Style Arc Renae Dress

I finished this dress in April, took photos during a very hot day in June, and am just now publishing the post for it in August!


The Style Arc Renae (note: affiliate link) is a woven dress with sleeves and a rounded neckline. Darts are incorporated into contrast inserts. As you can see it makes a great dress for the office.

If you’re interested in sewing this dress but are worried about sewing those pointed inserts, take a look at my tutorial on sewing corner/angle/pointed seams. (If you’re using a fairly stable fabric you can probably skip on using the stabilizer.)

The fabric I used was a lightweight wool crepe from Fabric Mart. I love the color of this fabric, but I’m not entirely pleased with the quality – it is definitely not as thick and “spongy” and doesn’t mold as well as most wool crepes, plus it is a little sheer. I really liked the $10/yard price though!

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 9.36.40 AM

Since the magenta wool crepe was semi-sheer I lined the entire dress (minus the sleeves) with some Ambiance Bemberg I had in my stash.

The contrast inserts are cut from the scraps of some burgundy wool crepe I used for another project a few years ago.

Since my fabric was so wimpy I interfaced the hem and back vent along with the facings using Pro-Sheer Elegance from Fashion Sewing Supply.

You probably noticed in the pictures that I omitted the back inserts in favor of plain darts. The reason for this is that I have a significant swayback and am very “hollow” in this area, and I always need to take in this section of dresses and tops. If you don’t tend to need to take in this section of clothing, you’ll probably be fine with the inserts. But if you’re like me, for the sake of your sanity you should seriously consider omitting them ;).


  • Changed the skirt from pegged to straight
  • Added a 3/4″ back shoulder dart
  • As I mentioned above, I omitted the back insert in favor of a simple vertical dart.
  • Moved each front contrast insert 1/2″ toward the center front. The inserts incorporate a dart into the design line, so it is very important that they be in the right position for your bust.
  • Added 6″ to the hip
  • 3/8″ rounded back alteration
  • 3/8″ forward shoulder alteration
  • 1/2″ swayback tuck
  • Added 1/2″ width across the front waist
  • Added 3/4″ width to the sleeve bicep
  • Added 3/4″ width to the upper back
  • Added 3″ length
  • Lengthened between bust and waist 1.5″ – this dress runs very short though the waist.
  • Took in the side seams (the amount varied depending on the location, but it was roughly 1.5″ all around). I took in the bust the least amount, the waist the most. Had I used a beefier fabric I would have made the fit slightly snugger, but with something lightweight like this (and somewhat less resilient to wrinkles than most wool crepes) I felt like erring on the side of slightly more ease was the right choice. I chose my normal size 8, but I don’t feel like out-of-the-envelope that this dress is as closely fitted as it is shown on the model on the Style Arc website.

11 thoughts on “Style Arc Renae Dress

  1. Looks great on you. Thank you for your very detailed list of changes. I find them very useful when making changes to my own sewing. It’s amazing how anyone could actually fit a pattern straight out of the envelope – I need to do roughly the same number of alterations that you do. That’s why we sew right?


    1. People always love to rant about the injustice of having to do alterations. I often get comments along the lines of “well this dress fits you perfectly but you had to do too much work to get it to that point.” However I find it rather unrealistic to expect a pattern company to draft especially for you, especially if your body has certain characteristics that fall outside of the norm. I look for consistent drafting and fit in key areas, then do whatever it takes to get it to where I want it to be. If I wanted to avoid doing alterations I would just buy RTW – it would save so much time and money!


  2. I always love finding a new post from you!! Such talent and careful work is a joy to behold. The dress is beautiful!

    I agree with RebeccaHoward – thank you for the detailed list of changes that you list when discussing a pattern. Do you make a muslim for each new pattern?

    Have you ever thought of leading a sew-along? I know many of us would love to learn from you.


    1. Unless the style is particularly challenging or time-consuming, the fabric costly, or something that would be a pain to unpick (like silk) I usually don’t do a muslin. I prefer to measure the pattern and compare to other patterns/garments, plus I tend to stick to the same designers. I’m at the point now where I have such an enormous amount of fabric in my stash that I feel comfortable taking a chance on it not working out. Most of the time muslins only end up making me lose interest…

      I’d rather be sewing than hosting a sew-along – sorry!


  3. How did you feel about the sleeve head design? Was it difficult to inset? I noticed that even on the “model” on the website that the fabric pulled across the upper bust and seemed to pucker a bit at the shoulder inset.


    1. Seemed ok to me. I have to admit that I’m probably in the minority in that I don’t like high sleeve heads. Yes, they look elegant when your arms are down at your sides…but I find that more often than not they restrict motion when you want to raise your arms and/or when you lift your arms the entire bodice gets lifted. For me freedom of movement trumps a perfect wrinkle-free fit, so I tend to prefer slightly lower and wider sleeve caps, even though they have more drag lines.

      In my opinion what you are seeing on the SA website has a lot to do with the fact that the dress appears slightly too snug through the bust on that particular model.


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