Style Arc Dotty Blouse, Gillian Anderson style

Siobhan, a young white disabled woman, wears a faux wrap, long sleeve, cream satin blouse, black skinny jeans and black ankle boots. She is standing in a garden archway and smiling.

Have you ever had one of those projects which hibernates in a pile somewhere because you just can’t bring yourself to start it? That was this project.

I received this beautiful mascarpone satin from The Remnant Warehouse as a gift many years ago, and instantly knew it was destined to become a Style Arc Dotty Blouse. However, I let it linger as I didn’t trust myself to work with tricksy polyester satin (after a particularly bad experience with some nasty Spotlight satin), and I wasn’t sure I could convert the pattern to work with one-sided fabric.

A line drawing of the Style Arc Dotty Blouse, a long-sleeve top with bagged-out double yoke, front twist, slight gathers at sleeve cuff and back into yoke, longer back hem and 2cm wide slip-on cuff without buttons.

 

I’m glad to say this year I finally faced those worries and finished this blouse! Let’s talk about the pattern first. The Style Arc Dotty Blouse is an elegant, drapey number with a twist at the front hem. This means the front is just one piece, designed to work with fabrics that are the same on the right and wrong side. Mine clearly isn’t, so I had to really think about how to alter the front piece to work with the satin.

Siobhan, a young white disabled woman, wears a faux wrap, long sleeve, cream satin blouse, black skinny jeans and black ankle boots. She is standing at an angle in a garden archway and smiling.

Luckily, someone had already done the thinking for me, with pictures and all, so I suggest you visit their blog if you want a photo tutorial. Basically you just cut the front piece in half where the bottom hem would be, add a seam allowance, cut 2 front pieces and seam them at the bottom. The seam is then enclosed between the two pieces and invisible from either side.

A line drawing of the front pattern piece of the Style Arc Dotty Blouse. A red line runs through the newly created hem, with a dotted line below representing the new seam allowance.
Just draw a line through the centre of the piece, where the hem would be (there are notches to guide you). Then add a seam allowance below it, assuming you are using the top piece and discarding the bottom half.
Two front pieces of a faux wrap front blouse lying flat, seamed together at hem.
This is how it looked ready to be seamed. The facings are part of the front piece, finished at the edges and turned under. I chose to bias bind the facings.
The edge of satin fabric, finished with self bias tape.
It took a loootttt of sampling to get the finish of the self-facing right. 4cm wide bias tape binding was the winner for its neatness and that it showed through to the front the least.

The rest of the construction proved challenging too, not because it was particularly complicated but because the instructions are, in true Style Arc manner, completely incomprehensible. I’ve read lots of reviews stating that the instructions don’t say how to finish the neckline, so they face the two yoke pieces with bias tape at the neck.

This isn’t the case – the yoke is constructed burrito-style, by sewing the back yokes to the back piece, then rolling it all up inside itself and sewing the yoke neck pieces to each other for a clean finish. I understitched the neck too, but I think the pattern would have been improved if the inner yoke had a few mm’s trimmed from the neck piece for turn of cloth, as it wants to buckle outwards a little.

The close up of the neck and yoke of the Dotty blouse. The yoke is fully enclosed and the neck understitched.
You can probably see more what I mean here. It’s a very neat finish. And I swear that right tuck is straight in real life!!

But I can see why reviewers didn’t pick that up in the instructions, as again they are clear as mud.

 

Siobhan, a young white disabled woman, wears a faux wrap, long sleeve, cream satin blouse, black skinny jeans and black ankle boots. She is standing with her side facing the camera, showing the hi-low hem, a garden archway and smiling.
You can see how the back meets the front at the side seam here, both pieces already finished (in my case).

I diverted from the instructions (I think?) by hemming the back piece before sewing to the front, which was already hemmed. This would have worked out had I chosen to overlock (or zigzag, etc) the side seams but I french seamed them.

Very neat but due to the not-quite-true seam allowance I had some fraying edges exposed near the hem! I quickly McGyvered up a solution before they frayed away to nothing, by sewing tabs from bias tape to the bottoms of the side seam allowances. A bit bulky, but who’s going to be inspecting my side seams?

The side seam of a blouse which has a raw edge exposed in its french seams.
Yikes. Also, that hem was not my best work.
The side seam of a blouse which has a bias tape tab sewn to the hem end.
Better!

I also fused half the cuffs (the pattern didn’t call for it), and finished with a slip stitch on the inside. The hem was (inexpertly) turned using the Grainline Easy Roll Hem method, after a disastrous attempt at a regular 6mm (1/4″) turned hem.

The close up of the sleeve of the Dotty blouse, lightly gathered into a narrow cuff.
I’m particularly proud of how neatly the cuffs turned out.

And as for the fabric, it is everything that fray-prone, snagging Spotlight satin was not. It’s smooth with a beautiful drape, feels lovely on the skin and sewed up without any problems. I’ve never had any issues with fabrics from The Remnant Warehouse and recommend them highly.

Siobhan, a young white disabled woman, wears a faux wrap, long sleeve, cream satin blouse, black skinny jeans and black ankle boots. She is standing in a garden archway, her back facing the camera.
Gillian hosted a discussion about posing different views on her blog, Crafting a Rainbow, with a follow up after listening to a variety of voices. It’s really important we elevate these voices, in this case, those from the larger end of the fat spectrum who expressed their concerns about posing different views on their body on social media and the repercussions from trolls for doing so; and those from the disabled community who wanted more photos sitting down. This happened after these photos were taken but I need to commit to take more seated outfit photos to represent those who don’t/can’t stand.

