How To Make A Shift Dress With Free Sewing Pattern

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Today on Happiest Camper, we show you How To Make A Shift Dress With Free Sewing Pattern! This is a fun and cute dress you can wear on a night out or just hang out. It is super comfortable so you can wear it all day. The shift dress came about in the 1920s when designers went to a corsetless dress pattern. These new dresses were much less restrictive and allowed the wearer to “shift” around and move more freely, hence the name. This dress has a nice fit and is flattering on almost all body types. The included free pattern makes it simple to cut out your fabric and size this dress for the perfect fit. I love making my own dresses. There is nothing better than having a closet full of perfectly fitting clothes. Pick out some cute fabric and get started on this fun dress!

shift dress top photo

You’ll only need a few sewing supplies for this project. I picked out some fun print cotton fabric. You can use any light to medium weight woven fabric and your dress will turn out great. You’ll also need some thread and I would highly recommend a rotary cutter, mat, and ruler set as it makes cutting out your pattern pieces a breeze. Let’s get started!

How To Make A Shift Dress With Free Sewing Pattern

What You’ll Need:

shift dress supplies

Size Chart:

Imperial (inches)SmallMediumLarge
Chest343638
Waist283032
Hip384042

This pattern is drafted for a height of 5’ 4”- 5” 5” so you may need to length or shorten the pattern if required.  If you need to adjust the pattern, be sure to check our post on Pattern Grading – How to Scale a Pattern Up and Down!

Printing Instructions

This shift dress sewing pattern has layers so that you can choose to print only the size you need. To achieve this Adobe Reader must be installed on your machine or device. Adobe Reader allows you to click on the layers icon which will show you each size with an eyeball beside it. Click on the eyeball beside the size you do not want to print.

Before printing check that your printer is set to No scaling or Actual size. Set the Page orientation to Auto or Portrait. And then print page 1. Measure the 2” test square to see if it measures exactly 2”.   If it does, print the remaining pages.

Trimming Pages

Cut off the right and top margins of each printed page before assembling the pattern. You can use tape or school glue to adhere your paper pattern together. 

Pattern Assembly

After the pages have been printed and trimmed as instructed above, use the quarter circles located at the corner of each page for perfect alignment.  When done your pattern should look like this: 

shift dress sewing pattern

Pattern Pieces Checklist

Once you have printed and assembled your pattern you will cut:

  • Dress Front – Cut 1 on fold
  • Dress Back – Cut 2 
  • Front Facing – cut 1 on fold
  • Back Facing – Cut 2
  • Sleeves – Cut 2

Seam Allowance

Use a 3/8” seam allowance unless otherwise instructed.

How To Make A Shift Dress With Free Sewing Pattern

I like to start my sewing projects, especially my clothing ones, by washing, drying, and pressing my fabric. This helps preshrink your fabric and prepares it for washing later so that your stitches don’t pull out or fray the first time you wash it. Plus, it helps make the fabric super soft and easier to cut. Once you have done this, the next step on this how to make a shift dress with free sewing pattern tutorial is to use the pattern you printed out to cut out your fabric pieces from the cut list above.

Pin the back bodice pieces right sides together and the center seam starting from the zipper marking down to the hem.

Sew from the end of the zipper marking to the hem of the skirt.

Fold the left side of the back bodice wrong sides together by ½”. Align the zipper underneath the fold so that the zipper teeth are just at the fold of the fabric. Sew the zipper in place using a zipper foot. Close the zipper.

For the other side of the bodice, fold the bodice wrong sides together by ⅝”, align the folded edge of the zipper so that it rests on the stitch line for the side of the zipper already sewn in. Pin in place to secure.

Sew from the right side of the dress ½” from the folded edge of the fabric, pivoting at the end of the zipper to secure the end of the zipper.

Next on this how to make a shift dress with free sewing pattern tutorial, pin the front of the dress to the back of the dress at the shoulders and sew.

Repeat for the lining pieces.

