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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Musings: where to from here…

I find myself knee deep into 2017 already… and not quite sure ‘where to from here’…

I’m still sewing… although hit some hurdles. So what I have been doing?

Life…

Every year my life goes into overdrive between October and March. The pressure is constant. I am quite resilient, very organised but I’m exhausted during the peak period and completely knackered at the end of it.

While the peak of the workload culminates in a rather fun presentation… it is preceded and followed by oceans of work.

Last year I made my dress for this event however I didn’t make my dress this year. When you are working on an exceptionally tight deadline, sometimes you need to be kind to yourself. So I popped out in my lunchbreak the day before the night, tried on one dress, it fitted and I wore it – some days it’s best not to overthink it (even when you have shocking tan lines!).  I was stopped the following day by a lady and her husband to tell me how much they loved my dress and they were dying to know what it was made from. I laughed and said “Sequins and attitude“.

I’m glad I did buy it, one less thing to think about. I dread dressing up but yet when it comes to the actual event, I absolutely embrace it and love every minute of it. A reluctant party girl I guess! Note: I’m rarely this glamorous but heck it’s fun to indulge every now and then.

Definitely not made by me!

Definitely not made by me! Rushed and somewhat scruffy lift ‘selfie’. Bonus dirty mirror photo for earrings and on the way out for drinks after!

Trust me I do prioritise my life – and I am only doing what needs doing these days (2017 is My Year of No). However with kids to care for and a mortgage to pay (and they are rather high in Port Macquarie and good jobs are scarce). My job is demanding and more often than not exhausting, working 5 days a week and getting through each day, afternoon and evening is a trial in itself!

My youngest started high school and I’m still trying to find the rhythm of a new year and all the activities that it involves.

I’ve started hockey training again. I doubt I’ll ever be much of a hockey player but it’s fun and I love the team. I’ve been trying to run a few kilometres a week as well… when time permits.

I’ve had some friends who have been amazing and kept me somewhat sane during some challenging times lately. Several times I’ve deleted all the social media apps to give myself some space. I log back in every now and then and then I’m gone again for a while – there’s a lot to be said for social media holidays.

My phone died so rather than being annoyed by that I’ve just embraced being communication-free most of the time (well apart from the deluge of work emails of course). The lack of ‘noise’ is nice and while there are some people and conversations I miss, I’ve learnt to live with that.

Sewing…

Yes, I still think about it constantly, daydream and plan.

I’ve made a few garments… started several and stopped. Washed fabric and sorted through patterns. Traced patterns. Maybe like a glamorous event, I just need a bit of inspiration to get started again.

I made a lovely Grainline Archer in a foiled crinkle cotton – and haven’t managed to photograph it. I’ve worried about how it will photograph as the foil makes any creases quite savage although I’m pleased with the shirt itself. That aside, I found it really relaxing to indulge in the process of shirt making, I love all the details and steps. Perhaps I need to go back to sewing things I simply love. Dresses, shirts, jackets… I think I might attempt a dress to wear in Brisbane in April.

Grainline Archer - the ruffle back!

Grainline Archer – the ruffle back!

We have had an appallingly hot summer with record-breaking temperatures. I think we have survived three heatwaves this year, with temperatures rocketing to over 40 degrees Celsius. A couple of weekends ago it was 46.5 degrees(!) so the thought of sewing has been rather unbearable so far this year. Fortunately the temperature has dropped to a balmy 28 degrees most days – which is our usual summer temperature and it’s utterly delightful by comparison.

Confidence…

Self confidence. I feel like anything I might sew is going to end up a disaster. I feel like that about most things at the moment! I think most of us hit that hurdle at some point, for whatever reason.

Sewing doesn’t solve life’s problems but it certainly helps me relax. On the days when I’ve had time to sew and not known what to do or where to start, I’ve simply laid on the floor of my (tidy!) sewing room and quietly daydreamed/worried/thought/planned. There are worse things to do. It’s nice to have a ‘space’ for me, as Virginia Woolf once wrote ‘A Room Of One’s Own’.

Blogging…

I can’t quite figure how or when to take blog photos. This has been a big issue in the last year and it’s even harder now… maybe I need a tripod and a remote. That’s another project to find time to research/purchase.

I always found the process of writing a blog post the best way to move onto the next project. There is something about the consideration, the writing and assessment in a blog post that helps me mentally sign off on a project. I miss that.

