Friday, February 17, 2012

Dress Patterns for Beginners: EASY to SEW

easy to sew McCalls 6117This is the first is a short series on sewing patterns that are EASY to sew or EASY for new sewists (beginners). Because these styles tend to be shift dresses (loose with bust darts) or "A" line in shape, they are perfect for summer. This is the season to best sew for warm weather, the timing is right to make one of these styles.

Since I wrote this post, several patterns have been discontinued, I have an updated version of this same post titled: 9 Best Dress Patterns for Beginners, so you may want to click on this link to find more recent patterns.

What I look for when choosing an easy pattern are several elements that need to come together:

1) seam lines: few seam lines to sew - just the side seams please!

2) pattern pieces: two main pattern pieces - front and back

3) darts: few darts - bust darts are fine

4) zipper: nope!

5) sleeves: nada!

6) neckline: simple and round, I think facing is easier than bias edge, but that's me

7) hemline: machine sewn? yes please

8) fabric: smooth, medium weight cottons: these are easiest to sew - quilter's cottons, cotton gingham checks, cotton shirting plaids and stripes.

Here's a few patterns that would be EASY for a newbie, or FAST for those with experience.

Top View, McCalls 6117 (now discontinued) illustrated the type of pattern to look for with 2 side seam bust darts and a soft "A" line fit.

easy to sew dress
McCall's 9172 (also discontinues) shows a sleeveless style with optional dart or no dart, ‘relaxed fit’, neckline facing.  This does not have a zipper, and is an easy "pull over" style to sew.

Easy Palmer Pletch McCalls 6355
McCall's 6355 (available) is a basic shift pattern by Palmer/Pletch with neck binding and optional fitting darts. This pattern has suggestions for creating a good fit.

easy to sew McCalls 6102
McCalls 6102 (available): View D is a shift style with 2 bust darts.  It is a zipperless pull over style that comes in a wide size range.


easy to sew McCalls 6465
McCall's 6465 (available): view E is also without zipper, a slip over style that is also sleeveless with bias tape around arm holes.

When looking at a pattern page online, look for the front and back views or line drawings (production flats) of the garment showing each seam line clearly. Fabric and notions should also be listed.

If you scroll down further on most websites, you will find the GARMENT MEASUREMENTS. This information can be compared with a similar garment you own and fit, so you know what the results will be. Use this to select hem width, hip and bustline ease (looseness). It is a great way to determine your pattern size, if you feel the size measurements may not be exactly your fit.

Here are a few blog posts that also talk about sewing dresses:

7 Best Sheath Dress Patterns with Vintage Style: Easy to Sew

9 Best Dress Patterns for Beginners: Easy to Sew

6 Easy to Sew Shift Dresses

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