Long Evening Gown Marfy 2867

This pattern appears in the 2012/13 issue of Marfy Italian Fashion Design.  You can purchase the catalog at voguepatterns.mccall.com/catalogs-pages-1463.php.  The pattern can be purchased at voguepatterns.mccall.com/f2867-products-22826.php?page_id=1469.

I have designed this tutorial for advanced sewers as well as intermediates with some knowledge of pattern drafting.  The gown will be constructed during the month of July 2012 so please check back often for updates.

I love working with Marfy patterns because the designs are straight off the couture runway and the patterns are extremely well drafted.  The patterns have clever curves that flatter the wearer and elevate the design beyond normal commercial patterns (Vogue, McCalls etc.).  Sizing is couture meaning you probably will buy a larger size than normal.  For example, in Marfy a 36" bust requires a size 44 pattern.  In Burda you would be a size 40 and in Vogue you would be a size 14.

Marfy patterns are printed on white tissue paper and have a few notches and grain line markings, and no seam and hem allowances.  It is easy to trace the pattern directly onto muslin and then add seam and hem allowances with a ruler.  Also mark grain line on each muslin panel to assist you in checking fit.

Once you have perfected the fit of the muslin, you can calculate the fabric yardage required. 

Here are the fabrics I will use in this gown:

1.  Black silk chiffon for the skirt.  60" wide fabric is best for the skirt to eliminate piecing.

2.  Red silk crepe for the bodice.

3.  Red silk georgette for the bodice ruching overlay.

4.  Black lace for the bodice lace overlay.

5.  Silk organza to underline the bodice.

6.  Coutil to build the bodice foundation.

7.  Lining fabrics:  silk habotai and silk charmeuse.

8.  Notions:  regular zipper, 1/4" spiral steel boning, 1/2" boning casings, glass seed beads for ruching, sequins and larger glass beads to embellish the lace, thread. 

The gown requires quite a bit of fabric and notions to construct and it is my choice to use couture materials.  You can definitely create a lovely gown using less expensive materials so set a budget and stick to it.  This gown would be lovely in a sheer cotton, say a cotton voile or lawn and that would get the price down.  I like the way silk sews and feels on the body.  You will not get the same results from polyester and rayon, but you will still get a lovely gown.  Have realistic expectations for the fabrics you choose but don't be discouraged if your budget is small.  Fine workmanship is key. 

The first photo below shows the bodice pattern pieces.  The muslin has comments, notches and grain lines and you can see the Bodice Side Front dart has been modified to fit me (red ink). 

Cut 2 of each bodice pattern piece in coutil.  I purchase coutil from Farthingales through myvoguefabrics.com.  Acceptable substitutes include cotton duck and firm polyester/cotton blends.  The "right" side of the coutil is black with red roses.
Bodice Back, Bodice Side Front, and Bodice Center Front
Here is the "wrong" side of the coutil, red with black roses.  Using tracing paper and a ruler, I marked the stitching lines, the dart, and the boning locations.
Center Back, Bodice Side Front, Bodice Center Front
Since I marked the coutil well, laying in the boning casings is easy.  The casings are stitched along the two long edges and the bottom.  Boning will be inserted at the top.  the casings are placed just inside the stitching lines to allow for turn of the cloth.
Boning casings applied
Do not seam the coutil.  I have merely pinned the coutil seams to show you how the panels fit together.
Coutil foundation pinned
Next take the three bodice pattern pieces and cut out two each of silk crepe and silk organza.  Diagonal baste the layers together.
Silk crepe over silk organza
Cut one two panels for the bodice ruching out of silk georgette.  Note how I marked the stitching lines on the wrong side of the georgette.  The stitching lines are a guide to help me ruch the panel but I will not follow them exactly.
Bodice ruching overlay panel cut on bias
These are the bodice panels in couture and fashion fabric (underlined with organza, diagonal basted)
bodice panels ready to assemble

Diagonal baste the fashion fabric panels to the coutil.

Seam the back panel to the side panel, and stitch the dart.  Lay the ruching panel, right sides together, on the bodice.  Three thread gather the panel to the bodice.  Back stitch the seam by hand.  You cannot use the sewing machine or you will stitch through a boning casing. 
bias ruching panel hand stitched to bodice
Lift ruching panel so wrong side of ruching panel is on right side of garment bodice.  Gather front seam.  Organize ruching with pins.
organize ruching with pins
Hand tack the ruching in place.  You are catching the ruching panel to the silk layers above the coutil.  You can hide your hand stitches in the folds or attach tiny seed beads on the face of the garment.
ruch in vertical rows
The bodice several hours later. 
Bodice is constructed

closeup of beading/ruching
Hand overcast seam allowances inside bodice.  Insert boning in channels.  Overcast boning casings closed.
inside of corset
Cut out skirt.  Stitch center back seam, press open, hand overcast raw edges or bind with silk organza.  Baste to bodice.
Skirt is cut with center front on cross grain and  center back seam allowances on lengthwise grain

bind seam allowance with silk organza
 Cut the lace panels out of muslin.  Lay muslin lace panels on dress and fit correct.  I overlapped the front and back lace panels at the shoulder to eliminate the shoulder seam.  Here is the lace panel being cut out.  Center front is a fold so the muslin will be flipped over to cut the second side.  I widened the lace panel 1/2" to ensure the lace covers the bodice princess seams.
cut lace overlay
 Use the lace border to trim the neckline and sides of the lace panel, or purchase a few yards of lace trim.  Hand fell stitch the trim to the overlay.  Lay the muslin pattern underneath to achieve the correct shape.
trim outer edges of lace panel
Baste completed lace panel into waist seam.  Machine stitch waist seam.

