Sunday, July 24, 2016

Style Arc Blaire Shirt Dress

It seems these days that Meg : Style Arc patterns as everyone else : Pokémon. I gotta catch 'em all!

This is my take on the Style Arc Blaire shirt dress. Blaire is a modern, boxy shirt dress with cut-on sleeves, cuffs and some funky pockets.

I loved how Style Arc's drawings and sample played with stripes on the separate bodice and skirt. I blatantly copied them and used stripes for mine, orienting them vertically on the bodice and horizontally on the skirt. Cuffs and button placket were cut on the bias and I went vertical for the pocket detail, although you only see a peek of it at the bottom side.

Speaking of pockets, this is one of the design details I really love about the Blaire. The pockets, which are basically in seam pockets that also serve as a design detail at the side seams, are quite clever and unusual. After puzzling through them, though, I am thinking I'd like play with the construction just a bit next time to eliminate some of the unfinished fabric edges inside the pockets. Also, the pocket bag itself is quite low- so if you put your phone in your pocket, it would rest at the hem of the dress! I may sew a line across the pocket to make them a little bit more shallow:

I also love the cuffs. Rather than a long rectangle, they are cleverly sort of oblong-shaped so that they are narrower at the underarm, which eliminates some of the underarm bulk and helps with comfort.

My fabric is a painted striped Japanese chambray-esque lawn (chambray in the sense that the threads are white in one direction, black in the other to make the grey you see) that I bought at my favorite store here in Bangkok. You might remember I used a different colorway of this fabric for a McCall's 6044 shirt for Tim last year. The fabric is perhaps a little bit lightweight for the dress- the skirt part feels a little bit insubstantial, although it's a great weight for the top portion.

Size-wise, I went with a size 14. I am still experimenting with my ideal size in Style Arc patterns. My measurements put me between a 14 and 16 at the bust and between a 16 and 18 at the hip. I figured this pattern has so much ease that I could go for the smaller size, but am thinking perhaps I should have done a 16 at the hip. It's tough because the PDFs I buy from the Style Arc Etsy shop don't come nested and I span 2 of the size range groupings they offer (their groupings are 10-12-14 and 16-18-20... although I just noticed that you can message them and ask for a different grouping. doh, wish I had noticed this earlier!).

Style Arc's directions, as usual, can be a bit perplexing in some spots. The instructions referred to sewing on a "tab," which sent me on a frantic search for a pattern piece I must have missed. Nope, turns out the tab they were referencing is the button placket (?)!  I definitely wouldn't make this pattern as your first button-up.

I used the Four Square Walls technique for the collar and collar stand, although things got a little bit dicey at points (har har) because of the tiny seam allowance used by Style Arc for these pieces: only 1/4"! The seam allowance for the rest of the dress is 3/8". But it turned out ok in the end.

The hem is also super narrow- only 3/8". Ultimately I decided to serge and turn it because I couldn't bear to double-turn that tiny curved hem. It might be nice to have a deeper hem, though. Maybe I would draft a hem facing next time?

I added some topstitching to the dress- on the horizontal seam between bodice and skirt, across the shoulders, on the button plackets.

For the buttons, I tried the dress on, found my bust apex to set the first button, then marked the other buttonholes from there with my buttonhole gauge thingy, which looks like a medieval torture device, but is really useful. I didn't bother with buttons or buttonholes above the bust apex because I rarely button them anyway.

A photo posted by Meg (@megret79) on

So what's my verdict on Blaire? I think I like it! It's a bit outside of my normal style zone, but only just so. It's certainly boxy, and it's certainly comfy. I don't know if it's doing me any favors in the hot bod department, but I'm kinda over really caring about that.

I do have the creeping feeling, however, that this particular Blaire, with its grey color and boxy shoulders, has a bit of a late-'80s, early-'90s feel to it. And with my pink glasses, there is a distinctly Sally Jessy Raphael look happening. 

Ha, ha, below, my face is saying, "Wait, what? I look like Sally Jessy Raphael??!":