Tuesday, August 5, 2014

6 EASY TO SEW Shift Dresses


Finding a good easy to sew dress pattern for a new sewist can be frustrating. The styles can be bland and boring or the pattern design is really alot more complicated that it looks. Here are six dresses that can get someone new to sewing started with a dress that is cute, fashionable and fun to sew.

This blog post started with a letter asking me if I knew of a sewing pattern that might make up into a dress currently sold online. I took a look at the dress (by Jones New York) and saw that it is a perfect style for anyone to sew.


The basic silhouette is a loose fitting shift style (not fitted by darts or seam lines), and there are no set-in sleeves to worry about. The design has great 'blocking' with stripes used on the horizontal at the hem and shoulders, while they are vertical in the torso (how flattering!). I also like the idea of sewing a loose fitting shift dress as a first project because often the back zipper can be eliminated, making it a 'pull-over' style. The horizontal seam lines in the skirt and upper body will need to be added to some patterns.  Here are the best six sewing patterns to choose from.


The two dresses above stood out as being most like the original dress: Butterick 5211 and Vogue 1300. The Butterick dress is just about perfect for this project as it already shows a horizontal seam across the upper body, no back zipper, and short 'kimono' sleeves. Very similar, the Vogue dress has shorter 'sleeves'. The front cascade ruffle on this pattern can be eliminated by taping the two front pieces together to make a single front pattern piece. Both patterns will need to have the hem panel cut across the lower skirt.


A more curvacious figure will probably look better with bustline darts. These two patterns include those fitting darts. The pattern at the right, Vogue 8805 is ready to go, with both hem panel and upper body seams. The 'shoulder width' may be cut back to create a short sleeve if desired. McCalls 6465 on the left also has a hem panel. It differs in that set-in sleeves are used. The fit of a set-in sleeve is closer to the body and may appeal to someone who wants a more controlled fitting shift silhouette. Both have a seamless back and don't require a zipper.


These two dresses show vertical seam lines that will create a closer fitting dress that can be used for color blocking, but will not be suitable for stripes because of the several seams down the front.. Clearly they are for a more experienced sewist, Vogue 1390 and 8786. The style of 1390 still shows a strong horizontal banding at hem and shoulder, while it has vertical seam lines to create a better fit for more sizes. Vogue 8786 shows classic princess seam lines from a shoulder yoke that could be sewn in a contrast color with an added hemline panel. While this does have those additional princess seams, it is not a complex dress to sew.

So choose among these 6 shift dresses to find the style and degree of difficulty that you want. This could become your 'go to' dress pattern!

Here are two more blog posts you might be interested in that also talk about sewing dresses:

7 Best Sheath Dress Patterns with Vintage Style: Easy to Sew

9 Best Dress Patterns for Beginners: Easy to Sew

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