For a long time, I’ve made my rejection of sack dresses well known. Heck, I even founded a sewing pattern company in opposition to the idea of sack dresses being the only things available for plus sizes!
Perhaps my aversion to sack dresses was primarily because for a long time it felt like the *only* thing available to me. Now that I can whip up a fitted garment at any time, and am no longer focused on always looking as small as possible, I find myself more attracted back to the silhouette I disdained for so long. Let’s also make no bones about it: Meg’s StyleArc Adelines have also been calling my name.
So I decided to just jump in and give it a go – what’s the worst that could happen? I could sew up the end and use it store potatoes.
Behold, my Art Teacher Approved Sack Dress, a.k.a. the StyleArc Adeline:
There’s no getting around it: it’s a SHOWSTOPPER of a dress. And I’m pretty sure an art teacher literally made that fabric.
When I decided to sew a sack of my very own, I knew I wanted a fabric with a really good drape that didn’t cling. Luckily, last year during my LA fabric buying trip I found this amazing fabric at Rimmon (a rather odd wholesaler who does retail but only after they’re really rude to you). I’m still not 100% sure what it is – rayon, perhaps? It’s mid-weight, twill weave, matte on the outside, slinky on the inside and BLOOMIN’ MARVELOUS to wear. Seriously fantastic. And the perfect fabric for a sack. Thrillingly, I also picked up another 3 yards on my recent LA trip.
Usually I’d have to adjust a StyleArc pattern quite significantly for my bust, but given the ultra unstructured nature of this dress, I cut a straight 20 and crossed my fingers. I think it worked? As much as you can say that you are wearing the “right size” of sack. I do think I should shorten it by 2 or 3 inches (StyleArc drafts for 5’9″ I believe, and I’m 5’6″). The dress has a really delightful V-neck with facing (I topstitched it down to eliminate flippage), a cocoon shape, high-low hem and cut-on sleeves (with rather perplexing sleeve hem instructions, but plus ca change with StyleArc).
So now we get to the elephant in the room. When I first made this and tried it on I LOVED it. I immediately went out to dinner with a friend, shared my latest musings about career choices, and felt like a total fox.
Then I saw these photos. And I’m not so sure.
OBVIOUSLY a sack is not going to make me look smaller, and that is not my primary mission in life: I can take up space, thanks very much. But…. geez. That’s a lot of… dress and fabric. So now I’m a little more on the fence. I wonder if shortening it and potentially taking a bit off the side seams would make me more comfortable.
What do you think, dear readers? Sack dresses, yay or nay? And this *particular* StyleArc Adeline, on me? Should I just accept my fate as an art teacher and get on with it?
84 thoughts on “The jury is out: StyleArc Adeline dress”
What fabulous fabric! I agree with you that the dress should be shorter on you; I also wonder about what effect the cocoon aspect of the dress is having? For what it’s worth, I think that either the dress needs to be shorter and the cocoon part will look better as it hits your legs higher up, or the dress needs to be shorter and to lose the cocoon bit, i.e. straighten out the side seams.
Having said all that, I don’t think it would take more than a little tweaking to look stunning, and after all you did say you loved wearing it the first time and that counts for a great deal. Well done for stepping out of your comfort zone!
I’ve always been wary of cocoon dresses for myself, but maybe I should man up and give it a go!
I love it! Maybe it could be shorter, but I think it’s great as is. Delightfully art-teachery. Both sack and fitted dresses have their place in a woman’s wardrobe, methinks! Great photo location, too, BTW.
I think perhaps shortening the sleeves could help this particular version. On me, they are still above the elbow, but yours are quite long. Maybe that would help?
Actually, I like the dress. The fabric is sassy enough to carry off the “sack” style. With the leggings the dress might benefit from shortening but wouldn’t cut more than an inch or two. The very nature of a sack dress is loose and flowing. The neckline is one I find very feminine. Overall, it’s a great fit.
Yours looks much bigger on you than Meg’s does on her. I think it would look much better if it were shorter by about 3 or 4 inches. Taken in by about the same amount – that’s a lot of fabric under the arms there! And shorter sleeves. I’m not a fan of uneven hem lines, but YMMV. The fabric is stunning – don’t let it go to waste!
Stunning! I love a sack dress and this on you is gorgeous.
I don’t think sack dresses are flattering for any figures! I agree with the others – the dress & sleeves are too long & too loose on you. I’d shorten the hem & sleeve length & snug in the side seams a bit. You’ve got beautiful curves & I think that showing a hint of will look nicer than the tent look.
