Style Arc Skye again

The first time I sewed the Style Arc Skye top I used pleather (and promptly passed to the top on to a friend who looks much better in it than I did).  Pleather really doesn’t give you the best idea of fit from a muslin or toile perspective!  So for my second go at this pattern I sewed size 12 without alteration again.

Style Arc Skye top in Thai cotton double gauze.

The fabric is Thai cotton double gauze and I really had to work hard to eke this top from the scraps I had left from the Toni dress I sewed back in March. I even had to piece a little bit together at the bottom of the back, and there was no way that I could manage facings from the same fabric. Instead I used some printed cotton voile that was in stash.  I bought it from Spotlight for a bargain many years ago, and it has been the gift that keeps on giving!  There is still enough left for another garment.

Style Arc Skye top in Thai cotton double gauze.

The wide facings really make this style, as does the shaping at the sides. If you have a shape like mine, very thick through the middle and tummy without a defined waist, the curve up at the side seams really does add something a bit more special to a top that is worn out. To see how it looks tucked in on a completely different shape, one with a lovely defined waist, see Anne‘s recent post here.

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This softer, more forgiving fabric has a nicer fit on me than the pleather. I eliminated the centre back slit with button and loop opening since I can get this on and off easily enough with out it (I have a rather small head). Facings were stitched down a quarter of an inch from their edge, which gives a topstitched feature on the right side.

Style Arc Skye top in Thai cotton double gauze.

The bust darts are still too high. Must remember to lower them in any future versions! I also think that I would prefer facings for the arm openings, instead of the simple turned back and topstitched openings. The hem and neck facings are so nice that I feel the armholes could really benefit as well. Binding would also work okay. I just think that they need more substance.

Style Arc Skye top in Thai cotton double gauze.

You can see that this is drafted for a much closer fit than the Ethel tops, that I also sewed in size 12. It’s also shorter. Different style, different ease! I reckon that I’ll give this top another try. It would be good paired with pants for work in warmer weather.

Style Arc Skye top in Thai cotton double gauze.

We head home again from our week on the Tweed Coast later today. We’ve had a great time, and our nephew’s wedding on Friday was lovely. Blog posts of the dresses that Clare, Stella and I wore should be coming up in the next week or so!

Style Arc Kate dress

I’m jumping back in time a little with this garment, as it was sewn in time for a Professional Association dinner back at the beginning of August.  This pattern has been around for a while, and I’ve seen a number of positive reviews on the blogosphere.  It’s the Style Arc Kate dress.

Style Arc Kate dress in knit jersey

For the dinner I wore this with sheer stockings and heels, plus turquoise jewellery. For work I wore it with thicker tights, boots, and a jacket. This is a very versatile style.

Style Arc Kate dress in knit jersey

I sewed this in size 12 without any fit alterations. I should have made a short back waist alteration (I sound like a broken record on that one – I really need to get into the habit of doing that alteration pretty much as standard). I am currently at my highest weight, and am very thick through the middle, but think that this style is fairly forgiving in that regard. (Side note – this dress would probably be a great one for early to mid pregnancy, if that is something that you need). There is one thing that I will do differently next time, and that is the neckline. I stabilised it with fusible tape and elastic, and as a result it is actually too firm and has no give at all, especially around the back of the neckline. You can see that it is pulling a bit in some of these photos. Next time I’ll just use the elastic and will leave out the fusible tape.

Style Arc Kate dress in knit jersey

I did leave off the sleeve pleats and so shortened the sleeve accordingly. The waist is a little on the high side. I was aware of that from the reviews I had read, and because I am short-waisted that actually works pretty well for me (and is one of the reasons why I didn’t do a short back alteration). I also took a decent chunk from the dress length.  This is a proper wrap dress. It is well drafted and doesn’t fly open once tied. From the Style Arc website:

KATE DRESS: Fabulous versatile wrap dress – easy to wear, great for any occasion. Try it Royal Blue for that special occasion. Or in pattern to imitate Kate’s Australian wardrobe item.

FABRIC SUGGESTION & DESCRIPTION: fine knit jersey, any soft knit fabric

I especially love the fabric, which came to me from Liz via the Jungle January swap.  It’s got it all!  Animal print!  More than one type of animal print!  Paisley!  And it was great to sew with and to wear. This photo of the dress on Ada shows how beautifully the pleats sit if you have more of a waist and less tummy than I do. On me they provide lovely fitting ease.  I used a twin needle for all the hem edges, including along the neckline and fronts.  Most of the construction was on the overlocker.

