Toni dress closeup

Stylearc Toni dress

Toni dress closeup

I’ve been wanting to make the Stylearc Toni dress ever since I saw it on Kristin’s blog. It’s a style I’d wear at any time, but it’s particularly good right now as I’m pregnant and rapidly running out of clothes that fit. The Toni isn’t a maternity style but it has plenty of room for a bump. It also has pockets, shoulder coverage, a nice high collar, and sews up quickly: all good points.

Stylearc Toni dress

The length is unusual. From the pattern illustration it looks like it’s meant to hit at the bottom of the calf. I normally have to add a lot of length to most patterns but my flat pattern measuring suggested this one would stop just below the knee on me so I didn’t bother. I must have gone wrong because it’s come out at midcalf, which is the length I try to avoid above all others. If I make this again I’ll shorten it. I wouldn’t want to make it any longer unless I made it up in a stretch fabric, as the hem width is very narrow indeed and I’d struggle to walk in it comfortably.

Stylearc Toni long view

I made this up in a very silky lightweight woven fabric that came from the Misan Textiles sale room. I’m not 100% sure what the composition is but it’s definitely man made. I picked it because it’s very drapey and has a certain resemblance to the silk the pattern recommends, but it’s also tricky to press, has a slight tendency to cling, and frays at the slightest provocation. And yes, it’s monochrome again. But at least it’s not black.

Stylearc patterns use much smaller seam allowances than most home sewing patterns: 1cm on the main seams and 6mm around necklines and anywhere with tight curves. I was worried that the seam allowance at the collar would fray away entirely before I finished sewing it but it worked out in the end. And the small seam allowances make it much easier to sew accurately, and accuracy is essential for the tricky stage of setting in the collar and sewing the front seam.

Other than getting the collar sewn in symmetrically this is a very easy make. I couldn’t figure out one of the steps, which seemed to be about understitching the outside edge of the collar which sounded like a very odd thing to do. The actual words were ‘sew a flat stitch’ so perhaps it was topstitching that was meant instead, although I can’t see any topstitching on the technical drawing. The step was optional and skipping it doesn’t seem to have caused problems. I added topstitching to the armscyes, which are finished by neatening the seam allowance and turning it back. Topstitching isn’t mentioned in the instructions but I don’t see how else the seam allowances could be expected to stay put unless you hemmed them by hand, which as far as I’m concerned is not an option.

The back of this dress is extremely plain. There’s a centre back seam but it’s entirely straight so you could just cut the back on the fold. Another time I might do that. I suppose removing the seam makes the back even plainer but I had a hard time making that long straight seam look acceptable in my tricky fabric.

Stylearc Toni back view

The side drapes are fun. Mine stick out quite a bit more than the technical drawing suggests they would. The pattern suggests optionally sewing a small weight in on each side to make them stay put. I overlocked a scrap of fabric around a couple of pennies for each side and sewed that to the seam allowances but it doesn’t seem to have made much difference as the drapes still tend to pop out when I sit down. I like the pointy effect though.

Stylearc Toni side view

Here’s the obligatory ‘look, I have pockets’ shot. I am trying very hard to avoid making things without them these days.

Stylearc Toni front view

I had some serious doubts about this dress while I was sewing it. I fell out of love with the fabric very quickly, and when I put the dress on my dressform halfway through construction it looked more like a very unflattering choir robe than a dress.And then I sewed the side seams and that transformed it completely. I wore it for pictures (where it caused hilarity amongst local dog walkers), and kept it on afterwards, then the next day I found I wanted to wear it again which is unusual for me. I’m not sure if I’ll make another of these; it’s a fabric hog and most of the fabrics that would be suitable are expensive; but the one I’ve got is definitely a success. The pattern was beautifully drafted and Stylearc have a lot of unusual and attractive designs. I think I’ll be making more of their patterns in the future.

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54 thoughts on “Stylearc Toni dress

  1. I love this style- so much that I made 2. Neither are wearable [for me] and just look like vast quantities of fabric draped on a short fat woman. Oh, hang on a minute…
    On you, it looks great! Nice one missus.

  2. I don’t know how I missed the fact that you’re pregnant! Wow…congratulations! Such an exciting time, it really is. Enjoy it (even if you don’t!) because it goes so fast.