Hi Jenny, I like this dress on you, except when you sand like a T, which you never do in real life! I’m the one who told Ron Rimmon about your LA buying trips (you’re welcome?) I buy a lot of fabric from the Rimmon brothers for my shop, so if you want to see their stuff at retail, head over to The Confident Stitch. 😎
I agree with some of the other comments, shorten it. I don’t think the hi-lo hem is working for this dress. The combination of the cocoon shape and hem often looks frumpy to me, and that’s on anyone. Fabric is stunning and with a few tweaks the dress will be a real flattering one on you.
So, I LOVE a sack dress. I think they’re flattering, to be honest, but that might be because I’m so damn comfy in one that I look happier and therefore prettier. Ha! I agree with the above comments…definitely shorten the hem. And do something with the sleeves … longer or shorter would be better. This length kind of just looks like you’re wearing someone else’s shirt. But that FABRIC! Oh man. 😍
On another note, your body positive message has been so redemptive for me. Thanks for being a voice in the sewing community that has been so encouraging for this sewist!
I am not usually a sack dress person either. Before you go changing it, I’d try it belted at your natural waistline. Try a wide belt and a skinny one. I think that might go a long way. Also, I think come summer it will look more balanced with bare legs and sandals.
I really like this on you! Have you tried it without the leggings?? I think that my change the way it looks and you may not feel the need to shorten it
LOVE THE FABRIC! You look FABULOUS in it! You are right about the length. If you plan on wearing it as a dress, the length is ok. It is too long on you to wear as a tunic with leggings. If you mean you want to be emotionally comfortable, then you should shorten it. I wouldn’t go to that much trouble. Either way you choose to wear it, its’ still a foxy dress!
It’s bold, it has presence–wear with confidence. Tweeking the hem an inch or two at the sleeves and bottom may perfect it. A belt, leggings with mid calf boots, bare legged with sandals are all style options. Necklace? Bracelet? Bag? Long vest? It’s spring and you’re a star…
Why not try a half belt? at the front, coming through slits at the side seams and then tying in front. It needs some shape.
I think it looks amazing as-is!!!!!! Great for travelling or going to a museum!
I think that length would be fine if you weren’t wearing leggings. With the leggings I agree that it could be shorter.
I like the dress on you and love the fabric choice. Personally I adore sack dresses on everyone but me. I always feel dowdy rather than chic but I suspect they need the right neckline on someone with a larger bust. A deep v looks good. Your dress looks good with leggings and flats but I bet it would look foxy with heels too.
I really like this dress on you! You probably could have gone down a size but it still looks great! I think a sack dress takes as much confidence and attitude to wear as a skin tight, form fitting one does. The wearer has to be confident and own it at any size. Also, I think your former aversion to sack dresses maybe wasn’t at the actual style as much as it was about how they used to be the only thing available for larger sizes back when sack dresses weren’t in style. Now that they are in style, it feels more comfortable to wear them. Anyone at any size should be able to wear what is in style and not force fed something meant only to cover up.
I think you’d look lovely even when wearing a real sack. I do understand your worries though, having been there myself. Sack dresses are quite scary difficult to wear I think. Worn with confidence, they work. Worn with the slightest doubt and they don’t look so good. Not sure why, it must be a posture thing. The fabric is absolutely fabulous, just what I would choose.
Love the fabric, but not the fit. If the sleeves weren’t so huge maybe it would work? I like things that aren’t super-fitted all the way through, but it looks a bit like it’s wearing you as is. I agree with others that a bit shorter and maybe the side seams in a bit and the sleeves a tad smaller and it will look fantastic!
In my opinion, dresses like these really do look better in real life than in photos. In person, the drapy fabric moves with you, showing your shape; photos just don’t capture that as well. I’m in the minority here, but I like this length! I think the proportions are a bit more sophisticated than the “fun and funky” feeling of a tunic with leggings. Perhaps you’d like it better with tights, so the line is uninterrupted from knee to ankle.
I wonder if your hesitance about the dress is just because it’s such a departure from your usual style? I think the dress is gorgeous, and I think it looks great on you. Maybe shortening it a bit would help the overall proportions. But maybe you don’t like the way that it looks on you because it doesn’t really look like “you?” I just know that I’ve worn things that other people think look great on me, but to me they feel wrong and costume-like because they simply don’t and can’t reflect how I see myself.
Reading this post, I couldn’t help grinning because I’m wearing a sack dress too, and it’s shaped a lot like yours. I think you should keep the dress and keep wearing it – it’s a great fashion statement and you seem to be right at home in it! I do have some ideas that I use to make sack shapes more fun/flattering in my own wardrobe (since this is an ideas callout kind of day).
– I’m with the crowd. Shorter hemline, and sleeves a little shorter – just above the elbow, maybe?
