Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Here are the materials you’ll need:

  • ¬†1 or 1 1/4 yard 60″ wide fabric (if your fabric is 45″ wide, you’ll need probably 2 yards)
  • matching thread

What kind of fabric should you use?

This fabric was a scrap that I found in a bin at the LA fabric district, so I don’t know the exact blend. But I think it’s a polyester. It’s a woven fabric, but has a bit of a stretch to it.

For this dress, you could use:

  • cotton
  • a thick knit (like ponte knit or scuba knit)
  • eyelet
  • chambray
  • corduroy
  • polyester
  • linen

These aren’t the only options, but hopefully it helps you realize that you can make this pattern with a lot of materials.

If your local fabric stores are closed, I recommend fabric.com for good, affordable fabric options.

How to make the pattern for this dress

First, you’ll need some pattern pieces. I don’t provide printable patterns, but I teach you how to make your own pattern in THIS VIDEO.

In step one of the pattern image below, you’ll see the pattern pieces being cut. Here’s how to do it.

Take your fabric and fold both sides in toward the middle so they (almost) touch, as shown. Now both outside edges should be folded edges. First, cut the FRONT of the dress. Use an existing shift dress or a tank top and a pencil skirt as a pattern, folding them in half and laying them on the folded edge. Cut around them, adding a 1/2″ seam allowance. Repeat for the BACK of the dress, making the neckline a few inches higher. Next, cut out 2 SLEEVES, and a NECKLINE LINING front and back (cut the scoop of the lining exactly as you did the necklines on the FRONT and BACK, but making them 2″ shorter in width so they have to be stretched when attached to the dress).

So you’ll now have the following pattern pieces:¬†

  • Dress front
  • Dress back
  • Sleeves (2)
  • Neckline lining front
  • Neckline lining back

Here are step by step instructions to make the rest of the dress

The following steps are in reference to the pattern illustration above 

 
Step 2. Take the FRONT and BACK pieces and, with right sides together, sew them together at the shoulders. 

It’s time to tackle the sleeves

Step 3. Now attach the sleeves. Line up the top of the SLEEVE with the shoulder seam of the dress (right sides together), and then pin them together, Then sew a straight stitch along the sleeve, attaching it to the dress. Repeat for the second sleeve. 
 
Step 4. Once both sleeves are attached, sew the FRONT and BACK (right sides together) together from the end of the sleeve to the bottom of the dress.

Now it’s time for the neckline

Step 5. Take your two NECKLINE LINING pieces and, with right sides together, sew them together at the ends. They should now form a circle. 
 
Step 6. Place the NECKLINE LINING on the dress with right sides together, matching up the side seams of the LINING with the shoulder seams of the dress. Then streeeetch the LINING and pin it in place evenly along the dress neckline. Sew around the entire neckline with a straight stitch. Then trim the seam allowance and tuck the LINING inside the dress and iron in place. 
 
Step 7. Sew with a straight wide stitch around the entire neckline, securing the lining in place. Then try on the dress and determine your desired sleeve and dress length, then hem.
To hem, fold the sleeves or bottom of the dress under, then under again so it’s a nice double fold. Press it flat, pin, and then stitch around the entire circumference to secure the folded edge. And you’re done!

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shift-dress-tutorial
 

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Easy Shift Dress Pattern (Sewing Tutorial)

shift dress sewing pattern merricksart

This easy shift dress pattern is a great beginner sewing project. If you’re looking for a good summer project, try this sewing tutorial.

This shift dress pattern is an easy summer sewing project

A few years ago, I found this gorgeous dalmation print fabric at the LA fabric district. It sat in my stash for years until I finally made it into this gorgeous shift dress. This shift dress pattern is actually super simple — if you’re looking for a good summer sewing project, this is a good one.

You can see my other beginner sewing projects RIGHT HERE.

 

dalmatian print shift dress
shift dress pattern sewing tutorial
shift dress sewing tutorial

Here are the materials you’ll need:

  • ¬†1 or 1 1/4 yard 60″ wide fabric (if your fabric is 45″ wide, you’ll need probably 2 yards)
  • matching thread

 

What kind of fabric should you use?

This fabric was a scrap that I found in a bin at the LA fabric district, so I don’t know the exact blend. But I think it’s a polyester. It’s a woven fabric, but has a bit of a stretch to it.

For this dress, you could use:

  • cotton
  • a thick knit (like ponte knit or scuba knit)
  • eyelet
  • chambray
  • corduroy
  • polyester
  • linen

These aren’t the only options, but hopefully it helps you realize that you can make this pattern with a lot of materials.

If your local fabric stores are closed, I recommend fabric.com for good, affordable fabric options.

 

How to make the pattern for this dress

First, you’ll need some pattern pieces. I don’t provide printable patterns, but I teach you how to make your own pattern in THIS VIDEO.

In step one of the pattern image below, you’ll see the pattern pieces being cut. Here’s how to do it.

