s Sewing Studio

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Welcome Spring!  My mom keeps counting the days till spring. I try to tell her the weather might not improve on the 20th of March.  I think we are in for another Nor’easter.  I think that is 4 big storms in less than a month. Other than preparing for the storms I have been sewing to past the time inside.

I recently lost 62 pounds this year and am trying to take in all my spring clothing to fit. It is a huge task. I refuse to buy new clothing right now so I am trying to be creative. I have cut off at least 8 inches on the sides and tucked the necklines so they are no so large. The next step is to shorten sleeves and lengths.  I like my clothes and it would cost a fortune to replace all these clothes.  My goal is to lose 60 more pounds in the next year. I will be happy with working on a pound a week.  At some point I am sure I will need a new wardrobe, not now.  One thing I have to say is thanks for knits!

I started a Pinterest page on Creative Clothing and Vintage Clothing and I look at the ideas every so often to get inspired. The pictures remind me of what I would like my clothing to look like. The sewing market has changed so much in recent years.  The picture of the shirt waist dress will give you an idea of what I was sewing in junior high school. I made a dress identical to the blue dress and wore it a lot. Full shirted shirt waist dresses were also very comfortable. Today you might not find the Peter Pan collar but I think I could find a shirtwaist dress in a pattern book.

 In the early 1970’s I started sewing pantsuits with double knits. They were main stay in my wardrobe.  I fell in love with knits.  

There was nothing like going into a fashion fabric store and seeing the drape and feeling the fabrics. Locally all we have is Hobby Lobby and Walmart.   I miss the fashion fabrics that were coordinated to tell a fashion story and the fabrics would be mixed and matched to make pants, jackets, dresses and shirts.  I can remember spending hours buying fabrics to make entire fall or spring wardrobes with. I do not have the need for such wardrobes of clothing now but I still desire style and comfort.  I will probably never wear another dress, but you never know.  I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s when I think clothing nice fit and style. 

I look forward to sewing clothing again.  I have tried the shopping on-line approach but it takes much longer to research and find that special fabric. I do have a few fabrics in my stash and I think I will be able to embellish the fabric to make a special look for myself. One of my favorite embellishments is piping. The bag picture shows you some self-made piping. I think I can place the piping in the seams and on the edges and always used the piping foot to make it an easy insertion.  

Another embellishment is topstitching. The walking foot really helps keep the stitches even and straight. I have used 2 top threads placed through the same needle eye to get a defined stitching look. To help you get the best look on your topstitching I have a kit that is on clearance. Get the walking foot, guide ruler, a 1/4″ foot and a free motion foot all for the price of a walking foot. Kit fits all low shank sewing machines.

I have a student using this kimono pattern in a “Continue Sewing” class.  I like the garment, it is a great jacket and really dresses up the plain top and pants I already have. This garment gives the sewer plenty of challenge with facing, interfacing, border prints, and learning to under stitch.  The fabric for this kimono is also a challenge. If you are looking to advance your basic skills I suggest you plan 2 or 3 lessons on the jacket.

I hope you are planning your Spring sewing to include a new wardrobe garment. Have fun and enjoy the sewing till the warm weather comes!

 

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First snow of the season

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It is snowing in Salisbury, MD and it is so beautiful. I just want to turn off all the lights in the house and look out every window to see the snow filled trees and the falling snow.  Sorry I can not capture the beauty on film but thought I would share what I could. Tomorrow when I have to shovel the snow it will not be as pretty.  We are expecting anywhere from 4 to 8 inches.

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Helpful sewing tips

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There are lots of ways you can save time and problems when sewing. I call these helpful sewing tips! There are probably 1000’s of sage advise sewing tips. I will share just a few right now.

My beginner sewers learn all about the seam ripper. Thank goodness for the seam ripper. I like the small sharp rippers. When I first learned to sew I would do lots of extra sewing steps to try and cover up mistakes and not to rip it out. I usually ended up ripping the mistake anyway. It was a lesson I learned early. 

A great tip is to use a straight pin at the ends of the buttonhole when cutting a buttonhole with a ripper, so you do not slice too far.

Change your sewing machine needle when starting and new project and throw the used needle away. Most of the time the needle gets burred with little effort. When we had our repair shop the first thing we would do is put in a new needle. Check your book for the best style and size of needle needed. Here is a link to the needles Jenny’s Sewing Studio sells.

