Style Arc Saskia Bustier

So incredibly seasonally inappropriate for New England right now!








In addition to finally getting some lights and playing with my new posing app, the photographer at work gave me a crash course in fashion/portrait lighting and posing a couple of weeks ago. I decided to try to apply what I learned! Hence gratuitous amount of photos…

Here’s a couple of “guts” photos showing how the zip and facings are put together. Style Arc has a line drawing that shows this, but I often find it easier to view a photograph. (And you can see how much shaping is built into the bust!) Not my most beautiful work, but it gets the point across.




My bedroom/sewing area got above 55°F degrees for the first time in a month, so I celebrated by making this top. Between the constant snow and general bitter cold – lots of single digit and subzero days – I’ve done hardly sewing this month. I’ve been practically living in fleece yoga pants.


The Style Arc Saskia bustier has vertical princess seams and 1/2″ wide straps. It closes at the center front with a zipper. The zipper is placed a few inches below the upper edge, so the neckline slightly opens up to a V. There’s no boning, but it does call for a stiff fabric (such as denim or brocade) to maintain the shape. Pattern pieces are included for a lining, which is optional. (I chose to not line it.)

In an email exchange sometime last month Style Arc offered to send this top to me for free. I said yes because I have always had a weakness for bustier and corset style tops. They were really popular in the late 90s/early 2000’s and I always loved how they highlighted my waistline and upper body.

The fabric I used was a medium gray Theory stretch denim from Mood. It is a medium-to-heavyweight denim and has a stiff hand with lots of body.

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 8.44.36 AM

I recommend using a fabric with lots of body for this top. When I made it up in muslin the fit was totally different. There were all sorts of weird wrinkles due to the fabric collapsing from not having enough structure on its own. I decided to just go ahead anyway with making up the top out of the denim (which as you can see, was very reasonably priced). I made the side seam allowances 5/8″ instead of 3/8″ for a little extra fit insurance and cut it out, only to discover that I didn’t need the extra room after all.

For interfacing I used Pro-Sheer Elegance Medium from Fashion Sewing Supply. My zipper is a #5 brass zipper from Cleaner’s Supply I had in my stash. Topstitching was done with silver jeans thread, also from Cleaner’s Supply.


  • Took a 1″ vertical tuck at the center back. (I must have a narrow mid-to-lower back. I’ve found this is a normal alteration for me with strapless tops.)
  • Added 2″ to the hips at the hem
  • 1/2″ swayback alteration
  • Took in the side seams a total of 1″ due to the stretch of the denim.
  • Moved each front princess seam inward 1″ for my close-set bust. Had I used a non-stretch fabric I probably would have moved them inward just 3/4″. I left the straps in their original position, so instead of lining up with the princess seam they are about an inch to the outside.

For an ultra-fitted look I could have done a little bit more shaping at the waist, and under the bust, but I chose to leave it as-is. The result is very fitted but not as tight as a formal strapless bodice be, and there’s slight positive ease at the waist. This will be a casual warm weather top and I felt like a little bit of extra ease would make it more comfortable to wear during the hot summer months. Adding boning would have made it fussier than it needed to be.

One thing I found disappointing about this top was the upper neckline edge. The front notch didn’t match the line drawing. The line drawing shows it as a very angled notched V. The upper edge is actually cut straight. It is only angled due to the natural gaping from the lack of a zipper and pull of the fabric. It is slightly off center too because the edge of the zipper overlap is slightly to the left rather than centered. I also had a lot of trouble getting the front zip overlap to stay smooth at the top – it kept wanting to pull outward rather than staying flat. Part of this is due to the bulk of the #5 zipper pull (which is why I don’t use them in jeans anymore.) I tacked in some 1/2″ Rigilene boning at the center front edge, from the neckline to just above the waist and then shaped it with an iron, in an attempt to get it to stay a little bit more flat. It is better than without it, but is still not as flat as I would prefer.

Despite the neckline issue I think the design lines and fit are very flattering, and it is comfortable to wear as well. The fit over the bust is very good, and once I took a 1/2″ tuck at the center back the shaping there was spot-on. If I made it again I would use a #3 instead of #5 metal zipper and angle off the center front to make it look more like the line drawing. I would also shorten it a few inches so it looks more proportionate when worn untucked with fuller skirts.

