Sunday, June 12, 2022

Style Arc Nova Dress

I wanted to try another tiered dress for Summer 2021 but this dress got pushed to Spring 2022.  I mean I own a bunch of Mysotis dresses and I wanted to use another pattern for a different style dress to add to my wardrobe. That's how my interest was piqued by this tiered dress. I know I've been sewing more Style Arc patterns lately but they have expanded their sizing and the designs fit my lifestyle. Casual with a fashion flair...

Last year I carted it to Sew Camp but didn't work on it. I thought I would have completed it by summer's end. However, by late September I realized it wasn't happening, so I set it aside.

Hello Summer 2022...

Supplies ~

4 yards of printed cotton from fabric dot com (purchased January 2021)

14" white invisible zipper

Gingham bias binding purchased during Sew Camp 2021

Pattern & Design Changes ~

This pattern is a slip-on dress that has a double fabric bodice and no closure. However, I did a few things differently...  

1.  I scooped the front and back neckline a little deeper on the pattern.

2.  I added a 14" invisible zipper to make it easier to get into the dress.  The back bodice piece was changed by omitting the cut on fold the pattern suggests. A 1/2" back seam allowance was added so I could insert the zipper.

3.  The double bodice was eliminated and I finished the neckline and armholes with some cotton gingham bias binding from the collection.

4.  The lower tier was lengthened by 4" to make it maxi length. I would add another 2" to this tier for the next version.

Those are all the changes I made.

A Few Photos ~

This is a simple sew and an easy to wear loose-fitting dress. The only thing to note is if you don't want to do a lot of gathering this dress is NOT for you. I don't mind gathering and even I had to take my time when doing it. It got a little tedious.

By the way, how do you gather?  For small sections of fabric to be gathered, I use the two stitching lines. However, when I'm gathering swaths of fabric like this, I zig zag over waxed dental floss. Waxed dental floss because it makes it easier to pull it through the zig zag tunnel and it doesn't break. The one thing you don't want is it breaking halfway through the gathering. Also why I don't use stitched lines. I've had the thread break on me and it ain't pretty!

THIS is the perfect summer dress.  As I wore it to take pictures, I thought I need another one or two of these in some of the pretty challis prints I own. So hopefully that will happen this summer. I just don't know because I have a pretty robust sewing list and another five garments in my cut pile. always more later!



  1. I really enjoy your posts! Your explanation of sewing techniques and patterns is very helpful. I think this is my favorite garment so far! You look so pretty in it as if you were wrapped in summer sunshine! Thanks for sharing.

  2. What a great dress? Do you put a ribbon or piece of bias on the zipper pull to make it easier to reach? I also lower necklines much of the time, otherwise I feel like I'm choking. Next, while I love the how easy it is to gather using zig-zag over dental floss. I really like the way the gathers sit when you use 2 rows of stitching. I always put those 2 rows on either side of the stitching line. I don't want to pick out visible zig zag stitching. g

    1. Gaylen - I understand what you're saying and I've done it before. The gathers are nice BUT if a thread breaks AND this has happened to me, it's a royal PITA! So I went with a method that has a lower possibility of failure for me. This is the great thing about sewing though. We can find the techniques that work for us and perfect them making our sewing easier for ourselves. I think every sewist should do that!

  3. That dress is really pretty 💛 I don't make dresses that I have to gather, because of some flops in my past

  4. What a pretty, summery, dress! It made me go look at patterns.

    One suggestion: if you add 2 more inches, how about doing it to the middle tier, to keep the progression? (Please forgive me if you dislike unsolicited advice.)

    1. Rebecca - it's cool. To me it's like having conversations here on the blog. Also if it's unsolicited and I don't like it, I ignore it. But you've brought up a point, I'd like to address. The reason I won't lengthen the middle tier is because it will hit me at the knee. I presently have a tiered dress where the seam hits me at the knee at it bothers the heck out of me when I wear it so you know I don't wear it often. I know this is an easy fix but haven't done it yet. So I don't want to make the same mistake with a newer make. Thanks for the conversation because it brought up a great point!

  5. I love that dress on you, when I had a long length to gather I used my serger, worked a treat

  6. Love it! Such a fun summer dress.

  7. I’ve been eyeing that pattern ever since it came out, and I love your summery version! While I love the look of extravagantly gathered tiers, I also loathe constructing them. Years ago I made some dresses for my then-little girls on my grandmothers Singer Featherweight, using a special gathering foot that made tiny pleats, and was adjustable. That machine no longer works. I’ve seen a simpler version of gathering feet on the internet, and I wonder if anyone has tried them?

  8. Very nice dress. Attractive on you. Thanks for sharing!

  9. cute dress! I don't like to gather, so I use my pleater foot to get a close enough approx to the gathering ratio and call it good enough

  10. If you make this pattern in rayon challis, will you line the bodice? I have made this dress and lined the bodice, but I would prefer to try the pattern without the lining. Also, like the idea of of lowering the front and back neckline. You look beautiful in the dress.

  11. I've been reading your posts for years and don't comment often but this deserves a comment! This dress looks amazing on you!!!!!! I say go for a couple more. The challis should be fine as long as it's not too wimpy. Otherwise that bottom layer will pull too heavy and will stretch it out constantly and make it impossible to keep a straight hemline. How about trying it as a challis top? This would be great on you as a tunic as well as a dress. I'm also thinking about a border print with the bodice on the border. Even try it upside-down on that border so the print follows the design in the opposite way. It's such a flattering fit on you that I don't think you'd go wrong no matter how you use any fabric♥️

  12. I love this pattern and it has become my summer go to. One thing I change in response to the gather issue is I do two tiers rather than 3 - perfect for me. I like your idea of lowering the neckline - I'll do that in my next one. Your version is lovely - yellow is great on you.

  13. Carolyn, your dress looks fantastic on you! I especially admire what a great fit you got in the bodice, so the dress is loose and flowy as designed but doesn't hang like a sack, or pull tight at the bust and ripple across the armholes... I've been scouring the internet and scrutinizing reviews on this pattern because I'm about to make one and I am torn between a smaller size with a FBA (that would require moving the armhole dart to the side seam) or just moving to a bigger size. Did you need to do any kind of bust alteration for your dress to get such a flattering fit? I love the idea of putting a zipper in the center back too, as I sometimes have trouble getting dresses without fasteners on and off without popping stitches in the seams, especially with woven fabrics. As for the gathers: I have tried all kinds of methods, from the two lines of stitching that snap on you when you pull them, to the dental floss zigzagged, to the ruffler foot on the sewing machine... For my upcoming Nova dress, I've been watching the gathering tutorials on Baby Lock's Sew Ed web site and I'm thinking of either using my regular serger with the longest stitch length and maximum differential feed, or else using the gathering foot attachment with the chain stitch on my cover stitch machine. If I use the regular serger with differential feed to gather, the tiers will still probably finish longer than what they are attaching to so I'll just have to manually distribute that fullness when I pin it to the bodice/previous tier. If I gather it with a chain stitch, you can pull one thread of the chain stitch to adjust the gathers -- that looked like a neat method but of course a chain stitch for gathering doesn't finish the raw edge at the same time the way that gathering with an overlock stitch would. Fingers crossed, I hope my Nova dress turns out half as good as yours did!


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