Sunday, 14 December 2014

StyleArc Philippa: Camera, I Beg to Differ

If the camera never lies then it's certainly true that mirrors lie. But maybe both do?

I've got a top to share with you today that proves that mirrors and cameras disagree - though in my opinion, cameras have happy days (everything is beautiful - that includes YOU!) and grouchy days (everything sucks, I hate you!). This particular top looked terrifyingly bad in the mirror, but looks a lot better through the camera lens.

UpSewLate: this top looks better through the lens than in the mirror! 

After a couple of StyleArc successes (mind you, just the one pattern - two Danni dresses blogged here and here) my confidence was strong. The style of the Philippa peplum top really appealed to me - slim line, attractive seam lines, understated peplum, and a sleek V-neck. Yes please!

StyleArc's Philippa Peplum Top

I had a beautiful soft pink ponte lined up, and I was on the verge of cutting it out when a nervous little voice in my head pleaded with me to make a muslin. [OK, OK, I'm sure it isn't necessary, but I'll humour you this time.]  Hence this cheap red ponte version of the top...

I sewed Philippa in the same size I'd used for those Danni dresses, and it looked small... a quick try on at the "nearly constructed" stage confirmed it - it FELT too small! I was going to scrap the top then and there, but in the interests of my own sewing education and the general documentation of sewing fails on the internet I thought I should finish the top and share it here.

So here you go.  At first glance I thought the top *looked* OK in these photos, so let me explicitly point out the fitting and sewing problems.

First of all, the whole top is too tight - I must need the next size up! The pattern is designed for ponte fabrics, but this top is so fitted on me that even a jellybean in my belly would be visible (these photos were taken many, many hours after lunch). It's fitted both above and within the peplum; clinging to rather than skimming over my hips. I envisaged this as a work top, but it's too fitted for the office - all my lumps and bumps would be on display; hello, mutton dressed as lamb! On the plus side, the shoulders feel like a good fit, so I guess they're a size smaller than the rest of me in StyleArc patterns (just like they are in Big 4 patterns).

UpSewLate: I need to go up a size or more for my waist! 
The bust darts are too high. The darts look to end a few centimetres too high on me, so either my sewing was very inaccurate or my bust is lower set than StyleArc's standard - or a combination of the two.

UpSewLate: A classic case of bust darts that are too high
The V-neck gapes. The V-neck is too deep for me. The gaping means I risk flashing my bra cups with the slightest movement, but if I pull the neckline taut the low apex of the V overlaps my bra strap - and I mean the strap that goes UNDER my bust! Given the height of the bust darts, it looks like the pattern is imtended to be very low cut - probably that looks fine if you've got some bust cleavage? but I hate the way it looks on me.

UpSewLate: Yup, that's what a gaping neckline looks like!
UpSewLate: so long as I leave a hand on my hip whenever I bend forward I'll be fine... but is that practical?
The back is too long on me - it desperately needs a big wedge removed. I guess this might be less noticeable if the top weren't so tight...

UpSewLate: A back bodice that needs a swayback adjustment
The sewing is sub-standard. My invisible zip is rubbish, with the fabric not lining up properly on either side of CB, and with the zip not really invisible. And my sewing is probably responsible for the facings popping out of the neckline - I don't think I was accurate enough in following the CF stitch line at the bottom of the facings. I have to say though that it's hard to do your best on something you already know you're getting rid of. 

UpSewLate: The blinding red hue hides the flaws! 

There are obvious solutions though, aren't there? Yes...
  • I could go up a size or more through the body - either by having a crack at grading, or by using smaller seam allowances - and that would make the top a lot less fitted.
  • I could lower the bist darts.
  • I could raise the V, pinching out a dart from each side, though I'm not confident I'd get the upper bust CF line right...
  • I could make a massive swayback adjustment.
  • I could take a bit more care with my sewing :-P.
UpSewLate: it's too late for this Philippa! 

Yes, I could do all that, but this particular top has already been donated to charity, and for now I don't think I'll have another go.  Philippa is a winter top, and it's now summer, but more importantly, my mind has already wandered off to other patterns.

I hope your sewing is going well!

