The Essential A-Line // Sewing Book Review


A few weeks ago, Stash Books sent me a copy of The Essential A-Line: Make 17 Flirty Skirts from 1 Basic Pattern by Jona Giammalva.  Jona blogs at Stop Staring … and Start Sewing.  For me, this is the perfect description of her first book, because it is what finally got me to stop thinking about making myself a skirt (I bought a great navy wool 3 years ago …) and actually sit down and do it.

This skirt is actually the first item of clothing I have sewn for myself (and worn in public). I must have been outwardly nervous about wearing it, because yesterday we walked into the school and a teacher said, “I love your skirt!” My 3 year old said, “Mama, see, I told you it was beautiful!” Now I just need to learn how to pose…

The Essential A-Line Book Details:
  • 1 Master Skirt Pattern, 17 skirt variations
  • Sizes 0-20
  • The first 1/3 of the book teaches technique: how to orient & cut out a pattern, get the right fit, skirt making basics, and finishing techniques
  • The last 2/3 of the book teaches how to make variations of the basic A-line skirt–adding pockets, pleats, belt loops, patchwork, ruffles, etc.
  • $26.95 list price, selling on Amazon today for $19.05
Why I would recommend a friend take a look:

Finishing Details: The book includes clear instructions on how to put in an invisible zipper, add darts, do basic alterations,  and line your skirt, among other things.

Essential_A_Line_Skirt_with_pockets_SwimBikeQuiltStyle: I would love to make a linen skirt with these pockets!  For me, the strength of the book is the first 1/3, which really teaches you everything you need to know about making a skirt. My style is perhaps simpler than many of the skirt variations, but I can appreciate that others will like them.

Space for Notes: Most of the sections include a space for you to take notes–what worked, what didn’t, any variations you made, space to doodle, etc. I hate when my notes get lost–this solves that problem.  My notes for this skirt would be: work on putting in an invisible zipper.

Something Unique: This book includes directions on how to make a  maternity A-Line skirt, which I thought was kind of brilliant.

Audience: The book seems geared towards the beginning garment sewer; I think more experienced garment sewers would also be inspired to try something new, whether it is edgestitching instead of topstitching, making a skirt with contrast pleats, lining a skirt instead of just making a facing,  etc.

Clear Diagrams: The diagrams are  clear and easy to follow.

Sizing: My hips and waist measurements dictated that I should make two different sizes. I went with the bigger one. I should have gone with the smaller one. This is why you make a muslin, right?

Great Tips: Jona suggests making a muslin, and pinning the sides of the skirt together before sewing the side seams. Once I pinned the skirt together, I could see that the master A-Line pattern was a little too A-Line for my rather straight hips.  I was able to rework the pattern so it is slightly less A-line, and it fit me much better.  [Fabric is by Cynthia Rowley (Little Big Dot in Primary) for Michael Miller that I purchased from Drygood Designs].

I Wish The Book Included: I realize that often things like this are left out by the publisher due to space issues, but I wish the book had included a section on fabric choice.  For example, how would using cotton, voile, denim, velveteen, rayon, knit, etc. change the shape, drape, and construction methods for a basic skirt.

Just Like Sewing With My Mom: This is a compliment–the book teaches many of the same techniques that my mom taught me a few years ago, but that I couldn’t *quite* remember. It is nice to have the book to refer back to; it is written in a very approachable style.

Available on Amazon: The Essential A-line: Make 17 Flirty Skirts from 1 Basic Pattern


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  1. Posted June 21, 2013 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    Great skirt. Your mom did teach you a few sewing things? That’s great to hear because you are awesome now!

  2. Julie
    Posted June 21, 2013 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    Saw your cute body on Pinterest today:) Love the skirt, it is darling!

  3. Pennie
    Posted June 22, 2013 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    Lovely skirt, and great legs!

  4. Posted June 26, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    thanks for the thorough review. i have an Amy Butler Barcelona skirt pattern waiting for me on my sewing table. i wish i didn’t dread making the muslin and then *still* dread cutting into the good fabric. i guess i’m just a quilter at heart…

  5. Posted July 1, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    good review, cute skirt

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