Dresses are your easiest go-to outfit. Pull one out of your closet, put it on, add some shoes and you're all set! They're great in the summer sleeveless or short sleeved with your favorite sandals, in the fall and winter with 3/4 and long sleeves, leggings and boots.
In this video sew-along, join Ann Siegle as she sews the incredibly easy Christine Jonson A-Line Dress downloadable pattern. The A-line dress is a just above-the-knee dress that fits close and smooth through the upper chest and gracefully flares to an A-line at the hem. It's a bit swingy and the A-line shape covers a multitude of sins involving brownies (not that we're saying anything bad about brownies.)
Prepare your pattern:
This is a downloadable pattern, so after purchase, download the pattern and print it out according to the pattern instructions. Check to be sure the PDF is set to print actual size in your print settings.
This dress features two front pattern pieces - one, with a pieced inset has a full upper chest piece, the diagonal inset and a lower dress piece. The front without the diagonal accent is a standard cut-on-fold dress front. The back is a cut-on-fold dress back. The sleeves have three cut lines, for cap sleeves, 3/4 sleeves and a long, slightly flared sleeve that is very flattering. Of course, you can leave the sleeves off entirely, as the high armscye is both high enough in sleeveless and offers a great range of movement in the sleeved versions.
Select your fabric:
I chose the short cap sleeve in a red rayon/lycra jersey with some remnants of striped fabric for the inset and a collar neckband (not included in the pattern, but included in this Sew Along!)
Construct the Inset:
Video: Sewing the inset:
Following the pattern instructions, sew the inset to the top front and bottom front. A TIP: Mark the right sides of your fabric with a pin, and mark the TOP (single notch) and BOTTOM (double notch) of the right side of the inset piece. Then, lay the pieces flat with the inset positioned as it will be when sewn. This way, you won't inadvertently sew the inset incorrectly (!)
Sew the shoulder seams, sleeves and side seams as per the pattern instructions. Do not sew the neckline yet.
Making a foldover band collar:
This neat tip we got from the internet from another indie pattern designer we love (yep, we sew other people's patterns too - but only if they are good ones!)
Video: Sewing the band collar (three steps)
Then, hem the dress as per the pattern instructions. If you need help with how to hem knits, see our article HERE about how to hem knit fabrics.
Styling your A-line dress for all seasons
We love the late summer/early fall transition season, but it can be challenging. Of course, since you can sew this dress in just over an hour (if you do the 'fancy' inset and banded neckline version that we show), you can have as many as your summer-to-fall wardrobe desires!
Short sleeved dresses are perfect for days when you leave your house in a sweater and return in sunglasses! The cap sleeve of the A-line dress is a perfect just-small-enough sleeve.
Sleeveless dresses can go both casual and dressy - a knee-length sleeveless dress in a black ITY is a wonderful work-to-dinner dress that travels well (with a business suit jacket.) Make it in a floral and it's a fun party dress that you'll wear all week, too. Try stripes for a fun casual weekend look with sneakers and a denim jacket.
Three-quarter sleeves bridge the gap between summer and fall. A heather gray rayon/lycra knit 3/4 sleeve dress looks great over leather boots and a under puffy vest for a just-cool-enough day.
Long slightly flared sleeves on the A-line dress are a winter essential. We love dresses with leggings or tights and boots. This dress looks great in a waffle or sweatshirt fabric for casual weekends, or in a ponte knit for work. You can dig out the faux fur vest for casual days.
Best of all, this dress is crazy-simple to sew. The contrast diagonal inset is a cinch to sew and offers a whole host of fun design ideas - black ponte with stretch snakeskin, solid dress with striped inset. A striped dress with a coordinating floral inset and contrast solid sleeves.