About sewbusylizzy

Australian sewing blogger

Style Arc Ariana Dress

It’s been a while!

So let’s start by talking about the new Style Arc Ariana Dress. I sewed on the last button and photographed this in the evening in the final minutes of sunshine. It’s autumn here but still deliciously warm.

Style Arc Ariana Dress

Style Arc Ariana Dress

This pattern was released last week. I have collected a couple of vintage patterns that are quite similar but for a variety of reasons, this one inspired me to sew immediately and so I did!

Style Arc describes the pattern as follows: You will love this gorgeous button through sun dress. The bodice is beautifully fitted. The shaped bust seams and the shirred back allows this dress to fit perfectly and be comfortable to wear. The skirt has gathers falling from the waist and has two large patch pockets. Not after a dress? You can make this one as a midriff top too!

This was only intended as a ‘test run’ version, I’ve often struggled through Style Arc patterns and instructions – and I wasn’t sure if I would like the style on me. So I raided my stash and came up with this lovely cotton/linen which seemed perfect for the task – and I’ve rather fallen in love with it!

Style Arc Ariana Dress – image courtesy of Style Arc

The Pattern

I purchased the PDF version, which only comes as an A4 print-at-home option. I contacted Lena of Iconic Patterns and she created two A0 pages from the pattern for $10 which I had printed at the copy shop – all done in less than 24 hours. Expensive solution but I was impatient and haven’t felt such an urge to sew for ages! I couldn’t bear to wait for a paper pattern in the post.

Apparently Style Arc will provide an A0 file if you request it. Call me petulant but I don’t think you should have to ask for something which most other independent pattern designers now provide (thanks for listening Carolyn) or that they could provide but chose not to in the initial purchase. It’s absolutely Style Arc’s right to make that business decision but I’m also entitled not to like it. I chose to use resources available to me to be able to print it in an easy-to-use manner – as soon as possible! Thanks Lena.

Style Arc Ariana Dress

Style Arc Ariana Dress – lots of buttons… I think they cost me more than the fabric!

INSTRUCTIONS

Sparse at best! That said, Style Arc are notorious for their very brief instructions. If you can sew and have experience in different garment construction it’s not a bother – if you don’t … it is. So I would not recommend this pattern for beginners.

I found the instructions were adequate but I think many might chose to do some things slightly differently.

I found the instructions to attached the shirred panel to the bodice very brief and I figured out a way to do this by myself.

I didn’t like how the bodice was attached to the skirt – or at least the way I read them. perhaps style Arc assume you will figure out the best way to do so – rather than giving you a method. The way the shirring panel was created meant I had to do some unpicking to obtain a neat result on the inside of the bodice. I sewed the skirt to the outer bodice and then slip stitched in the lining into place along the waistline.

SHIRRING

Style Arc Ariana Dress - back view

A shirred back panel. Easy to create IF you know how!

If you are hoping to find detailed shirring instructions in this pattern – you won’t. There are some diagrams but they don’t actually tell you “how to shirr”. You need to figure that bit out by yourself.

I have shirred before but if you are looking for helpful hints, this Craftsy post helps. Google and YouTube will be your sewing friends if you have never shirred before.

Style Arc Ariana Dress - bodice back

Style Arc Ariana Dress – my shirring is not perfect but I only intended this to be a ‘test run’ and experimented a bit!

I find it impossible shirr with my front-loading bobbin case fancy-pants Bernina. Instead I borrow my daughter’s basic Singer machine that has a top-loading bobbin. I hand-wind the shirring elastic onto the bobbin and increase the stitch length. I also find gently providing some tension at the back of the fabric as it goes under the sewing foot helps pull the fabric and result in a more even and neat shirr. That said, I think the shirring experience varies vastly from machine to machine – do a test run first… the panel has 29 rows of shirring!

POCKETS

It has large patch pockets however I didn’t have quite enough fabric to make pockets so I opted to leave them off. I think it would be a lovely feature in a solid linen.

LIKES

  • A classic sundress.
  • It’s very comfortable. Not too fitted on me but not a shapeless sack.
  • Not too many pieces and quite quick to construct… if you can get yourself through the brief instructions and figure out a few construction issues.
  • Some might be deterred by the shirring. However it is a narrow panel and it makes the bodice fit nicely. I like it.
  • The bodice is fully lined. I chose to use the shell fabric as the lining. Many of the other patterns I have considered have a facing to finish the top edge. I think I might try one to see how it compares.
Style Arc Ariana Dress - bodice lining

Style Arc Ariana Dress – bodice lining. The other bonus of having the lining and shell the same – I could choose which pieces to use on the outside and avoid ‘flower’ bewb’

  • I like the neckline shape and strap placement.