– Side slits, 100%. I can see this dress being super sassy and fluid with mid-thigh slits, worn over tights or leggings like you did here.
– Ooo, new idea – shorter, say mid thigh – and fringe along the bottom. Too crazy?
Anyway, love the dress and the post!
I am also not a lover of sack dresses (though I DO love how cute they look on non-me people). That said, I think shortening the dress would make a huge difference. It’s a lot of pattern on that fabric, so having a bit less of it would help. Plus you have great legs … so there’s that 😉
I really love this dress but I do agree that a few inches of the hem and an inch or so off the sleeves would make it more traditionally flattering. That being said – I like it as is and who cares about being “traditionally flattering” anyway?!
My first instinct is to say “If you physically feel good in it, just rock it”. Because that fabric obviously is the best, and you look delighted!!
Second thought is: Maybe shorten it, so it hits around your knees, I feel that would bring out the shape better. Actually, I would shorten it and take it in at the knees, if necessary, to bring out the shape. And like other commenters I think the sleeves should be … different. I’d go for longer and a bit more fitted, but I am not experienced enough to know if that would work – but I bet you can make it happen!
Love it!! I think it would totally rock if you shortened the length to just above the knee and also the sleeves to just above the elbows. And if you still really, really hate it you know where to send it!
I think you wear this very well. Even though it is a non fitted dress, it still gives you a very flattering shape. The fabric is beautiful. Before you saw these photos you said you felt great in the dress. Wear what you feel great in!
You look great in it!
I find that I like sack dresses when they still have fitted shoulders and armholes, so maybe try taking it in there? Otherwise it seems very busy, with the print. A solid may not give off the same effect. Either way, you look great, and if you like it then keep it!
Jury is not out. It looks AWESOME and I thought, I gotta get this. I think it looks really great on you and sat straight up when I saw the photos in my feed.
I think before you act on the photos, you might want to shoot some video. If the fabric is really drapey, it might look fabulous on you in motion, and that’s what matters.
I think you should follow the suggestions offered above and shorten the length and the hems cause this is an amazing piece of fabric. However, I don’t believe this is a flattering style for you. Meg has made several beautiful versions that made me stop and look sideways at the pattern but that’s cause they work for her. Imma be honest here, the look is a little sloppy on you and will be even when you make the fixes to it. If you add a belt or take it in a lot in the sides, you lose the essence of the design. Sorry if I’m the Debbie Downer here but we are friends and I respect you a lot, so I’m coming at you straight. It will be interesting to see what you decide to do.
I think it’s great!
I think you are bangin in this. Shorten it if you like, but I think it’s so chic, as is.
I love this, wouldn’t change a thing!
I say shorten hem, shorten sleeves and wait for summer to wear with bare legs and sandals. I’m of the firm opinion that a sack dress needs to be balanced out with plenty of leg, for all shapes and sizes. The colours are glorious on you and the neckline is beautiful.
Love love love the fabric. I just made a StyleArc art teacher dress [the Winsome] and had to tweak. Too much sackiness is not a good thing!
Shorter definitely, or no leggings [I never like the way they chop off at the ankles] or daintier heels? It’s about adding in some sexy to the non sexiness of the sack in my opinion.
Okay this is what I really think- 1) the sleeves are too long, so hard to see any shape. 2) hem line is also too long…………….Maybe too big in the back, try adding a long dart at the nape of your neck (no don’t take your facing off-this is for future makes)…if you have a nice bustline (can’t tell with the pic) try taking it in on the side seams just below your bustline but below the sleeve…..to show off your curves…..but I do like it very much and the fab-well what can I say, it is me all over….you just found it before I! I want you to have somewhat of an hour-glass shape…keeping the bottom sack look. But overalll I think it’s a good make on you- flattering, just a little tweaking to make it custom.
I plan on making this same pattern, but using a bright turquoise linen with fab jewelry…it’s still winter here in the Mts. of NC
PS-Went back and looked at pics….forget taking it in just below bustline…..can’t do…..just make it shorter at the sleeves and hem…..I still love it, that fab makes it!
I agree with others that shortening it a few inches could make a big difference to you liking it and taking it in a bit as well. I think you could have made a size smaller by looking at Meg’s versions. Hers fit her a bit closer than yours does. That fabric is fabulous on you and you have the style to pull something like this off. It will look awesome with a sandle in the summer as well. Maybe shorten the sleeves a bit? I love seeing these things you make. You don’t have any problem jumping out of your box and that is great!
