Scarlett O’Mara

1 Style arc Mara Shirt Dress1 mara shirt dressIf Style Arc was a parent rather than a pattern company, the kind of parent it would be is the kind that teaches its kid to swim by throwing it into a lake off a jetty.

There ain’t much handholding in the Mara Shirt Dress instructions.

1 Pocket with Flap Style Arc MaraExhibit one: constructing the shirt pocket.  “Fold the pocket in half and stitch as marked on the pattern to create a box pleat.”  But fold in half which way?  Right sides together or wrong sides?  I went with right, which was wrong.  An inch of ink could have explained.  Instead I hear voices:  ‘But Marianna mate, it’s so obvious, how could you have been so …. stupid?!’

1 shirt cuffExhibit two: here’s the shirt cuff.  And amongst the following sentences are the instructions on how to achieve it: “with right sides facing sew the top sleeve to the under sleeve. Follow the notches.  Sew the under sleeve seam and the back seam to down to the sleeve opening.  Sew the outer cuff edge to the sleeve opening, pin the inner cuff to the sleeve seam and sink stitch.”

Yeah,  😕   I’m gonna need some diagrams….1 Stylearc Mara  pocket and short sleeveNotice my sleeves are a lot shorter than on the pattern illustration.  That’s right, there’ve been … amputations.

My choice of fabric – a sheer linen from Simply Fabrics (£6) and redder than these pinkish pictures suggest – compromised the project somewhat as the seam finishes would have been visible from the right side.  So to achieve a less unkempt look, I had to choose French and flat-felled seams; both annoying to alter. Also, I had to omit the side pockets as they showed through and just looked floppy like elephant ears.

1 Style arc Mara Shirt Dress Back view

But despite being traumatised by evidence of my incompetence and amateurism, I enjoyed making this and I think it’s a great-looking dress.  The collar is elegant, the button fly-front looks very professional (and that part was easy) while the sleeves are narrow-fitting and feminine.  During the project, which was drawn out and marked by many interruptions, each morning I’d enter the room where the dress draped over the dummy by the window and I’d be overwhelmed by the gorgeous colour, all walls awash in a shade of blood.

I’m not sure what to wear under it yet.  My jeans are a bit heavy.  Maybe a black leotard and a mini (sooo 1993)?

I’m sewing another vibrant-coloured version of this for my mum but she’s not around for a fitting so I’m off to make something from Colette Patterns now.  Colette’s a helicopter parent.  The kind that reminds you that after sewing the left sleeve to do the other side!  🙂1 S o M

Loopy Dress

1 loopy loops1 Measurements BackMy newest client, who got in touch via this blog, lives on the other side of the world so I’ll never even see her 😥 She asked for a copy of a dress I made for myself that I blogged a while back.  We exchanged a few emails to get an idea of how this would work, discussing fabrics, a deadline, payment and measurements – but mostly measurements.  I sent a couple of pictures like this one.

Then off I went.

The main worry was making the dress too small.  The black fabric I picked has the tiniest amount of stretch and I used the Winifred Aldrich close-fitting dress block (which, as you may know, isn’t all that close-fitting) to design a sloper on which to base the dress pattern.

Making the inside of the garment nicely finished is very important to me, even more so when sewing for a client who might only have RTW garments to compare to, but on this occasion I abandoned my usual French seams.  The dress will probably have to be adjusted by the client and while contour darts can quickly be narrowed or widened, letting out a French seam can be a bit of a nightmare.  Not only are there two stitching lines to unpick, but the inner seam is likely to be closely trimmed.

1 inside outInstead, I left the seam allowances untrimmed (in case there are places where the garment needs to be made bigger) and bound them Hong Kong style.  The white binding is consistent with the colour scheme of the dress: can you guess what it is yet?!

1 scrap practice


The dress has a ‘loop and button’ closure but not of the delicate, bridal variety (this is meant to be a utalitarian garment).  I’ve only done loops once before so thought I might do some desk research to enable me to do it as professionally as possible.  The buttons on the left side are placed exactly at the centre front, as for a shirt with buttonholes, but the loop side edge therefore has to move back and it’s really the loops that are placed at the centre front of the right side.  But which part of the loop is the exact middle?  The  outer edge?  The hole?   And as for the rouleau strips: how long to make them in relation to the button size?

Well, maybe there’s a magic formula somewhere but I realised I’d have to make some samples and take measurements from those that worked!

I did pick up one helpful tip (from here, as usual) for sewing loops.  Use sticky tape when aligning the strips with the raw edge of the garment as there’s less movement than if using pins or tacks.

1 raw edges together

Place loop strips at tailor tacks, raw edges aligned, stitching facing up, and affix with narrow strips of tape

Trim away SAs and remove tailor tacks

Oh, and place the stitched side of the strips up so when the sewing is done and flipped over, the stitching doesn’t show.

No need to peel off all those bits of tape: this whole section will get cut away.

It was hard to ‘let go’ and put the dress in the post.  I guess I feel it’s not quite ready as I haven’t seen it on the client.  And I no longer have control, if that makes sense.  But we posed for a photo together, the dress and I, with the ever-present Blogstalker looking on.

1t blogstalker is so silly