Sewing Room Investigation: Style Arc Madison

Aargh. It gives my sewing ego no joy to post a sewing debacle, especially in a pattern that is ostensibly straightforward. But in a spirit of solidarity with my sewing sisters who have posted sewing fails before me,  I make my own contribution to the oeuvre of work that constitutes Great Wadders of the Sewing Blog World.
Sit back, and enjoy La Sartora: Sewing Room Investigation:
The pattern: Style Arc Madison. A knit pattern with raglan sleeves, bust and sleeve darts. Cuffs. The body has a trapeze shape and a deep hem.
I recall this pattern was a Style Arc freebie from back in January.
The plus points of this project were:
  • ·         A different take on a knit top. As someone who is in danger of thinking the Sewaholic Renfrew the Be All and End All of knit top patterns, I knew that I had to shake things up a bit in this area and do something radical, you know, like try another pattern.
  • ·         It’s Style Arc. These patterns fit me with not too much tweaking.
  • ·         I had what I thought was the perfect fabric – a soft but not too drapey stripey knit I bought from Pitt Trading.

The warning signs:
  • ·         The style – it’s drafted high in the neck, and probably a bit short for me. And I think I suit styles that follow the line of the body more, so a trapeze shape was always going to be risky.

At this point the investigation might come to the conclusion that this project  was destined to go off the rails. If only I’d had the forethought to drop the front neckline and lengthen (as Jean did) it might have had a fighting chance.

 The fact that this project skulked around the sewing rooms for weeks waiting for attention after cutting was probably a good indication of the reservations I had with this pattern.

Anyway, I mustered up some energy to sew this up and here is the result:

(NB. Yep, that hem is pinned up. I started sewing the hem for blogging purposes, but mucked it up. By this time, I’d already mentally relegated the top to the sin bin, so I just went with pins. I just wanted the whole experience to END.)
So, how many types of wrong can we see ?
  1. The neckline.  How many bound necklines have I made over the years? Heaps. How many can I count as fails? This one. The neckline is too wide, particularly at the back, and the binding sits out in a most unbecoming fashion. Yuk. Pressing and fiddling with how the top sits made zero difference. Style Arc mentions checking the binding length. Who didn’t read the instructions? Take that as advice, people.
  2. To make matters worse, due to dodgy cutting or sewing, the raglan sleeve seam angles are different. A bit hard to make out here, but believe me. It's not pretty.
  3. Annoyingly, the sleeve dart sits behind my shoulder line. I have no idea how to redraft to fix this.
  4. The fine stripe lends itself to optical illusions. My daughter said as she did the photos it was a bit like looking at a Bridget Riley painting. Fine in an art gallery. Don't  know that's such a good thing in a top!
  5. As predicted, the silhouette just doesn’t do it for me (but maybe the other problems are colouring my feelings here).

A Bridget Riley and my Madison 

After all that, it probably wouldn't surprise anyone to know that I don't have any immediate plans to revisit this pattern.

Let's change the subject:

A frequent topic of conversation on sewing blogs is the whole area of ethical practice in clothing and footwear industries. Indeed, a lot of sewists sew at least partly to remove themselves from the fraught ethical conundrums consumers seem to have to navigate not to contribute to human misery and environmental degradation. Still, RTW is still a part of most wardrobes, even if only in certain areas of attire (for me, underwear, gym wear and the occasional fashion item).   I thought I'd share a link to Baptist World Aid's Australian Fashion Report 2016. With the subtitle "The Truth Behind the Barcode", it gives marks to a comprehensive list of Australian fashion and footwear brands based on a number of areas of practice that go to the ethics, work practices and sustainability. Interesting reading, even if you are not Australian, as many of the brands listed are global. It will change my spending habits in terms of who I give my money too in one or two respects.


  1. Oh that fabric is a bit disturbing...making my eyes hurt. Such a shame this pattern didn't work out for you Paola. Just goes to show we are all different shapes and not every pattern will work for everyone. I have no idea how to fix the issues you encountered but I suspect that mindbending fabric could have something to do with it. Thanks for sharing your experience anyway.

    1. It is disturbing, isn't it? It made me feel a bit dizzy as I was sewing it up, but I thought that was because I was looking at it closely. If anything, it's worse from a distance. Maybe not such a bad fabric to have an indifferent result with!


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