Love the dress and *love* the fabric. One thing that struck me from the photos is the way the front hemline arcs slightly upward, showing the inside of the back hem. It’s a deliberate and trendy feature for this pattern. However, as a large-busted woman, this is not a good look for me because it creates an impression that my boobs are so big they are pulling the hem of the fabric up to compensate, and consequently makes the garment look as if it fits poorly. To counteract this unflattering appearance I try to ensure that any hemline unevenness is pronounced and even asymmetrical to ensure it looks like a design feature and not a fit problem. I’m thinking that some manipulation of the angle of the side seams and hem could alleviate your concerns about the dress. Grab a few pins and see what you can do.
It’s a beautiful piece of fabric, and it would really look better a bit shorter. But, flattering? No, it’s not. It’s just a lot of fabric for anyone, not just curvy women. You asked for an opinion and what mostly comes across in all the comments is how beautiful the fabric is, not how fabulous this looks on you. I’d shorten the hem, and raise the underarm a bit and wear it when it’s really hot.
Love the fabric LOVE the dress and ABSOLUTELY LOVE the way it looks on you! Although I don’t think shortening it could hurt the look. I truly think its darling on you. And if I were smaller I would say if you don’t want it, I’ll take it, but alas, I am much bigger than you.
I absolutely love it on you. The only issue I see is that it appears to be a size too big- which could be why the sleeves are hanging so low compared to others I’ve seen. I would shorten the sleeves and take them in a few inches all the way down the side seams. I’d leave the length as is – I love it and think it will look great in warmer weather with sandals/wedges and no leggings too! You should trim up the side seams and rock it with confidence- why do our body shapes have to always be shown and highlighted in the most figure fitting or flattering ways for us to think we look beautiful? Sometimes an amazing piece of fabric sewn into a comfortable and stylish dress can make us feel just as good!
^^^ All of this! I am so against the tyranny of the conventional “flattering”. That just leads to dressing for others, not ourselves. Which is probably one of the most widely spread causes of unhappiness! 😀
I love this on you! I have the same reservations about sack dresses sometimes, but i do love the way they make me feel so comfortable and breezy….can someone be breezy? Anyways, I think you look stunning!
i love it. reminds a little bit of the lularoe carly dress which i was recently gifted and have since bought 2 more. i have been looking for a pattern and this reminds me of it.
I love that you showed us this dress and shared your confusion. I agree that it’s hard to tell how a fabric moves from a photograph. But the main thing I keep thinking is my eye is drawn to the fabric and not your beautiful face. It fits that expression “the dress is wearing her.” I know you like the fabric so I wonder about turning it into a tunic/top?
Oh shoot…I LOVE this dress and your confident ownership of it in these pics! It’s so darn sad to hear everyone talking about “flattering” and how the dress basically has to be smaller so you can look how they think you should. Can’t a woman just have an awesome dress she loves and feels great in? Does it have to follow certain fitting guidelines to work for everyone? Jenny I think that dress and especially the print exactly right and so incredibly beautiful on you! It’s clear you feel the same in the pictures and I’m so sad you’ve heard critical feedback here because it’s difficult to believe you will ever again feel as fabulous in it as you did pre-Post.
I say wear it with confidence and own it. If the next one you make fits differently, so be it. This ones awesome!!
I think the size & shape of the dress looks great on you. The fabric could be a bit overwhelming. Making a vertical third +/- (maybe one side + sleeve) in plain black would still highlight the fabric while making the impact of the print a bit less overwhelming.
Could you take a short film clip of yourself moving in the dress? Clothes are made for wearing and moving in and sometimes a static still photo doesn’t really do justice to a garment that is made to move with us. If you can see yourself move around in it maybe it will give you another perspective.
I love it. I say belt it before you cut/hem it. I do think it is flattering on you the way it is.
I love it. I think it looks great on you. Bold, confident and stylish. It just needs a wee bit of taking up and then it will be pristine perfect. I don’t think you should fiddle with the shape – it’s either a sack dress or its not. The sleeve length I could debate either way….
And when you are moving I’m sure it’s particularly fab!! I’m 6ft tall and a UK 18-20…. And still can’t bring myself to wear baggy jumpers… Cos that’s all I used to be able to get in the 80s. Well done for embracing your liberation from HAVING to wear a sack dress. It’s like aversion therapy 😀
I love it just the way it is
I would love to have the pattern
I agree about shortening it, especially if you are going to only wear this with leggings. I love the colors on you; it’s gorgeous fabric. I think that this style is certainly not slimming, but it’s not unflattering either, but it’s elegant and great for hot weather.
I love the dress, I love the way it looks on you. I love the (over) size look on you. The issues about the length and the sleeve length I think are personal to the individual. You are wearing it the way that I would feel best in. Others will feel differently and that is OK too.
