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Marfy patterns and grain lines

cynthia2 | Posted in Patterns on

Hi everyone,

I finally pulled out the Marfy pattern that I’ve been wanting to make (Marfy 1052) and surprisingly the grain lines don’t match up.  Marfy doesn’t mark the grain line all the way down the pattern piece.  They just mark it at each end of the pattern piece.  Still, if I line up the grainline on the top of the bodice, there is no way to keep the bottom of the bodice on grain.  Has anyone run into this before?  I’ve sewn enough that I can certainly mark appropriate grainlines and ignore the pre-printed ones on the pattern.  Before I do so, though, I thought perhaps I’m missing something here.  Thanks.  Cynthia


  1. starzoe | | #1

    Perhaps there is a style-related reason for this. Why not get in touch with the Marfy people for an explanation?

    1. cynthia2 | | #2

      Good idea. I'll try that. (Thank goodness for e-mail!)

  2. User avater
    Becky-book | | #3

    Geometry... two points define a line.  If you have a point at the top and one at the bottom, that is your grain line... now it might not lie where you expect it to lie.  Try out their grain line on a trial garment and set aside what you expect (just for now).


    1. cynthia2 | | #4

      Thanks Becky. Now that you mention it, I do remember some of my 8th grade geometry. Let's just hope I don't need to remember how to calculate the hypotenus of a triangle - I'll be doomed. A trial garment may be the best way to go. I wrote to Marfy but haven't heard back from them yet. The strange thing is that the grainline at the top of a pattern piece can be offset from the grainline at the bottom of the piece by an inch or so. Quite a difference to "true up". Worth a try, though, since I really like the jacket style. Fingers crossed. Cynthia

      1. User avater
        Becky-book | | #5

        Well if you DO need to calculate the hypotenuse, ask here.... I may not spell it correctly but I can calculate, or know where to find the formula!!!  LOL


        1. cat42 | | #6

          Too funny! If the legs of the right triangle are 'a' and 'b', and the hypotenuse is 'c', the formula is
          c= square root of (a squared + b squared).
          Do calculates even have a button for taking a square root? I still remember how to do that long hand. but what a pain. Thanks for the memories! LOLQuestion to the original post: What do you mean when you say the grain line at top and at bottom don't match up? I've never used Marfy patterns (tho I just bought one). Do they indicate grain with a short line at top and at bottom? Or just with points? If points, then you would simply draw a line connecting those points to get the grain line. But if they use short lines, then I can see that if you line up the upper line with grain, the lower line may not line up but may be parallel. I'm not sure I'd know what to do in such a case, either. But I'd probably rely on my 40 years experience to guide me in determining the grain line. You may never get a reply from marfy. I've sent many pattern questions to Vogue and never have gotten replies.

          1. cynthia2 | | #7

            The pattern has short (2") grainlines drawn at the top and bottom of most pieces.  I did finally get an answer from Marfy.  They said that the grainlines are hand drawn and, as a result, "may not always be accurate".  They suggested that I align the notches at the top and bottom of each piece instead.  Problem is, the same problem applies.  The notches are offset by about an inch.  I've decided to draw my own grainlines, based on my experience and referencing other patterns from the major U.S. manufacturers.  Shouldn't be too difficult.    Cynthia

          2. stitchagain | | #8



            Your experience is very discouraging.  Grain is important, frankly I wouldn't order a Marfy pattern unless I was clear about the grainline--- Although they are very beautiful patterns.

          3. cynthia2 | | #9

            It is discouraging. My cousin, an accomplished seamstress, was in town last week and took a look at the pattern. She confirmed that I haven't lost my mind, the grainlines really don't make sense. She'll be back in town for Christmas, and we have a date to actually sit down and redraw grainlines together. A bit frustrating to have to go through this step, but it will be fun with a "sewing buddy". Cynthia

  3. DONNAKAYE | | #10

    Cynthia, can you make a crude drawing of the pattern piece and upload it for us?

