Spring – Style Arc Cara top (as a dress)

I magically dropped off the face of the blogsphere. I’ve been sewing but had very little time to sit and write.

Spring is here... finally!

Spring is here… finally! Here’s a dress to celebrate.

I decided to share this dress with you today – it’s the first weekend of the Australian spring and that makes me feel disgustingly cheerful. While my winters are not particularly cold, I always wave them goodbye without a shadow of regret in my sunshine-lovin’ heart.

The Spring Dress Journey…

Before you see more dress photos… here’s the story behind this project.

I’ve got little love for the off-the-shoulder look that has been haunting the retail stores and sewing blogs. Some of my sewing friends will be stifling their laughter to see me in an off-the-shoulder dress/top at all, given my distinct lack of enthusiasm/bewilderment for this 2016 fashion trend.

I enjoy puzzling out what I don’t like about certain looks – and sometimes how to interpret a look to be more ‘me’.

After much internet cruising and considering, I realised what I mostly didn’t like about the off-the-shoulder look was the necklines gathered with elastic. When I saw a few Style Arc Cara Tops made up (see end of post for links), I was curious about the flat band across the front of the front and the use of elastic at the back to provide the tension to hold the top in place. So I decided to investigate – by making one of course. This is a very simple top to make – and it uses very little fabric. An ideal stash buster!

The Style Arc Cara Top test run (still unhemmed)

The Style Arc Cara Top test run (still unhemmed) in cotton voile. My oldest tattiest jeans… I care not, I love them… I was surprised to not ‘hate’ this top when I made it. If I decide to make this wearable… I’ll add lace when I hem it, it is too short for my long-waisted self!

The Style Arc Cara Top test run - I found I needed to shortern the elastic just a little to pull the front band firm against my upper chest.

The Style Arc Cara Top test run – I found I needed to shorten the back elastic just a little to pull the front flat band firm against my upper chest.

Once I made this top, I immediately had an idea to turn it into a dress. A maxi dress that was soft and feminine, demure and slightly revealing all at the same time.

Once I had this idea in my head, I couldn’t shake it and I needed to ‘sew it out of my head’ so I could move onto other projects.

Style Arc Cara Top as a dress - I had this dress in my head and it's been fun and rewarding to see it come to life.

Style Arc Cara Top as a dress – it’s been fun and rewarding to see this dress emerge from my head and come to life.


The fabric I used is a gorgeous large floral woven rayon from Spotlight (Australia). It is very flimsy and a little sheer however the gathering helps disguise most of the transparency. This dress won’t last forever… however nor will the off-the-shoulder look.

Style Arc Cara Top as a dress - back view

Style Arc Cara Top as a dress – back view


To create the skirt I simply used all the fabric remaining (I purchased 3.5m for this project of 135m wide fabric – noting a sewed a size 4 top and my height is 5 foot 4 inches). I used to the bottom width and curve of the top to cut the waistline and simply cut the skirt with a generous a-line flare heading toward the hem. I added a little to the width of the front skirt piece to enable me to create a front split. I then cut the front piece in 1/3 and 2/3 pieces so the split would sit over one thigh. I find these maxi skirt splits the easiest and most graceful to walk in.

Style Arc Cara Top / Dress - I think this is a style that I would always fiddle with when I wear

Style Arc Cara Top / Dress – I think this is a style that I would always fiddle with when I wear

I sewed the waist seam with a 25mm seam allowance and then pressed it up into the bodice, machine down the edges to create a channel for the elastic waist. I will probably wear this with a narrow woven belt but left it off for these photos.

The entire garment is French seamed. The edges of the front split are turned under twice and sewn down the length of the skirt so no raw edges can be seen.

Style Arc Cara Top - and it doubles as a wind sock!

A windblown Style Arc Cara Top / Dress – and it doubles as a wind sock!

The hem isn’t as straight as I would wish… however in the photos, walking and moving about in it, it doesn’t appear to be dreadful so I’ve forgiven myself for that indiscretion.

