Warning: contains a GIF
Lately I seem to be catching up on trends – first McCall’s 6696 shirtdress, now Style Arc Elle pants. Again, this pattern has been doing the rounds for a while and produces consistently good results. There are lots of fabulous versions out there, but I consider Lara from Thornberry my Style Arc style inspiration. Her co-ordinated outfits made from Style Arc patterns were impetus enough for me to give Style Arc a try.
I’d been put off by the lack of appropriate fabric – this pattern calls for stretch bengaline which is usually somewhere between $20-25/m, far beyond my price range. But recently, I was lucky enough to snag some red bengaline (and a HEAP of other fabrics) for $2/m on the Spotlight clearance table, which made for far more reasonably priced pants. It was even a nice viscose/nylon/elastane blend, rather than poly.
The down-low on the pattern: Style Arc describes the Elle pant as “the pant of the moment, slim line from ankle to waistline. These pants sit so beautifully without any bulk, wear them with your high heels out for the night or with your sneakers for brunch…..a must have piece in your wardrobe!” Well, I’m not sure why sneakers are a prerequisite for brunch, but I agree the pants are very on trend. They are available in an Aus size 4-30 (YAS!), as a single size printed pattern from the Style Arc website, or as an A4 PDF from their Etsy shop. Note that their PDFs, although sold in groups of 3 sizes, are not layered and come as individual files.
After some quick consultation on Instagram, I chose to sew up the size that corresponded to my measurements: size 12 with .25cm added to each side seam from the hip to the knee to account for my slightly larger hip. The only other change I made was to cut a slightly narrower waistband to accommodate the 32mm elastic I used (I couldn’t find 35mm anywhere). I followed the formula used by the pattern: elastic width + seam allowance + 1cm for wriggle room and topstitching. To make up for the reduction in height, I sewed the waist-waistband seam at 6mm rather than the prescribed 1cm. Rather than following the length of the pattern waistband, I cut it the length of the finished waist opening + seam allowances.
Much has been written about Style Arc’s instructions or lack thereof. I will say that although the instructions are confusing, the construction methods themselves are sound. Sewing the inseam, then crotch first made topstitching the crotch much easier than trying to do it after the legs were fully assembled. IMO, the topstitching elevates the pants from homemade to RTW. The only error I found was that the upper inseam notches did not match.
As the seam allowances were mostly 6mm, I constructed the pants entirely on the overlocker. YES to overlocker-only projects. The topstitching was done on my Janome and the hems finished with a twin needle. I only turned the hems up 1cm as I liked the length (I am a tall person but my legs are relatively short, for reference).
These pants are an unqualified success. I’ve worn them countless times since, and have sewn another pair in purple. I look forward to sewing with more Style Arc patterns. If I was being nitpicky, I could say that the crotch “frown lines” are indicative of poor fit in that area. Fit For Real People suggests I need to let out the front crotch, but I couldn’t be assed for two reasons: I’ve already tried that alteration in other pants with no luck, and the pants feel and look good, so meh. The pattern pieces also correspond pretty much perfectly to my favourite pair of RTW ponte pants, which is the highest praise in my book.
Onto the shirt. I made it a long time ago but as sewists are often on the quest for the perfect button-up shirt, I thought it was worth sharing. The pattern is Burda 04/2010 #114 long-sleeved blouse, available as an A4 PDF pattern in sizes 38-46. I made a few style changes to make it more like a traditional shirt: added a separate buttonband on the right (rather than folded under), copied a traditional sleeve placket from a shirt pattern I had and changed the cuff width to match. These are fairly standard adjustments I make to Burda patterns. Their shirt patterns are sublime, but often leave out these details in favour of ease of construction. I also inadvertently made the pocket longer by adding a facing allowance when it was already on the pattern.
The fabric was a cotton poplin from Joelle’s Fabric Clearance Warehouse on eBay. It seemed promising at first, but washing made it lose a lot of thickness and revealed several holes. They were good enough to give me a refund, but after another sub-par order I don’t think I’ll purchase from them again. I managed to cut around most of the holes, leaving one on a sleeve which was interfaced and handstitched over.
I’m pleased with the look and fit, and would recommend this pattern to anyone looking for a traditional button-up shirt, so long as they don’t mind making a few style changes. It’s also ideal for those with broad backs: I usually hulk right out of shirts, but check out the room I have with my arms up!
A quick note on my necklace: I’ve recently become enamoured with silicone jewellery. I am so weak that wearing heavy necklaces is impossible, and although I own many moderately heavy necklaces that I love, they are not always practical on a low spoons day. I already feel like there is an anvil around my neck without adding it to the weight!
Enter silicone jewellery. Usually marketed as chewable necklaces for parents and bubs, they are incredibly light, making them a better choice for everyday wear. This particular necklace is from String and Pearls on Etsy, but there are stacks of silicone jewellery out there: just search for teething necklaces on Etsy. I’ve already bought a few more, including a necklace custom made to be as light as possible, and silicone bangles which take a lot of strain off my arms.
I’d highly recommend considering it if you have a weak body or a need to stim / chew – this jewellery is designed to be chewed, so if your collars are bearing the brunt of your teeth right now, these beads might be a better alternative. They are so tactile and fun to play with!
As I mentioned, I have some more Elle pants to share, and intend to cut out some stretch jeans with fabric I won on Instagram, so you’re sure to see more Style Arc on this blog. Til then!
Pattern: Style Arc Elle Pant // Burda long sleeve blouse 04/2010 #114
Fabric: 1.5m stretch bengaline, from Spotlight // white cotton poplin, from Joelle’s Fabric Clearance Warehouse
Other materials: 32mm knitted elastic // 9mm buttons, Sheerweft interfacing
Elle: Size 12 with .25cm added to each side seam from hip to knee. Modified waistband width to accommodate narrower elastic.
Burda shirt: Size 40 bust and shoulders with waist taken in 8mm and 1.5cm added to hips
• forward shoulder adjustment, 1cm at shoulder to nothing at neckline (added to yoke just below shoulder mark, took from front bodice at seamline). Adjusted sleeve cap to match
• took 6mm of height from sleeve cap as there was too much ease
• 1.5cm swayback, 29.5cm up from CB cutline
• dart apex dropped 1cm
• added 1.5cm length
• style changes: traditional separate right buttonband, sleeve placket, own button placement