StyleArc Toni Designer Dress – start, stop, start again…

Another StyleArc journey – my love affair with them has been intermittent at best! Their wishful line art and drawings are right up there with Hot Patterns. What you see is not always what you get.

I’m a forewarned and an experienced warrior.

However – I’ve been looking for alternatives to my ‘usual’ maxi dresses. I get bored! And this dress has intrigued me. I read as many reviews as I could find. And explored images online. I finally took the plunge, bought it (PDF version), and spent a morning with tape and scissors.

I knew going in that I would not do the collar. I don’t like collars – not on me and not on most people. Oops – that’s a lot of sewists. But it’s a personal hang-up. My father insisted that I wear pointed collar shirts in a time when all my friends were wearing peter pan collars. It was painful, and the feelings apparently linger.

Anyway – on to this dress. Fortunately it has a lovely v-neck opportunity without the collar.

I also had to think about fabric. StyleArc suggests ‘silk, crepe, rayon, suitable knit’. Since they don’t provide examples, I looked at what others had done, and decided that the defining factor was drape. So I decided to try a rayon crepe – read that as drape with a burst of color!

I love how colors vibrate on rayon fabrics. Much more than on cottons, linens, and wool.

Working with this large print – the vertical repeat is a whopping 34″ – I decided to cut both the front and the back on the fold. I just didn’t want to break up those definitive blossoms.

The fabric is from Fabric Mart, one of their pre-cut buyout offerings. This one was 4 yards for $16. Incredible.

A few sewing notes:

  • I sewed the size 10. I’m 5’7, with a full bust of 35.5″  – 36″. The hip measurement on this pattern is not a defining factor, as there is lots of fabric in that area.
  • But I did add 2″ to the length, using the pattern’s lengthen/shorten lines.
  • The biggest change I made was to the line of the side drape. And I have to credit Ruth at CoreCouture for this one – I followed her lead and changed the pattern at the sides, removing some of the outward ‘poke’, as below.


  • Several sewists suggested that the pattern is a little narrow at the hemline and might benefit from a back slit for walking ease. So I extended the hem outwards by 1″, all side seams (as above in my draft), adding a total of 4″. And the result works great. It’s comfortable in all situations.
  • I also drafted all my pattern pieces with a 1/2″ seam allowance. StyleArc uses 3/8″ for seams and 1/4″ for necklines and collars. Their reasoning is beyond me, but because I use the PDF versions of their patterns, I can suit myself.
  • I used the facing from the pattern, but did it in cotton lawn, interfaced with knit tricot fusible. I really wanted to stabilize the neckline, something a self-fabric facing would not have done.
Lots of clipping and basting to turn the facing at the bottom of the v-neck…
About the fabric. I sew with rayon challis a lot, and love it. I enjoy sewing it, and I enjoy wearing it even more. I was curious about rayon crepe, new to me, and I found that it sews pretty much the same as challis. It slips around, moves on any bias, ravels a little more than challis, and has a mind of its own!
I don’t write tutorials myself – I get very irritated by the raft of sewist who do, with poor technique and, often, worse sewing examples. (BTW – I ‘unfollow’ any blogs that start doing tutorials – I’m that irritated!) But I do try to find good sources and information that I can share. Here’s a link to an article, on Sew4Home, that is a nice discussion of fabrics like rayon crepe:
Time for a pic:

The start, stop, and start again…I tossed this dress in the bin twice while I was working on it. It was decidely awful before I got the side seams done and got a good look at it 🙂


But I really like it! and I plan more. It’s delightful to wear, fun and a little off-beat.


Ciao! Coco

28 thoughts on “StyleArc Toni Designer Dress – start, stop, start again…

  1. You made me do it, Coco. I actually bought the pattern after seeing you wearing this dress! I still have to put it together – the downloaded pattern pieces. Not to mention, sew it. What a pleasant surprise to see you in that wild print! But it goes so well with the design of the dress. And thanks for your thoughts about pattern modifications. I don't particularly care for the collar…and I would definitely add sleeves.


  2. This turned out very nicely!! I had looked at this pattern before because I needed new lounge wear, but did not purchase it. Your beautiful dress has made me rethink that decision! I too absolutely love working with rayon challis, the colors are so vibrant and the drape is amazing!


  3. LOL…no no, Carolyn. I love it when you share your management and creation of fabrics, your fabulous techiques, and creative design. The side panelled-pocket you did is so wonderful. What gets to me is a blogger who, for some reason, starts a series of 'sewing 101' tutorials. I'm off and running!

    I really did bin this…believe me, it was not pretty while under construction, was like a sack. But those side seams just cooked it – pretty amazing.


  4. This is wonderful! I love the clever adjustments you made and am envious of your lucky find with that fabric. I'm with you on tutorials, usually. 🙂


  5. I cannot believe you threw this in the bin a few times!!! it's lovely. Those flowers are so cool and 70s. I so hope I haven't offended you with any of my tutorials btw 😦


  6. Wow this is a winner Coco and you look beautiful in it. I also appreciate the styling of your background 😉
    I had never even considered buying this pattern but your modifications make it very tempting!


  7. thanks, Jane. The crepe was great, but I was glad that I was used to challis. Not intimidated by its quirks. A lot of prep – staystitching, edge serging all the pieces – really pays off.


  8. This is lovely on you! I love the bright print fabric and you can wear it well. The dress looks good. I hate 1/4 inch allowances, I find them very hard to work with.


  9. thanks, Karen! Ooo, Houston is warm and humid. I was there on business with Exxon a couple times. Lots of cowboy hats and belt buckles – I was startled to see them on men in suits. It was great!


  10. Living in a hot, humid climate like you (Houston, TX) I've been a fan of sewing rayon challis and recently sewed a garment in rayon crepe. They are quite similar and I love the drape. Your dress is fabulous! Karen


  11. Ain't it cute?! Speaking of fabric, I'm still waiting for Girl Charlee to re-issue the bear/fox/deer print cotton knits. Gone for over a year! and I love them.


  12. LOVE the print. If this was in cotton or linen it would be in my stash for sure. It is fun and off beat in an almost Marcy Tilton way without all the over fussing and I'm 100% with you on collars.
    I like open necks or a high or flat PP collar. Pointed collars, fagetaboutit…


  13. Hi! Ruth, Corecouture, link in the post, added sleeves by extending the pattern out in a rectangle from the shoulder. However – based on my 'fit', I suggest redrafting the pattern to have a proper armscye, with a set-in sleeve.


Thank you for stopping by! comments are welcome and appreciated - Coco

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