Aaaare you ready to RUUUUUUMBLLLLLLE!!!???
That’s right, ladies and gents! It’s the smackdown you’ve been waiting for! The two Pippas, going head to head in the bridal pattern cage-match of the year! Yes, for your viewing and sewing pleasure, I’ve sewn up both patterns, and here I present you with the results of my sew-down.
First, several disclaimers to prevent anyone from getting mad at me. I have no affiliation with either pattern company. I like both of them equally well and I sew their patterns on a regular basis. Any and all opinions are mine alone, and should be taken with a pretty large grain of salt, since I’ve had two glasses of wine and my family is yelling at me to come help decorate the Christmas tree. In fact, I’m writing this with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek. I’m not going to comment at all on fit, since fit is all about the fit-ee, so go do your own, ya know? I made the Stylearc up fully in silk. The Butterick stopped at the muslin, so it’s kind of Macoun apples to Granny Smith apples. Okay? Onward!
In this corner, we have the veteran welterweight, Butterick Patterns 5710
Aaaaaaand, in this corner, the upstart from Down Under, StyleArc’s Pippa Dress
Good luck, ladies!
Round 1 – Design Lines
Butterick: all pieces are bias cut
StyleArc: cut on the straight grain except for the cowl, which is cut on the bias
Butterick comes out swingin’, but StyleArc lands a good right hook!
Butterick: raglan sleeves
StyleArc: set-in sleeves
Butterick lands a hard left! StyleArc falls back, but wait! StyleArc comes back with a jab!
Butterick: Empire line in front, plain back
StyleArc: Empire line in front, continuing to design lines in back
Ooooo, StyleArc lands a hard right jab to the chin!
End of Round 1!
It’s close, but thanks to the back, StyleArc is on top. Without the back style lines, it’s an empire line dress with a fishtail hem.
Round 2 – The Bodice and Cowl
Ding ding ding! Butterick comes out of her corner with a bias cut bodice with a single bust dart from the empire seam. StyleArc has two bust darts: one from the side seam and one from the empire seam.
They circle each other. StyleArc is easier for a big busted gal to fit, but Butterick can dodge that jab if the user knows how to add bust darts. Plus, the bias cut on Butterick changes the fitting slightly. Like I said, fit is a whole ‘nuther championship match.
So far this round is a draw. The opponents come out with cowls blazing.
First up, Butterick throws a jab, with a cowl that is fully self-lined
StyleArc ducks, and comes back with a self-faced cowl:
Oooh! StyleArc lands a hard blow with that! Let’s do a slo-mo replay and show the audience why the self-lined cowl is good in theory but problematic in practice…
The Butterick Cowl folds over itself as a self lining, whereas the StyleArc cowl is one layer except at the shoulder seams.
At the side seam of the Butterick, You have 4 layers of fabric. Imagine if you want to put a lace overlay on the bodice, like I did? That’s 5 layers. And look at the curved empire seam.
The ref has called this one – Round 2 goes to StyleArc.
Round 3 – Instructions
StyleArc – minimal. StyleArc assumes you know what you are doing. The instructions are not bad, and the fact that the pattern is really, really well drafted makes them almost superfluous for an experienced stitcher. StyleArc feints with a right cross.
Butterick – I can’t make this up
The sleeve seam is shorter than the armhole edges
ETA 12/11 to clarify the instructions. Phyllis checked them for me, and my reading was correct. The instructions have it backward. They tell you to staystitch the front and back bodice pieces, not the sleeves. You need to staystitch the sleeves at the bodice seam, then attach them to the bodice, clipping to make them fit the (longer) bodice seam. Here’s Step 8 in the pattern instructions, showing it exactly opposite what you need to do (thanks for sending that, Phyllis!)
You need to staystitch the sleeve and clip it to fit the bodice, NOT the other way around (and BTW, they tell you the same for the front, which is also wrong). If you follow the directions, you will get bad results. Imagine doing that on an expensive piece of silk? Imagine if you are relatively new to sewing and you do that on your, or your daughter’s wedding gown? That’s just inexcusable. I hope Butterick sees this and fixes their instructions, because that’s just not cricket.
StyleArc wins with a TKO!
Now, in all seriousness, neither pattern is terrible. I’ve sewn both. I personally prefer the StyleArc. It’s drafted beautifully. The raglan sleeves on the Butterick are closer to the original McQueen, as is the bias cut of the gown. But it’s easy to change the grain, and the StyleArc will work just fine if you switch the grain to the bias. Be warned, though. You need a 60 inch wide fabric for the bias cut long gown. It is very rare, and very expensive, to find a silk that is 60 inches wide.
So ladies and gents, I hope you have enjoyed tonight’s matchup. Next on my sewing table is another Pippa (StyleArc). This one is going to be made from Catherine Malandrino Wool Jersey, and it will be my Christmas dress. More later, and as always,