The classic shift dress has been reinvented over and over, flattering boyish frames and curvy figures alike. Here, Amanda Walker creates structured lines with her simple design, which includes shapely darts and practical pockets – perfect for beginners! If using a check fabric, cut out the front dress first, then lay the pockets directly onto it to ensure a perfect pattern match.
- Fabric, 2m (145cm)
- Concealed zip, 55.8cm
- Front: cut one on the fold
- Back: cut one pair
- Sleeve: cut one pair
- Pocket: cut two
- Neck band: cut one 4cm x 58cm strip on the bias
- 1.5cm seam allowance used unless otherwise stated.
1 Download and print the pattern at sewmag.co.uk/templates. Cut out the pieces according to the cutting guide, then transfer any markings. Stitch the darts into the front dress from the sides to the points, then press them up towards the shoulders. Neaten the side edges, centre-back edges and shoulders of the front and back pieces.
2 Fold and press under 1cm, then another 4cm on one of the shorter pocket edges. Fold over onto the right side of the pocket and stitch down each side edge with a 1cm seam allowance. Trim the bulk from the corners, then turn the top part of the pocket back to the wrong side. Press the edges, then continue folding and pressing a 1cm seam along the side edges and base. Pin and edgestitch the pockets onto the front where indicated on the pattern.
3 Pin the two back pieces right sides together, matching the centre-back seam, then sew as far as the zip notch mark from the base of the dress. Fold and press the seam allowance along both sides of the back opening, then open it out and with right sides together, place the opened zip face-down, matching the teeth to the crease line in the seam allowance.
4 Pin and stitch one side of the zip, using a zipper or concealed zipper foot and leaving 3cm of the base unstitched. Backstitch, then sew the other side of the zip in place. Carefully thread the zip pull through to the right side and close.
5 Match, pin and stitch each shoulder seam of the front to a back piece, right sides together, then press the seam allowances open. Fold and press in 1cm on both long edges of the bias strip or use a bias binding maker. Open one side of the strip, pin it around the neckline, then stitch along the fold line.
6 Fold the strip over onto the wrong side of the neckline and position the remaining folded edge over the stitching line. Pin, then edgestitch, sandwiching the raw edge of the neckline inside the bias binding. Trim any excess binding at the centre-back edges, fold back the ends and slip stitch in place by hand.
7 With right sides together, match the side seams, pin and stitch, then press the seams open. Neaten the underarm edges of the sleeves. Sew a row of gathering stitches around the head of the sleeves, starting from the front notch and finishing at the back. Match, pin and sew the underarm sleeve seams, right sides together. Press the seams open, then turn the sleeves right sides out. Pull the gathering threads up slightly, then place the sleeve into the armhole.
8 Match the side seams and underarm seam of the sleeve, plus the notch in the centre of the sleeve to the one at the end of the shoulder seam. Adjust the gathers to fit the armhole of the dress, pin, then sew in place. Neaten around the seam allowances of the armhole. Fold and press in 1cm, then another 3cm around the base of the sleeves, pin, then edgestitch in place.