My handmade wardrobe – Simple shift dress

This is a pattern that I self drafted and has evolved from a top pattern that I developed a few years ago. It has definitely become a ‘go to’ pattern for both tops and dresses.

I love the variety of prints available in good quality craft cotton, you can give a simple shape like this a totally new identity by simply choosing a different print. For this dress I used Art Gallery Heartland Blomma Garden Pastiche I stock this in two colourways. It was very tricky to choose between this and the yellow version.

The original top shape I drafted was a short sleeve t-shirt, which I made up in several different cotton prints.  Its a really easy shape to wear with jeans or smarter trousers….my wardrobe stables!

Over the years I have used this basic  pattern to develop other simple top shapes, variations include sleeve lengths, hem shaping and different necklines. I also turned it into a basic shift dress. Making the dress pattern required a bit more fitting. The back has darts to give the back waist a little bit of shape, however it is still loose enough to pull on over my head without the need for a zip. I was quite keen to retain this feature on the dress. Not because I don’t like putting zips in, more because I like to make these dresses on impulse with the fabric I have, without being held up by the need to shop for a zip.

The darts needed extending into the skirt of the dress, I had to play around with the angle and size to get them to look right. I could omit the darts altogether as I have done on some of my top versions of this block but I do like the small amount of shaping that they give.

Most of my other dresses have had cap sleeves or short sleeves. This time I decided to try this new below elbow sleeve length. I like this length, I think it works quite well with the style of dress.

The other feature I like to have in most dresses is a lining. I am not a fan of the fabric sticking to your tights, I have made a few without, my first one made using this pattern had no lining but I find it stays in the wardrobe.

I keep adding the lining really simple on this style by cutting a duplicate of the front and back. I make the lining up the same way as the outer and simply bag it out at the neck. I didn’t line the sleeves on this dress as I often find longer sleeve lengths can look bulky with a lining. Once the dress is lined I stitch the outer and lining together at the armhole before inserting the sleeve.

I made deliberately deep hems on both the cuffs and hemline and used machine stitching to sew them. I think I prefer good deep hems to finish a dress!

Please follow and like us:

Julia Claridge

I was about 6 or 7 years old when I had my first go on a sewing machine, it was an old hand crank machine that my mum used with her patients, she was an occupational therapist. I still vividly remember watching with amazement as the tiny perfectly formed stitches were created as I turned the handle. I Grew up in the 70’s and 80’s when buying clothes was less affordable and dressmaking was an answer to updating your wardrobe more regularly. My own mother was a talented dressmaker who made most of my clothes and my sisters clothes as well as a many for herself. I soon got involved with making my clothes, I loved the whole experience of picking out fabrics, trims and a pattern to create a new outfit, then going home to make a new garment or outfit. When it came to leaving school I visited a careers advisor who asked what I wanted to do next. My answer was ..Sew! Read more...

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.