Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Marilyn Dress by Style Arc Patterns

This is the first Style Arc pattern that I've sewn even though I own a bunch of them.  It's taken me a minute to get on the Style Arc bandwagon because I had issues with waiting for a pattern to arrive from Australia. I know not very global thinking...but I'm an instant gratification kinda girl!

Anyway, as soon as the nested patterns appeared on Amazon, I bought several...and then several more...without sewing any of them. However, I've seen a few of these dresses on the Internet and knew that I wanted one for my wardrobe too.

First impressions...
The instructions are scant. The diagrams are scant. I believe you need to have some sewing knowledge to make this pattern. The dot on the pattern "instructions" suggests Medium skills and I would agree with that assessment. Also, the seam allowance is 3/8", it's very important to remember that!!!

At first I was confused by the stitching and cutting lines but after handling the pattern a little, I caught on. I read the scanty directions and then proceeded to go my own way.

Materials ~
A blue embroidered border print chambray by Telio purchased from

24" invisible zipper
white corded piping
white rayon bemberg lining

Construction ~
There were a couple of things...

I didn't have enough fabric to make lined sleeves. So I used a white rayon bemberg fabric from the collection to line my sleeves.

I added an invisible zipper to the back of the dress, cause I hate button & loop closures. Which I'm so glad I did because it allows me to unzip the dress and step into it instead of wrestling with it to get it over my head.

I made a v-neck that is between the high and lower necklines the pattern recommends.  Because of that I had to make an adjustment to the front neckline facing also.

I added 3 1/4" to the hemline so that the dress would cover my knees. Since it's a border print that I wouldn't hem, I needed to make sure that was correct and was the source of much angst before cutting it out.

I added white piping to the neckline. The dress seemed too plain with all of the party at the bottom. The white piping carries some of that detail to the neckline.

I cut a size 24 but probably should have cut a size 22 because I ended up going back in and sewing 3/4" side seams to remove some of the width. Before I did that, wearing the dress felt sloppy and nightgownish and even now it's a very loose fitting dress. 

Sleeve Construction ~
The sleeve construction was particularly trying. I know I'm not good at puzzle pieces and the way the sleeves went together wasn't intuitive to me.  Also, scant I had to sit and puzzle it out. I did eventually figure it out but it was dicey there for a bit. I made no changes to the sleeve patterns figuring that they were open on the sides and that would cover my bodacious biceps.

However, I don't like how open the sleeves are...they seem to flop around on my arms. I notice that Megret (Cookin' and Craftin') made the same observation. I checked Linda (DanvilleGirl) and Lara (Thornberry) posts and they don't mention it either so I wonder if it's a curvy girl thing?!

After sleeping on it, I added a bartack halfway down the sleeves. This does pull on the front a little when I put my hands on my hips but I'd rather that then the floppiness that was occurring.

Neckline Changes ~
As I mentioned above I added piping to my neckline to bring some color to the top...otherwise it was kind of bland. Also, I cut my neckline between the highest point and the lowest marking on the pattern. Was this a precise cut, hell no?! You do know me right?! *LOL* I just picked a point that looked like it would work for me and cut. It worked though! The piped neckline is one of my favorite parts of the dress.

A few pictures of the dress ~

Conclusion ~
I'm glad that I made the dress. Though I won't be making it again.  I could tell midway through constructing the dress that it was a one and done. However, the experience hasn't soured me on StyleArc patterns. I will definitely try out some of the others in my collection.

...and I'm hoping that during the next heatwave, I will turn to this dress because of the air conditioned sleeves and the loose fit. Those features will make it perfect for the humid, steamy, hundred degree weather we can experience.

This dress does fit into my plan to make as many denim/chambray dresses as I possibly can. I love the ease of wearing a good denim dress especially since it works in my office...and while I'm probably still a little more dressed than anyone else but I'm not over dressed.

I know that I said the border print NL 6340 would be up next but I have a packed weekend and I plan to wear this dress. I thought it appropriate to move this one up in the queue and share it now instead of later! always more later!


