Style Arc Anita Top

I’ve taken a break from my Game of Thrones marathon to sew a blouse. It was perfect for this hot, muggy July day.

AEK_3299_600

AEK_3315_600

AEK_3320_600

AEK_3319_600

resource

The Style Arc Anita is a looser-fitting peasant blouse. The cuffs of the three-quarter raglan sleeves are gathered with elastic, and a self fabric tie gathers the neckline. The front split is finished with a facing. It is a quick make. I was able to cut, sew, and finish the entire blouse in one evening.

This is an older Style Arc pattern. Back then their pattern illustrations weren’t always accurate. (They’ve gotten a lot better.) In this case the waist is not nearly as shaped as the depicted. The actual shaping is quite minimal – maybe 1″ smaller than the bust.

Fabric: hot pink silk crepe de chine, a Sue’s Daily Pick purchased from Fabric Mart a few years ago:

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 8.36.49 AM

As you can see from my photos, this is a looser fitting top, so choose something lightweight that has excellent drape. Rayon challis, lightweight jersey, and silk or poly georgette, twill, crepe de chine, and charmeuse are all suitable.

The fabric recommendations on the Style Arc website are wrong, at least for the 44″/110cm width. After prewashing my fabric the width shrank from 44″ to just over 42″, and I needed most of the 2.5 yards I had bought.

You’ll need 1/4″ (6mm) wide elastic to finish the cuffs. Style Arc doesn’t mention the width in their pattern instructions. I did see an awkwardly worded reference on the website though:

ELASTIC: Finished measurements 6mm or ¼ inch width

Fitting adjustments:

  • Lengthened body 1″
  • Increased the waist shaping, removing 1.5-2″ width, using my Style Arc Katherine blouse pattern as a guide.
  • Added 2″ width at the hem
  • Shaped the hem to be like a shirttail rather than straight across, once again using the Katherine blouse as my guide. I find shirttail hems more flattering than blouses that are cut straight across.
  • 3/8″ forward shoulder adjustment
  • Added a total of 1.5″ width to the bust
  • Added 3/4″ width to the back
  • Added 3/4″ width to the sleeves (bicep/elbow)

Overall I prefer the Katherine to the Anita. It feels like a more distinctive blouse than the Anita, with the deep scoop neckline and the placket front. However I prefer the narrower sleeve width of the Anita, and plan on transferring this width to my Katherine blouse sleeve.

Marfy 3662

At the beginning of summer each year I like to make a frivolous and impractical sundress. This year I chose Marfy 3662.

AEK_3163_600

CCI02052015_0000

Marfy 3662 is a one-shoulder dress with a handkerchief skirt. The bodice is cut on the bias, and the front shoulder is pleated and gathered. The zipper is set into the left side seam. Marfy mentions in the pattern description that this dress can be made as separates as well as a dress.

Pattern measurements for size 42:

  • 34.75″ bust (0″ ease)
  • 27.5″ waist (3/4″ ease)
  • Around 72″ hip ease (measured at the notch, 7.5″ below the waist).
  • 21″ skirt side seam length
  • 32″ center back skirt length (waist to lowest point of the hem)
  • 23″ center front skirt length
  • 33″ from the waist to the lowest point of the front skirt hem
  • 7.5″ from armhole to waist (bodice side seam)

Between the wind, sand, and water, I decided to forgo the tripod and let Tom be my photographer. First time I let him use my camera! It was nice not having to deal with a remote, but at the same time I lost most of my control over art direction and never knew when the photo was actually being taken…

Below are photos taken of it with the belt (which is how I will normally wear it). It was REALLY windy, and high tide was coming in full force.

AEK_3128_600
Trying not to have a Marilyn moment
AEK_3152_600
Ocean water wasn’t too bad today!
AEK_3126_600
This photo really shows the difference between the highest and lowest points of the skirt.
AEK_3143_600
Despite the wind blowing it around, here you can see where the lowest point of the skirt hits my back leg.

Here it is without the belt. These photos were taken the previous day at a different beach. The overcast skies made the light very soft and diffused. It was slightly less windy.  (And the dress wasn’t rumpled yet from a days wear yet!)

AEK_2780_600

AEK_2729_600

AEK_2735_600

My preference is with the belt; it helps emphasize my waist and acts as a waist stay for the big skirt.

Marfy didn’t include fabric recommendations. I used this lightweight linen from Apple Annie Fabrics. I thought the minimal seaming of Marfy 3662 made it a good match for this large scale print.

bluegaiety

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 1.46.10 PM

Speaking of Apple Annie Fabrics, Tom took me there while we were in the area today. He actually went in with me too! (And yes, I made his shirt, which I believe is Kwik Sew 3484. Fun fact: he’s actually owned most of the cars in the print at one point or another.)

AEK_2813_600

The fuller body of the linen combined with the very full skirt made this an even bigger and more dramatic skirt than I anticipated. I am about 5’9″ tall; I think this skirt could be overwhelming on a more petite woman, especially if she doesn’t have proportionally long and slim legs. The long points of the skirt are midi length, which I think is a difficult length for most people to carry off. I inherited rather stout legs from my Polish ancestors, so despite my height I always wear it with heels. Except when I’m walking on the beach, of course ;).

If your fabric is less than 54/55″ wide (for size 42) you will need to cut the skirt pieces on the cross grain or add a center front seam. I wanted to do everything I could to avoid a seam, so I took Marfy’s advice (“if short on fabric cut with weft”) and cut the skirt pieces on the cross grain.

I finished the armhole with a self bias strip and did a simple narrow hem on the machine. I didn’t add a lining because it is just a quick summer dress, and I wanted to make it as easy to care for as possible. The front facing stays in place relatively well, but I topstitched the back neck facing down in place because I could tell that it would flip out during movement. (This won’t be an issue if you line the bodice.) The bodice is on the bias, but the facings are completely parallel to the straight grain, which makes them very stable. No need to interface.

Fitting alterations were done to mostly the bodice:

  • Added 2″ width to the front waist, tapering to nothing at the bust
  • Removed 1″ width from the back waist
  • 1″ swayback tuck. Normally I would do just 1/2″, but the bias made the center back dip down even more than usual.
  • Took in the upper section of the right side seam 1/2″.

This is not a hard pattern to sew; however, the heavy, uneven skirt combined with the bias cut bodice make fitting tricky because it pulls down on the bodice, making it get longer and longer during wear! As I mentioned before, wearing an elasticized belt with it helps stabilize it. I think that’s why Marfy styled it that way in the pattern illustration. If you want to get it perfect, I recommend basting the bodice to the skirt and wearing it around for a while, then shortening it as needed.

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.