See you soon
- Gabrielle x


  1. Thanks Gabrielle! I have this pattern in my stash but haven't tried it yet. When I eventually get around to it I'll make some of your alterations straight away. Very helpful.

  2. Bummer!!! But, the shoulders are perfection. Shame everything else doesn't quite make it... you do also have lovely decolletage. I'm sure going up a size everywhere except the shoulders would be a win!

  3. Shame, because it's a nicer peplum pattern than the Vogue one. I have made 1 Style Arc top and 1 dress and the bust darts are way high, and I have read others that think the same. I think they are drafted well, are current but I don't think I'll buy any more as being only one size is not helpful. I must say the red looks fabulous on you so lucky you didn't waste the other fabric.

  4. How on earth did you keep going and finish this thing? Life is too short. And that's not to suggest I don't like it because I do, though I see your fit issues. Sometimes it's best to just walk away like you suggest and let it marinate in the background for a while. That many adjustments would do my head in. You'd REALLY have to like the damn thing :(

  5. Glad to be useful, Lara! I do think it's a pattern with a lot of potential though, and hopefully yours'll work better than mine!

  6. Bummer is the word! The idea of grading it up is not appealing right now, but maybe next winter....

  7. Oh I'm really pleased to hear it's not me - the darts really are high on everyone then! Yes, the StyleArc patterns do seem well drafted and fashionable, don't they, but it is hard to know what single size to choose when normally you merge a couple of sizes per garment - and so many of us do! The other fabric is already another top, so it's all good:)

  8. Ha, well, if I showed you the insides of this top - or even a closeup of the zip (which I was going to, but I'm sure everyone's seen crappy zips before) you'd have your answer - quick and dirty! I've got no immediate plans to make this properly; as you say, life is too short, but next winter - who knows??

  9. I totally get what you are saying. And agree, the photos look great though. Very nice fit through the shoulders too. In the photos, the bust darts look high, but not too high for you, just perky ;-). The front V gape would drive me batty though and if it isn't comfortable, I'd just never wear it. Still, you look good!

  10. My initial thought was that it looks fabulous on you and the colour is great. After reading through your review I can see your issues. Thanks heaps for persevering and sharing this. I have this pattern and will look carefully at it when I make it up.

  11. Love all your posts, Gabrielle!! Your sewing is always great but the way you write is really enterteining. In the photos the top doesn´t look bad at all!

  12. This happens to all of us at sometime and more than once. I agree with you that it's time to move on to something you will love to make and wear. The color is gorgeous on you though!!! Beautiful! Maybe just try a different pattern.

  13. I think you should refine this pattern because the style really suits you. You need a full bust adjustment and as you say, a big sway back fix. Voila!

  14. Thanks Debbie. Yes, that gaping drives me nuts - there is no way I would wear this! I guess at least I now know a colour that suits me lol...

  15. Thanks Beajay, it's a great colour isn't it! I think this is a good pattern, and several of the fitting issues are about sewing up the wrong size... I hope yours works out well!

  16. Very low cut, that's for sure! Maybe it's a party top??? The fabric is a LIncraft ponte; cheaper and poorer quality than pontes I've bought from Tessuti - it's leftover from a dress I made a few years ago, so I know that it's going to pill quite a bit :(. Yes, maybe next winter I'll have another go at this pattern with all those adjustments - I do think it's a lovely pattern!

  17. Thanks Merche - I love all your posts too! I think this camera really, really likes the colour red, but seriously, in person the top does NOT look very good!

  18. It's tempting to just blog the successes, but realistically this kind of thing does happen to just about everyone, even if we've been sewing for years, doesn't it :(. Hopefully these adjustments will be pretty standard for me across the StyleArc range, so it won't be a complete waste of time. Oh and I also found a colour that looks good on me in photos, didn't I!

  19. Thanks Gail :). I'm really only just starting to be able to identify fitting issues in clothes - can you tell me how you can see that it needs an FBA? Is there a particular type of pull line to look out for? I've never thought to do an FBA before as I'm around a B-C cup which I thought was about the size drafted by most companies?

  20. Fabric Epiphanies23 December 2014 at 13:01

    Oh what a shame! It had soo much potential! I think I would just move on.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...