Style Arc Marni - the first attempt

Thursday, 23 May 2013
I really, really wanted this pattern to work because it has so many things I like in a jacket - a shawl collar which is not just easier to sew than a notched collar but is also a more feminine look when worn with a dress or a top, princess seams and a waist seam which really helps in getting a close fit especially for a sway back and three quarter sleeves with turned up cuffs which might give you cold wrists but makes you look like you're ready to get stuck into work.  Plus the name of the pattern has a hold on me - if Toby was born a girl he would have been called Marnie after the title character in a book I read as a child but still vividly remember even though it's been more than 20 years since I last read it - When Marnie was There by Joan G Robinson.  The other character in that book is called Anna, so it would have turned out nicely except Toby decided to come out a boy!

Thankfully my first attempt at the Style Arc Marni has turned out brilliantly!

I made this as a hopefully wearable test version from some cheap, rather thin ponti bought from Spotlight two years ago during one of their very frequent sales.  I had intended to make a stretchy dress from it whilst I pregnant with Toby but never got around to it which left me with 3m of this in the stash.  For this version I've made no changes whatsoever to the pattern pieces - just cut them out and sewed them up exactly according to the pattern. As you can see from the photo above I haven't added a closure to the front yet and nor have I hemmed the peplum, but overall I think the fit is pretty good and I need only make small changes for the final version.  There is  a bit of excess fabric at the front near the armhole which I think is caused by my forward rounded shoulders, so I need to pinch a bit out there and maybe take in a little along the princess seam at the bust, but otherwise not too bad.

What I like about this pattern:
  • as others have noted about Style Arc patterns, the drafting is spot on. All the notches lined up exactly, and the individual pieces fit together properly, without any one bit being too short or too long in comparison with the piece it is to be sewn too.
  • the jacket turned out looking exactly as the diagram and there was no surprise or shock at the finished garment as can (and does often) happens with a pattern that only comes with an illustration and not a photo of the finished pattern on the envelope! It looks good with a belt as illustrated and turned up cuffs:

  •  the fit is excellent as there isn't any crazy amount of excess ease as there usually is with commercial patterns. The Style Arc pattern has turned out to be more like RTW than nearly any other jacket I've made using commercial patterns. Having a waist seam with darts at the back means I was able to get a very close fit:

  • the pattern is printed on durable white paper instead of thin, too easily torn tissue paper. Yes it means it's harder to pin to the fabric and make fitting adjustments but for an expensive pattern at least it's not going to fall apart any time soon. 
What I don't like about this pattern:
  • The jacket is unlined.  I think this jacket is intended to be a softly draping unstructured jacket, and no one else has seemed to complain about this, but I just found that the jacket clung really badly to the clothes underneath and I had to keep readjusting it every time I moved.  You can see the drag lines in a few photos above. It's also really hard to slide my arm into it when I was wearing sleeves underneath because the fabric kept bunching.  I just think that unlined jackets should only be made out of stiff fabrics just denim or heavy drill.  Plus the inside looks really messy without a lining to cover up the seams and stabilising tape along the shoulder seam.  Sure I could have bound each of those seams with bias binding which a more meticulous and patient sewist would do, but I prefer to take the easy route and just to cover them up with a lining.  So my next attempt will be to draft a lining for this jacket.

