Fancy Dress: Marfy 3920

We had our last wedding of the year earlier this month, which finally gave me an excuse to get out the Marfy 3920 pattern I got all pervy over when I saw it on the Vogue pattern website back in July (strangely, I don’t see it on Marfy’s own site, but it was shipped from Marfy so who knows).marfy-3920-18

I loved this pattern when I saw it, but I love it more after making it. The drafting is really something to behold: this is a sheath with a billowy top that narrows around the high hip and forms a straight skirt. That’s a tough shape to get to lay nicely on the body – think massive trapezoids – but the single sleeve is what really does the work here.

marfy-3920-11 <– The face that says ‘This? My first cocktail?’

It’s a bit hard to see in the line drawing, but the sleeve cuts about one-quarter of the way into the bodice on the front and back, and it runs from the shoulder to the waist. That gives a lot of fullness on top, narrowing to a slim skirt. But it’s not shapeless – one side has a bust dart to control a bit of the fullness on top as well.

Here are the best shots I have that show the back of a flattering slim skirt despite the billowy top. marfy-3920-8marfy-3920-7

Pattern porn over, lets get to some adjustments and construction.

In terms of adjustments: Right out of the package I did a full bust adjustment, adding in 1.5” on both sides. (I was working with a size 42 for my shoulders and upper chest, but am a bit shapelier than the Marfy block).

I traced the pattern onto Swedish tracing paper, cutting horizontally at the waist (so only the top of the front body piece was affected. I then cut down the center front line in order to handle each side separately, given that one side has a dart and one just gathers.

On the side with the dart, I did a proper full bust adjustment before lining it back up at the waist and taping it down. On the side with the gathers, I simply slashed vertically in between the two gathering notches (which correspond with notches on the neck band) and then added in 1.5” of width, figuring that I could just gather in the additional fullness. I then lined it up with the gathered side with the darted side, matching the old waist seams to account for the additional height (remember that a proper FBA adds both width and height). I then smoothed the neckline out a bit.

I made a quick muslin to check fit. Things were more or less okay, but I added in 1/4” of width from the hip down to get a little more movement (so, 1” in total).

For construction: I used some awesome Jason Wu silk crepe from Mood for the outer fabric (looks like they’re out of the silk georgette in this print but they have a chiffon here). It was pretty transparent, so needed an underlining. The pattern popped a little more with a black backing than a white one, so I used this black silk charmeuse that’s been in my stash for a while, and has been made into this dress as well as one of these tops.

I used the plain black silk as the neck band as well. That piece is cut on the bias, which makes sense in that it has to wrap around your shoulder. I also interfaced it and cut the interfacing on the bias, but if I were to do this again, I would try using the cross grain for the fusing. The neck band stretched out quite a bit after fusing, so much so that I about 1” off of it using the pattern piece as a guide once it had stretched.

There aren’t separate lining pieces, and I don’t think you need them. I simply cut one of both the main and the lining, and hemmed the lining about half an inch shorter.

What follows is my construction order, for posterity and in case it helps anyone else keen on the pattern (it’s really not so hard for such a dramatic dress!). If you aren’t in the midst of making this, feel free to stop here at these photos.

marfy-3920-10  marfy-3920-3

– Cut 1 lining, 1 main fabric each of the back, sleeve, and front pieces.

– Cut 1 neck band in whichever fabric you’re using. Cut fusing and fuse to the fabric, pressing. Hang the piece, or stretch it as you press, and later remove any excess length by comparing to the original pattern piece. Redraw pattern markings if you need. Set the neck bands aside.

– Stich a line of gathering stitches along the neck and shoulder lines on both the lining and main bodice and sleeve pieces.

– Stay stitch side seam where the front and back bodice pieces meet (this is the shorter side, the side without the sleeve). I’d also recommend stitching a strip of selvage here along the seam line to stabilize things. I forgot to do this and my side seam stretched out a bit. Nothing too terrible or noticeable, but also something easily avoided.

– In both the lining and main fabric, sew the bodice darts.

– In both lining and main fabric, sew the front sleeve to the front bodice, using a French seam.

– In both lining and main, sew the back of the sleeve to the back bodice, using a French seam.

– In both lining and main, sew the undersleeve and right side bodice as one, using a French seam.

– Assess how deep you’ll need a zipper to be (mine was about 7 inches). In both the lining and main fabric, mark that point. Now sew the side pieces together from the marked end of the zipper to the bottom, using a French seam.

Now for the fun part:

– Sew the neck bands together at the shoulder seam (this will be the V-shaped sides). Clip into the point of the V before pressing the seam open. Press the side seam of the underarm portion in towards the band.

– Fold the entire neck band in half lengthwise and press.

– Gather the neck line and shoulder lines of the main fabric, line up the notches with those in the neck band, and pin. Pin a lot.

– Sew the neck band to the main fabric bodice.

– Unfold the neck band, so that you can line the part that will face your body up with the lining fabric. Make necessary gathers with the lining fabric, line up the notches, pin and sew.

– Install the zipper. I chose to do a hand-picked one in order to have more control over my slippery fabric (and also because I started watching Luke Cage on Netflix and wasn’t mad about some hand sewing in front of the computer time), but you could do it on the machine.

– Hem! Both the bottom of the dress and the sleeve. At 5’3”, I ended up removing about 2.5” from the bottom for it to hit where I like.

That’s it. I hope I get to see someone else make this!


  1. Stunning dress. And so much more sophisticated than a McCalls pattern I tried for a similar dress. The McCalls one did not have such a slim skirt. You look fantastic in this dress!

  2. Your dress is really beautiful and looks GREAT on you! Can’t beat a glamorous result that isn’t the Hardest Thing In The World to make, right? =) I love Marfy patterns and need to add more of them to my collection–I’m so glad you had a good experience with this one!

    1. Thank you! I felt the same way about the Keilo dress when I made it last year–super satisfying without being a massive pain. It helps that I’m not really a fit-and-flair dress kind of a person.

      Marfy is great–I’m a little perplexed as to why McCalls would have some patterns in their site that aren’t on Marfy’s, but now I know to check both.

  3. Pretty much what everyone else said – so glamorous!!!! Love it to bits, the style looks great on you 🙂 Love reading about the gory construction details, too!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s