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THE A-LINE: A BRIEF HISTORY

Image from left: Detail of the A-Line Top + Tunic Kit in Abstract Peacock with Reverse Appliqué and Backstitch Embroidery; The Lucy Top and The Palm Wrap Skirt from Alabama Chanin’s Spring/Summer 2020 Collection; “1958 Le Trapeze ad campaign for Spring 1958″ by Yves Saint Laurent; “1950 Dior Ad campaign“, 1947 by House of Dior, photographed by Willy Maywald; A-Line Top + Tunic Kit in Abstract Navy/Peacock; Items: Is Fashion Modern? from the Museum of Modern Art exhibition catalogue edited by Paola Antonelli and Michelle Millar Fisher.

One of The School of Making’s most beloved styles is the A-Line, which is a modern appellation in the history of fashion since it arrived first in the mid-1950s. The term “A-Line” was “first used by designer Christian Dior as the label for his collection of spring in 1955” and was then the “most wanted silhouette in Paris,” according to Susan Ward in Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion. Ward further explains “that idea was given its definitive expression and popularized by Dior’s successor, Yves Saint Laurent, with his “Trapeze Line” of spring 1958, which featured dresses flaring out dramatically from a fitted shoulder line.” In the 1960s and 70s, it was close kin to the Shift Dress and worn by self-proclaimed “hippies” and mothers-to-be alike. In the early 1980s, my mother made me three versions in flannel from a long-lost McCall’s pattern when, very pregnant, I carried my first-born son through the cold winter months.  At the end of that decade, and at my first design job, I was asked to sketch a turtleneck version of this shape that eventually became a bestseller on Macy’s third floor in New York City—considered, by me and my colleagues, the pinnacle of the Junior Sportswear Industry. I dare say that two decades later, the shape is still a beloved classic.  

The shape of the A-Line is defined as fitted and narrow at the shoulder and bust with a generous flare from just below the bust and through the waist and hip to wide at the hem—creating the shape of the capital “A.” Because of this shape, the A-Line style works well on a wide range of body types. I’ve often called it my “uniform” and have been known to keep basic and embellished versions in my closet for all occasions. It feels good to move in; It can be styled in casual or dressed-up versions, and a mitered v-neckline adds a  décolleté.   

You can make your own A-Line Top, Tunic, and/or Dress with DIY Kits from The School of Making, or customize your A-Line projects using the Colorblocked A-Line Dress Bundle and A-Line sewing pattern. Explore three of our favorite kits below. 

Be inspired, 
Natalie 

This best-selling style is offered through three DIY Sewing Kits: The A-Line Dress Kit and the A-Line Top + Tunic Kit

Like all of our DIY Kits, the A-Line Kits come ready-to-sew with precut and pre-stenciled fabric and all the thread you will need to complete your project. Pair the kits with Natalie’s fourth Studio BookAlabama Studio Sewing Patternsfor instructions on construction and an overview of appliqué and stitching techniques.  

Great on their own with stenciling and appliqué, the A-Line DressTunic, and Top are also the perfect bases for beading with our Bead Mixes or delicate embellishment with Embroidery Floss.   

For a truly customized garment or to design the A-Line style of your choice from scratch, reach out to our Guest Experience team for help with the custom design process.  

Find design choices below for the styles shown here and find inspiration on the Journal and through our maker community on the Stitchalong Facebook group. You can also share your completed A-Lines with us on Instagram. Tag @theschoolofmaking and use hashtags #theschoolofmaking and #memade for a chance to be featured in our #MakerHighlight series. 

DESIGN CHOICES 

THE A-LINE TOP 

Fabric weight – Medium-Weight Cotton Jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – Bright White – Supima® US Grown Extra-Long Staple
Fabric color for inner layer – Bright White – Supima® US Grown Extra-Long Staple
Textile paint color – Putty 
Stencil – Facets 
Techniques – Natalie’s Dream – Appliqué, Reverse Appliqué, Nevative Reverse Appliqué, Embroidery, Backstitch, Beading
Button Craft thread  – White 
Embroidery floss  – White 
Knots – Inside 

THE A-LINE TUNIC

Fabric weight – Medium-Weight Cotton Jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – Black – Imported 100% Organic (contact us to be notified when Black is restocked)
Fabric color for inner layer – Bright White – Supima® US Grown Extra-Long Staple
Textile paint color – Slate
Stencil – New Leaves
Techniques – Backstitch Reverse Appliqué
Button Craft thread  – Black
Embroidery floss – Ashe, Dogwood, and Pewter
Knots – Inside

THE A-LINE TUNIC 

Fabric weight – Medium-Weight Cotton Jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – Navy – Supima® US Grown Extra-Long Staple 
Fabric color for inner layer – Peacock – Supima® US Grown Extra-Long Staple 
Textile paint color – Slate 
Stencil – Abstract
Technique – Backstitch Negative Reverse Appliqué 
Button Craft thread – Navy 
Embroidery floss – Brunette 
Knots – Inside 

THE A-LINE DRESS 

Fabric weight – Medium-Weight Cotton Jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – Sand – Supima® US Grown Extra-Long Staple
Fabric color for inner layer – Sand – Supima® US Grown Extra-Long Staple
Textile paint color – Moonlight 
Stencil – Magdalena
Technique – Negative Reverse Appliqué 
Button Craft thread – Cream 
Knots – Inside 

THE A-LINE DRESS

Fabric weight – Medium-Weight Cotton Jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – Navy – Supima® US Grown Extra-Long Staple
Fabric color for inner layer – Navy – Supima® US Grown Extra-Long Staple
Textile paint color – Slate
Stencil – Abstract
Technique – Reverse Appliqué
Button Craft thread – Brown
Knots – Inside

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