Style Arc Kate dress

So overall, this dress is definitely a winner. I have some more fabric earmarked for a 3/4 sleeve version. It’s perfect for the air-conditioned office but transitions beautifully to other situations as well.

Style Arc Kate dress in knit jersey

There are loads of different wrap dress patterns around, and it intrigues me how they differ from one another. Full wrap, fake wrap, straight skirts, flared skirts, gathered skirts, waist seam, no waist seam, collars, no collars…the list goes on. There are some others already in my stash that I want to try, but I can tell that this wrap dress pattern is one that I will return to.

Style Arc Kate dress in knit jersey

Ethel again

I’m blogging out of order, because this Style Arc Ethel top and pants were sewn before the linen ones.  I wanted to try out the patterns before cutting into that luscious (and expensive) linen.

Style Arc Ethel top in Thai cotton double gauze and Ethel pants in linen viscose blend

The top was sewn from Thai cotton double gauze, bought from Notionally Better on Etsy. Gaye has such lovely Thai fabrics, and every time I wear something I’ve made from them I have the added bonus of remembering our wonderful trip to Thailand last year. The double gauze has two distinct sides, so is the perfect fabric for a pattern like this that lends itself to some colour blocking.

Style Arc Ethel top in Thai cotton double gauze and Ethel pants in linen viscose blend

I sewed this in size 12, no alterations. The double gauze lent itself beautifully to the design, without any stretching out along the diagonal seams. The seams and the facings were topstitched in place on the machine, but most construction was on the overlocker.

Style Arc Ethel top in Thai cotton double gauze and Ethel pants in linen viscose blend

The pants fabric is linen/viscose from Darn Cheap Fabrics, the same fabric I used in the pants I blogged yesterday but a different colour. There were a few other colours available but I can’t remember what! Possibly navy, a light neutral, maybe even black? I’ll have another look next time I am at Darn Cheap, because this fabric is great to sew and to wear.

Style Arc Ethel top in Thai cotton double gauze and Ethel pants in linen viscose blend

I sewed size 10, with a tuck at knee height to shorten, and this time have rolled the cuffs up to change the look a little bit. I rather like the in seam side pockets as well. I often leave pockets out of pants, especially if they are not actually a design feature, but sometimes they come in handy.

Style Arc Ethel top in Thai cotton double gauze and Ethel pants in linen viscose blend

More information on the Ethel top and pants is in my previous blog post.

Vintage McCalls 8149 pants

I have an extensive sewing pattern collection.  Some are unused while others were used a very long time ago but still remain happily ensconced in the stash.  The pattern that I used for these pants, McCalls 8149, is one of those from a long time ago.

vintage McCalls 8149 (copyright 1996) pants in linen viscose. Trying different silhouettes with the tops.

This pattern dates to 1996. It was part of a McCalls line called NYNY, which had their more “avant garde” and fashion forward patterns at the time. I have quite a few of these, and was pleasantly surprised to come across them when I was searching through the stash recently.

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I made the dress back in the late 1990’s, but hadn’t attempted any other garments in the pattern. I remember the dress quite clearly – I sewed it in a viscose orange/blue check. It was gorgeous fabric, and a good style for me. Actually, if I still had it, I’d wear it again now! I recently gave the cropped jacket a try, but it was too cropped after I shortened it through the body at the shorten/lengthen lines. I will give it another go after I return the pattern pieces to normal. I’m also keen to make the long coat/dress at some stage.

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So, back to the pants. I sewed up a wearable muslin from stash fabric a few weeks back, not expecting to like them all that much, but surprisingly I liked them a great deal!

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They have adjustable side ties to secure the waist. My waist is not much smaller than my hips, so there isn’t much gathering at the sides when I draw the ties in a little bit.  In the next pair I left off the side ties (and the pockets, because I was feeling lazy) and instead I inserted elastic into the waistband. I shortened the pants in two places at the marked shorten/lengthen lines, leaving this second pair a little longer than the wearable muslin.

vintage McCalls 8149 (copyright 1996) pants in linen viscose. Trying different silhouettes with the tops.

