Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Finished Project: StyleArc - Slip-on Suzie

Yes, I changed the template for this blog. I wasn't feeling the old template any more but haven't had time to mess around in the CSS, so I'm using this template for now. It might very well change (either a big change or subtle changes) again in the near future.

*sigh*  When am I ever going to learn to listen to my gut when it comes to sewing projects? Once again, I rushed through a making a garment because I wanted to be done with it so that I could sew something else, and once again, I made boatloads of errors with an easy pattern that resulted in a garment that I'm probably not going to wear very much.

Back when it was first announced, I was super excited to participate in the Curvy Sewing Collective's first sewalong--a "wrapalong" for wrap dresses. I pulled candidate patterns out of my stash and pre-washed fabric. I envisioned not just one, but several wrap dresses to be made for the sewalong. The sewalong officially started on September 29th, when my mom was in town, and when my mom left a few days later, I realized "Oh shit, it's October!" "October" meant that I really needed to get cracking on my daughter's Halloween costume, which was important enough to me that I didn't want to leave it up to the last minute. This project loomed over my head the entire time that I worked on my wrap dress. Like many, many other little girls this year, Eva is going to be "Elsa" from Frozen for Halloween, and Elsa's dress is a bit more complicated than my typical knit top or dress projects. I was both nervous about this and really wanting to dig in to my Elsa dress project.

Stressing out over both needing to and wanting to work on Eva's Elsa dress, I elected to go with the simplest (faux) wrap dress pattern that I had in my stash: StyleArc's Slip-on Suzie. In StyleArc's words, "This is a fantastic fake wrap dress, it is easy to make and wear, just slip it on. You have the choice of a cap sleeve or a long sleeve, so it’s suitable for all seasons and occasions." The description is accurate, you couldn't ask for a much easier knit dress than this.

StyleArc Slip-on Suzie
Let me walk you through the comedy of errors that I experienced while I made this dress:
  • After I'd already had my heart set on using this pattern, I pulled the pattern out and discovered that the pattern was a size 20, when my measurements currently put me in a StyleArc size 22. I'd apparently ordered it about a year and a half ago during the 5 minute window when I'd lost some weight but before I'd regained it. Lesson learned: On a single size pattern, check the size before you get your heart set on making it if you're in a rush.
  • I figured that it wasn't a big deal to grade up one size, but when I went to grab my pattern tracing paper, I'd discovered that it had been toddler'ed and that I didn't have anything suitable to do my alterations with. Lesson learned: Make the trip to JoAnn's or Hancock and pick up some replacement paper while waiting for your replacement roll or paper to arrive.
  • When cutting out my fabric, I decided to fudge my upsizing by cutting out an extra large seam allowance. Unfortunately, when I went to sew the side seams, I discovered that my eyeballing effort wasn't very accurate and one front side seam was several inches shorter than its corresponding back side seam. To fix, I had to shorten the entire dress by another 2".  Lesson learned: Don't eyeball adding to the side seams.
  • The 2" of extra shortening probably wouldn't have been an issue if I hadn't already shortened the dress by 4" via altering the paper pattern. You see, I'd had it in my head that reviews of this pattern said that it ran really long, so I decided to shorten the skirt by 4" right off the bat. If I'd actually had the patience to read through the reviews again, I would have found that I'd mixed up the length issues of another StyleArc wrap dress--the Kate dress, with the Slip-on Suzie. Most Suzie reviewers made minimal adjustments to the length, whereas the Kate was the dress that ran really long. Lesson learned: Re-check any pattern reviews before cutting your fabric.
  • Because I hadn't made/worn one in a while, I'd also forgotten how set cross-over styles like this bisect right across my boob, rather than going under it because of how large my bust is. Yes, I know that this avoidable with a large FBA, but I'm not convinced that the neckline going under the boob is any better of a look when you're my size. Other surplice style necklines are a much better look on me.
The end result of all of this is that I ended up with a dress that's too short and too tight, and this all was completely preventable if I hadn't acted like I was in some sort of sewing race to complete it. 

Here's the line drawing for the pattern:

StyleArc Slip-on Suzie line drawing


The fabric that I used is an ITY jersey from Gorgeous Fabrics. I bought this cut to use specifically with this dress because I wanted a dress with a larger scale print, and I knew that this simple pattern would show off the print well.

Pattern Sizing

Considering that the dress I made was a size too small, I'd say that the pattern fits true to size. One size up, had I actually graded properly, would have been perfect.

Pattern Instructions

This dress has minimal instructions, as is often the case with StyleArc patterns. However, it's such an easy dress that a fairly beginning sewist could probably successfully tackle this pattern. Here are a few notes about the instructions:
  • There's no binding or facing for the neckline. (In some reviews, I see that some people drafted their own binding.) You just stabilize, then flip and stitch. 
  • The instructions have you sew the side seams then set the sleeves in in the round. I ignored this and did my usual order of construction for knits where I set the sleeves in flat and the sewed the side seams/sleeve seams all-in-one. I was a bit surprised to see this from StyleArc because while their instructions are usually minimal, they also usually follow standard practices.
So, that's about it for this project. I've already mentally moved on and have started sewing my daughter's Halloween costume. I'm using an organza with glitter snowflakes for the cape portion, and now our entire upstairs is covered in glitter. I think that's still far, far better than manually appliqueing snowflakes onto the cape.


  1. :/ it's frustrating when "all that can go wrong - does". Glad you're able to shake it off.

    1. The control freak in me finds this sort of outcome far less frustrating than ones where I put in a ton of effort and pay close attention to detail and still don't like the final garment. ;)

    2. Uhmm, yeah. Those times make me stabby!

      ooh, are you up on In House Patterns? I'm sureyou are... :) I just learned that they draft for a D cup. I have been wanting a tie neck blouse (but not huge p-bow) and I really like the look of that Belle pattern.

      I'm going to make it when I get back in town. Hopefully before October is out!

  2. It is frustrating isn't it. Love the look with the boots and tights. Looking forward to seeing the Elsa costume.

    1. Thanks! I'm really excited about her costume. I love the fabrics that I found for it--I'm really hoping it turns out well.

  3. I understand the frustration, but ... put it in the Magic Wardrobe/Closet for a bit because I think it's super cute on you with tights/leggings and the boots. It definitely does NOT look too tight. If you want to add length, maybe a contrast band at the bottom hem and then also at the sleeve hems to tie it all together? Love that print ... save it!! :-)

    1. Thanks. I could live with the fit, but I'm self-conscious about the fact that the skirt hits above the knee--a length that I haven't worn since I was probably around 30. I like the contrast band idea--that would be both functional and a nice design detail.

    2. I love the dress, and you look great! The print is fantastic for the basic lines. I may get this dress after seeing yours. The pattern didn't inspire until seeing yours. I like the contrast band idea too, but this really does look great with tights; I could see it with tights and clogs too. I noticed you said at PR that you'd feel better in a jacket with it. If that's the case, and it were me, I'd shorten the sleeves.

    3. I also love that print on you! It was a good choice, and I think its worth finding a way to wear the item. I like the idea of contrast bands. Alternatively, you could shorten it and wear it as a tunic.

  4. I think Slip on suzie looks great on you with tights and boots. You could wear it with looser style pants. I do that sometimes when i feel the top is to tight and it balances quite well. Love the fabric. I think sometimes we are over critical of ourselves. I think you look fabulous.

  5. Yes, I think we definitely are too critical of ourselves; I know I am! I think this is great, but I know it's not what you intended. That's okay. There will always be more fabric and once you've finished Eva's dress, you can sew another wrapped dress. At least you made yours! Mine is still in the cut-pattern stage. =)