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Free Pattern: How to Make a Shift Dress

Download this free shift dress pattern and learn how to elevate this basic silhouette with a few details.

Easy-to-Sew Shift Dress 

When fall blows in, it’s all about layering. You might not be ready to put away that cute sundress, but pairing long-sleeved tops and capes with lighter-weight dresses and skirts will ease you into autumn with style. Here is a dress I love that is easy to sew and flatters almost every figure.

Details can seriously enhance a garment. Here, this basic shift is elevated by bias tape trimmed edges, a contrasting hem band, bust inset and gathers, and fabric-covered buttons. This version is made of lightweight denim and calico prints. To keep it drapey, stick to a medium or lightweight fabric. With frock, you’ll be guaranteed to transition your wardrobe into fall with style.

Shopping List:

  • Downloadable shift dress pattern diagrams
  • 2-inch-grid Gridded pattern paper
  • 2 yards of garment fabric A 
  • 1/2 yard contrast fabric B 
  • 5/8-inch-wide double-fold bias tape
  • Thread, scissors, marking tools, 1/2-inch-diameter coverable buttons 
  • Sewing machine


2-10: Hips- 34-39 inches, Waist-24-30 inches, Bust – 30-36 inches
12-18: Hips-40-45 inches, Waist-31-37 inches, Bust – 37-43 inches

Use a 5/8-inch-wide seam allowance throughout unless otherwise noted.


1 Draft the pieces. Following the pattern diagrams, draft pattern pieces on paper to fit your size. Transfer all markings. Follow the solid line for sizes 2-10 and the dashed line for sizes 12-18.

2 Cut the fabric. From garment fabric A, cut one shift front and one shift back on the fold. From contrast fabric B, cut two shift bands and one shift inset on the fold.

3 Attach the bands. With right sides together and raw edges aligned, sew a band to the bottom edge of both the dress front and back. Press the seam allowances towards the band.

4 Attach the front to the back. With right sides together and raw edges aligned, sew the front to the back along the shoulder and side seams. Press all seam allowances open.

5 Hem the band. Turn under the band’s raw edge 5/8 inch and press. Fold the band in half wrong sides together and press with the band’s loose edge aligned with the band’s seamline. Topstitch the loose edge to the dress along the band’s seamline.

6 Gather the neckline. Baste along the front neckline between the dots, 3/8 inch from the cut edge. Pull the bobbin thread to gather the neckline to 3 inches; tie the threads to secure.

7 Bind the edges. Sandwich the shift’s neckline inside a strip of double-fold bias tape. Topstitch the tape in place close to its inside edge, catching all layers. Repeat for the armholes.

8 Assemble the inset. Sandwich the inset’s top edge inside a 7 1/2-inch-long strip of bias tape and topstitch it in place catching all layers.

9 Attach the inset. With centers aligned, and the inset’s right side against the shift’s wrong side pin the inset tothe neckline edge. Overlap the edges 5/8 inch. Topstitch the inset in place from the right side, following the bias tape stitching. Repeat with another row of stitching along the inner edge of the neckline. For the optional buttons, cover 1/2-inch-diameter buttons with contrasting fabric and hand sew in place on the bust inset.


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  1. User avater
    Maurine_B | | #1

    Love the shift dress! I found my pattern and inspiration for my latest creation here http://www.stylearc.co.uk/shift-dress-pattern/

  2. User avater
    Maurine_B | | #2

    Love the shift dress! I found my pattern and inspiration for my latest creation here

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