  • Too little is interfacing suggested. The pattern calls for only the collar facing to be interfaced, which I'd say is because it's unlined and you'd be able to see any other interfacing used in the jacket.  I did interface the cuffs with some whisperweft which gave them more substance when folded up, but I wish I used some more especially around the shoulders as the sleeve head seems to have collapsed. The next version I make which will have a lining I will add some interfacing to the jacket in the same manner I would for a tailored jacket.
  • The instructions are super sparse and was a bit confusing in parts - for example the notch in the cuff lines up with sleeve seam, and not another notch.  Luckily there was a diagram to indicate how to do the cuffs because I don't think I would have worked them out at all. I've made a few shawl collar jackets before so I knew how the collar attaches, but I think if you were a beginner sewist the lack of instructions and diagrams for the rest of the jacket would make this a semi challenging project.
  • Changes in the seam allowances. This pattern uses what I understand is the industry standard of 1cm (3/8 in) seam allowance instead of the overly generous 1.5cm (5/8 in) that the other commercial patterns use.  Whilst I do like having that extra fitting room in the seam allowance when I'm making dresses or pants, I was fine to use the different seam allowance on this jacket.  Except the pattern requires an even narrower seam allowance of 6mm just for the internal seam of the collar and the seam along the slit in the cuff. Which of course I forgot to do - unpicking stitches in knit fabrics is so tedious - yes I should have paid more attention when I was sewing but I'm so used to just sitting down and sewing all the seams at the same width!
  • Single size pattern - maybe I've been using the Big 4 patterns for too long but I am just so used to getting a range of sizes in the one pattern which is really helpful for easily grading up or down between sizes as required, plus having the option to sew a different size if you wanted to make the pattern for someone else.  It's not really a problem for me on this jacket because it did fit, but it would make me think twice about ordering a Style Arc pattern for a dress or pants where I do need to grade between 3 different sizes for my  bust, waist and hips.
Hmmm, it seems I am being a bit critical aren't I? That list of things above of the things I didn't like are really quite minor issues and overall I really like this pattern.  I will try out a lining in the jacket which hopefully turns out well so I can wear this version because it goes so well with this red dress I made recently.  I'll also definitely make this in the lovely blueberry ponte I have left over from this dress that I bought from Tessuti's at the first Sydney sewists meetup last year. 

Speaking of the Sydney sewists meetup it's not too late to RSVP for our next event on Sunday June 23 - High Tea at the American Club in Sydney - the more the merrier I say!


  1. Your review of this pattern is very thoughtful. You know what you want and are happy to wear and the outside of this jacket is very well matched.
    I feel the same about shawl collar jackets and they do tend to be unlined. After my first experience, like yours, I now lined them any way that I can.

  2. This is a great review and it looks great on you straight from the packet and with the adjustments you want to do it will be absolutely gorgeous. I agree about the lining and have drafted lining patterns for any jackets I make.

    Can you bring it Rhodes on Saturday for a closer look, promise to behave :)

    1. Sure will, but I'm not averse to a little misbehaviour......

  3. looks great! I love StyleArc patterns.

  4. Great job! I have just purchased a couple of their patterns to try. I agree a lining would be better to have in this jacket.

  5. First I want to tell you I really enjoy your blog, been lurker reading it for years. Your kids are so cute :) I am with you on the lining, I would rather line then bind - I haven't bought the StyleArc Patterns yet, they are a little pricey, then I'm in the States so have to think about shipping -- I almost ordered anyway one day though until I realized it only included one size. I am never quite sure I have a one-size body. So I continue to like what others make with StyleArc, but not ready to commit to the pricing - I do love your jacket though has me wishing I could pick one up around here where I live.

  6. Love the jacket! You look happy in it, and it's making me rethink my reluctance about peplums (not because I hate them, just because my hips look big enough on their own).

    I take the criticisms you have of the pattern as a good sign, meaning that the pattern overall is so good and has so much potential that it frees you up to think about small improvements.

  7. It's a lovely wearable muslin! You're right, it's a pity that pattern pieces for a lining arent't included... Thanks for the detailed review, I haven't tried any Style Arc pattern yet, but will try to remember these points if I ever do - especially about variable seam allowances :)

  8. I love this jacket! Shame about no lining pieces with the pattern. It goes feels strange when a jacket is unlined!

  9. Ooh I love your version. Looks great on you. Good thoughts about the lining. I haven't lined a jacket yet (as a matter of fact the Marnie was the first (and only) jacket I have sewed. I am interested in seeing the marnie lined - good luck with it.

  10. The jacket looks great and will be fantastic for transition seasons when you have a sleeveless garment underneath. Before you make the next one, check your shoulder width, and your measurement from shoulder to shoulder across your back neck. You might find that the pattern is a little wide for you and that's why it feels like the shoulder seam is slipping down. It could also help reduce the underarm fabric. I think you're ready for some patternmaking classes at this stage. :) Don't forget to use a stretch lining so you don't lose the benefits of the Ponti.

  11. It's a lovely jacket, and for a muslin wearable out of cheap ponti, I think it doesn't matter about the seams - they won't unravel. Next time you would want to improve things by lining. It's a lovely jacket/pattern - thank you for introducing me to Style Arc, and thank you for writing such a good review.

  12. This is so flattering on you, especially the back waist. I appreciate the review and details. Thanks.