The question is… 

Where to from here… well at least in this blog space?

hmmmmm, good question. I have considered not blogging. However I love the connection blogging provides and the way it makes me reflect on my projects. I also love having a record of my sewing. And that’s all I really started blogging for. Simply to communicate and record my makes. That’s really all there is to my blog. So that’s what I’ll continue to do.

So once I figure out how to get the blogging back on track, I’ll be back.

I know. What a waste of a blog post. If you haven’t fallen into a coma by now, thanks for hanging around.

See you sooner rather than later hopefully. Maybe with a Shining Archer!

Top 5 of 2016 – an abbreviated version

I’ve had a tough 2016. That’s the honest truth. So I’m feeling a bit reflective and Crafting a Rainbow’s Top 5 has played on my mind.

Top 5 2016 - an abbreviated version

Top 5 2016 – an abbreviated version

This year I’ve had less time for myself than ever before – largely my fault. I tend to say ‘yes’ to every request for help, community service and anything and everything else. I’ve found the best and only way to have a break is to physically leave town for a few days. That can be physically exhausting so it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. It’s been a relentless grind and at my best I am super-charged with enthusiastic energy as I relentlessly plough through everything in my path and at my worst tired self, exhausted and emotional. Pretty sure I’m not alone there – we all have days like that.

So I’ve haven’t sewn as much this year. I probably needed to but my work/life demands have defeated me. I did spend many of my winter months learning to play hockey (field hockey – much to my mother’s horror) and I loved it. What I may lack in skills, I make up for in reckless fearlessness and speed – I often referred to myself as the ‘sacrifical mutton’ as I delighted in taking on any player or high-speed ball to save a goal. The team may have nicknamed me ‘Crazy Eyes’…

I don’t think I’ve sewn enough to cull at Top 5 in every category I’ve decided to do an abbreviated version…

HIT

Of course it’s the tutu. It was an absolute slog and I tied myself up in a knot in indecisive anxiety but got there in the end. Yes there might be another in 2017. Might.

with the tiny tots

with the tiny tots

The garment I simply love… the Asaka Kimono from Named. I love this, I wear it most mornings while I drink my coffee in my great grandfather’s chair. In a relentless life that seems to take more than it gives, having a silk dressing gown to slip on is a tiny personal luxury to be treasured.

Asaka Kimono, Named Patterns, back view

Asaka Kimono, Named Patterns, back view

MISS

Sewn in 2015 but it’s taken me a year to accept this is a miss – I’ve sent it onto a reader who loved it.

I find it hard to give up on things that don’t love me back – don’t we all?

Burda Gathered Peplum Blouse 03/2015 #109 sewn by Sew Busy Lizzy

the failed Burda shirt

HIGHLIGHT

Brisbane Frocktails. I’ve come to love this city and its Spoolettes. I really should blog my outfit from this, New Look 6446 in black crepe. I’ve quite undecided how I feel about it. It was fun to wear something completely different. I’ve worn it since to a work function so here’s a ‘arty gallery and a lift selfie’ to tide you over to the eventual blog post on this pattern.

newlook6446_black_side

An ‘arty’ gallery selfie before a work function commences…

New Look 6446 in black 'French' crepe

New Look 6446 in black ‘French’ crepe

REFLECTION

Like people, some patterns and fabric won’t love you back. Such is life.

I love to sew. I’ve missed it.

GOALS

Sew more detailed garments because I love those projects. I find a myriad of details is the best place to lose myself and relax.

Read more books.

Be kinder to myself. When you always put yourself second, so does everyone else. Lesson learnt. 🙂

Off Duty

I could spend my holiday break sewing or catching up on my backlog of blog posts by blogging a couple of book reviews, a new skirt from Boundless Style, a self-shibori silk kimono jacket from Freehand Fashion, a dress a made from a 1973 Vogue pattern, my Top 5…

…or I could just relax for a few weeks.

Wishing you a safe & happy holiday season.

I’ll see you in 2016! 

Off Duty Blogger

off for some much needed R&R

 

Seaside Spring Sewaway – update!

I’ve just enjoyed the first weekend free of commitments for an entire month – and it was wonderful. May was chaotic and stressful. I’m just catching up on ‘life admin’ at the moment. I went to the gym for the Saturday Body Pump session, it was the first time in… far too long… and as a result I can barely move tonight. Oops. Tomorrow is not going to be pretty.

