Style Arc Genevieve front view collar up

Style Arc Genevieve fnished

This was one of those projects that took forever at every step, not least getting the photos. But here it is and as far as I’m concerned the end result is worth the aggravation – and there certainly was a lot of that.

Style Arc Genevieve front view collar down

The pattern is Style Arc’s Genevieve jacket and the fabric is an unusual grey stretch denim with a brushed back from Croft Mill, sadly no longer available. The jacket is unlined and fairly unstructured. The only interfacing used is in the zip area.

I wasn’t sure of the fit of Style Arc patterns – I’ve made a couple before but they were very unfitted designs – so I made a toile and based on that I did a rounded upper back adjustment. This adds length and width. The extra width is absorbed into shoulder darts at the shoulder seam, so the shoulder and back neck seam lengths don’t change.

You can see in the back view below that I slightly overdid the adjustment. However there is no pulling when I raise my arms and I’ll take a slightly baggy upper back over lack of arm mobility any day.

Style Arc Genevieve back view collar down

I ran into a few minor problems with the pattern instructions. Style Arc’s instructions are always minimal so I was relying on the technical drawing to some extent. However it’s slightly inconsistent: it shows the zip applied on top of the fabric on the left front, where the instructions seem to have you set it into the princess seam. And if you’ve put the zip into the seam then the top stitching on the left princess seam needs to go on the side furthest from the centre, unlike in the digram, and the top stitching on the right front dart ought to mirror it. I think the pattern is designed for the zip to be applied on top as that way the diagonal style lines would line up perfectly. I prefer my zip in the seam, so if I ever make this again I’ll have to adjust the left front to move the zip placement over slightly. As it is the diagonals are off by a little, but I don’t think it’s obvious.

And on the subject of the zip I found it on eBay and I think the puller adds the perfect finish. I’ve been debating whether to post a link to this particular eBay shop on the blog for a while. They have a really excellent range of metal zips and they post stuff faster than anyone else I’ve ever dealt with, but some of their stock is definitely not safe for work browsing. So here’s the link: http://stores.ebay.co.uk/armoryauctions/ ; click at your own risk.

Style Arc Genevieve side view collar down

I thought about adding a lining to the pattern but chickened out; the front pattern pieces are enormous and asymmetric, and I found them very difficult to manipulate on my dining table. I still kind of wish I had though, because I ended up having to hand catch stitch the front facings down all the way around the jacket to make them stay put. It’s a sign of how much I like this jacket that I bothered to do that because we all know I’ll go a very long way to avoid hand sewing. Having done the facings I also catch stitched the hems as it wasn’t very much more work and I didn’t want to spoil the design lines with an extra row of top stitching.

Style Arc Genevieve side view collar down

The best thing about this jacket is definitely the collar. There are supposed to be a couple of snaps to hold the ends in place but I think it looks best when allowed to do its own thing so I didn’t bother sewing them on. The collar naturally falls very well when turned down, but if you want the full dramatic Ryan Gosling in Blade Runner 2049 effect you can turn it up and hide behind it.

Style Arc Genevieve front view collar up

Here’s a slightly more wearable arrangement.

Style Arc Genevieve front view collar up

I’ve worn this a lot, as you can probably tell from the creases. I’m very happy with it indeed; this is probably my favourite thing I’ve made this year. I doubt I’ll use the pattern again for a few years because who needs two of these on the go at once? But it’s definitely a keeper.

Fitting Style Arc’s Genevieve jacket

No pretty finished project photos in this post I’m afraid; in fact quite the opposite. This is my toile of Style Arc‘s Genevieve jacket. It’s a long line jacket with an asymmetrical closure and a collar I’m not quite sure how to describe. You know what, here’s the technical drawing.

Style Arc Genevieve technical drawing

The suggested fabrics cover a huge range of possibilities: wool cashmere, boiled wool, ponte, brocade and linen. So in my mind that covers both stable knits and wovens, and goes all the way from fairly crisp fabrics (brocade) to floppy (linen). Hopefully that just means that the collar looks good no matter what the degree of drape. Not that it matters as I’m using none of these. My fabric is a mediumweight grey denim with a bit of stretch and an unusual brushed finish on the wrong side.

I’ve made a few Style Arc patterns before and been very impressed with the drafting, but the patterns were all drapey sack dress type things that required next to no fitting. I don’t know how the more close-fitting styles come out. Style Arc have a reputation for having much less ease than Big Four patterns though, so I was expecting to make a bigger size than I do in Vogue. I did a bit of googling and found lots of people saying the size chart is accurate and in particular you should go with your shoulder width for picking a pattern size. Which put me two sizes down at the bust from what I expected and one size down from what I make in Vogue…it didn’t seem very likely. The hip and waist sizes I got seemed much more plausible. So for once I made a toile.

I should mention here that my copy of the pattern is multisized so I could easily blend between the three different sizes I needed. If you buy Style Arc paper patterns direct from the Style Arc site you only get a single size in the envelope. Multisized paper versions are available through Amazon, but not in the full range of styles. Confusingly, you can also buy PDFs from the Style Arc site that come in your chosen size plus one either side. At least you have options!

So here it is. Excuse the hem, I was way too lazy to pin up the hem allowance so it’s just folded and has dropped down in places. I did fold up the sleeve hems.

And actually it’s pretty good. The front seems to fit well. The sleeve length is technically OK but I like my sleeves long so I’m adding a bit more.

Style Arc Genevieve toile front

I need more room in the upper back I think; both length and a tiny bit of width. After rummaging through some fitting books I think a ’rounded back adjustment’ will do at least some of what I’m looking for. It means adding a shoulder dart. And if I wasn’t making this in a stretch fabric I think I’d size up.