DISLIKES

  • Construction as per instructions. I would approach construction slightly differently next time around.
  • A4 PDF pattern or a paper pattern and having to wait impatiently for delivery. I believe US customers can purchase copy shop PDFs from Amazon.

DETAILS

Pattern: Style Arc Ariana Dress, can be purchased as a paper or PDF version. I sewed a straight size 6 with no alterations.
Fabric: Cotton/Linen blend – Still available online – my piece was a remnant bin find for $12 for a 1.7m piece.

Style Arc Ariana Dress

Also excellent for clambering over rocks

I’ve been absent from ‘blog land’ for quite some time – for a range of reasons. As you can see, I’m still here and kicking despite last year’s massive health crisis. I’ve also sewn quite a few other garments and knitted a jumper… blog posts to come… sooner rather than later I hope. More about my damaged carotid artery adventures later.

Style Arc Ariana Dress

Style Arc Ariana Dress

… or there is the Jessica Dress

I’ve almost purchased the Mimi G Jessica Dress several times.

At the moment Mimi G is giving away her Jessica Dress pattern which is quite similar to this dress in many ways. You do need to sign up to her database in order to receive an email to download a copy. I’m not sure how long this offer lasts for… so delay at your peril. It has bodice facings and the skirt button front is looks like it is finished differently. Busy Lizzie (another sewing blogger & friend) recently posted her Jessica Dress on instagram which she had added a shirred panel to. Bonus – gorgeous chevron stripe bodice! I downloaded this pattern today – it comes with an A0 option.

This blog post first appeared on http://www.sewbusylizzy.com

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Wrapped in Flowers – maxi wrap dress Vogue 9251

I had a maxi wrap dress in my head… and here it is… Vogue 9251.

This is a maxi length version of Vogue 9251 with flutter sleeves.

The rayon fabric has lots of drape and is very fluid, even in a strong late afternoon breeze, it is a delight to wear.

I finished this dress length midway between the midi and the maxi length on the Vogue pattern… I’m 5 foot 4 for reference.

I underlined the bodice in white lawn. I d cured to do this after an Instagram comment from AnnaKatherine who has also sewn a dress in this fabric. It is a fine lightweight rayon and it is bearing a lot of weight in that long, long skirt and the fabric is slightly sheer.

I used my Bernina rolled hem foot to hem the sleeves. I hand basted the bodice and underlining together and then used this fabulous technique to baste my bodice darts. This kept the fabrics together beautifully. Try it, it’s easy & very neat!

I found this dress a little too roomy… I tried stitching elastic to the inside of bias tape finish on the neckline (I had to get creative as I’d trimmed the seams). This is a technique I picked up in a Claire Shaeffer couture book. I used it successfully on my Flora dress.  Even with a tiniest bit of tension I didn’t like it. There’s a millions reasons this was a bad idea BUT it was fun trying it. I didn’t like it. So I unpicked it and tried something else. I strangely enjoy experimenting and trying new things, even when they don’t work.


I unpicked the neckline again and then placed two small back neck darts in the neckline and this improved the fit. Thanks to the print you can’t really see those darts at all. I do wish that this pattern went down to a size 6.

I love this dress and worn it a few times already. Yes, it’s a bright burst of colour… but it’s a dress that makes me feel happy and noone can argue with the virtue of happy wardrobe choices.

Life: still fairly restricted activity wise but hanging in there… less than two weeks until my MRI and CT scans in Sydney. Hooray. Staying positive.Pattern: Vogue 9251. Size 8.
Fabric: Rayon from Spotlight Australia. I bought the last of the roll at my store, last year. Sorry!

Moonstone in the Sunshine – McCalls 7242

Sometimes you just need to revisit a pattern because you love it so much the first time.

So I did.

You can find it over at Maaidesign blog. Maaike contacted me and asked if I was interested in writing a blog for her in return for some fabric… and although I have said no to a lot of things since my accident… an Australian business and lovely fabric seemed like a nice thing to blog about (I may have purchased some extra fabric because I liked it so much!). You can read more about it and see some more images over at Maaidesign blog.