 

Despite some construction woes this blouse turned out exactly as I’d imagined, which doesn’t happen often! My inspiration was Gillian Anderson in The Fall and I think I nailed it.

Gillian Anderson sits at a bar in the TV series The Fall. She wears a drapey, faux wrap cream silk blouse.

Siobhan, a young white disabled woman, wears a faux wrap, long sleeve, cream satin blouse, black skinny jeans and black ankle boots. She is standing in a garden archway and smiling.
I should’ve taken this photo at a bar looking nonchalant while investigating a serial killer, but ah well.

 

I wore this blouse out for my 30th birthday celebrations in January this year. I want to say the passing of this milestone was bittersweet, but it was just sad. I was sad to reach 30 with nothing to show for it other than a lot of suffering being closed doors. I was sad to see my peers (and even my younger siblings) pass me by while I stood still, my life achievements left behind in 2009. I was sad to be so, so sick for 10 years, only getting worse with no answer in sight.

I’m still not over it and I think each passing year will be another level of sadness and grief. My loss was, gratefully, ameliorated by good friends, a magnificent cake and a generous donation of Mecca vouchers.

Siobhan, a young white disabled woman, sits at a table next to a friend in front of a large birthday cake. She wears a faux wrap cream satin blouse. They are both smiling.
At least I looked good ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The Dotty blouse on a hanger. It is a faux wrap blouse with yoke and sleeves which slightly gather into cuffs.

The back of the Dotty blouse. The back is slightly gathered into the yoke.

The inside of the Dotty blouse, a faux wrap front top with enclosed yoke, slightly gathered back and sleeves which gather into narrow cuffs. The front self facings are bound with bias tape.

A close up of the inner neck, yoke and front facings of the Dotty blouse. The front self-facing, bound with bias tape, is folded back over the shoulder seam.
The front facings enclose the shoulder seam, which is a neat touch.

A close up of the inner side seam hem and sleeve cuff of the Dotty blouse. The wrap front is simply encased in the side seam, which has french seams and a tab to encase the hem end for a neat finish.

 

The details:
Pattern: Style Arc Dotty Blouse
Pattern details: “A new twist on the wrap top, this is a very flattering and easy to wear top.” Available as a single size hard copy or PDF from the Style Arc website or a multisize PDF from their Etsy store. Sizes Au 4-30.
Fabric: 2.5m x 115cm Japanese designer satin in mascarpone, gift from The Remnant Warehouse. Polyester. “This satin is extremely soft and light weight, yet densely woven, giving it a luxurious feel. Suitable for tops, blouses, skirts and dresses (recommended with a lining fabric) for evening wear, corporate wear or couture.”
Other materials: Knit interfacing from Spotlight (long discontinued).
Mods: Size 12
– 1/2″ forward head adjustment at shoulder-yoke seam, same to sleeve cap
– Added seam allowances to bottom of front pieces, cut in 2, and seamed rather than twisting the 1 piece
– Fused outside-facing half of cuffs

Author: Siobhan S

20 something, living in country Australia. Spoonie profile: ME/CFS, dysautonomia, anxiety. All about sewing, knitting and food. Unapologetic feminist and disability advocate.

12 thoughts on “Style Arc Dotty Blouse, Gillian Anderson style”

  1. Happy Belated Birthday. My favorite parts of this blouse are the fabric, the color, and the back. I love the back yoke and the curved hem. The front, might have been better, if the pattern designer designed it longer, to be tucked in as the inspiration seems to show. In the side view, the front looks a little pouchy? Maybe it could be tucked in even tho short.

    Most people, sadly, can relate to Thoreau, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation, and go to the grave with the song still in them.”
    To heck with Thoreau! Let’s sing our song!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Janet! I kinda like the floof of the front as I feel it’s an interesting contrast to the relatively sleek, curved back hem. I think it would lie a little better if I did the twist rather than seaming it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That blouse is quite an achievement. Satin is sooo tough to work with! Plus while I love the styles from Style Arc, the directions are awful. Happy birthday! While some one once said “it’s better to look good than to feel good,'” we know that’s not true. But you do look good in this blouse and I hope you can enjoy wearing it often.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks! Feeling confident in something I’ve made does boost the mood a little. Satin is difficult but honestly this one wasn’t so bad. A testament to its quality I suppose.

      Like

  3. Beautiful. I do love a Style Arc pattern- I don’t mind the instruction issues, apart from on one or 2 where they are simply WRONG, but can have problems with the narrow seam allowances. How did you manage to French seam on 3/8″? Brava!
    I understand your mixed feelings at your birthday milestone, but hey, we only need to measure up to ourselves, not to others. You are amazing, talented, strong, and an eloquent advocate for your situation and that of others. Give yourself a break, and think about this- with all your health issues, all your pain, would all of those friends of yours have manged as well as you have? Maybe, maybe not kiddo.
    Life gave you lemons, you’ve made lemonade, lemon curd, and lemon meringue pie!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I generally feel I can understand the instructions but these were SOMETHING ELSE. I think I made the seam allowances 1.5cm to allow for french seams? Though it is possible to french seam a 1cm allowance, just fiddly. I often do it on sleeves when I forget to alter the allowance!

      And thank you for your kind words and support. Mmmmmmm lemon meringue pie

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You DID nail it! It’s beautiful and elegant and looks fantastic on you!

    Style Arc’s instructions. Oy. If their patterns weren’t so good I would have written them off long ago!

    Liked by 1 person

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