The top is quite ‘blousy’ very loose and full – and it is the look I was after. Just soft, feminine and loose.

This dress isn’t a work of art, it’s not my best sewing due to the fragile fabric… but it’s soft and pretty – and sometimes that’s enough for me.

Pattern: Style Arc Cara Top (purchased from Etsy). Size 4.
Fabric: Floral woven rayon, Spotlight Australia. Available online.
Location: Lighthouse Beach, Port Macquarie Australia

Also see: Very Purple Person  |  My Dress Made  |  Creating in the Gap | Thornberry on Instagram, I couldn’t find it on her blog.


28 thoughts on “Spring – Style Arc Cara top (as a dress)

  1. YAY for Spring, I agree! Our Brisbane Winters are mild too & yet my heart skips a beat when I FINALLY get to turn the calendar page to September!
    Your dress is very pretty – much “wafting around” will be possible in such a creation, I’m sure. (And I found myself nodding knowingly when I read how you had to “sew it out of your head”.) Enjoy Spring!

    • I feel like such a sook about my hatred of any temperature below 20 degrees. The best thing about winter is the groovy layering and boots.
      My summers are also quite mild. Brisbane can be tortuous with humidity mid summer – I think you need one of these!

  2. This is sooooo pretty! I also didn’t like the off-shoulder trend for the same reason as you, the ugly elastic gathered neckline. This is such a good alternative for that. Elas, summer is almost at an end here in the Netherlands but I may squeeze one out and hope for an indian summer.

  3. I was excited to see your Cara Top made up – and it is lovely. But OMG THAT DRESS! You’ve knocked it out of the ball park! I don’t think anyone seeing it would notice any imperfections, plus dress hems tend to be asymmetric at the moment anyway. Just amazing.

    • It’s amazing how life just sweeps you away – as the kids get older I seem to get busier… or maybe the ‘mum’s taxi service’ does.
      I miss blogging, it’s a great way to remember, record and consider every project. I think I’ve got a backlog of 10 projects!

    • Excellent question and yes it does a bit. Hence my caption about a garment you ‘fiddle with’ as you wear it, one if my least favourite things.
      However it’s not the sort of dress you wear to vacuum the house, rather it’s a dress to stroll in, sip a glass of wine etc and for that purpose it’s absolutely fine.
      As an Aussie girl I worry more about the lack of sun protection – so I’d be careful about not wearing it out for any length of time in a hot sunny day – more as a ‘as the sun goes down’ or ‘relaxing in the shade’ type of dress

  4. Here in Canada we are just entering fall so I was wistful reading how you are just now heading into spring! Ah yes that Spring feeling with Summer on it’s heels. Your dress is a beautiful celebration of the Sun’s return to your side – floating, flowery, lightly flowing around you in the Spring breeze. I’m not so crazy about maxi’s myself but they do look lovely. I always feel as though I have to walk a certain way when I’m wearing them which interferes with my straight somewhat fast gait 🙂

  5. You look so elegant in this – such a perfect ‘here comes the summer’ dress!
    I’m with you, it’s the bunched up fabric around the elastic that gets me with this style, although this version has eliminated that! I’m not built to go bra-less though so it’s not a style I’ll ever be sporting lol!

  6. I didn’t think I liked this trend either, but I tried some rtw tops on and – surprise, surprise – found I quite liked the look after all! Your Cara dress looks very romantic and pretty, and I think it’s a great idea to lengthen the top to dress length. I hope you get lots of warm beach days to wear it!

  7. So beautiful and romantic. As for the off the shoulder trend not being around forever, when it goes this time around, you can pack it and have it ready for a daughter when it’s ‘in’ again. 😀

  8. That dress is lovely on you. Somehow it makes you seem taller than your actual height. Go figure. 😉 Missed your posts big time, and very happy to see your wonderful garments, and your smiling self back in blog land.

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