Style Arc Poppy Top

You can hear the geese “talking” in the video. They were expressing their delight after my dad gave them some corn stalks to chew on…

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The Style Arc Poppy is a zip-front top with a slightly raised neckline, front and back vertical princess seams, and a back pleated peplum. There’s darts at the back neck and a yoke at the front for shaping. The hemline curves up at the side seam. You can make it with or without sleeves. This top was the free pattern for August 2014.

When I first saw the Poppy I was a little hesitant due to the high collar shown in the line drawing. When I saw the sample Style Arc made up on a real person I changed my mind:

Style Arc
Credit: Style Arc

I loved how they used a prominent zipper and didn’t zip it all the way to the top.

I decided that my Poppy would be less like a top and more like an unlined jacket. So for that reason I added the sleeves. Style-wise I preferred it with a dress rather than pants (I’m wearing it with my gray tropical wool Style Arc Heather dress in the photo). I also preferred the look of the front pressed back to form lapels rather than zipped all the way to the top or even half-zipped like sample shown by Style Arc.

The fabric I used a was a cotton/nylon/lycra suiting from Mood. The product description is correct that it is lightweight with a crisp drape, but there’s definitely not just a “hint of sheen.” I originally bought it for pants but when it arrived it became obvious that between the shine and the tendency to hold creases that it would be a poor fabric choice.  I think it worked well for the Poppy though, since the ideal fabrics for this top are lighter-weight, crisp, and will hold a crease.

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The zipper is a #5 aluminum zipper from Cleaner’s Supply. I used Pro-Sheer Elegance from Fashion Sewing Supply as my interfacing.

Fitting adjustments were:

  • Lengthened 1.25″ just below the bust
  • Added 1.5″ to the hipline
  • Took in the side back princess seams a total of 1.5″
  • Added a total of 3/4″ to the front side seams at the waist. I also added 1/8″ width to the side front princess seam curve at the waist.
  • 3/8″ forward shoulder adjustment
  • Added 1.25″ width to the upper back. I normally add 3/4″ but since the sleeves felt a little tight when reaching forward I decided to add more for comfort, even though technically there’s probably a little bit too much extra there.
  • Added 3/4″ width to the sleeves
  • Lengthened the sleeves 1/2″
  • Took in the front princess seams below the bust and very slightly above. You can see where I’ve drawn the new seamline:Photo Sep 07, 10 46 32 PM

I think the collar is a little on the wide side, but since I’m not wearing this zipped all the way up I decided to not adjust for it.

One thing to note about the construction of this top: the seam lines of the side back/center back and side back/center back facing do NOT line up. This was done intentionally by Style Arc in order to minimize bulk at the pleat. My suggestion is that you make sure you very carefully mark the notches at the hemline and on the facing to ensure that everything lines up the way it should.

My mother said my Poppy is “biker babe in the front, cute in the back.” I think that’s a pretty accurate description!

Working with Stretch Bengaline

I’ve had some people ask me about working with stretch bengaline, so here’s a post about it!

Note: this post refers to the viscose/nylon/lycra kind of stretch bengaline you get from the Style Arc shop or Nortex Mill, NOT the polyester type from Joann’s. For more information on sourcing viscose/nylon/lycra type of bengaline see this post: Sewing Style Arc Stretch Woven Pants.

Before cutting into your stretch bengaline make sure you prewash it at least once since the viscose content means there’s going to be shrinkage. After you wash it throw it in the dryer on a lower heat.  After this initial prewash, never put it in the dryer again! The heat will damage the lycra content. Just take it out and let it air dry. It is a thinner fabric and the nylon content makes it dry much quicker than cotton does. Some people say that they don’t need to press them after washing but mine are always slightly rumpled if I don’t, so I give them a very quick ironing before wearing. I mostly focus on the lower hip and leg area since the upper part is always covered by a shirt.

