15 July 2017

Musings on the Style Arc Sally

Warning:  this post contains an awful amount of whine.  Le sigh.

PDF patterns are the devil

I make no secret about loathing cutting and taping PDF patterns.  Well, L, why did you buy this pattern as a PDF?  Short answer:  impatience.  Long answer:  I've been searching for a basic jean-style skirt for at least a year.  The closest thing I could find for what I wanted was Burda 6769 which I made last year.  I love this skirt and wear it a lot, but it didn't have what I wanted.  Which brings me back to the short answer:  I got impatient.

PDFs NEVER MATCH.  I don't care how many colored lines and match points and GPS positioning systems are in place.  They never match.  Ever.  I used a paper rotary cutter and went OCD with cutting precisely on every line.  Does. Not. Match.

See all the waviness?  It was impossible to keep the whole thing flat.

Which is why I was even more annoyed when I had to print the pattern again!  Waaaaaaah!  I assembled and sewed a size that was way too big (size 16).  I was going to take bigger seam allowances, but then I thought maybe the sizes would be proportionately different.

They were not.  Save for the back yoke, front, and back, everything was exactly the same.  WTF?!  The yoke, front, and back were only different at the outside seams by 1/2-inch.  All that printing and taping and swearing for nothing.  Grr.

The size 14 is still big.  I ended up sewing 3/4" seam allowances which created really small front pockets.

If (and that's a big if) I decide to try this again, I'll start with a 12.  This means printing and taping all over again.  Suffice it to say this is not top on my to-do list.  In the meantime, I'll look into a copy shop or that popular online printing service (I forget the name).


The instructions  amounted to nothing more than a sewing word salad.

Burda is known for having cryptic instructions, but this is something...hmm...special. The pictures were no help either.   They were like some weird magic eye picture gone horribly wrong.  I had no idea what the hell I was looking at.  I could not fix my eyes on one diagram long enough for it to make sense.  THAT confusing. 

In case anyone decides to make this pattern, here's how I sewed the pockets:

1.  Sew the front yoke wrong side to the pocket lining right side.  (This pattern has separate pattern pieces for the left and right front yoke.  Why?  I have no idea.)


2.  With right sides together, stitch the pocket lining-front yoke combo to the pocket area on the skirt front.  The seam allowance is 1/4" so there's no need to trim. 

3.  Turn the lining combo to the inside and press. Roll the lining slightly to the inside.

4.  Topstitch the outside front area along the curve (not pictured).  Next, fold the pocket bag to meet the side and bottom seams.  

Maybe this is what the instructions were trying to say.  I don't know.

Sew-on fly extensions

This is right up there with PDF patterns.  In 12 years of sewing, I have not been successful with sewing a fly front that had separate fly extensions.  In theory, it shouldn't be that hard, right?  Right???  I mean, it's just an extra seam.  Yeah no.  That shit gets me every time and this was no different.

The thing is I SAW that the extension was sew-on and intended to tape the extension pattern piece to the front BEFORE cutting out the skirt.  

That did not happen.  I forgot and of course I didn't notice it until AFTER I cut out the front. Determined to not be defeated by this stupid fly, I searched the internet for a tutorial.  YouTube has a really good one that was easy to follow.  The result?

Fail.  There was barely any overlap to cover the zipper.  I took the zipper out, bought more fabric, and started from scratch.

Much better.  To sew the fly front, I used the instructions from Burda 6769.

Back pockets

You know when you feel something isn't going well, but you keep going anyway?  

I looked at these pockets for a long time thinking they were far too low.  Did I stop and re-position them before topstitching?  Of course not.  That would make too much sense.  Instead I sewed the topstitching perfectly, basted the side seams, and waistband - only to try on the skirt and see that the pockets hung below my butt.  

I knew I wasn't going to be happy with it, so I removed the pockets and stitched them higher.

These are positioned much more in proportion with my back side.


Even though I completely lost interest in the skirt near the end, I finished it anyway.  When I forge on like that, I make mistakes.  The buttonhole is too far from the edge and I neglected to sew the belt loops on before attaching the waistband.


So much meh.  Maybe, just maybe I'll return to it much later.  For now I'm over it.


Wanting to cleanse my palate of this project, I turned to one of my favorite garments to make:  jeans.  This time, though, I sewed Éléonore (pull on stretch jeans) by Jalie.  I wore the jeans roller skating last night and they survived the roll test.  But, there is a LOT of work to be done in order to get the fit right.  My thoughts on this will be in the next post.

Until next time, peace!