    As for the dress, as always, excellent choice and it looks great. Stylish but comfy. Love the look of that fabric.

  3. Hi Catherine,
    Firstly, congratulations on your pregnancy! For some reason I feel ridiculously pleased on your behalf. It’s wonderful news.
    I am a huge fan of your blog, but don’t comment often. I have also made this dress (I sew a lot of Style Arc) and yours looks wonderful. I used lead fishing weights to keep the points of mien in place! I love mine and will make another.
    I love your sewing style – thanks for sharing everything you make with us.
    Regards, Lara (thornberry)

  4. What wonderful news! The Toni looks fabulous on you! I think the length is perfect. Signed: Fell off the sewing blog wagon but still enjoy reading yours! All the best! (Anne)

  5. Congratulations on your pregnancy! I’m a fan of your blog and have found it fun and informative. You look great in this dress and it looks beautifully sewn.

  6. I’m thrilled you made this! I’ve been so curious about it and unwilling to put out the $ for the pattern and the fabric. Looks so you. Love it.

    And how wonderful that you’re expecting. glowing. Enjoy!

  7. Congrats on your pregnancy! You look gorgeous and glowing. I wondered in your last post if there was something up! 🙂 And I love that you have made this! I can see that tall is a must here. What I’m intrigued by is how similar the style is to the Named Kielo Wrap (if you leave out the straps) – from the perspective of the structural side seams. I actually thin that the Kielo would make an excellent dress for pregnancy and you could make it in a stretchy jersey. It’s also designed for a tall frame. I really love the neckline on the Toni.

  8. I’m a fan of your blog, and love your taste in patterns you chose to sew. I don’t comment often enough on you blog, usually because your workwomanship and creations usually leave me speechless. First, congratulations on the happy news. Second, beautiful dress.

  9. A very happy congratulations on the best me-made ever!!! Cliche, I know, but oh-so-true! I’m glad you’re out of the nasty first trimester stretch. I did wonder when you posted your X-drape dress photos…. Love how you’re keeping true to your style, too, while accommodating a changing shape.

  10. that dress looks fantastic on you. and congrats on your impending motherhood! your maternity wardrobe will be stylish and interesting – based on your usual sewing. You should definitely repeat this pattern as it suits you.

  11. Congratulations! I did wonder after your last couple of posts…. Great dress too and useful for the bump. I like the look of this style but like others, lask the height! Congrats again!

  12. What a beautiful dress. The silhouette is a bit reminiscent of the early 20th century, which is interesting in such a modern design. Suits your style very well. Congratulations on your addition to the family.
    Abbey (Abbeysews)

  13. Congratulations on your pregnancy! I loved being pregnant…it’s like carrying around a special secret, a new person that has yet to be introduced to the world:) You have the figure for this dress. I have yet to try Style Arc, but I have made up a Tessuti pattern and there were some ways of phrasing the instructions that I didn’t quite get in my American English. I also liked your X-dresses. And I love your shoes, too!

  14. Your dress is gorgeous. As for the pointy bits sticking out, I recently saw a dress that had one pointy bit just off-centre at the front. Apparently inside there was a loop on the pointy bit and a button that you could button the loop to (what a convoluted sentence!) to keep things in line. The dress was stunning as is yours and I want to make one. Glad you stuck it out with the awful fabric because it looks beautiful and so great on you. Ditto on the congrats for your new little family member-to-be.

  15. Congratulations! I’m very pleased for you and glad you can enjoy the morning sickness free period now. This type of dress isn’t my style but if anyone can wear one it is you. I really love the grey with its sheen and drape.

  16. I only started sewing with Stylearc this year. They have very quickly become my favourite pattern company. Congratulations on your pregnancy.
    And I had thought the lovely glow you had from your orange Burda dress was because the colour suited you so much!!!

    1. Thanks! They are from a Brazilian company called Melissa who make shoes out of recycled plastic. They do all sorts: some very practical flats as well as the dafter ones like this pair and they’re surprisingly comfortable.

  17. Oh, congratulations! Great dress and it reminds me a bit of your Vogue 1410. Do you still have it and are you wearing it during your pregnancy too?

  18. Congrats!! How did I miss that you are pregnant? Oh, right, I have a toddler.

    This was actually on my maternity “to sew” list but never quite got made. I planned to add an invisible zip to the center front for nursing.

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