    1. cynthia2 | | #11

      Hi DonnaKaye,Attached is a photocopy of the pattern piece (size reduced to fit the copier screen) and a photo of what the jacket looks like. As you can see, the grainline arrows aren't actually aligned. Very strange. Thanks for any insights you can share. Best, Cynthia

      1. SewNancy | | #12

        They certainly don't match. Considering how much they charge, this is really inexcusable. Its one think to not include sas, or instructions, but grainlines are certainly not arbitrary!

      2. DONNAKAYE | | #13

        Yes, I understand this.  It has to do with laying out plaids.

        The red lines on the attached pattern piece represent how the plaid will fall if cut with straight grain following the top arrow/line.

        The blue lines represent how the plaid will fall if cut with straight grain following the bottom arrow/line.

        Neither is wrong.  It's must a preference.  I drew a turn of cloth line so that you can fold back the lapel to see what effect each grainline has on the plaid/check.  Fold it back and take a look at it.

        True straight of grain is represented by the bottom arrow/line.  P.S.  Actually, you could either follow the bottom arrow or connect the points of the two arrows for straight of grain.  I think connecting the two arrows and drawing that grain line will get you a truer straight grain, if I'm looking at it properly.  Since I can't see all the way to the bottom of the pattern piece on my .pdf file, you'll be able to better gauge that than I can.  The straight grain will normally run midway down the bottom part of the pattern piece in a straight line.  The bottom arrow looks a little off, but that's only because I can't see the rest of the pattern piece.  I think you're safe either way.

        Hope this helps.


        Edited 8/27/2007 11:45 am ET by DonnaKaye

        1. SewNancy | | #14

          You certainly know a lot more about grainlines than I do. Your explanation was very clear and informative. The answer that Marfy gave Cynthia was ambiguous at best, and showed that whoever answered her knew zip about grainlines and how the pattern was drafted. Thanks.

        2. cynthia2 | | #15

          Wow - thanks DonnaKaye.  I would never have figured that out.  It makes perfect sense, though, the way you've explained it.  Okay, I'm going to pull out the pattern and fabric and give it a try!  Fingers crossed.  Cynthia

  4. ctirish | | #16

    Cynthia, I am reading this and what an interesting problem.   When I first looked at the pattern piece I thought the begnning of the two arrows  lined up.   When I read DonnaKaye's explanation it made so much sense I didn't know if I should write.  I decided to toss my two cents worth in - If the tip of the arrows don't line up you may want to try the begnning of each line. 

    I love the pattern, I have never even looked at the Marfy patterns. Keep us posted on the development of the jacket.  Thanks,

    1. cynthia2 | | #17

      Thanks for your note. Neither the tips nor the beginnings of each grainline make sense. I can, of course, draw a straight line between either of those points, but it's apparent that the resulting line isn't right. I'm just going to take a deep breath and give it my best shot. Will keep you advised - in fact, you may have to suffer some online whining as I work my way through it! Cynthia

  5. jjgg | | #18

    have you written to Marfy to ask about the grain lines? They are very helpful and will respond back quickly.

    1. cynthia2 | | #19

      Hi Judy. I did write to Marfy and they did respond. Their advice was to ignore the grainlines since they're hand drawn and sometimes not accurate and use the notches at the edge of the pattern pieces instead. The problem is, the notches don't line up any better than the grainlines do. DonnaKaye's response (see earlier post) makes sense to me and I suspect that may be the case. At any rate, I'm planning to redraw accurate grainlines and have a go at the pattern in the next few weeks. Fingers crossed. Cynthia

      1. jjgg | | #20

        Are you sure you are trying to match up the correct pieces? Marfy patterns can be very confusing. I've made a few and had to really play with some pieces to get it figured out.