With right sides together, pin the main and the lining fabric at the neckline. Sew. Note the lining will be longer than the main fabric where the zipper is installed. Clip the curves around the neckline.

Now on this shift dress tutorial, we will work on the lining. Understitch the lining and fold it to the inside of the dress. Pin the underarm seams of the main and lining fabrics to keep them together.

pin sleeves to shoulder seam

With right sides together lay the center of your sleeve on the shoulder seam of the dress.
Pin the end of the sleeve to the armhole and continue pinning towards the center point, you will have excess fabric which you will use to form small pleats at the top of the sleeve.
Repeat for the other sleeve.

sew shift dress at shoulder seams

Sew the sleeve to the dress. Finish the raw edges by hemming the facing with a zigzag stitch or serger.

Fold the raw edges of the facing fabric concealing the raw edges. Pin the facing to the zipper/dress.
Hand sew the facing to the zipper using a slip stitch.

Fold the shift dress right sides together. Pin from the underarm seam down the side of the dress. Sew. Repeat for the other side. Finish the raw edges.

For the last step in this diy shift dress sewing tutorial, double fold the hem and the sleeve raw edges by ½” and sew.

shift dress completed

And that’s it! Now you know how to make a shift dress with free sewing pattern! This is a fun and simple dress you can wear and feel confident in. This dress is great for formal or casual wear. I like to wear this one with legging when the weather starts to cool.

Cute Shift Dress Sewing Tutorial

If you liked learning how to make a shift dress with free sewing pattern, make sure to pin it to your favorite Pinterest board or share it with friends on social media. If you decide to make this simple project on your own, make certain that you take a picture afterward and tag us on social media as we love seeing the fabrics and color choices that people use!

Yield: 1

How To Make A Shift Dress With Free Sewing Pattern

Shift Dress Create Card

Sew this cute dress with this free sewing pattern. Easy to sew and looks flattering on everyone!

Active Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour
Difficulty Moderate
Estimated Cost $20.00

Instructions

  1. Use pattern to cut out fabric
  2. Pin the back bodice pieces right sides together and the center seam starting from the zipper marking down to the hem. Sew from the end of the zipper marking to the hem of the skirt.
  3. Fold the left side of the back bodice wrong sides together by ½”. Align the zipper underneath the fold so that the zipper teeth is just at the fold of the fabric. Sew the zipper in place using a zipper foot. Close the zipper.
  4. For the other side of the bodice, fold the bodice wrong sides together by ⅝”, align the folded edge of the zipper so that it rests on the stitch line for the side of the zipper already sewn in. Pin in place to secure.
  5. Sew from the right side of the dress ½” from the folded edge of the fabric, pivoting at the end of the zipper to secure the end of the zipper.
  6. Pin the front of the dress to the back of the dress at the shoulders and sew.
    Repeat for the lining pieces
  7. With right sides together, pin the main and the lining fabric at the neckline. Sew. Note the lining will be longer than the main fabric where the zipper is installed. Clip the curves around the neckline.
  8. Understitch the lining. Fold the lining to the inside of the dress.
    Pin the underarm seams of the main and lining fabrics to keep them together.
  9. With right sides together lay the center of your sleeve on the shoulder seam of the dress.
    Pin the end of the sleeve to the armhole and continue pinning towards the center point, you will have excess fabric which you will use to form small pleats at the top of the sleeve.
  10. Repeat for the other sleeve. Sew the sleeve to the dress.
  11. Finish the raw edges (hem) of the facing with a zigzag stitch or serger.
  12. Fold the raw edges of the facing fabric concealing the raw edges. Pin the facing to the zipper/dress.
  13. Hand sew the facing to the zipper using a slip stitch.
  14. Fold the dress right sides together. Pin from the underarm seam down the side of the dress. Sew. Repeat for the other side. Finish the raw edges.
  15. Double fold the hem and the sleeve raw edges by ½” and sew.
  16. Enjoy your new dress!

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