When I press it I use a medium low heat with minimal steam. (Too much steam and heat will make it pucker due to the nylon content.) It responds well to pressing.

When you lay out your pattern pieces on the fabric make sure they are in the correct direction, with the stretch going across the body! You want the pattern pieces oriented so they are perpendicular, not parallel, to the selvage. Double check by laying out your pattern pieces, then pulling the fabric by the pants hem to make sure everything is in the right direction. This is where a lot of people get messed up. They freak out since they’ve always been told to lay out their pattern pieces so they are parallel to the selvage of the fabric. Yes, the drape is usually better this way, but the type of garments you make out of stretch bengaline aren’t dependent on fabric drape since they are so fitted. Plus it isn’t the type of fabric that drapes well to begin with. When I make pants I add about 1/2″ extra to the hem just in case if there’s some residual shrinkage.

I sew it I using regular polyester Gutermann thread. Many people recommend a stretch or ballpoint needle, but I use a regular Schmetz universal needle (usually 70/11, sometimes 80/12 if that’s what I have around) and haven’t had any issues with holes or long term durability. For the Wendy, which requires a stretch fusible interfacing for the waistband, I use the Pro-Tricot Deluxe from Fashion Sewing Supply. If I need to apply interfacing for the purpose of stabilization (like for inserting an invisible zipper) I use Pro-Sheer Elegance Light from Fashion Sewing Supply.

I sew all vertical seams (side seams and crotch curve) with a 3mm straight stitch. I topstitch the crotch curve seam allowance in place with a 4mm straight stitch. When I attach the waistband I use a  zigzag stitch, usually around 2mm width and 2.5mm length, to preserve elasticity. I used to use my serger but I now I prefer the zigzag stitch because there’s less bulk from the thread. When I topstitch the waistband seam allowance and hem in place I use the coverstitch on my Babylock Evolve. If you don’t have a coverstitch/twin needle you can also use a zigzag stitch.

Stretch bengaline loves to fray, so make sure you serge or otherwise finish the seam allowances.

If you want to know anything else just post in the comments.

Style Arc Posh Top

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The Posh top from Style Arc is a knit top with spaghetti straps that tie in the center front. The center front also has a keyhole neckline detail. You can make the neckline higher or lower depending on how tightly you pull the cords. The hem allowance is 2.5″.

I made this out of my Emily top scraps. My only fitting adjustments to this top were lengthening it 1.25″ and adding 3.5″ to the hip. I didn’t have any cording on hand that matched my fabric so I just made some self fabric ones.

The Posh is much less fitted than I thought it would be, which makes it less flattering than I thought it would be when worn untucked (especially from the side). But the fluid fit is also very on-trend, and is most definitely something I could see the teen girls wearing at the prep school where I work. (Not during the school day, of course!)

The style makes it difficult to wear a regular bra if you aren’t layering it under something else. You either have to go braless, wear a strapless bra, or layer it under something else. The problem with a strapless bra is that the center front of the bra will peek through the keyhole.

Maybe wearing it backwards is an option? (Loose tops with back ties make me nervous though…)

Porridge Tie Back Tank (Nordstrom)
Porridge Tie Back Tank (Nordstrom)

What I like about this top though is how cool it is to wear. We had a heat wave here in Connecticut a few days ago where it suddenly went from being in on average 75ºF (24ºC) with low humidity to 90ºF (32ºC) with an ungodly amount of humidity, and this top definitely made it more tolerable! I also think this top would be a very cute as sleepwear.

I think what will help with the figure flattery is taking in the bottom at the hip so when turned up it forms a band and the rest of the top drapes around it, rather than falling straight down like it does now. (I think this is the pattern intention but the stretchiness of my knit made that effect go awry.) I am also thinking of going back in and adding in a mesh shelf bra, merging this pattern with the camisole from the Merckwaerdigh workbook. The mesh fabric would be lightweight enough not to interfere too much with the gathering and provide a little support (and coverage). Have to think about how I’m going to do that…