I like to use the A-line dress as a canvas for any number of cute embellishments. It's pretty simple, it has a nice flat front (and back) to work with, and it's easily tweaked into lots of different looks.
See... this is an A-line, shortened to a top...
...here's a sleeveless one...
...and we're familiar with Noelle's Valentine-y dress, also A-line.
So, clearly, I have to do a tutorial on it.
I'm going to use Riley's Valentine's Day dress for this tutorial, on the basics of the toddler A-line.
Then we'll have a separate post to show all the fun details. Sound like a plan? Good!
About 1 yard of fabric (for size 3T/4T... you may need more or less, depending on your size)
Elastic hair tie
Homemade or store-bought bias tape
Basic sewing gear
Cutting the Pattern:
First, you need to make your pattern. Find a shirt or dress that fits your recipient well, not too loose and not too tight. Fold it in half and trace around the neck and armholes, leaving about a half inch for seam allowance.
I kind of play connect the dots, like this... :)
From the armpit of your pattern, angle out slightly to create your A-line. See how easy so far?
**A note on your tracing paper. I didn't buy freezer paper for a
while because I could only find it in this gargantuan container, and it
just seemed like a little much to me. However, I finally got some, and
HOLY COW, it's an awesome tool. The sheets are pretty darn big, and
it's nice and sturdy. I really recommend it. It's what I use to make all
Now for the sleeves. Don't be scared of sleeves. Heaven knows I
was. But now that I feel comfortable about 'em, I love 'em. It just
takes a little practice. If you're just starting, don't worry. You can
totally do this.
Here's how to make a sleeve pattern. Take that pattern
that you just made. Use the armhole to get the curve of the sleeve,
Then add a little "tail" to the end of it like this.
From there, you just extend the sleeve out to your
desired length. I want mine to be a 3/4 sleeve, so I went 8 inches from
the top of the sleeve.
Take your two pattern pieces (the main dress and the
sleeve) and cut two of each, on the fold. Make your front neckline a
little lower than the back, like your model shirt was.
Now, to get all of our cutting out of the way, you want to cut a
strip of bias tape (if you aren't using store-bought). If you want to
make a whole load of bias tape, here's a great tutorial
from Katy at no big dill. But you won't need that much-- 18 inches
will actually be plenty. So make some double fold bias tape.
Then-- last piece to cut!-- cut a rectangle that is 3 inches by 5 inches.
Whew. Now we're done with my least favorite part-- cutting. Let's get to assembly! I heart assembly!
Zig-zag stitch around the two long sides and one short side of that little rectangle you just cut.
Find the center of the unfinished edge. Draw a straight line down the center, stopping about an inch from the bottom.
Now find the center of the back of your dress. Right
sides together, pin the rectangle, with unfinished edge to the neckline,
lining up the centers.
Starting at the neckline, stitch 1/8-inch from the
line. When you get to the end of the line, start stitching up the other
side, again 1/8-inch from the line. STOP about 2 inches from the top
and put your needle down and lift your presser foot.
With your fabric still in your machine, cut down the line, making
sure to NOT cut the stitches, about 3/4-inch. Then take your elastic
hair tie and insert it in there. The loop that is in between your
fabric should be a little smaller than your button. The loop should be a
teensy bit over 1/2-inch from the neckline.
*I took my fabric out of my machine to give you a better picture. Don't actually do this.*
Once you have your loop in place, put your presser foot
down and continue sewing up, 1/8-inch from the line. Obviously, you'll
catch your elastic, securing it.
I like to keep a little of the elastic out, so it stays
in place better. Plus, you won't see it after you flip the rectangle to
the other side.
Cut down the rest of your line and cut two little angles out at the bottom, but don't cut through your stitches!
Then flip the rectangle over to the wrong side, press and topstitch.
Now all your button closure will need is a button!... but we'll do that
Sew your front and back piece together at the shoulders. Finish with a zig-zag stitch.
take your bias tape. Fold one edge down and start pinning it around
your neckline. Make sure you catch the raw edge of your rectangle as
you go. When you get to the end, fold that edge down, so you have nice
finished ends at that back slit.
Now sew the bias tape in place. Now your neckline is done. Yay!
Time for sleeves. First, place two marks (or pins) 1.5 inches from
the top center of the sleeve. Now run a gathering stitch from one mark
to the other. Don't gather yet, though.
Pin both sides of the sleeve along the armhole, up to your gathering stitch.
It will poof up a little, like this:
you'll grab one of the threads of the gathering stitch and pull it
until your sleeve fabric lines up with the armhole fabric. Adjust your
gathers so they're even. I like to concentrate them more in the middle.
Now it lies flat...
slowly and carefully stitch the sleeve onto your dress, avoiding
puckers in the fabric. If you're just starting on sleeves, take your
Before I zig-zag stitch, I like to flip it over
to check that I didn't accidentally catch any fabric I didn't want to.
And... lovely! Now I can finish it off. Repeat these steps for your
**If you want to make the contrasting flair flare sleeves, go here now!**
Now all that's left is to sew up the sides of the dress and bottoms
of the sleeves, and add a button! Then finish your sleeves and bottom hem by flipping over
1/4 inch then another 1/4 and sewing. Or... here's where you can add
fun details! But THAT'S for another tutorial! Now go get 'em, Tiger!
... I don't know where that tiger thing came from. I apologize. But I am really excited for you to make your dress. :)