MOD SHIFT DRESS (TUTORIAL)

dress: made by me // clutch: c/o windsor // shoes: c/o lulu’s // watch: michael kors // bracelet: c/o hellofab
When I attended Fabric Weekend 2013 a few weeks ago, I came home with a big stack of amazing fabrics. Between stops at Mood, Angel Textiles, and Michael Levine (the store and the loft), I got a ton of great stuff. But, of course, I was back at Jo-Ann’s a few days later to pick up a few things…I can always count on them for my notions and other essentials (find your local Jo-Ann’s here!)
Within a day I had started working on my first project with this amazing large modern print fabric from Mood. Since the pattern is so bold, I went with a simple mod shift dress pattern and I love how it turned out. It’s unique and fun, while also being incredibly comfortable, and is easily dressed up or down. 

Materials:

  • 1 yard (60″ wide) stretchy knit fabric (more or less depending on your desired length)
  • matching thread
Step 1. Fold your fabric in half, and then using a loose fitting top as a pattern, cut your dress. Make sure to add length til it’s your desired length. and add 1/2″ sam allowance. Because the fabric is folded, you should have two identical dress pieces, FRONT and BACK.

Cut the neckline of the FRONT piece to your desired depth and shape.

Step 2 (not pictured): Cut your sleeves, using the same method in this tutorial.

Step 3. Using the newly lowered neckline of your FRONT piece, cut a 1″ wide strip that is an identical scoop to your neckline, as seen below. Cut a second piece that matches the BACK neckline.

With right sides together, pin the strip to the neckline. To avoid a loose and floppy neckline, pull the strip slightly in between pins, then sew around the neckline with a straight stitch at a 3/8″ seam allowance.

Repeat on the BACK neckline with the matching strip.

Step 4. Now fold the strips over, wrong sides together, and press into place, as seen below. Pin and sew around the neckline with a straight wide stitch, as seen two photos down.

Step 5. Pin shoulders together and sew with a straight stitch. Trim the seam allowance and serge if desired.

Step 6. With right sides together, pin the sleeve to the dress, starting at the shoulder and moving out toward the armpit (as seen below).

Sew with a straight stitch and 1/2″ seam allowance. Repeat on second sleeve.

Step 7. With right sides together, sew up the sides. starting at the end of the sleeve and sewing all the way to the hem. Make sure your armpit seams are matched up first before you start pinning.

Step 8 (not pictured). Hem your sleeves and dress to your desired length, press all your seams, and you’re done!

Email or comment with questions!

Happy Sewing, and of course a huge thanks to Jo-Ann’s and Michael Levine for sponsoring an amazing weekend!

78 Comments

  1. Nina Piccini says:

    I've read a ton of your tutorials and thought "hm, how creative!" This one, however, I pinned and actually though to myself "I should try making some clothing of my own. I know how to sew so why not"

    Thanks!
    xo, Nina
    afterthe40barfinish.blogspot.com

  2. I def pinned this! I need my Mom to come up to make some of these for me! (:

  3. Änna says:

    Wow, this looks great. It's such a beautiful dress, I would wear it too.

  4. Ginny says:

    So pretty, what a great tutorial!
    Ginny

  5. KDot says:

    What a super cute dress. I love the pattern!

  6. Tabet says:

    Hey,
    great pictures and a sweet look!
    The clutch is amazing. 🙂
    Love
    Tabea

    http://wolkedrei.blogspot.de/

  7. Gorgeous dress Merrick! You are so talented! I never would have thought to make a dress with that fabric, but it turned out beautifully.

    xo, Jessica
    xolovelovelove.blogspot.com

  8. Wow that looks great ! Thanks for giving us all the steps in detail

    itsamadsmadsworld.blogspot.ca

  9. sewbon.com says:

    This dress is fantastic!

  10. Sara Flynn says:

    Wow that dress is amazing! This may sound crazy, but have you ever thought about apply to go on Project Runway? You have a great talent. Sometimes they are a bit runway, but I have seen some ready to wear designers that do very good!

  11. StephV says:

    This dress is adorable! I need to work on my sewing skills…great print choice.

  12. Turned out great! Perfect dress for the fabric. I still haven't used any of my new fabric… 🙂

  13. You look gorgeous in that beautiful dress. If you don't mind sharing, where did you buy the fabric you used for this dress? leirad @ forbesenvironmental dot com

    Leirad

  14. Janssen says:

    This dress is AMAZING! Seriously, you look gorgeous.

  15. Jen P says:

    I really love this dress. With such a large pattern, did you have to do some planning to make sure the vertical stripes fell in the right place (like not right down the center)? And did you do anything with the sleeves to match up portions of the pattern where the seams met? This is definitely awesome and something I'd love to try when my beginner sewing skills gain some momentum. Thanks for sharing!

    • Yes, I stood in front of the mirror with this fabric for about 10 minutes, trying to decide where the pattern should go!

      And I just matched up the pattern on the side seams the best I could!

  16. Monica says:

    Oh, my! I love this dress and it looks like something I can make. You are so creative! By the way, the jacket arrived and I am so glad that I got the small–great advice and thank you for taking the time to write me back!

  17. Rebecca says:

    This is too perfect. Normally I look at stuff like this and think, "Too bad I have zero sewing skills." But looking at this makes me feel like it's high time that I learned! You look so fabulous.

  18. Van Nguyen says:

    Great job on the dress. You look super cute in it.

  19. That dress looks great on you! Love the shoes too, sexy but not too high of a heel.

    -AJ
    FitTravelerAJ.com

  20. angie says:

    great dress! love the shape and colors
    also–i had to giggle cause i have that sweater–don't you love it?!

  21. Leanne says:

    This dress turned out amazing! Bravo on the placing of the pattern. Genius.