I think you look fabulous in this! It’s a FUN look!
I love it. I wear mine with the sleeves folded back as per the pattern illustration and usually with wedges and always feel great in it. I think you look fabulous.
i just found out about your patterns but i can’t wait to try them .they look just what i’m looking for.i .hope i win .thank you
Nice trendy look. Can I ask, where did you get your shoes?
They’re wedges from Clarks from a few years ago. I love them!
I love the dress on you, but I would shorten it a bit. I am not personally a fan of hi-low dresses, but this one isn’t bad. I think you styled it perfectly, I do not think it is a bit unflattering, quite the contrary. One or two sack dresses in your wardrobe, if they are as terrific as this would not be a bad thing. The fabric really makes it, in my opinion.
Seems to me that the cocoon shape needs to be emphasized quite a bit. I love the fabric. It is a terrific choice. But the shape needs to be a bit snazzier. Otherwise, great job. I never would have thought of making a sac dress myself. Maybe I will re-think that option.
I love the fabric and style of the dress too. I’ve just finished the Tessa top which looks like a shorter version of this with round neck. I felt very ambivalent about it until I shortened the sleeves, took about 2cm from each of the side seams and took off the cocoon hem and now I love it. I tend to agree with the others – wear it without leggings and decide.
I love it. The fabric is what pulls it off. That is not sac fabric. Couture! The neckline hints ” I have a fabulous body inside this amazing dress.” Yes, it could be a titch shorter, but that’s for next time. The leggings are perfect. Keep them. I love comfortable flowy dresses. I ignore the fact that others may not find them as chic as I feel in my 4′ 11″ frame.
I want to be you in that dress. Serious case of dress envy.
I think what makes this shape work for you is the incredible movement in the print.
You’re crazy. It’s fabulous darling. The focus is on your beautiful face eyes and hair. Next.
I think it’s fantastic as-is. I’m also an hourglass shape who has long eschewed more shapeless garments–I’d rather a bodycon mini than anything else. BUT. As soon as I saw this on Meg, I bought the pattern, and I think your version is fabulous. I like it with the leggings, I like it without+sandals, don’t change a thing.
I love it! I would shorten the sleeves, perhaps that’s just personal preference. Otherwise, I think it’s fantastic!
You look absolutely fab in it!
You look fabulous! The only thing that I would do is add some jewelry when you wear this outfit or any outfit for that matter. You rock your own patterns but it is always nice to have a “flowy” dress to the mix.
Love this on you and it looks great paired with leggings
i think it looks great..i want one lol!!
Absolute yes. Having been to a few galleries while visiting the ‘big smokes’ of Sydney and Canberra a couple of weeks ago – I took to examining the patrons clothing just as much as the art. You would fit in perfectly at the National Gallery and the Museum of contemporary art – brekkie burgers overlooking the opera house. You really rock the look at the Americans say
You look fab! So much so, I’m off to buy that pattern and some ‘loud’ fabric. Ignore those who say to belt it (would ruin that fab hem) or to shorten it (the length adds to the drama, with or without leggings). Thanks for the inspo!
I LOVE it! It looks amazing. I want one. Gotta go by the pattern now…
I’m personally not a fan of a sack dress (loose fitting yes but sack NO!)
I love, love, love the fabric and I think it makes this outfit. I wonder if the reaction would be as positive if you had made it in a different fabric ….
Compared to your other outfits this isn’t a favourite. I think it makes your top half look broader than you are and you loose you lovely curves on the bottom. I think it’s the proportions that are unbalanced (maybe a raglan sleeve or a neckline that comes up a bit more.) it just looks too big and not in an ironic design choice way.
I bet it looks better in person when you are moving and the natural drape if the fabric does it’s job so if you love it – wear it!
Sorry to be a Debbie downer – I love your other pieces xx
I just love this on you just as it is.
Love the stunning fabric but it seems overwhelming in this dress pattern. Don’t see you just the fabric when I look at the pics. Do like cocoon dresses and will have to go over to Style Arc and check it out. Thanks for sharing!!
As a short busty woman, not quit 5’4” and 46”, length is everything. This is a smashing dress – I love it, bout the sleeve and overall length are really too much given the volume of the dress. Above knee length maybe? Love to see what you decided to do
Ahem…. Some of us larger Apple shaped ladies rely on ‘sack’ dresses so it’d be cool if y’all could choose a more uplifting name. I have a B cup bust, my stomach starts immediately under my bust crease and is 5 sizes bigger…followed by narrow hips. Any kind of ‘feminine’ fit looks awful on me and only this type of shift dress, which glides over everything, looks nice.