Style Arc Tulip Dress

Full length view. (Why is it that pendants never seem to stay centered on me??)

Slash pockets
Bodice and skirt pleat detail. Notice how the skirt overlay hangs from the upper and not lower edge of the waistband.
Tulip style sleeve. Thought I would also mention that the neckline doesn’t really gape like this in person – it is just my posture in this photo.
I secured the waistband lining in place by slipstitching.
Back hem was catch stitched in place.
Hand rolled hem for the underskirt and front overlay.
Junction of where the back hem meets the front underskirt.


The Style Arc Tulip pattern gives you options for for different looks:

  • dress with tulip sleeves and pleated skirt overlay (which is the version I made)
  • sleeveless dress with regular crossover skirt
  • skirt with pleated overlay
  • skirt with regular crossover

The waistband is about 1″ wide and skirt length is about 21″. The overall fit is slim, but not tight. The skirt section includes slash style pockets. If you go with the pleated overly you’ll want to use a lighter weight fabric with good drape; if you want just the regular crossover look, any light-to-midweight woven should work.

The skirt isn’t lined. If you’re like me and not comfortable wearing just a single layer of thin silk on your bottom half you have two options: wear a miniskirt length slip under it, or create a hem facing for the front underskirt and underline both the front underskirt and back pieces. I wanted to use this project to learn how to do a hand rolled hem, so instead of creating a facing for the front underskirt (which would have saved a ton of time) I used it to practice my hand rolled hem skills. I’m glad I did, because my stitching on the overlay is much better!

Style Arc offered to send me this pattern free of charge, and I accepted. It wasn’t part of my fall/winter sewing plan, but I really liked the elegant and creative style and thought it would be a fun project.

I used the matte side of a silk charmeuse purchased long ago from Fabric Mart:

Picture 1

For the bodice lining I used another silk charmeuse from Fabric Mart:


For the neckline/armhole guides I used iron-on tear-away stabilizer. I also created guides from the stabilizer for the slash pockets.

Since I wanted my hand-rolled hem to look as nice as possible I used Magnifico thread from Superior Threads instead of my normal Gutermann or Mettler thread. Magnifico is a high-sheen polyester thread often used for embroidery and other decorative stitching. It glided through the silk. I also used it as my sewing machine and serger thread. (I know a lot of people love to tsk tsk serging as a seam finish for silks, but I think it looks presentable. I wound it onto two bobbins and did a three-thread overlock.)

Fitting adjustments:

  • Added a 3/4″ back shoulder dart to the bodice
  • 3/8″ rounded back alteration
  • 1/2″ swayback tuck
  • 3/8″ forward shoulder alteration
  • Added 3/4″ width to the front waist and removed 3/4″ from the back waist
  • Took in the back darts 3/4″ each, and lengthened the back skirt darts by about 1″
  • Lengthened the skirt 3″
  • Added 5.5″ width to the skirt at the hip
  • Took in the center back seam about 1″ below the waistband
  • Tapered the waistband at the bottom about 3/4″

Some thoughts:

  • The neckline is really beautiful. Wide and deep, but not too wide and deep. No gaping either. I’m definitely using it as a template for other dresses.
  • I love the look and feel of the sleeves – they give more range of motion than ordinary cap sleeves – but the front “petal” doesn’t always fall back into place after movement. Just something to be aware of.
  • I really regret not interfacing the slash pockets. Despite using iron-on tear-away stabilizer they stretched out. I fixed them the best I could, but I’m not 100% happy with how they look. I’m pretty sure it was 75% the shifty fabric and 25% my bottom-heavy figure.
  • I didn’t take in the skirt’s back darts as much as I could have, as I didn’t want to further aggravate the gaping pocket issue. It isn’t a problem with this lightweight fabric, but if I made this out of a heavier fabric – and underlined the skirt – I would definitely take them in more. I will also omit the pockets next time.

The construction of the bodice is pretty normal and straightforward. What will trip most people up are the sleeves and the skirt.

Skirt construction (pleated overlay version)

  1. First, hem both the underskirt and the pleated overlay. (For maximum control I went with a hand-rolled rather than machine stitched hem.)
  2. Sew the darts of the underskirt.
  3. Sew the left pocket to the underskirt. This is sewn like any other slash pocket.
  4. Take the overlay and pin out/baste the tucks. Then place it onto the underskirt.
  5. For the right pocket, start sewing the pocket bag to both the underskirt and overlay until point A (which is marked on the pattern).
  6. When you get to point A, clip just the pleated overlay to the seam allowance, then fold the overlay out of the way. Continue sewing the pocket to just the underskirt.
  7. Take the bit of overlay folded out of the way and press.
  8. When you sew the bottom of the waistband to the skirt, make sure you sew only the back skirt and front underskirt to the waistband. You’ll sew the overlay to the upper section of the waistband when you are ready to attach the bodice.

Sleeve construction

The sleeve pattern is a little odd-looking. There’s no underarm seam, and at first glance it may appear that the curved edge is the outside edge. Actually, that curved edge is what gets sewn to the bodice.

To construct them you first want to sew the outside (that long, straighter edge) and press.

Then you want to arrange it so the larger back “petal” overlaps the smaller front petal. Make sure you pay attention to those notches!

Baste all around to keep the two layers in place. You set it into the armhole after you attach the bodice lining to the bodice. 

27 thoughts on “Style Arc Tulip Dress

  1. Gorgeous! Love everything about it – the colour, the pattern, the fabric. I think StyleArc should use you as the website picture for this dress.


  2. This is so becoming on you! Of course, it could be that you really know how to alter the pattern 🙂 I’m returning to sewing after a very long hiatus and I am learning so much from you…what talent you have! Thanks for all your helpful hints. And I agree w/Judie, StyleArc should use you as their model.


    1. I know of very few people that are a good “out of the envelope” fit – most need to make at least some alterations. (Or at least they should!) I do find though that Style Arc has one of the best fits in the upper chest for me, and rarely do I have a problem with too much ease. Obviously it depends on the style, but overall the cut is neat and similar to RTW.


  3. Thank you for a brilliant review and the gorgeous photos! I’ve followed your blog for a while now and this post finally compelled me to comment – so inspirational I’m popping over to StyleArc’s website now to check that dress out!


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