The ever-beautiful Nobbys

The ever-beautiful Nobbys Beach – location of many of my garment photos… mainly because Banjo can run free there!

The Seaside Spring Sewaway is definitely on this October. I’m moved it to Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 October as it’s a long weekend which makes travelling much easier for many.

I’ve booked a room in the heart of Port Macquarie’s CBD which is located on the riverfront and a stroll from Town Beach along the breakwall. There is a wide range of accommodation, restaurants and cafés within a few blocks. The room has electricity, plenty of tables, chairs, tea/coffee making… and you get to stroll through an art gallery as you arrive & leave. I know, I spoil you. I’ve done a weekend workshop there before and it’s a lovely space.

somewhere to sew?

somewhere to sew?

You can fly or drive to Port Macquarie. We are about ten minutes off the highway (four hours north of Sydney & about six and a half from Brisbane – roadworks dependent!). There are direct flights from Sydney & Brisbane as well – I can pick you up at the airport & drop you into Port’s CBD. Part of the beauty of being a holiday destination means there is a full range of accommodation available from camping to backpackers, serviced apartments or hotels. Most places are close to the river or beach – and we have a beautiful coastal walk which takes you from the CBD past all our beaches to the lighthouse at the southern end of Port.

Note: bloggers and non-bloggers welcome. I don’t believe you need a blog to prove your love of sewing. 

I’m providing the sewing workshop facilities. No charge. Just enjoy. I’ve made so many friends & had so much fun that’s it’s just something I wanted to do. Just bring your machine, sew, relax, chat, eat, walk on the beach – have fun. A weekend away isn’t cheap so the sewing workshop is my gift to those that trek to my little patch of sand, salt and (hopefully!) sun this October.

The only old-fashioned thing I ask is that you RSVP for me – so I’ve created a survey. Don’t worry it’s just to determine interest at this stage, I’m not going to hunt you down and hold your sewing machine hostage 🙂

That said, if you do want to come I would suggest booking accommodation sooner rather than later as a long weekend in Port Macquarie is a busy time!

The RSVP is to ensure I haven’t over or under-catered for a sewing space. If I need a bigger room I’ll need to know so everyone has ample space – or smaller which will save some pennies.

If there is interest in a dinner then I’ll set up a pre-payment system as I can’t afford (or the rest of the group) to cover for no-shows. That’s pretty reasonable I think. Heck, I’ll even throw in an early morning beach stroll with the now infamous whippet, Banjo. Take some blog photos! What more could you ask? So are you in?

Let me know here…

Banjo - my favourite water rat.

Banjo – my favourite water rat. Perhaps the star attraction for a sewaway in Port Macquarie – free addition to your blog photo shoots!

Sorry no sewing news follows – I exist beyond sewing and if it’s not of interest… you can ‘pull up stumps’ here.

LIFE BEYOND SEWING!

I wasn’t going to put any of this here – however life has been getting in the way of sewing so for me it’s relevant (to me) – what could possibly tear me away from the machine and blog for so many weeks???

I was rather overwhelmed with life in May. I’m so glad it’s over and those who followed my adventures on Instagram, cheered me on and dropped me emails and messages… thank you! Sometimes those words of encouragement and laughter helped get me through some very long and tiring days!

Wouldn't you volunteer if you got a free ugly oversized tshirt AND  fluoro vest with CAPTAIN printed on the back? I also got a truck and a radio for the day... and the only aid station with Red Bull!

Wouldn’t you volunteer if you got a free ugly oversized tshirt AND a fluoro safety vest with CAPTAIN printed on the back? I also got a truck and a two-way radio for the day…

I kicked off the month as an Ironman run leg aid station captain – organising 90 volunteers to serve 1,700 athletes coming through the station four times over 12 hours. I started at 10.30am and got home at 12.30am. I’d love to tell you that I did it for altruistic reasons. Not strictly true. It raises funds for the school … but I love Ironman, it’s such an amazing event. While the professional athletes are impressive… it’s the ‘ordinary’ people pushing themselves to extraordinary lengths that bring me back every year. It takes a certain amount of personal grit to swim 3.8kms, cycle 180kms and THEN run a marathon… amazing and humbling stuff.