Another helpful hint is to check the top threading before you sew your project. I always use a scrap to check the stitch. If you are getting a bunch of loose threads under the fabric it is usually caused but incorrect threading on the top side. Make sure you place tension on the thread as you bring it through the threading path. That way you seat the top thread for correct top tension.

When beginner sewers come to class and I teach them to use the sewing machine I notice one consistent thing. Everyone want to push the fabric or pull it through the sewing machine. I advise the sewer to learn to steer the fabric from in front of the presser foot. I will use my left hand to hold or smooth the fabric before the needle and the right hand to steer the direction the machine is taking the fabric. with practice the correct hand hold on the fabric will mean straighter seams. Sometimes I recommend a magnetic seam gauge. most students love to use the guide.

A oldie but a goodie is the Singer Sewing Book. When I first went to work as a sewing instructor for Singer in 1972 this was my first purchase. Today you might be luck to find a copy on Amazon. It is an encyclopedia of all thing sewing and I use the reference all the time.

That is all for now, till next time, Jenny

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Singer Sewing and Embroidery machines

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I have several students who are always looking for a new sewing machine and yes, I still sell a few sewing machine models for Singer. 

You should be able buy a very nice Singer sewing and embroidery machine for under $1200.00. The Singer Futura XL580 is what I now use for everything and I love the machine for all kinds of sewing and embroidery. Must have features for a sewing machine include a front drop in bobbin, needle up and down, electronic speed control, easy threading, an easy buttonhole and lots of decorative stitches are also pluses. A custom bed extension can be purchased for any machine and is nice to have. The ease of electronic stitch selection is a must and good lighting helps a lot. The machine will last for many years and is a major life investment.

Here are links to Singer machines and  video that show the operation and features of several sewing machines.

I carry a Singer Legacy line of sewing and embroidery machines. The nice thing about Singer is the on-line video instruction that you can watch to learn what your machine can do. Please click on the video links if you are interested. I have the sewing machine version Singer C440. and the sewing and embroidery version Singer SE300

I have recently added the Used Singer Studio embroidery only S10

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Learn to Fit class

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If you have ever sewn your own clothes you know that fitting is the main issue most sewers have to over come when making a brand new dress or jacket or pair of pants.  I have had many requests to teach pattern making and for the sewer to make their own patterns they need to understand fit.

In 2 -3 hour classes Jenny’s Sewing Studio will teach you to fit patterns. Get that perfect custom fit. You will use McCall 6901 basic fitted pattern. In class fit and sew a gingham basic fit dress to use as a base for future sewing pattern fit and design. You should be able to fit most dresses and shirts with skills learned in class.

In the first lesson bring McCall’s M2718 pattern and your 1/4″ check gingham in a pastel color. I will measure you and help you make all pattern adjustments. Cutting and marking the fabric will be done as time allows. Make sure you wear something form fitting to class so measurements can be taken over the leggings or leotard.

In the 2nd lesson we will sew and fit the pattern to create the perfect fit. A new pattern will be created as a reference for future sewing. This is an intermediate class and not designed for the beginner sewer.

Perfect Pant fit will also be available. Since these are one on one classes you can choose the best time to take the class.  In 2 -3 hour classes Jenny’s Sewing Studio will teach you to fit a pant pattern. Get that perfect custom fit. You will use McCall 6901 basic fitted pattern.

In the first lesson bring McCall’s 6901 pattern and enough muslin and some sewing thread to create a fitting shell. I will measure you and help you make all pattern adjustments. Cutting and marking and sewing the muslin will be done as time allows. Make sure you wear something form fitting to class so measurements can be taken over the leggings or leotard.

You will need to cut out your new pants so we can construct a perfect fitting pair of pants in lesson 2. This is an intermediate class and not designed for the beginner sewer.

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Hat hoops for all embroidery machines

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Do you ever feel like a mushroom, hidden away in darkness wondering where was I? Today I had a very enlightening class with a student learning the Singer Futura XL400. She has been working with her Futura for some time and found a hathoop web site that makes hoops for the XL400 and all current model Futura. That was exciting. The web site is hathoop.com

I have ordered a hoop for my Quintet and plan to make a video on how I would use the hat hoop on my Singer Futura. I will let you know next week how I do with my hat.

Hathoop has hoops for most home embroidery machine so if you are in need of a hat hoop, this is the place to shop.

If you need sticky paper for your hat hoop project shop Jenny’s Sewing Studio at this link.

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