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


Every year for my birthday I like to make myself a new dress. Last year around my birthday I took a trip to the LA fabric district and found this gorgeous dalmatian print polyester, and then it sat in my stash for a year.

I pulled it out the other day and knew it would be perfect for a simple little shift dress. I paired with these pretty little mary jane pumps that are on sale right now during the Nordstrom Sale, and I love how it all came together.

(also don’t forget the Nordstrom Sale opens to the public tomorrow — you can see my picks here!)

Anyway, since today’s my birthday, we’re doing DIY Wednesday instead of DIY Friday 🙂

Click through to find the tutorial!

– 1 or 1 1/4 yard 60″ wide fabric (if your fabric is 45″ wide, you’ll need probably 2 yards)
– matching thread
1. 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). 
2. Next, take the FRONT and BACK pieces and, with right sides together, sew them together at the shoulders. 
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. 
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.
5. Take your two NECKLINE LINING pieces and, with right sides together, sew them together at the ends. They should now form a circle. 
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. 
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. And you’re done!

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  1. Susan Gail Seal says:

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

  2. Natali says:

    So SO adorable!!! Love this dress!


  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?


  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 !!!

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