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Filtering by Tag: learn to sew

Learn to Sew an easy knit dress! On-demand video sew along

Christine Jonson Patterns

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.

Your go-to dress all year round! Make a bunch, they're so easy to sew.

Your go-to dress all year round! Make a bunch, they're so easy to sew.

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.


Don't be afraid to start sewing with knits!

Christine Jonson Patterns

Sewing with knits seems to strike fear in the heart of most sewists. Most of us learn to sew using tight woven fabrics like brightly print cotton. We start garment or apparel sewing with patterns that are not close-fitting and thus, forgiving on sizing. And then we see a friend in a cute tee and we think "if only I could make that". Or we see amazing printed leggings, skirts and cardigans at a home party and realize "that's so simple, I want to make that myself!"

Sherry (left) in print leggings, a reversible print flyaway hoodie jacket, and a black crewneck tee. Ann, (right) in a reversible sleeveless top, black cropped skinny pants (leggings, wider at the hem) and a draped black/gray jacket.


Don't be afraid to sew with knits! Successful sewing with knits comes from having the right pattern AND right knit fabric combo. I'm not talking any sewing pattern, but one that's designed for knit fabrics, and designed by a designer who understands where home sewists get tripped up in construction or finishing and need a better-designed pattern.

Knits are EASY to sew, forgiving on fit, and rarely require a series of 'muslin' or test garments to be successful. Because of these forgiving characteristics, they're a favorite for fast-fashion projects - or even fast fashion that you can wear year after year and still look stylish.

So, how do you choose a knit fabric for sewing success?

So many choices…And so easy to make a mistake. Choosing the wrong fabric for your pattern not only wastes money and time but it takes what could have been a positive experience and turns it into what may be, for some their last sewing project. Here are some questions to ask yourself before making the final decision on using a knit fabric.

Q.        Pattern sizing- Was the pattern you are using designed for knits?

A.        Pattern that are designed for knit fabrics ONLY are drafted differently that woven fabric patterns. Using a knit fabric for a woven pattern is a safer choice than using that a woven fabric for a knit pattern. Some patterns such as leotards and swimwear need at least 100% stretch in all directions to fit as intended according to the sizing charts. Just think about trying to get a bathing suit up over your hips in a fabric that only has 25% stretch in one direction! It just won’t work. Even though this is an extreme example if you don’t keep it in mind while making the decision to use a fabric that does not meet a patterns stretch guide your are taking a chance.

Q.        Is there a stretch guide on the back of the pattern?

A.        Stop ignoring stretch guides! Long before I started my pattern company I was designing patterns for my cotton/LYCRA knit fabric not really thinking too much about how much stretch the fabric had when I designed a skirt or sleeve or neckline. I just knew that it had to stretch enough to get over the hips and recover enough to stay put once it got there! It was fortunate that my fabric had 90-100% stretch in both directions and it just wasn’t a concern, but when I began expanding my fabrics and wanted to make some of my patterns in other fabrics it was a learning experience about which fabrics were suitable. Had I spent a little time thinking about a stretch guide it would have saved me time and frustration. I am also guilty of ignoring stretch guides. This is ok if you know what you are doing but if you are still learning about stretch, recovery and sizing you may miss out on a great pattern just because you choose the wrong fabric. Believe me, the designer of the pattern you are ignoring understood that the knit needed to stretch!

Q.        Pattern Ease- Was the amount of ease in the pattern designed for a woven fabric? How do you know if it is too much or not enough for your fabric?

A.        If you are using a 100% stretch knit fabric (which means that a 4” square will stretch to 8” in all directions) with a zippered pant pattern that was sized for a woven fabric you can assume that you won’t need the zipper and that the pant itself can be made smaller. How much smaller can be determined after the first fitting. Just remember that you need less ease in your pattern the more ease you have in your fabric.

Q.        Fabric Ease- Is there enough ease in your knit fabric without LYCRA to give a good fit?

A.        Knits without LYCRA are best used with patterns that are not close fitting or need negative ease. My only complaint with “plain” knit fabric is the stretching and bagging at stress points. I save these knits for very wide leg pants, a line skirts and loose fitting tees etc.

Q.        Stretch and Recovery- Will your knit fabric have enough stretch and enough recovery for the pattern?

A.        It is amazing that some knits have no ease at all. Just because you have a knit fabric that doesn’t mean it will be appropriate for all “knit” patterns. As much as I hate to measure anything the only sure way to be sure is to measure you tissue pattern pieces and test the stretch in your fabric to decide how much ease you need for the fit you want. Some knits need to be treated as woven fabrics when it comes to sizing. There are some double knits that are very closely knitted that you would use the some size as you would if you were using a wool gabardine.

Q.        Drape- The knit might be perfect but is the drape right? How do you know?

A.        Being able to recognize good drape in fabric is worth its weight in gold. When you have the entire bolt of fabric at your fingertips it is pretty easy. Unroll a couple yards and let it fall. Gather it up and let it hang to see how it falls. Hold it on the bias and see if the true bias falls longer than the straight grain. I love a fabric that drapes well on the bias. It is tricky to find. When you are making a bias cowl top and want excellent drape so the bias can truly hug your curves you need fabric with heavy drape.






Sew a Draped Waterfall Cardigan Jacket and Vest in eight Minutes with Christine Jonson!

Christine Jonson Patterns

Learn to sew with knit fabrics with this super easy sewing pattern and video tutorial series!

Watch as Christine Jonson sews the new Christine Jonson Studio Collection Draped Vest in minutes (including time spent on her serger and tying in the tails of the serger threads.)

Sewing the jacket sleeves takes just a few minutes more - you can have a new draped jacket or vest before breakfast!

Learning to sew with knits? This is the perfect pattern!

  • No hem finishes means no managing tricky soft, slippery knit fabrics
  • Just three seams for the vest - center back and two sideseams for the vest
  • Just five seams for the cardigan jacket - center back, two sideseams, a shoulder sleeve and a sleeve to hem seam
  • Clever and easy thread tail tucking means a clean finished seams with no thread 'hairs' to see
  • A unique dart holds the draped front neckline in place, adds shaping to the front of the cardi jacket

Want to try the perfect fabric for the Drape Vest & Jacket? Pick up a fabric kit before they're sold out!