  1. I love the white lining peeking out of the sleeves picking up the white piping and the hem border detail. Very nice dress. I have a small hoard of stylearc too. One success, one wadder so far.

  2. I like the bar tack you added to the sleeve. They make the sleeves less floppy looking. I love chambray/denim too but I'm making tips and shirts. I don't wear dresses often. You chose a lovely fabric.

  3. I love your version of the Marilyn dress Carolyn. The border fabric, contrast sleeve lining and piping on the neckline are all fabulous details and it looks lovely on you. The added bar tacks on the sleeves are a good solution too. I am a great fan of StyleArc and it's great to see you trying their patterns. I look forward to seeing what other StyleArc patterns you sew.

  4. You knocked it out of the park with this dress, Carolyn. The bar tack on the sleeves (great!) and that fabric . . . home run! I love this dress. And, I do appreciate your frank assessment of the pattern and it's scanty instructions.

  5. I wonder why so few directions accompany some patterns- it can be frustrating!! I guess it builds character. The fabric is great and as always, your dress looks wonderful on you! I love the piping!!

  6. I really like the flow of the dress on you. The line drawing did not interest me, but seeing the way it hangs and flows is magic. The border print really makes it.

  7. I bought a thrift store dress with slit sleeves and did the same thing you did, tacked it together at the midway point. Your fabric is so pretty and summery. The white piping and the white lining topped it off perfectly.

  8. Love that Telio chambray! I'm not a fan of split sleeves or cold shoulders in tops or dresses (maybe it is a curvy girl thing) but (in my Tim Gunn voice) 'you made it work'. Looks so cool and comfortable (my kinda dress). Always "Carolyn co-ordinated" with the shoes too...

  9. Sooo cute! The piping really sets off the neckling.

  10. I buy my Style Arc patterns on etsy! They have 3 sizes included and I think they do sales a bit more frequently. You can now get a free monthly pattern with a purchase from the site on pdf's now too! Used to be only on paper patterns but now its on all. I like their patterns very much and don't have a problem with lack of instructions. I don't buy anything too complex is too short and I've been sewing for over 50 years. I do read over instructions on any pattern I buy but for the most part I find I have my own way of construction that works for me. Take a look at their etsy store!

    1. Charlotte - I'm aware of the etsy shop and I thought they only sold PDF patterns there. Since I really don't like PDF patterns, it's why I buy the paper ones from Amazon. I mentioned the scanty directions just to let anyone who hasn't used the pattern line know and also because we are all at different sewing levels and I try to be aware of that. I'm glad you like working with the patterns, I plan on using more of mine soon.

  11. This is a lovely interpretation of the popular Marilyn dress. Love your border fabric, the neck binding and white lined sleeves very much. It must be a curvy girl thing because I don't like the flapping sleeves on my version either, although like the dress otherwise. I will be adding bar tacks to mine before I wear it again. Living in a hot climate I made it as a Summer dress and did not want to line the sleeves of my version in a fairly light fabric. I carefully hemmed the edges of the split with a hemming foot, then made a facing to go around the bottom on the sleeve, joining it into the ties pattern. It all works quite well.

  12. Love, love, love your version of this dress. I like how you fixed the sleeve issue. It does fall open quite a bit and after making it, I decided that next time, I will sew the top of the sleeve down more. The instructions for the sleeve were hard to decipher. I like the addition of the piping at the top on your dress, it does add balance.

    Your dress looks great on you!

  13. I really like how this dress turned out. The bar tack on the sleeves is a good addition and you still get the 'cool/trendy' vibe the dress has going. Another winner. g

  14. You are very talented. Liked reading your article. The dress came out great!

  15. I've worked with stylearc before and agree with the scant instructions. I also find them to be cut on the smaller side. But they do have nice styles. Your dress is really lovely. Don't see you often in a shorter style.... look at those gams! Nice work!

  16. Love me some piping. One of those details that always lends an air of sophistication and drama.


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