We had some HORRENDOUS weather in the lead up to the day… and I was slightly concerned by reports that my riverside aid station may experience minor flooding in the evening… fortunately the river didn’t rise quite that much! Highlights of the day are on youtube… however if you want to see just how pretty Port Macquarie can be (minus the floodwater and clouds) – better watch the 2014 highlights!

So this was my Mother's Day... probably not even 20% of the women's clothes here

School fete: I guess it’s appropriate that I help run the second-hand clothes stall. This was my Mother’s Day… probably not even 20% of the women’s clothes here

Ironman was closely followed by the annual school fete and some rather challenging dance eisteddfod adventures – let’s just say inverted French braids are not, and will never be, in my essential life skills set. The ballet school understands that now 🙂 

My eldest is mad about dancing... and it drives me mad some days!

My eldest is mad about dancing… and it drives me mad some days!


At the moment I’m looking forward to enjoying some ‘normal’ life. I’ve got some trips planned, so I might see you in Brisbane (twice this winter) or Melbourne (Melbourne Frocktails of course). I’m sad that I can’t make it to Canberra – because I love the Canberra crowd… and I love Canberra itself… I’m hoping there is another in 2016!

Misses, reflections, goals (not) & thank you…

Once again – if you aren’t into these posts… that’s OK, I just find them interesting to think about… so I blog them for me.

MISSES

I think these two are the most obvious misses, I was not pleased when I blogged them – and time has not improved them.

McCalls 6696 - no amount of naval gazing will save this one with me.

McCalls 6696 – no amount of naval gazing will save this one with me. Just not me.

 

Named Patterns: Jamie Jeans. Checking out my own legs...

Named Patterns: Jamie Jeans. Just can’t like these at all.

Some things I’ve worn more than others but I don’t rate my clothes as misses if I’ve learnt something from them. Sewing for me isn’t always about ‘the wearing’, a significant part is about purely creativity, experimentation and escapism.

You can see all my makes on the Made-by-me 2014 page which I’ve just created.

REFLECTIONS/HIGHLIGHTS

Professionally, I’ve worked relentlessly this year and I’m exhausted. I’d love to say in 2015 I’ll find a better ‘life-work balance’ but I believe there is no such thing.

I’ve actually edited the heck out of this post and decided not to say much ‘personal’ at all. It’s not for here.

GOALS

I’ve decided I’m not really a sewing goal type. I prefer to listen to my squirrels as that’s where the inspiration lies.

There are some things I’d like to sew but if I don’t, I don’t. That’s ok.

I’d like to sew a proper tutu for my daughter. Maybe I will. Maybe I won’t.

I’d like to try swimwear. Maybe I will. Maybe I won’t.

I’d like to find the time to exercise again – I started out the year fit & strong… and along the way work and life consumed me. I want to be back there again, I miss my figure, my strength and my legs (vain but true – I’m ok with that too). Maybe I will. Maybe I won’t.

I’m not going to chain myself to any goals or beat myself up about them if other stuff comes along. It doesn’t matter. That’s life. I don’t think the future of humanity depends on it. That’s ok.

Merry Christmas & a happy and safe New Year to you and yours.

Thank you to the amazing people in my life and the fabulous people that have come into my life via this blog.

PATTERN PARCEL #6

I was supposed to be on the Pattern Parcel #6 tour. I really wanted to be. I think it’s a great parcel – especially if you like knits.

Several things popped up unexpectedly in my life. Manic work schedules exploding (my busiest time of the year with additional tasks being added), husband away fishing, youngest daughter in hospital (thought that was going to be in January – fret not – she is fine) and the list goes on and one and on. Like for anyone else, sometimes ‘life happens’.

This might also explain why I might not have responded to some emails & blogs comments. Sorry, I will. Soon.

So I decided to put my money where my mouth is. I actually bought Pattern Parcel – yes I had the patterns but I like to be a contributor not just an enabler/encourager. I spend plenty of money on sewing, far beyond what I receive. It’s my hobby and indulgence – and I also like to support the industry. Not just indies, but the Big 4, fabric shops and so on. It’s all part of a bigger picture. If I unexpectedly couldn’t support it as a feature blogger, I’m more than happy to buy the patterns. If you saw my pattern ‘library’ you would be greatly amused – it is HUGE!
Pattern Parcel No.6So there is just hours left – Pattern Parcel is out there and waiting for you if you are fond of knits, skirts, dresses, tunics, pants or cardigans, this one might be just for you.