The full credit for inspiration for this top goes to Jenny over at Cashmerette who made a lovely version of the Style Arc Demi Drape top which totally sold the pattern to me. About the time these two gorgeous viscose knits in teal and peacock print appeared on clothspot.co.uk and the rich colours were so perfect I had to have them. I ordered the Demi drape pattern from Style Arc and since it had to be posted fom Aus. it took a while to get here – frustratingly while it was winging its way to me Style Arc released the Demi top in PDF version on etsy – I could have got it faster, and in multiple sizes by waiting for a while longer. Grumble.
This is the first time I have used Style Arc patterns so it was a new experience for me. I really liked that the key measurement points (bust, waist, hips) are clearly marked with notches – it made it much easier to check the final measurements and judge where I needed to adjust fit. I used the size 16 which matches my high bust measurement. As there were no other sizes to grade between the adjustments I made are relatively extensive:
- Extra width added to the hips – 4 cm to each side on the back, and 3cm to each side on the front.
- 4cm Length added at the bust to all pieces for a long body
- FBA (no dart) on the under bodice of 2.5cm wide, with 2.5cm length added to both the under and front bodice pieces, tapered to match the length of the back piece at the side seams.
- 1cm broad back and shoulder adjustment on the back bodice
- 1cm forward thrust shoulder adjustment
- Sleeve piece broadened by 8cm total at the upper arm
I traced and cut the bodice pieces on the fold because that is my preference (and it is easier to make lots of pattern adjustments to one half of each piece). The pattern adjustments turned out to be a bit of a mammoth task, as I messed them up once when tired and had to go back the next day – then I was glad I used a traced version and not the original so I could refer back to the original to sort it out. I ended up cutting two back pieces and adding a centre back seam allowance to save fabric. In the end despite the cowl neck this was not a fabric hogger – For a contrasting the under bodice you need the length of the under bodice piece – for me that was 75cm including the extended length. For the main fabric it took about a metre and a half.
I had heard Style Arc instructions were brief, and I was not disappointed. As an experienced sewist, they were fine for me, but they would not suit a beginner – if you are bored by construction details, skip the next two paragraphs. The other thing I heard was that Style Arc patterns were well drafted and I was also not disappointed – the alignment of the under bodice piece on the shoulder seam to ensure it is under the other pieces and does not show is well done.
Like many PR reviewers before me I ignored the instruction to use Vilene interfacing to reinforce the necklines, then rip off what was not needed (this is an ironically detailed instruction considering the brevity of the others). I reinforced the back and under bodice pieces with stay tape. I finished both these edges by binding with self fabric using the back neckline binding pattern piece supplied, and drafting one for the under bodice (same width as the back piece, length approx. 30% shorter than the length of the edge to be bound). I finished the cowl neck by folding twice then zig-zagging. When sewing the shoulder seam I ensured the back bodice piece was sandwiched between the two front pieces so that when these were turned right side out the seam is mostly sandwiched between the two front pieces, making the insides neater without much effort. If you do this do a quick sanity check once everything is pinned to make sure everything is the right side up. I reinforced this seam with twill tape, as is my wont.
As I always do with knits, I set the sleeves in flat then sewed up the bodice and side seams last. Before setting in the sleeves I basted the front bodice pieces together along the sleeve seam to make this process easier. I finished the sleeves with self drafted bands. I finished the hems with a twin needle. Before sewing the seam I trimmed the under bodice by 2cm (the amount I was turning up) to reduce bulk in the hem. I decided to hem both the fronts together, although I know other reviewers have hemmed them separately.
Despite having a lot to say about the construction this was really very quick to sew up – a few hours and I was done. I am really happy with the finished product here. I think it looks great, and the fit adjustments worked well. My bust does affect the drape of the cowl – I didn’t add extra width to the upper front piece because it would be large enough because of the cowl, but I think it would hang better if I added a little bit more width. I love the cowl neck styling, and the opportunities for using contrasting fabrics. As someone who constantly has issues with tops riding up (big bust + long body) I also love the length of the top. I will defiantly sew this again when I find the right fabric, and it will be a quick sew as my fit issues are sorted.