adult's clothing · sewing

Style Arc Sian top

Kate of the blog Fabrikated recently hosted a ‘Dress Like Frida’ sewalong.  Over a number of weeks she introduced readers to Frida Kahlo‘s clothing style, including inspiration images, links to a recent exhibition, and links to patterns.  We were encouraged to use Frida Kahlo’s style as inspiration, adapting it to our own personal circumstances and cultural heritage.  This is what I came up with.

Huipil inspired version of Style Arc Sian top in hand woven cotton

I actually had way more plans in my head for this sewalong than the single top that eventuated. I had pulled out numerous fabrics and trims from stash and played around with them, but due to a variety of factors I only ended up with one item. This top is based on the Style Arc Sian top. I decided to focus on fabric and trim choice and keeping the style lines of the top simple, but didn’t want to go the whole way of sewing a traditional square huipil. Maybe another time – loose simple garments are often my choice anyway!

Huipil inspired version of Style Arc Sian top in hand woven cotton

Style Arc describe the Sian Combo Top as follows: This is a great staple to have in your wardrobe. The dropped shoulder is very flattering along with a comfortable silhouette. Create your own style by using different textures or colours; knit or woven… the combinations are endless. FABRIC SUGGESTION & DESCRIPTION Crepe, Silk, Georgette or Jersey knit.


As you can tell, I made a few changes.  I used size 12 throughout, and cut the centre front on the fold, making sure that I took the seam allowances into account.  I left out the front split, and folded out the gathering from the upper back before cutting out.  The front and back princess seams provided slight shaping, and acted as lines to place the braid along.

Huipil inspired version of Style Arc Sian top in hand woven cotton

The centre orange braid is actually bias binding that I’d made some time ago. Because it was bias it was perfect for finishing the curved neckline as well. The other two braids were in stash, and the main fabric is hand-woven cotton from Thailand, left over from another garment. This top used much more trim than you’d think! I paired it with linen trousers rather than sewing a traditional long gathered waist skirt to go with it – I knew that I’d never wear the skirt.

Huipil inspired version of Style Arc Sian top in hand woven cotton

I’m fairly pleased with the end result. It’s definitely inspired by Frida, but I feel that it’s been brought into a context that I find more wearable. This sewalong also had me thinking and reading about cultural appropriation and how it may apply to clothing and sewing.  My general feeling is that those of us who love textiles tend to participate in cultural exchange and cultural appreciation rather than cultural appropriation, but I can see that there is the potential for there to be a fine line between the two.  I found this article, this article and this one to be interesting discussions on the topic.  As a white Australian of English/Scottish/German ancestry, so part of the dominant culture here, I feel that I still have so much to learn.

8 thoughts on “Style Arc Sian top

  1. I literally just closed the tab on a post I’m writing for the Sewcialists about regional fabric and what counts as cultural appropriation – so now I can’t wait to go through the articles you linked to! I think your top looks great – an excellent tribute but also something you’ll wear and enjoy!

  2. As a musician, I’m often challenged about cultural appropriation and cultural appropriateness. It’s certainly an area that needs careful consideration when you want to launch into something that’s absolutely not your own cultural heritage; and sometimes even then. For example, although my heritage is principally Irish, would I consider it right to sing Irish folksongs? Yeah, no. Thank you for those links, all of which proved to be good, thought-provoking bus reads. I love the cut of that top and the colours work beautifully together.

  3. The top fits you so beautifully. All the work you did to make it huipil-like is perfect. Love your monkey – did you make it? And love your headdress. You look wonderful.

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