Thursday, February 26, 2015

9 Best Dress Patterns for Beginners: Easy to Sew

This 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.

This post is the first of a series on easy to sew dresses that I first published three years ago.  As one of my most popular series, it has always generated alot of interest.  Many of those patterns are no longer available, so I thought it was a good time to re-post the original article with new and current patterns from the 'big 4' companies.  If you have a good pattern to recommend, just leave your comment below.

The shift dresses pictured above have an "A" line or loose fit, while the sheath dresses pictured below tend to fit the waistline more closely, and can be smooth over the hips.  The sheath dresses all show back darts to trim out excess fabric in the back waistline area.  Often this style has a back zipper, but the looser "A" line shifts can usually be sewn without a zipper for a 'pull over' style.

Both types of dresses shown here have bust darts in the side seam lines.  This dart creates a smooth fit in the underarm and reduces bulk in the side seam area.

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.

Easy Palmer Pletch McCalls 6355
McCall's 6355: basic shift pattern by Palmer/Pletch, neck binding, optional fitting darts. This pattern has options for creating a good fit.

easy to sew McCalls 6102
McCalls 6102: View D, shift style, 2 bust darts, pull over, large size range, neckline facing

easy to sew McCalls 6465
McCall's 6465: view E, slip over, sleeveless bias tape arm holes, loose A line shape


READ the measurement section for the company that you are buying the pattern from.  Each one will require the following: Bust, Waist, Hip.  Be sure to measure without clothing for accuracy.  If you are not the same size as the patterns listed, for this style of dress, choose your bustline to find the best size.  You can add to the hip area if you need more room there, and the waistline measurement should have little effect on the pattern.

HOW WILL THE DRESS FIT?  If you scroll down or click the tab on most pattern websites, you will find the GARMENT MEASUREMENTS. This information lists what a dress will measure after it has been sewn.  These measurements can be compared with a similar dress or top you own, so that way you'll know what the results will be. Use this to select hem width, hip and bustline ease (the term 'ease' means looseness). It is a great way to find your pattern size for that specific dress, if you feel the size measurements may not be exactly your fit.

(the original version of this article was published February 17, 2015)

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