Pippa vs. Pippa

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

Butterick Bodice

StyleArc: set-in sleeves

StyleArc Bodice

Butterick lands a hard left! StyleArc falls back, but wait! StyleArc comes back with a jab!

Butterick: Empire line in front, plain back

Butterick Front
Butterick Back

StyleArc: Empire line in front, continuing to design lines in back

StyleArc Front (just look at the lines, not the fabrics)
Those seams make all the difference.

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.

Butterick's full pattern is on the left. On the right is the StyleArc half-pattern I used to cut the lace.

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

Double your fun?

StyleArc ducks, and comes back with a self-faced cowl:

Less fabric in the sides and armholes

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…

Cowl pieces laid on top of one another

The Butterick Cowl folds over itself as a self lining, whereas the StyleArc cowl is one layer except at the shoulder seams.

This is the bodice side seam

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.

Don't even think about adding another layer here...

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

Really?? I was so ticked I misspelled Sleeve

The sleeve seam is shorter than the armhole edges

The sleeve is on the top, the armhole edge of the bodice is on the bottom.

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!)

The Sleeve edge should be stayed, not the bodice edge.

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,

Happy sewing!

Published by

Gorgeous Fabrics

I own an online fabric store, www.GorgeousFabrics.com. The name says it all!

32 thoughts on “Pippa vs. Pippa”

  1. Thank you so much for this comparison! It is very helpful to have the differences explained so clearly. Your red silk Pippa dress is spectacular!

  2. Interesting comparison! It doesn’t surprise me that the Style Arc is a well done draft – that is what I find as well. Your red dress is gorgeous and I’m sure your Christmas dress will be as well.

  3. Love this post and the great comparison. But there is one vital factor = PRICE. The patterns are just too similar and Butterick which are currently on sale at Hancock for $1.99 wins by TKO. Your gown was BEAUTIFUL! I just want a simple dress similar to the Alexander McQueen short version to throw on with tights and suede pumps. I’m going to have to go with the Butterick.

  4. I don’t want to get a punch thrown at me 😉 but the directions ARE telling you to staystitch the sleeve. They say to staystitch armhole edges of back (5) … per the drawing, piece # (5) *is* the sleeve (the BACK sleeve), and they say “armhole edges” to differentiate between that edge and the other 3 edges of the piece.

    I think the Style Arc wins for the shaped seam in the back. I hate it when pattern co’s get lazy on the backs.

    1. Debbie, maybe I had hit the wine early, but the instructions didn’t say to staystitch the sleeve anywhere. Phyllis has the pattern now – Phyllis, will you check my math? 🙂

      Seriously, the illustrations also show the sleeve being attached with no clipping or staystitching, and that’s just wrong.

  5. Love, love, love it! It’s a fabulous dress, and aging not tried a Style Arc yet, your post is not only entertaining, but quite helpful! Hope your tree got decorated!

  6. Yep – essentially with Butterick Pippa at steps 7 and 8 swap the pattern pieces. Follow the instructions as written but at step 7 use pattern piece BACK SLEEVE (6) and at step 8 use pattern piece BACK (5)

  7. Thank you so much for this informative and very helpful post. I am sure that the Malandrino wool jersey will come out super – I have some of this fabric and recommend it to everyone.
    Enjoy the Christmas tree.

  8. Thanks so much for the comparative review–especially pointing out the instruction errors–you saved me! You commented that a bias cut would require 60″ silk–I don’t know if 54″ would work, but you can find 54″ handmade dupioni

    1. I didn’t check the lengths of the back. 54 inch will work for StyleArc – not sure about Butterick. One caution – duppioni will be too stiff for this pattern. You want something with more drape, like crepe de chine, charmeuse or crepe.

  9. Fabulous post. Loved the tongue-in-cheek (or lips-dipped-in-wine) commentary PLUS it’s a great comparison. Educational and entertaining. TKO!

  10. Ann, this is a truly wonderful post – it’s this kind of read that makes me want to blog too! You’ve done a great job of comparison, and have so much to be proud of with your Pippa dress. Best of luck on the Christmas version!

  11. That was a very interesting read, especially sinced I have considered both of these patterns but I must say I was leaning towards my favourite contender “StyleArc”. It’s all about the details. Hope you enjoy the festivities in your beautiful red dress.

  12. Absolutely loved your post and the red dress is gorgeous!
    I wonder if you would advise, I have 3 size 12 dresses to make in satin backed crepe. I bought the material a few years ago for another project and now my daughter has set her sights on me making 3 Pippa dresses out of. My problem is that I have 7.5m of 150cm wide material, do you think that it is possible to get the 3 dresses out of this amount of fabric? And which version would it be more likely to achieve this?

    1. You’re more likely to be able to squeeze them out of the StyleArc Pippa, which is cut on the straight grain. I don’t think you’ll be able to make the Butterick version work.

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