McCalls 7242, the 'water view'

McCalls 7242, the ‘water view’

Fabric: Courtesy of Maaidesign, all opinions my own (I liked this fabric so much I purcashed some in addition to the 2m supplied)
Pattern: McCalls 7242

Wrapped in stars – Vogue 9251, a wrap dress

Vogue 9251 - woven wrap dress in viscose crepe

Vogue 9251 – woven wrap dress in viscose crepe

Another blast from the post-injury ‘go slow’ phase. This is Vogue 9251, view A.

They say not to wear wrap dresses on windy days but I did. These were taken in my lunchbreak (my workplace is about 200m away from this spot) and it was ridicolously windy. So the dress in turn clings and blows out in these photos – sorry but at least they are ‘real life’ photos!

Vogue 9251 - taken on a windy day!

Vogue 9251 – taken on a windy day!

I’ve made this as a work dress but I do really love the style and considering a floral maxi as a casual dress.

I love wrap dresses in summer. Easy care and easy to wear.

Modifications

I made view A with the flutter sleeves and shortened it by 2 inches.

I used purchased bias tape on the neckline, to hem the sleeves and skirt. Depending on the fabric weight, I sometimes find this makes for a much neater and flatter finish.

I used my Prym Turning Set to turn the ties… these make turning your narrow fabric tubes SO much easier!

Dislikes

I love the sleeves but do dislike how you can see the wrong side of the fabric and the sleeve hems, likewise with the skirt… but the dress is lovely and I can live with that. My fault for not choosing a fabric with a less obvious right/wrong side.

In these photos there is a wrinkle at the shoulder – which is not there when I’m looking in the mirror… the risks of walking and moving your arms I guess!

Vogue 9251 - side view

Vogue 9251 – side view

Verdict

I think I need another of these… lovely pattern.

It is slightly big, despite making the smallest size available, I wish I could pull it in that little bit more. I might try raising the neckline a tiny bit.

The skirt is a generous wrap and reasonably ‘breeze friendly’.

Vogue 9251 - a generous wrap for windy days

Vogue 9251 – a generous wrap for windy days

Pattern: Vogue 9251, size 8
Fabric: woven Italian viscose crepe ‘Star Gazer’ from Ruche Fabric. Seriously lovely stuff, doesn’t crease badly and is lovely to wear. Purchased on holiday in January.
Also See: Emily Hallman Designs, Brittany J Jones, Sewing Pomona, Sewing Pattern Review

Me
I’m doing OK. Not much to say about anything as my lifestyle is fairly restricted – hopefully things change after my November review. I’m deliberately being conservative as I figure it’s more likely to heal with less drama. I’ve had enough of medical drama for this lifetime.
I miss running. However I volunteer every week at Parkrun and am treasurer of a local running club so I’m staying in the mix and praying for a return to the pavement sometime soon.

Finding my mojo in boho: Vogue 9253

Aka – The ‘it’ dress

Yes, the dress that seems to be ‘everywhere’, Vogue 9253. I make no apologies for succumbing to the pattern ‘fad’, I loved it on its release and purchased it as soon as it was in-store in Australia… which seems to take much less time than it used to.

I got home from hospital and decided I needed something lovely in my life to focus on… so sewing it was. There is no time for self misery when you surround yourself with beautiful things and people. I pulled this fabric put of my stash and immediately pictured this dress.

Vogue 9253

Vogue 9253 – much more ladylike but alas a droopy hat.

I’ve struggled in 2017 with trying to sew sensible things, things for my lifestyle and whatnot… but in all honesty I enjoy sewing when inspiration takes me by surprise. Right now, I have the urge to sew all.the.pretty.dresses so I think I might just indulge myself. Welcome back mojo.

Modifications

I sewed up the front bodice pieces in the centre by 2 inches (10 centimetres) and turned narrow hems under along the raw edges. And then sewn these down to the bodice. The stitching lines continue down the skirt front and its front split opening.

Vogue 5253 - inner brodice finish. I sewed the front seam up 10cm.

Vogue 5253 – inner bodice finish. I sewed the front seam up 10cm.

I also only partially sewed the centre seam of the front skirt pieces. I find it easier to walk in maxi skirts that have a split, preferably in the front. This enables my legs to break free of the fabric, rather than the fabric wrapping around and slipping between my legs when I’m walking or there is a breeze to contend with. I finished the seams in the same manner as the bodice centre front seam.