Style Arc Genevieve toile back view

Everything on the toile matched up perfectly except in one place: the diagonal style lines were off by 5mm at the side seams. You can just see it below. I’m certain it wasn’t a sewing error but I may have messed up when making length adjustments. I’m honestly not sure how I did that. Anyway it’s easy to fix.

Style Arc Genevieve toile

I know I am now supposed to go and make a second toile to check I have all this right, but I don’t have the energy. Also I have run out of calico. So I’ve adjusted the pattern as best I can and now full speed ahead with the good fabric. Let’s see what happens.

Stylearc Toni take two

Stylearc Toni 3/4 view

I don’t repeat patterns very often, but my first Stylearc Toni dress has been such a favourite that I made another. It isn’t a maternity style but it’s roomy enough to work over a bump without too much distortion. I’m trying to make regular patterns with plenty of room on them rather than maternity ones in the hope that they’ll still look OK after the baby arrives.

My original version was made up straight out of the packet but this time I made a few changes. The first dress is a bad length for me: it ends at the widest part of my leg which means I can’t take long strides because the dress is very narrow at the hem and it catches on my calves. That was my fault for not bothering to add any extra length to the pattern. I normally need to add 2-4 inches to dresses. This one’s supposed to end at the bottom of the calf so it probably needed four inches adding if not more. I was a bit short of fabric for the second version, so instead of lengthening it to the intended proportion I shortened it by four inches so it ends just below my knee. I’m really pleased with the way that’s come out. It’s comfortable to walk in and it’s more flattering than my previous version.

Stylearc Toni front view

The fabric is a lightweight viscose woven from Macculloch and Wallis. Right now it’s still available here. It drapes very nicely, which is good for the style, but I used very lightweight interfacing on the collar to go with the fabric and that was a mistake as it’s come out a bit too floppy. This is the same fabric I used the pink colourway of for my first Vogue 1482 dress. It is very comfortable to wear and although it’s lightweight it’s relatively easy to sew.

I lost the pocket piece from the original pattern and had to make a new one. Unfortunately I didn’t make it quite deep enough to be perfect. But any pockets are better than none. The position of the pocket is better on this version because I took out some of the length from the top half of the pattern, raising the pockets up a couple of inches.

Stylearc toni side view

Here’s the back view. Last time I said that the centre back seam could be eliminated, but I’m glad I kept it. I had trouble fitting the collar to the neckline on this version – I probably stretched the neckline out while handling – and having the seam allowed me to fix the mismatch by taking the dress in a little at the top of the centre back.

Stylearc toni back view

Clio made the great suggestion of adding a zip to the centre front seam for breast-feeding access. I increased the seam allowance on the centre front seam to half an inch (or 1.2cm; it was 1cm originally) and interfaced the seamlines to make inserting the zip easier. I also removed the seam allowance from what was originally the centre front seam of the neck facing pieces so I could use the all-machine method of applying facings to the top of the zip and neckline from Kathleen Fasanella’s centered zip tutorial.

Here’s a closeup of the zip, which also shows the collar worn down rather than up.

Stylearc Toni close up

An unexpected bonus: because the only black invisible zip I had on hand was a 24″ one I can put the dress on by stepping into it rather than pulling it over my head.

Since we took these pictures the weather in the UK has turned autumnal and I’ve been wearing this dress with leggings and my grey boiled wool kimono jacket. I’m hoping it will keep going all winter with enough layers. I can even see me making a third version of this one day; I’d like to try it in something really crisp like a cotton poplin to see what happens to those drapes.

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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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Style Arc Hedy dress

Stylearc Hedy dress front

Remember the 80s? Big baggy tunic tops worn over leggings, a triangular silhouette, lots of lycra. This is the Style Arc Hedy dress, and it would fit right in there. For me it was love at first sight.

Absolutely the best thing about this dress is that it has pockets cleverly integrated into the design. They’re standard inseam pockets but the way they are placed in the curved front seams means they hang very well and don’t mess up the lines of the dress.

Stylearc Hedy dress front

I made this in a shiny grey mystery knit bought on Goldhawk Road last year. I don’t know what you’d call it. It’s a fairly stable doubleknit construction but the hand is very drapey and slippery, and it’s shinier than most of the “scuba” knits I’ve seen. There was a lot of the stuff around at the time; I saw it in several different shops and lots of colours were available. It washes well and needs no ironing at all. It’s completely artificial fibre but I guess in the right light it could double for silk jersey. Come to think of it, this pattern would be amazing made up in silk jersey. Love those seamlines.

Stylearc Hedy dress back

Here’s a better look at the underlying shape. The dress comes in two lengths and this is the shorter, “knee-length”, version. I deliberately didn’t make any pattern adjustments so it is not a surprise that it came out pretty short – I normally add between two and four inches length to most dress patterns. I like the proportion as it is though. I think the pattern runs true to size although with so much ease it’s hard to tell. Anyway I made the size closest to my measurements rather than going down one as I do with Big Four.

Stylearc Hedy dress front wide

It’s a fairly easy sew. You don’t need an overlocker. I used mine for the side seams and to finish some edges because it’s fast, but the rest of the dress was constructed on my regular machine. I sewed the hems with a regular zigzag stitch because I was too lazy to fight with my twin needle and I wanted to wear the dress quickly.

The pattern instructions are Burda-style minimal, although unlike with Burda there are diagrams provided for the trickier bits, such as folding the neckline pleat. I like that the instructions include interfacing everywhere it’s needed. I’m very impressed with the overall quality of the pattern. Everything matched up beautifully and the industrial-standard seam allowances used made sewing it easy and accurate.

It has already passed the wearability test. I made it just before Christmas and it’s been worn about twice a week ever since. There may be another one of these soon if I find the right fabric.

Stylearc Hedy front