  1. I love denim skirts and I think your skirt turned out well. I wouldn't give up on it just yet. I searched high and low for a jean skirt pattern like this but could never find one. I like to wear mine ankle length and have a back split. I have a (Connie Crawford) jean pattern that I thought would be perfect for what I wanted. Emailed Ms. Crawford for conversion instructions. She emailed me right back on how to do it. Simple detailed instructions--I was so surprised it worked.

    1. Ooooo...this is interesting. Maybe I'll email CC and see if she can send conversion instructions as well. I really want a jean-style skirt with straight side seams and perhaps this is the way to go. Did you try the instructions?

  2. I feel your pain with PDF patterns! I tried it once for the popular Archer shirt. I believe it was 48 pages! It took hours for me to tape it all together. Then, if you are off even by a little, that discrepancy continues through to the rest of the pieces. I decided would never again work with a PDF pattern for myself. I will wait for the paper pattern and spare myself the aggravation! I'm sorry you are not 100% happy with your skirt after all of your effort. Maybe once you've taken a break from it, you will be able to finish.

    1. I can't remember the first PDF pattern I tried, but I do recall having the same problem. No amount of accurate cutting and taping will ever make these things match. And you're right: the discrepancy follows through to the rest of the pieces. Grr!

      To make the skirt wearable, I would need to re-sew the buttonhole and add a jeans tack. I have no motivation to do those simple things. I'm so over it. =)

  3. "PDFs NEVER MATCH. I don't care how many colored lines and match points and GPS positioning systems are in place. They never match. Ever. "


    Even the really good ones get off at some point. I have a paper trimmer and that doesn't help either. Blergh.

    Sooooo I was like no she did not reassemble it all over!
    I probably would have quit then.

    OMG no she did NOT cut the fronts out all over again!!
    I would have definitely quit it.

    Oh Em Gee. She removed the back pocket top stitching!
    I am over this skirt and I didn't even have to do the work!

    Like you, I would put that in the naughty box for sure.

    1. "I am over this skirt and I didn't even have to do the work!"

      I laughed out loud when I read this. =) I gave this skirt so many second chances - I surprised myself. I was determined, determined I tell you, to get this to work. I am relieved its in the naughty box. =)

  4. Weird about the sizing. Did you choose by your hip measrement or your waist one? I have always found Style Arc very accurate with their sizing to the measurements given. (You know their sizing is Australian RTW and does not correspond to the big 4, right?)
    And I hear your pain on pdfs!

    1. Sooooooooooo last year, I made a muslin of the Mindi skirt in size 14. Back then, the skirt was a bit snug. Since I've picked up weight in the last few months, I thought it better to start Sally with size 16. I admit I did not go back to see if the measurement chart was different for each skirt. I see now that the size 12 corresponds to hip measurement of 40.6 inches; my hips are 41 inches. 12 would be a much better place to start.

  5. I bought this pattern years ago on paper. I have made it many, many times and love each one. I modified it from an A-line to straight with vent. StyleArc directions are sparse but this pattern. I do find that StyleArc runs big on me.

    1. Oops. Meant to delete "but this pattern"

    2. In trying it on, I realized that I would like this pattern better as a straight, rather than A-line skirt. I'm open to trying it again after I've put a great deal of space between me and this experience. =) When I do, I will also modify the shaping.

  6. L you're back!!! So sorry about how this skirt treated you.

  7. Like you, I steer clear of PDF's. Invariably disappointed, usually jam the printer, the tape runs out, how do you fold and store taped pattern etc. So I avoid them, preferring to pay more for the print version - which is probably cheaper in the long run. But about you - I'm sorry you had such a time with this skirt. The Style Arc sizes are quite different from the Big 4, so that may have been one of the problems. And yes, this company do not do instructions at all - they are patternmakers only. Still, I think you have a basis to work from, when you are brave enough to go back to this sort of skirt. And yes, I think a straight skirt for you, just reading the comment above. Good luck with the pants.

  8. Oh how I enjoyed this post!! Sorry your skirt didn't turn out how you wanted...your stitching looks nice, though. I totally agree about pdfs, and would love to know if you find a copyshop printed version any better.

  9. I always use Sandra Betzina's method for a fly front--works every time. It's in her Power Sewing book.

  10. My suggestion would be to sign up for the course on Craftsy that to Suzie Furrer teaches on pattern drafting skirts. The skirt sloper is very easy to learn to make. That is your fit right there. You could then use a pattern like this to give you the details like pockets. They tend to put all their classes on sale for around 20 bucks on major holidays. Being able to draft for yourself is so freeing.


Thanks for commenting! I appreciate and read them all - even if I can not personally respond.


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