  22. Sara Miller says:

    This dress looks great! I almost want to try this out– but I worry that my dress won't look nearly as good!

  23. Sarah S. says:

    This is adorable. I love the fabric's you picked up. I have a question regarding the neckline… I just don't get how you do it!? I know you don't take requests but I would LOVE To see you do a step-by-step tutorial for necklines. I keep trying to picture the steps in my head, but I'm missing something…. ha ha…

  24. Audrey says:

    So adorable…I love a great mod shift dress. I wish I knew how to sew! 🙂

  25. Nichole says:

    The dress looks great on you! I know very little about sewing, but I hope I can learn how to make this.

  26. Tiffany says:

    this is such a wonderful tutorial thank you for posting! i jsut started sewing and have gotten to the point of making boho vests! it is so exciting!

  27. Love this dress, looks so fabulous on you!

  28. LilyWhite says:

    Very cute! I love shift dresses. Thanks for sharing! If you get a chance, my friends and I do a blog hop on Sunday nights. My blog is focused on fashion design so I think my readers would really enjoy this tutorial! Come check it out:)

    xoxo, Jordan

    http://www.lilywhite-designs.com/2013/06/frugal-crafty-home-28_23.html

  29. Beautiful Merrick! Any suggestions on sewing with Knits? I still have not had the best luck. Your dress is Fabulous!

    absewlutelychrissycouture.blogspot.com

  30. ESS says:

    I just love this fabric. I searched the Mood Fabrics website, but without a name, I was unable to find it. What is it?

  31. You are just too awesome, my friend.

  32. Terrific tutorial, Merrick!

  33. Swati says:

    Hey Merrick….This is awesome work….The dresses look great and you too….Keep sharing….:)

  34. Swati says:

    Hey Merrick….This is awesome work….The dresses look great and you too….Keep sharing….:)

  35. This is awesome! I am now inspired to make something of my own. Let's hope it turns out better than the others I have tried!

  36. stefizled says:

    cute dress, i wish i could make one but have to learn how to sew first…

  37. DaiseyB says:

    I Love this dress and you made it look so simple. I am about to make the Collette Sorbetto top but going to try to lengthen it to a dress. I plan to do it now, just as you showed for this. Will see ho it turns out

  38. Excellent! I have been looking for a clearly shown/explained shift dress tut for some time! The shift is a friend to all shapes, and I plan to put on a bit of a kimono sleeve so thank you for this!And your a fortunate girl to have shopped at those dreamy places, and your dress print is fantastic!

  39. Carole says:

    I THOUGHT that gold polka dot fabric Ella is wearing today in J's post looked familiar! Very cute!!

  40. Mary Moff says:

    I've made this dress dozens of times sleeveless, but I'm hopelessly terrible at sleeves. Do you have a tutorial?!

  41. Sadia Nur says:

    Not good at all.I don't like it she shld have just bin d way she was.

    Men Tang suit shirts

  42. Hello,
    You have a very nice collection of stunning dress. Whole collection is awesome. Thank you so much for sharing..
    http://www.high5store.com/10-sarees

  43. Kirsten C-C says:

    Love the dress! Quick question though, how heavy was the fabric? Like ponte or jersey?

  44. Renee says:

    How did you create your sleeve for this? I want to use this idea for redesigning a cardigan.

  45. Kristi Hales says:

    Where did you get the fabric? i want some 🙂

  46. Tensi Perez says:

    Thanks for sharing! This looks SO much like a dress I had in the sixties! Great job!

  47. Love this dress pattern thank you x

  48. bonnie says:

    I am not a sewer, in fact I just bought my first sewing machine. I love the idea of a mod dress, but I don’t like wearing sleeves. Could the mod dress be made as tank top dresses?

  49. Tori Hall says:

    I am seriously so obsessed with your tutorials. I just want to make all of them!! Keep up the good work! 🙂

  50. KAMILLA SANDERA-ZECH says:

    Hello , i mention the cut out facing put wrong side together ,but when you turn to inside you have
    wrong side inside. maybe i understood wrong.
    but otherwise very nice dress.
    thank you
    Kamilla

  51. Debs says:

    That’s great. Super tutorial.
    That fabric is completely gorgeous!

  52. Laura McLeod says:

    Thanks so much for the tutorial! I have never done sleeves before and these turned out way better than I expected!

  53. Linda says:

    Thanks for the tutorial. I really liked the way you finished the neckline. I have never used that method before but it is now my new favourite thing. So tidy and simple.

    I’ve also never sewn with ponte before and am so pleased with how my dress turned out – doubly so because I don’t have an overlocker and usually finish the edges of material with either French seams or zigzagging. I made a plain deep grey but will make another one with colour panels. Thanks again!

  54. Mahbub says:

    That is very nice collection thanks for sharing that tutorial that is halpful for us.

    African kente

    African fabric

  55. Very cute! I love shift dresses. Thanks for sharing!

  56. Phae says:

    I would love to see a post with tips on working with knits. The curling! The waving! It can be so frustrating.

  57. Ivlia.vespasia says:

    I admit that this is a style that I do make frequently. For some reason the shift dress looks good on all figures from a really small to a size 30. Being not so small they are an excellent style for both my daughter and me. If using a plainer fabric then I urge people to look at the many different neckline designs and try one for yourself. A fancy neckline can make a dress, and the same pattern is always different if you change a simple yet eye-catching part of the design. Lovely fabric, that and the pattern were made for each other.

  58. Eva Hada says:

    I havE always loved this style. I have never made anything without a pattern. How do you make the sleeve? I want to make this dress.I love it!

  59. What an awesome tutorial! This dress turned out looking great! I absolutely love the print you chose!

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