I decided to not put in pockets as I felt the light fabric didn’t really suit pockets and they might interfere with the fluid drape of the skirt.

Vogue 9253

Vogue 9253

I french seamed the skirt side seams and narrow hemmed the skirt centre back seam edges for a neat finish.

I added strips of interfacing along the centre back seams to stabilise the fabric for the invisible zipper.

I shortened the skirt pieces by 3 inches. I’m 5 foot 4.

This fabric actually has a massive fabric repeat which I didn’t notice when I purchased it. It appealed to me due to the carefree large-scale print which seemed to have no rhyme or reason to it. I deliberately chose not to pattern match (shock, horror) as I prefer the carefree feel the fabric print, deliberately placing motifs just felt too structured for the relaxed feel I envisaged this dress/fabric match delivering.

Vogue 9253, back view

Vogue 9253, back view

Dislikes

The tie droops at the front. I think I may hand stitch this to the bodice seam, at least in part.

Verdict

Even with my minor grumble, I have lots of love for this dress and pattern. I do think sewing up the front bodice a little makes it much more wearable for day-to-day use.

I sewed this very slowly. I’m learning to ‘slow down’. I was still very tired from my week in hospital so I sat at my kitchen table as I created this, hand basted my pleats and darts, hand basted hems in place before machining. Yes, probably more fastidious than required… but it is a nicely finished dress and I love it.

I’m tempted to sew all.the.caftans… and I do hear Charlie calling my name… can I resist? Do I really need another pattern?

Pattern: Vogue 9253, size XS
Fabric: Rayon from East Coast Fabrics, Brisbane. Purchased in 2016.
Also see: there are sooooo many out there… just google Vogue 9253 or look up the #V9253 hashtag on instagram – enjoy! There was also a recent competition run by McCalls Patterns for this pattern. See all the winning entries here.

 

Why I sew…

When I saw the #sewphotohop challenge today I felt inspired to write up this blog post.

This dress better than most answers that question… it’s the place where the worries of life slip away… a place of promise and potential… where problems can be solved and beautiful things await.

It’s the place I lose myself. It’s the place where I also find myself again.

Vogue 9253

Vogue 9253

A Beach Brumby Skirt

Brumby Skirt, Megan Nielsen Patterns
(Made and photographed pre-hockey ball incident – see end of the post for an update)

Brumby Skirt, front view

Brumby Skirt, front view and a peek-a-boo greyhound

Really there’s not much to say about the Megan Nielsen Brumby Skirt that hasn’t been said before.

Described as “Gathered skirt with deep scoop pockets. Pattern features exposed zipper and contoured waistband sitting on the natural waistline. Version 1 is above the knee and includes pockets. Version 2 is midi length, includes pockets and additional fullness. Version 3 is basic knee length gathered skirt.

I made Version 1 and lengthened it by approximately 2 inches – sorry, the exact measurement escapes me at the moment.

I’ve been eyeing off this pattern for a while, not quite sure about the outcome on me though. Makes me look curvier than I’m used to. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just a different silhouette to my usual choices.

Brumby Skirt, side view

Brumby Skirt, side view

I found this denim fabric at the op shop, 2 meters for $3. It’s actually really lovely fabric. Very soft and it was also very narrow, less than a metre wide. So it was a struggle to find any pattern suitable for the width & meterage.

Top Stitching

In the past I’ve had dramas with top stitching with ‘actual’ top stitching thread and tended to use Gutermann’s upholstery thread as a substitute.

I’ve invested in some proper top stitching needles for my machine and they are worth every cent. The larger eye makes all the difference. I purchased mine from Punch with Judy (Australian online supplier).

Exposed Zipper

I’ve never been a huge fan of exposed zippers but this one does not feel to ‘obvious’. I inserted it using this tutorial.

Brumby Skirt, back view

Brumby Skirt, back view

A very easy pattern and a fun sewing project.

Pattern: Brumby Skirt, Megan Neilsen
Fabric: vintage denim, op shop $3.
Tshirt: Uniglo (no longer in stock. Sorry!)

More blogs posts coming soon!

Me…

Thank you so much for all your kind and supportive words. I wrote that post from my hospital bed on my iPhone during one of many sleepless nights. I’ve been a little overwhelmed by my experience and its subsequent impact on my life to reply to the comments, perhaps things are a little too raw & real right now… but I read every single one and your kind words, positive thoughts and prayers helped me through some of the darker moments.