        1. cynthia2 | | #21

          It did take me a while to figure out how to match up the letters on each pattern pieces, but it made sense once I got the hang of it. The problem that I'm having is that the grainlines on a single pattern piece aren't aligned. If I extend the grainlines (which are drawn at the top and bottom of the pattern pieces), they don't match. They miss each other by 1" or more. It's very odd. I had another experienced seamstress look at the pieces and she couldn't figure it out either. I've not given up hope, though. The jacket design is so interesting that I'm determined to make this work! Cynthia

          1. jjgg | | #22

            I looked at the pictures you posted and yes,the grain line was rather squirrelly. What piece was it? (I can't tell from the picture).
            Don't fret too much over grain lines,
            actually I just looked a the picture again, it says its the over collar! wow, when I got a Marfy pattern the pieces were not labeled for what they were.
            Anyway, put the grain line where it makes sense to you, I assume you will make this in muslin first (you will, won't you?) and that way you can see if you need to adjust the grain. On a collar it could matter, so that the roll and fall of the collar is correct. but the little bit of difference that is shown on the 2 different grain lines drawn is not all that significant.You mentioned that the notches didn't line up, so ignore the notches and put the pieces together the way they belong, and when doing this in the muslin you will find if there is a problem.It's important to make your muslin correctly. Mark all sewing lines (not seam allowances) with transfer paper and then using a dark (I like to use black here) thread, sew each of those lines on the machine. Your grain lines, notches etc can just be in ink or from transfer paper. Label each piece also (right side front, left side front etc) Put all your marking on the right side of the fabric.Now, when you have to do any pin fitting and changes in the fit, use a sharpie to mark the new sewing lines - start with red, the next alteration is green, then blue etc, that way you always know which is the most recent change.Having all the sewing lines machine basted helps you pin the sections together - you can feel the sewn lines with your fingers as you line them up. When you sew the sections together, use a different color thread from your basting.
            Good luck with the jacket, Marfy patterns are great.

          2. cynthia2 | | #23

            Thanks Judy. Yes, I will definitely make a muslin on this one. I appreciate the tips on using different colored pens for each round of adjustments as well as the tip for using the basting to match seamlines. I'd never have thought of those. Spent the past week adding to my fabric stash on a trip to Vienna, so the projects are starting to stack up. If I can get a few weeks at home, I hope to make some progress on the fall wardrobe. Thanks again for your encouragement! Cynthia

          3. KathleenFasanella | | #24

            I'm a little late to the discussion and honestly, I'm giggling a bit, not *at* anyone but just over the general state of affairs. I'd also mention that just because something is European doesn't mean it's necessarily superior. I bought some Marfys in the late 90's. There were too many errors to give me enough confidence to test one in fabric.It's no secret that nations are known to specialize in given sorts of work, and even within the needle trades they have reputations and specializations. I don't expect this to be readily known in home sewing but Italians aren't noted for pattern engineering :). Neither are the French for that matter which could explain why there's no commercial french home sewing patterns. It's been suggested in jest (maybe not just joking) that France specialized in one-offs because they could never attain reproduceability, elevating construction work-arounds into "features" (better known as couture), rather than bugs. That said, nobody but nobody beats the Italians in the manufacture and design of small metal parts. Bar none, they make and design the finest quality bag hardware, buttons and findings the world has ever seen -but patterns aren't their forte :) (they're great at construction, particularly leathers too). Impo, the Germans make the best patterns. They're engineers to their core. This reminds me of an old joke.What's the definition of heaven?
            The English greet you at the door.
            The French are in charge of cooking.
            The Italians are in charge of entertainment.
            The Swiss are the police.
            The Germans are in charge of engineering.What's the definition of hell?
            The French greet you at the door.
            The English are in charge of cooking.
            The Swiss are in charge of entertainment.
            The Germans are the police.
            The Italians are in charge of engineering. (there's no way to put the French in here too but the tendency is tempting).Slightly off topic, the best hand sewers in the world are from Madagascar. Heirloom embroidery, drawn thread, and hand smocking are practically the national sport.

          4. cat42 | | #25

            Love your humor! And I note your Italian last name...

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