Take your fabric and fold both sides in toward the middle so they (almost) touch, as shown. Now both outside edges should be folded edges. First, cut the FRONT of the dress. Use an existing shift dress or a tank top and a pencil skirt as a pattern, folding them in half and laying them on the folded edge. Cut around them, adding a 1/2″ seam allowance. Repeat for the BACK of the dress, making the neckline a few inches higher. Next, cut out 2 SLEEVES, and a NECKLINE LINING front and back (cut the scoop of the lining exactly as you did the necklines on the FRONT and BACK, but making them 2″ shorter in width so they have to be stretched when attached to the dress).

So you’ll now have the following pattern pieces:¬†

  • Dress front
  • Dress back
  • Sleeves (2)
  • Neckline lining front
  • Neckline lining back
shift dress pattern sewing project

Here are step by step instructions to make the rest of the dress

The following steps are in reference to the pattern illustration above 

 
Step 2. Take the FRONT and BACK pieces and, with right sides together, sew them together at the shoulders. 

 

It’s time to tackle the sleeves

Step 3. Now attach the sleeves. Line up the top of the SLEEVE with the shoulder seam of the dress (right sides together), and then pin them together, Then sew a straight stitch along the sleeve, attaching it to the dress. Repeat for the second sleeve. 
 
Step 4. Once both sleeves are attached, sew the FRONT and BACK (right sides together) together from the end of the sleeve to the bottom of the dress.

 

Now it’s time for the neckline

Step 5. Take your two NECKLINE LINING pieces and, with right sides together, sew them together at the ends. They should now form a circle. 
 
Step 6. Place the NECKLINE LINING on the dress with right sides together, matching up the side seams of the LINING with the shoulder seams of the dress. Then streeeetch the LINING and pin it in place evenly along the dress neckline. Sew around the entire neckline with a straight stitch. Then trim the seam allowance and tuck the LINING inside the dress and iron in place. 
 
Step 7. Sew with a straight wide stitch around the entire neckline, securing the lining in place. Then try on the dress and determine your desired sleeve and dress length, then hem.
To hem, fold the sleeves or bottom of the dress under, then under again so it’s a nice double fold. Press it flat, pin, and then stitch around the entire circumference to secure the folded edge. And you’re done!

 

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23 Comments

  1. Susan Gail Seal says:

    Adorable as always! Is this a knit or woven fabric?

  2. Natali says:

    So SO adorable!!! Love this dress!

    http://lartoffashion.com

  3. Erin says:

    Absolutely gorgeous! Happy Birthday, Merrick!

  4. linafriedman says:

    So Amazing your basic shift dress,fashionable look.

  5. Laura Blair says:

    Where do you get your fabrics? And what kind of fabric is this?

  6. Sonia Lala says:

    Merrick! Thank you for this tutorial! I just finished my shift dress and I love it. Though, it is tight near the bottom and difficult to walk, so I wanted to add a slit. Any tutorials on how? Seems easy to do, but I always feel this way and ultimately… need directions. I looked online and couldn’t find anything simple enough. thanks again! =)

  7. Mindy Holmes says:

    I can’t wait to try this! What type/weight of fabrics do you recommend for this? I want to make it for a fall wedding so something that will be cool enough to dance in but still keeps me warm since the reception is outdoors.

    • merrickwhite says:

      Honestly anything works. This is a polyester blend that’s a little bit thick and has a slight stretch. But for fall you could do flannel, gingham shirting fabric, linen, ponte knit, really anything. I think a ponte knit or double knit might work best for the warm/cool issue you mentioned. Hope that helps!

  8. Avril says:

    I’m hoping to sew this as my first item of Clothing.. However I know that shift dresses are generally a bit like a bag on me. How would you suggest altering the pattern to be a little more fitted please?

    Thanks!

  9. Kirsten says:

    This is so cute, but I’m a little confused. Is there a pattern somewhere to go along with the tutorial? The little hand drawing of the pieces doesn’t look like a pattern exactly.

  10. Donna Saddler says:

    Can someone tell me where I can GEt the pattern. I would love to make this. Thanks

  11. Ramona Rice says:

    Just wondering if there a actUal pattern that goes with the tutorial

  12. Alberta says:

    Yes, How do I obtain the pattern for this dress? I need a pattern to go by.

  13. Emeli says:

    Thank you very much for sharing! I also like to sew dresses for myself. I very often can not find the right dress for me in the store, so sew exactly what I want, a very good idea. I often complement my regular dresses with daring jewelry from the site https://www.bikerringshop.com/collections/skull-necklaces it helps to add “sharpness” to my look!

  14. Violette says:

    Wish there was more of an explanation of why the neckline needs to be SHORter and STRETCHed. Just curious, but maybe it will make more Sense when I make This Dress today. Love this site merrick !!!

  15. Micheline Georges says:

    Where is the tutorial for the shift dress?

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