There is no side seam in these pants. Instead they have centre front and centre back princess seams on each leg, which that are topstitched for a little detail.  Although they are loose and wide, this does provide subtle shaping. Yes, they are incredibly high waisted, but I found them incredibly comfortable to wear as we trekked around Sea World yesterday (and enjoyed the rides and watching the shows – the dolphins really are incredible).

vintage McCalls 8149 (copyright 1996) pants in linen viscose. Trying different silhouettes with the tops.<

The fabric is linen/viscose from Darn Cheap Fabrics. It has a slightly ribbed texture. Maybe the linen is used for the warp and viscose for the weft, or vice versa? It’s certainly a very easy fabric to wear.

vintage McCalls 8149 (copyright 1996) pants in linen viscose. Trying different silhouettes with the tops.

I had a few dilemmas about what tops pair best with these loose and flowing pants. After trying on a few silhouettes I decided to embrace the “lagenlook” and wore them with a previously blogged linen tunic. However I quite like them with this previously blogged top as well.

vintage McCalls 8149 (copyright 1996) pants in linen viscose. Trying different silhouettes with the tops.

This spring and summer I am absolutely embracing the elastic waisted loose pant!  Such an easy style to wear, comfortable, keeps the sun off my lily white legs.  As I type that I think “how middle-aged of you” – but I am in my late forties, feel comfortable in my own skin, and am embracing styles that keep me feeling (and consequently I hope looking) good!

vintage McCalls 8149 (copyright 1996) pants in linen viscose. Trying different silhouettes with the tops.


Goodness, I just realised that I haven’t written a blog post for just over two weeks!  I have still been sewing, there is plenty waiting to be blogged, and maybe this week I will find (make!) the time.  We’re currently in Kingscliff on the northern NSW coast for a week’s holiday (with a house/dog sitter at home of course).  Surely I’ll have some time in the evenings to catch up a little bit on blogging!  Instead of blogging some of those sewn ages ago garments, I’m going to show you one that I sewed in the last week, in time for our holiday.

Style Arc Ethel top and pants in Merchant and Mills linen from Stitch 56

This is the Style Arc Ethel top and pant combination. Shall I start with the top?  From the Style Arc website:

ETHEL DESIGNER TOP: This gorgeous boxy shaped top with angled design lines gives your wardrobe a new and fashionable look.
The wide facings give this top structure and style.
This pattern has been cleverly drafted to cover the top of the arms whilst not losing any of the design elements.

FABRIC SUGGESTION: Linen, Crepe, Silk, light wool

I used white Merchant and Mills linen from Stitch 56 for the top.  It was absolutely divine to sew.  This is a rather roomy top.  I sewed size 12, which is my usual Style Arc size, and it’s quite a bit larger than the Skye top that I made recently.  I like the sizing though – it works nicely in this style; it’s not meant to be fitted and the ease works beautifully with linen.  The angled front and back seams add a lovely design line, and are also great for colour blocking the top if that is something you want to do (it’s something that I did do with my first as yet unblogged version).  The wide stitched facings also look very stylish and are especially effective on the white linen.

Style Arc Ethel top and pants in Merchant and Mills linen from Stitch 56

The only thing that could trip you up in this top is in the application of the armhole facing. The key is to NOT do what are used to doing and stitch the short ends of the facings together. The short ends actually end up sitting beside one another. Take a good look at the line drawings and illustrations and do some pinning and basting if you need to get your head around it.

Style Arc Ethel top and pants in Merchant and Mills linen from Stitch 56

I also suggest that you take a little more care than I did when sewing those diagonal seams to ensure that you don’t stretch them out as you join them.  Bias seams!  I used the overlocker for construction, and did the topstitching on the sewing machine.  Nothing new there!  So, to the pants.

ETHEL DESIGNER PANT: As well as being a designer pant this is most comfortable pant you will ever wear! The tucked elastic waist and dropped crotch along with the slight balloon shaped leg gives this designer pant an edgy look. 
The leg narrows off at the cropped hemline therefore can be worn rolled up if preferred.

FABRIC SUGGESTION: Linen, Crepe, Silk, Fine Wool

Style Arc Ethel top and pants in Merchant and Mills linen from Stitch 56

I sewed these in Merchant and Mills linen from Stitch 56 as well. I just adore that colour! It’s called Boston Fall and I wish that I had a whole bolt.  These are such comfortable pants.  As the description says, they have an elastic waist – always a winner in my books – and a slightly dropped crotch and ballooned legs.  My first thought when I made them was MC Hammer crossed with clown pants – but as soon as I put them on I could appreciate the shaping from the front tucks and narrowed and ankles, and the crotch didn’t feel all that low in wearing.  The hems can also be rolled up a bit.  I sewed size 10, my usual Style Arc pants size, and shortened them by taking a fold out of the pattern at about knee height.