I’m not fixed. After an angiogram, they opted not to put a stent in my neck – which is good news due to the longer term implications of that. I also escaped neurosurgery which seemed likely for a while – more good news.

I’m at home and on anti-clotting medication, aspirin and a restricted lifestyle. No sport, no running, no lifting, shorter working hours and so on. I’m back to Sydney in November for MRI and CT scans (on my birthday no less!) to see how things are healing/progressing and to visit the endovascular specialist. So there will be a lot more sewing until then!

I refuse to be miserable and angry about the way things have turned out. Sometimes ‘life’ happens and you’ve just got to make the best of things, accept limitations and find positives in the tough times.

I couldn’t be more grateful for my friends, family and workmates who have supported me through this very rough patch. I truly understand the meaning of ‘blessed’.

Thank you. xox

Banjo - same as always

Banjo – same as always

The day everything changed…

(I’ve got a few sewing related posts waiting for you… but they aren’t quite ready, I’m far from home & this is a story I’m going to tell, quite simply because I’m here to tell it.)

Life changes so quickly.

In July I ran my first half marathon. It was a big ‘thing’ for me, having started running in February. While it’s tough, running is joyful for me. It’s distracted me from sewing and everything else. If I wasn’t running… I was thinking about running.

Gold Coast Half Marathon 2017

A little overwhelmed I was actually finishing this ‘thing’

I hoped to finish in under 2 hours, 15 minutes… I finished in 2 hours, 4 seconds.

So I entered the Brisbane Half Marathon at the beginning of August – those 4 seconds annoyed me. I loved this course and finished in 1 hour, 58 minutes & 33 seconds. The course was a little long & Strava tells me my new half marathon ‘personal best’ is 1 hour, 57 minutes & 10 seconds. Satisfying & still plenty of room for improvement as I fell apart a bit in those final kilometres. Running is funny like that, some kilometres are just so so tough even when you know you are so close to the end.

Brisbane Half Marathon 2017

About 12kms into the 21.1km course and obviously feeling great!

 

The following weekend, I completed the famous Sydney City 2 Surf. A 14km run from Sydney city to Bondi Beach. With over 67,000 participants, this is a MASSIVE iconic event – and a tough one. I finished in 78 minutes, surprising myself with my refusal to ‘give up’ even when I desperately wanted to and ran in the last kilometre at 4.40 pace. I finished in the top 9% of female competitors and my age group.

Sydney City 2 Surf 2017

Airborne & just relieved it is over!

So I signed up for my first marathon in October… I just run, but I thought maybe if I developed a training plan I could get faster and also run further…

Just three days later, my life took a dramatic turn.

Long story short, late on Wednesday 16 August I was hit by a hockey ball in my right throat and it dissected my carotid artery. A life threatening injury. I had no idea. With no visible bruise, swelling or damage, I just carried on with life.

I felt progressively worse as the days wore on & when I finally did get what I thought was ‘just an annoying swollen gland’ reviewed, I was immediately admitted to hospital and airlifted to Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital for review and treatment. The obvious concern & trepidation of all the medical staff told me one thing, I was in serious trouble.

And so began the relentless days and nights of monitoring, tests, reviews and procedures to make sure this ‘thing’ didn’t claim my life.

It’s been one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. To be confronted with my own mortality. Reality can be a very ugly thing and sometimes the only way out of a very difficult situation is to just keep moving forward one step at a time. Don’t think about the next day or week – just focus on getting through the next hour. Even when it is as scary as hell.

I’m now in the neurological ward. I’m the patient who looks absolutely fine, is mobile, has all their cognitive abilities in tact yet is a bit broken on the inside. The medical team are incredulous I’m still here. Apparently I’m pretty tough… and extraordinarily lucky.

The ugly reality

I’ve been overwhelmed & humbled by the support, concern and love that’s rolled in for myself & my family as we get through this. And the amazing strength of my family as they have stood by my side as a very physical & emotional tsunami tore through my life.

Needless to say I won’t be running for a very long time. I’m in hospital until they figure out the blood thinners to prevent clotting and to see if my body will heal itself. I’m hoping to be back home next week and to find my new ‘normal’. It’s going to be a long road to recovery and maybe the destination won’t be the same as where I came from. 

Things may never be quite the same again. 

I’ll never be quite the same again. 

But against all the odds, I’m still here.

Life is precious. 
This post first appeared on http://www.sewbusylizzy.com