Insert a zipper at center back.  I hand picked a lapped zipper.
lapped zipper
The waist seam will be pressed and tacked up to the bodice rather than down to the skirt.  When installing the zipper be sure to catch the waist seam in the proper direction.

waist seam allowances are pressed up at zipper
Hand stitch bra cups into the bodice if desired.  I overcast the top half of the cup above, but will take the lower edge to the seam allowance later when inserting the lining.  I double cupped the bodice meaning I liked the way a tear drop C cup looked on the outside of the garment but the inside of the C cup did not touch my body.  I placed an A cup inside the C cup to fill the cup out.  Catch stitch the top edges of the bodice to the inside.  I folded the ease around the curves but you may cut wedges to eliminate bulk.
Cut out the skirt pattern in both silk charmeuse and silk habotai.  The silk charmeuse will be against the silk chiffon skirt and the silk habotai will be against the body.  Stitch the center back seams from hem to zipper stop.  Pink and stitch to finish the seam allowances.
pink and stitch lining seam allowances
Lay the two skirt linings wrong sides together so seam allowances are touching.  Baste these two panels together at waist. 

Cut the bodice panels out of silk charmeuse and seam together to create a bodice lining.  I pinked and stitched these lining edges as well.

Seam the two skirt panels to the gown at the waist.  You will not be able to stitch all the way to the ends because of the zipper.  This seam will be difficult because the gown is now heavy and stiff with boning.  Clip and catch stitch all waist seam allowances up to the bodice.  Add hanger loops.
note the skirt lining hangs free at the zipper
  Pin charmeuse (middle skirt) to zipper tape with seam allowances up and fell in place.
 Lay skirt lining (habotai) in place along zipper with seam allowances facing down.  Fell to charmeuse layer.

Tack a grosgrain waist stay to the boning channels and seam allowances.  Add a hook and eye to the ends on the ribbon side that will not touch the body.  
Grosgrain belt tacked to seam allowances and boning channels
Stay stitch waist of bodice lining.  Lay in place, clipping where necessary.  Fell in place stopping two inches from zipper.
bodice lining is at bottom of photo, skirt lining is at top
Smooth lining inside bodice, altering princess seams if needed.  Fell top edge in place.  Make buttonholes in lining close to center back waist seam.  Pull belt through buttonholes.  Add hook and eye to support top of zipper.
Bodice lining

grosgrain belt exits through buttonhole

Hook and eye tucked under lining
Mark skirt hem.  Horsehair braid raises the hem so as a general rule I make a full skirt one inch longer than desired when inserting horsehair braid.  Lower edge of braid is sewn by machine, top edge is hand catch stitched or blind stitched to skirt.  The middle skirt layer is hemmed with a narrow machine hem, one to two inches shorter than the fashion fabric (fashion fabric stands away from body due to braid).  The habotai lining is two inches shorter than the fashion fabric.
horsehair braid in fashion fabric, machine rolled hem for two lining
Tack lace overlay to bodice at top, front and back.  A final press and you are done!  While this dress has ribbon hanging loops, I would not store this gown on a hanger due to its weight. Use the loops to assist in pressing or to hang just prior to wearing.  For storage pack in a large box or drawer, wrapped in a clean sheet.

Finally the gown is finished!
So much work but the result is a great dress; can't wait to wear it!
 Thanks for reading this tutorial.  I hope you try a Marfy pattern soon.  Please let me know if you have questions.


  1. I've really enjoyed watching the process of this dress being created, waiting each week it was exciting to see if a new updated had been posted. Theres not many popele out there who use marfy patterns and the ones that do hardly ever choose the lovely gowns marfy offers. After viewing your tutorial, I think I'll try my hand at a marfy evening gown patterns (their bridal patterns are gorgeous, but the evening gowns are considerably cheaper). I was wondering if you could post a few full length pictures of the end garment?

  2. Photos posted today! Thanks for following the blog.

  3. How advanced would you say this pattern was? I've been sewing for a month so i'm not sure if i'm up for the challenge

    1. I recommend you sew at least twenty projects (dresses, skirts, tops, coats) before you attempt this gown. The gown requires a significant investment in materials and time; I probably spent 80-100 hours on this project and I have been sewing for several decades. That said, if a project inspires you, then follow your passion and go for it!

  4. wow~ gorgeous! you are so beautiful in this dress. the process is amazing.

    long evening dresses

  5. How much would you charge for a dress like this?

  6. Hi, I am from Australia and I have finally found your article to be most helpful. I am ruching chiffon over satin but couldn't work out how to keep the ruching from drooping as it is laying horizontal across the bodice.Thanks very much. Lauren

  7. another beautiful success! I've been mesmerized by your blog, having just found it today from a post on Facebook. Lucky me! Thank you for taking time to post such good instruction.

  8. I actually added your blog to my favorites and will look forward for more updates on Abendkleider
    Great Job, Keep it up.

  9. Hi Ann, thank you so much for this tutorial. I am currently working on a Marfy pattern, and I want to construct the bodice with coutil and boning, and this is just perfect for what I am trying to do. If you have the time, can you help me with some construction details I might have? Thank you.

  10. would you please tell me if the black chiffon material you used had those semicircular flaps all over it? Where is it available? Lovely gown. The chiffon fabric is an important part of the whole look. :)

  11. I agree with your post! This is one of the most wonderful articles According to me.Bridal Dresses Edinburgh & Bridal wedding dresses Edinburgh

  12. Thank you so much for reading the post about the evening gown, Leena. The gown was a total joy to make and I have worn it several times including on cruises to Alaska and Northern Europe. I may create another Marfy design soon. Thanks for reading the blog.