28 thoughts on “Style Arc Saskia Bustier

    1. It is literally called “Posing App” and is available from the App Store. It is a bunch of very simple line drawings so I find it easier to follow than, say, a fashion magazine editorial. It has little descriptions too for how to best achieve the shot. I think the app is free but you need to pay if you want the glamour (i.e. sexy) poses.

      Argh, the dress! You would think that I was the first person in history to get married…


    1. Thanks! The construction could be a little bit more refined in certain sections, like where the hem facing meets the zipper setup, but I am not going to agonize over a top that cost less than $10 to make. Sometimes having fun and just getting it done is more important. 🙂


    1. I never know how to stand or what to do with my hands, and as a result I look and feel super awkward in photos. The posing app helps a lot! I also like how the lighting sets off the texture of the fabric. Indoor winter night photos usually look so bland.


    1. Thanks. Everyone moans about how strapless dresses are hideous and unflattering…I find them to be one of my best looks! If I wasn’t having the ceremony in a church I probably would have chosen a strapless style for my wedding dress.


    1. That’s what I will be styling it with. (I am wearing it under my Gorgeous Gore skirt but obviously you can’t see it well.) Or even knee length culottes, if they are the silky flowy type.


    1. Those temps are WITH a portable heater running! 1950s house + 3 windows + facing the north + wood stove as a primary heating source makes it difficult, especially during very cold winters like the one we’ve had. Everyone talks about how “cozy” wood stoves are but what they don’t realize is that the heat doesn’t travel into every room equally, and they always go out sometime during the night. They’re cheap to run though if you live in the woods like we do.


  1. Oh wow, 50 degrees is cold for a house. I have been complaining to my husband that it is too cold to sew in our basement, and our house has central heating and a thermostat set at 68. ( and we live in NC so it isn’t very cold)

    The top looks great !


    1. Heating with a wood stove and using the furnace for backup (which is what we do) is pretty common for the more rural areas of New England. My biggest issue is that the bedroom is tucked way into the corner of the house and the door has to stay closed while I am at work during the day because the dog goes in there and knocks stuff over or steals things. So by the time I can get it warmed up enough to really work in there it is nearly time for bed. The rest of the house is usually at least 60-65.

      I could never live in the South, despite the very attractive low cost of living and longer growing season. While the cold is uncomfortable and snow is annoying, the heat and humidity of summer just kills me.


  2. Isn’t that interesting – the top closure pulls away and doesn’t lay flat, but because I had the line drawing in my head, it doesn’t bother me at all. But, if I sewed it, yes it would bother me, too. Very cute top. You are definitely made for the strapless silhouette – it looks great!


    1. I do think the strong but bulky zipper had a lot to do with it pulling away – those zippers do the same thing with jeans, even with the button on top holding everything together. I had thought that the deeper placket would have tucked it away, but guess not! While making the neckline more like the line drawing is an easy fix I thought for the sake of honesty people should see what it looks like out of the envelope.

      I absolutely love the silhouette of this pattern after literally years of waist-surrendering styles, and I am very grateful to Style Arc for gifting it to me. It has definitely restored some of my body confidence.


  3. I really like this top. I also like the fabric you chose.

    We heat with wood as well, I use a electric space heater in my room. It works fast to heat the room. Though my room is usually not less than 60 degrees to start with.


    1. Right now it is 31 degrees outside, not particularly windy, and my space heater has been running for just over 6 hours non-stop…and it still hasn’t hit 70 in here yet!


    1. Same way as people did 50 years ago: layering and doing as many activities in the living room (where one of the wood stoves is) as possible. This is part of the reason why a lot of the old homes in New England in historical districts have fireplaces in every room.

      I read an older lingerie book that said the reason why underwear shifted from things like flannel pantaloons to skimpy bikini panties is not because of the sexual revolution, but because central heating became more widespread!


  4. Hi Ann. I attempted this top using the same fabric and I got all the way through it and it seems that I can’t get the zipper to be concealed. Any tips??


    1. If I remember correctly, one side is folded back a little more than the other. I did have difficulty getting the zipper pull to sit nicely under the placket because the zipper doesn’t extend all the way to the top, so the upper edge is pulled apart slightly due to the tight fit.


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