I was going to come up with a cutesy name for this post — something like “A-line a la Easter” since this was intended to be N’s Easter dress, but I realized that the name of the pattern already communicated the precise idea I was going for! So why mess with a good thing?
According to the American Heritage Dictionary, “a la mode” means “according to the prevailing style or fashion.” My goal when I made this Blank Slate Patterns A-Line A La Mode Dress was to make a dress that could serve pretty much any purpose. A super comfy and lightweight little A-line dress that’s great for summertime play but can be dressed up for church or dinner out.
To be honest, I’ve seen this pattern in the Blank Slate line up for a while but was never tempted to make it. I don’t think the cover photo on the pattern is particularly flattering but still when Melissa gave me the opportunity to sew it up free of charge,** I thought “what the heck?” N needs new summer dresses (girl is growing like a weed!) and I have plenty of fabric in my stash.
I was pleasantly surprised.
The cut of the dress is fairly wide and I think it tends to look boxy and almost too big in stiff fabrics. For example, I would not choose a quilting cotton for this dress. With that in mind, I decided to use this lovely, floaty piece of gauze that has been sitting around in my stash for at least two years. If I hadn’t convinced myself that i only had 1 yard of this fabric (in actuality I had at least 1.5 yards and probably 2), it would have been long gone before now because it really is lovely and soft. But that was a happy accident because it was still around for this dress (which only requires 1 yard of fabric — score!), it’s covered with pink flowers which N loves, and the weight is absolutely perfect for a summer dress.
In fact, everything that went into this dress is from my stash. I happened to have exactly the right shade of pink zipper sitting in my drawer, as well as matching hot pink bias tape. Having a pink-obsessed little girl means you have random pink sewing notions just sitting around 🙂
As I said, I was a little skeptical when I first started this project, but after it’s all said and done, I am a convert! This dress is easy to make, goes together really fast, and it a perfect summer dress in a lightweight fabric. The pattern is drafted with sleeves, which I omitted because N pretty much refuses to wear anything with sleeves once summer hits.
The zipper is a nice feature that makes it easy to get on and off and that she can adjust herself. In fact, the front zipper means that she is 100% capable of putting this dress on all by herself — I love clothes that don’t require my help! The shape is nice and flowy in this gauze which will make it easy and cool for her to run and play in this summer.
The pattern is also drafted with a Peter Pan collar. It’s a cute feature, but I know my girl and I know that while she says she likes collars, she almost always refuses to wear them.
Therefore, I decided I’d make a removeable collar. With that in mind, I finished the neckline with bias tape, just like I did the sleeves, and plan to construct the collar entirely separate from the dress to attach with sew-on snaps. Assuming I get this done this week (which is my goal), I’ll try to get a quick little tutorial put together! Don’t hold me to that though. From all accounts, N doesn’t plan to wear this dress ever again (stubborn little thing), and I don’t generally make a habit of spending my precious sewing time on garments I know will never be worn. J might start to get my kid-sewing attention since he actually appreciates the things I make!
Not surprisingly, N pretty much refuses to put it dress on 🙁 For photos she consented to wear it as long as I promised that it would only take 5 minutes and then she could put her other clothes back on. I can only hope that she’ll come around before she outgrows it!
Pattern: A-Line A La Mode Dress from Blank Slate Patterns
Cost: $7.95 USD
Fabric: Floral gauze from Joann Fabrics of all places. A rare gem from that monstrosity of a store.
Difficulty: Almost beginner. I almost labeled this a true beginner pattern but it does include a zipper and a facing. With those it probably shouldn’t be a very first project, but it’s pretty close.
Techniques required: Sewing a straight seam, Attaching bias tape (if you make the changes I made), setting in sleeves (for the as-drafted version), inserting a zipper.
Similar patterns: Any number of simple A-line dresses. The shape and design of this dress isn’t earth shattering, but it’s a nice staple pattern.
Modifications: Eliminated the sleeves and finished the armholes with bias tape. Omitted the collar and finished the neckline with bias tape.
Fit: Really good actually. The length is perfect on her and the fit is great across the chest. N is a fairly petite child though, so if you have an average or above-average sized kid, be sure to check measurements.
Pattern Format: I believe this pattern is only available as a PDF. Still, it’s only about 13 pages and there aren’t many pieces so as PDFs go, this one wasn’t bad.
- Quick easy sew.
- Good, basic shape. At first this didn’t seem like a “blank slate” as these patterns are advertised, but after making it, I realized that it is. The shape makes this dress really easy to customize.
- Blank Slate instructions are good. I don’t think I even opened the instruction booklet while making this dress since there aren’t any new techniques, but Melissa does a very nice job with her instructions so I know they are thorough.
- The dress is fairly loose as drafted. I think anything other than a pretty drapey fabric looks kind of boxy, which I don’t particularly like. I would highly recommend sizing down or at least reducing the flare if you make this in a stiffer fabric to avoid having a child who looks like they’re wearing a potato sack.
- Blank Slate sleeves are always a little tight for my particular taste. They’re drafted well, the style just isn’t my favorite. I omitted them here, though, so it wasn’t an issue.
Overall Grade: B. This pattern has a good, basic shape that would make it easy to customize. A woven A-line dress isn’t exactly novel but you can’t go wrong with a pattern like this.
**I received this pattern for free in exchange for a blog post. No other consideration changed hands and while I will swear that my opinions are my own, you can make your own judgments as to what size of a grain of salt you take all of this with since we all know (and scientific studies confirm) that opinions are naturally swayed when we receive something for free, no matter how pure our intentions.