Keep the Faith

1 faith 3

Pin-tucks: there's something very satisfying about sweeping these aside with a hot iron to set shape

Pin-tucks: there’s something very satisfying about sweeping these aside with a hot iron

StyleArc’s Faith Woven Top is graded as medium in difficulty.  This means that those same features that make it a great project for a beginner wishing to learn new tricks might prove the undoing of the more experienced sewist looking to do a fine job – maybe even show off a little –  by trying out couture techniques or testing fitting skills!

Neckline guides - pattern pieces cut from paper only

Neckline guides – pattern pieces cut from paper only

The pattern has five pin-tucks at each side of the centre front, though there’s also the option of gathers.  The back is gathered at the neckline, below the simple mandarin collar.

I’ve noticed StyleArc often provide pattern pieces to be used as guides for checking the finished width of gathers or pin-tucks: something I’ve not noticed with other pattern companies and I nearly forgot to use them but they’re useful for spotting discrepancies before attaching the collar.

1 faith stylearc side viewThe raglan sleeves are easy to sew too, fitted to the shoulder by, in my view, over-simplistic darts. There are no closures; instead there’s a centre front split as well as side seam splits below the waist.

My frustrations, which tended to be slight, came from the simplicity of the pattern.  Take the splits: I like to use French Seams for a clean finish but I haven’t worked out how to do so neatly where the seam breaks into a split (or a pocket, for that matter). Similarly, the raglan sleeves and the flat, upturned collar: the result is somewhat lacking in sophistication. I might have avoided the peasant look by using a light, silky fabric with drape instead of lawn; it would have ensured the fabric skims the figure like on the pattern envelope drawing.  But I doubt then the pintucks would have been easy.

1 button

Crude topstitching (well it was a bit dark!)


As with previous StyleArc projects, the ease was spot on. If you require a reference, I bought size 8 and it fits perfectly my 34”/86cm bust and 10”/25cm upper arm.  Though it’s a bit long for my height.

Changes made to the pattern

1 trim into waist–   Interfaced the sleeve tabs lightly.

–   Shortened the sleeves and the hem by 2 cm.

–   After an SPR Reviewer suggested this pattern suffers from a lack of shaping, I trimmed off 1cm from the waist, i.e. the waist is reduced by 4cm all round.  Not sure it helped.


Must try harder

I kind of like this: it brings nostalgic memories of mummies at the school gates in the early 1980s… who were probably dressed like this ’cause they were pregnant.   But it needs to be done better.  Next time I’ll:

  •  Use silk (I paid a visit to Simply Fabric last week looking for more Umbrellas in the Rain, but there was no sign of it and the stock was so low so that for the first time I left without buying anything.)
  • Sew 8 narrow pin-tucks on each side, rather than 5 wide ones. I’ll need to stabilise the fabric somehow so please let me know if you have any recommendations.
  • Put in 4-5 small covered buttons at one side of the centre front split with loops on the other
  • Make the sleeves fuller and gathered into cuffs


My current project is another Stylearc top. On the evidence of several PR reviews I’ve seen, no one appears to have made a decent job of it. Gulp.

Previous StyleArc Projects

Lea Jersey Wrap Dress

Mara Shirt Dress

22 thoughts on “Keep the Faith

  1. Thank you for yet another comprehensive review although, to be honest, as soon as I saw ‘pin tucks’ I knew I was never going down this road.
    Although I came relatively late in my life to motherhood so wasn’t at the school gates until the late 90s – a hideous place full of bitchy comments, salacious gossip and bad parking – you do indeed look like a ‘yummy mummy’ although I’m sure you don’t indulge in any of the above.

    • Thank you! The school gates are a harsh environment. I dread to think what is said of my skirts with guitars and other zany creations! Then again this is London, where the unkindest thing they do is to not even notice 🙂

  2. Loved Tialys’s comment.. That said, I Iike pin tucks and agree that many fine pin tucks can look great. Funnily enough, my next post will include links to the only pin-tucked shirt I have ever made (a total disaster!), but on a positive note, I recently earmarked this pattern from an old Burda mag on my shelf to make this one in an airy blue cotton this summer:

    There is a very strong risk that this will look like a nightshirt on me, but I’m hoping I can get away with it with skinny pants.

    For the stabilizing, I have no idea, although I wonder if with a crepe-de-chine you would need to do it. I made a little sleeveless blouse with a vintage crepe-de-chine last year and it did everything I wanted and more.

    • The sleeves on the Burda are nicer than on the StyleArc. It has a certain Annie Hall vibe that will work and you wear trousers so well!

      Thanks for the crepe-de-chine tip: I’ve never sewn with it. Hope that when I ask for it, I don’t get ‘laughed out of the shop; ’cause of my pronunciation!

      • Hi Marianna. I’m no expert in working with silk so I defer to others. I just found that because of the crepe texture of crepe de chine it was fairly easy to manipulate. I look forward to seeing what you do.

        • I know what you mean; my Pattern Magic raw silk dress was one of the easiest sews ever, despite all the pleating, because the roughly textured layers gripped each other under the foot… no slipping at all.

  3. What type of silk? Someone mentioned crepe-de-chine, but I didn’t notice that in the post [mind you, I don’t read things very carefully these days]. Hairspray is great for working on slippery silks, I used CANS when making my silk crepe-de-chine and georgette wedding dress. [What was I thinking?] I’ve also seen people recommend gelatine. Cutting it out on a sheet rather than a smooth surface is also good.
    I love the pintucks too

    • Thank you Demented Fairy. Hairspray, like gelatine, is a product I have never used before!!
      I will look for your wedding dress on your site to see how it worked out: I’m intrigued.

  4. I think your top looks very good – I love the ‘dark moody’ fabric. I can see how some of the changes you suggest might improve another version of this but you should just go ahead and wear with pride.

    • Gelatine!? I can’t say it’s been on my shopping list ever before… Thank you; I have no idea what to expect but will report back on my findings when I find the right silk.

  5. I know what you mean about split seams and french seams, Marianna. I have come across this several times recently. Sorry, I haven’t any great or original ideas to pass on. So far, I found it best to do the bottom and side split hems, cut just above the top of the split, then french seam. With the last stitching of the french seam, I tend to taper when getting close to edge of the split. Hope this makes sense.
    Sucessful make by the way – looks good on you.

    • You must be right Sheree (thanks!). I might do a post about this one day and do as you say (and other ways, if I come across any). I worry that leaving cuts or raw edges means that the garment is somehow ‘vulnerable’ and not finished well enough. Yet those who get a glimpse of the wrong side of the odd couture garment do sometimes comment that things can be a bit disappointing.

  6. Really lovely. I think it would look rather baggy if it had the extra 4cm. On the great British sewing bee one of the contestants used a pintuck machine foot and it worked fabulously.

    • Ah, I forgot to mention that: I have a pintuck foot but didn’t use it as these were 0.5cm wide so I used the mark on my normal presser foot. But next time I’ll be more ambitious!

  7. I really love this top, but I think I love the fabric and the colouring on you rather than the pattern. I just like to see the waist and want the fullness around the bust not released into the middle of the body. You can certainly wear this as you are so beautifully slim and the pin tucks are, I agree, a triumph.

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