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THE A-LINE: A BRIEF HISTORY

Image from left: Detail of Abstract Peacock A-Line Dress Kit from The School of Making; The Lucy Top and The Wrap Palm Skirt from the Alabama Chanin 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; Abstract Peacock A-Line Tunic Kit from The School of Making; and Items: Is Fashion Modern? from the MoMA 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 term 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. Our Racerback Tunic is a streamlined version of this shape and one I love and wear almost daily in my life as a mother, gardener, explorer, designer, and home chef.   

You can purchase our hand-sewn Lucy Top, which is a classic from the Alabama Chanin Collection, or make your own A-Line Top, Tunic, and/or Dress with one of our DIY Kits from The School of Making. 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. For a chance to have your work featured tag #theschoolofmaking and #TSOM20in20. 

DESIGN CHOICES 

THE A-LINE TOP 
Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey 
Fabric color for outer layer – Peacock 
Fabric color for inner layer – Peacock 
Textile paint color – Charcoal 
Stencil – Abstract 
Technique – Backstitch Reverse Appliqué 
Button Craft thread – Navy 
Embroidery floss – Storm Blue 
Knots – Inside 

THE A-LINE TUNIC 
Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey 
Fabric color for outer layer – Navy 
Fabric color for inner layer – Peacock 
Textile paint color – Slate 
Stencil – Abstract 
Technique – Backstitch Reverse Appliqué 
Button Craft thread – Navy 
Embroidery floss – Brunette 
Knots – Inside 

THE A-LINE DRESS 
Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey 
Fabric color for outer layer – Navy 
Fabric color for inner layer – Navy 
Textile paint color – Charcoal 
Stencil – Abstract 
Technique – Reverse Appliqué 
Button Craft thread – Navy 
Knots – Inside 

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