Style Arc Ethel top and pants in Merchant and Mills linen from Stitch 56

I really, really, really like this outfit!  As regular readers of my blog know, loose and comfortable is right up my alley.  Fingers crossed that it will be a nice enough day to wear this tomorrow on our trip to Movie World…

Liesl + Co Maritime versus Simplicity 1366

A few months ago Jenny asked me how I thought the Liesl + Co Maritime top compared to Simplicity 1366 view D.  Well, I have finally taken some photos of the main pattern pieces so that you can see for yourself.  For reference, here are line drawings of both patterns.

Liesl + Co Maritime Knit Top

Simplicity 1366 (view D)

Simplicity 1366 view D line drawing

A few salient points:

  • The Maritime Knit Top is designed for knits, whereas Simplicity 1366 View D is designed for wovens.
  • The Maritime Knit Top has a shaped, interfaced facing to finish the neckline.  Simplicity 1366 uses a bias cut strip of fabric as a neckline facing.
  • The Maritime Knit Top has side seam vents.  Simplicity 1366 has no side seam vents but is shorter.

So, to the photos!  First, the front pieces side by side.

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And with one pattern piece on top of the other.

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Next, the back pieces side by side.

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And with one pattern piece on top of the other.

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And now for the sleeves! First, side by side.

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Then one on top of the other.

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I found this to be quite an interesting process. Although at first glance these appear to be two very similar patterns, there are a number of differences in the drafting when you compare each of them side by side.  I think that much of this would be due to the different fabrics they are drafted for, but otherwise it’s the subtleties that make one simple top still look different from another.

Just as a reminder for how the finished tops look, here is the first Maritime top that I made, without any modification:

Liesl + Co Maritime knit top in fabric from Darn Cheap Fabrics

And this is Simplicity 1366, in a woven fabric, also without any modification.

Simplicity 1366 top in size 12

I’ve sewn Simplicity 1366 a few times in a knit, with lengthened sleeves, and I’ve also sewn the Maritime top (always in a knit) with lengthened sleeves as well. Both these are great basic patterns to have in my collection. I might just sew another 1366 today now – but with an added inch to the length. I’d be interested to hear your observations on the differences between these two patterns. Has anyone else sewn both?

Kwik Sew 3801

Sometimes there are patterns that I always pause at in the pattern catalogue.  I stop, I ponder, I wonder if maybe that would be a good look for me?  Then I decide to wait until the next pattern sale, because surely that is such a popular style that it will be in the catalogue forever.  Then I see the pattern made up,  and realise that yes, it would be a good pattern on me!  Then I go to buy it – and realise that it has recently gone Out Of Print!  That, my friends, is the story of Kwik Sew 3801.  First I saw view A made up on Sarah, and shortly after I saw it on Kate as well. I had to have it.  It was no longer available.  Oh, what to do?  I whinged, I moaned, I complained – and one day whinged in front of the right person, who loaned me a copy to trace!  Oh, how wonderful!  And now I am the happy wearer of Kwik Sew 3801, view A.

Kwik Sew 3801 in wool acrylic knit from The Cloth Shop

There is a great deal about this style that appeals to me.  First, it’s loose through the body.  Second, it’s in a knit.  Third, the narrow sleeves balance out the volume in the torso.  Fourth, the edges are simply finished with an overlocker rolled hem.  Fifth – it’s so easy to wear!

Kwik Sew 3801 in wool acrylic knit from The Cloth Shop

The fabric is a wool/acrylic knit from The Cloth Shop. It is incredibly soft and cosy to wear, and was straightforward to sew. Actually, I sewed this the same day that I bought the fabric, so although it’s taken a while to get to the blog it has been in relatively high wardrobe rotation for quite a few weeks now. There was no sewing machine involved in sewing this top – it was all done on the overlocker.

Kwik Sew 3801 in wool acrylic knit from The Cloth Shop

I strongly suspect that this is a pattern I will return to over the years. It is a distinctive style, and you do need to use a fabric where both sides look to be the right side. One half of the front has the “wrong” side showing as a consequence of the centre twist. You can manoeuvre the twist to sit higher or lower; whatever your preference happens to be. I sewed this in size Medium, but the sizing would be influenced by the fabric composition and drape. In this fabric I could have probably sewn down a size, but I like the volume and coziness of the finished top. In fact, I think that I’ll wear it today!