Hot off the sewing machine – This Season’s Ultimate Party Dress

As fun as Christmas is, it’s also a little daunting thinking about what to wear. Whether you’re off to your work party or thinking about the big day itself, it’s always nice to have a new dress with a bit of sparkle.  But finding the right dress can be a challenge.

Well, fear not Avid Seamstresses, we’ve got the ultimate solution using our popular Shift Dress sewing pattern. Typically made in a woven cotton, we’ve vamped up the shift dress with sequins to make it the ultimate chic party dress.

Say hello to the Sparkle Shift!

Talk about a head-turner. We’ve made the Shift Dress using stunning mermaid sequins from Fabric Godmother. If you’re not familiar with mermaid sequins, they are unlike any sequins you have seen before. The beauty of mermaid sequins is that they change colour depending on which way you ‘stroke’ the fabric. The colour combination we have used in this version is a chic matt stone and silver. It makes for such a fun dress because you can choose to have it all silver, all stone, or a creative combination of both.

Scared of sequins? Don’t be! They’re not as complicated to sew as they look. And to help you we’ve included some top tips at the end of this post. We chose our classic Shift Dress sewing pattern because not only is it one super sophisticated dress, but its construction consists of basic darts and two loose skirt pleats. Perfect for tricky fabrics such as sequins.

With its ultra feminine low back and classic pencil skirt, the Shift Dress is the perfect pattern to transform into a party dress. Understated and elegant, you can boost its sparkle potential with a range of fancy fabrics from sequins to lush velvet – it really is the ideal foundation pattern for a comfortable, well-fitting but utterly glamorous dress. What’s more, you can keep the optional pockets (which we think would look super modern in satin) or play with textures using the block panel on the front skirt. Why not mix satin and velvet? Or keep the sequins to just the bottom of the skirt? There are so many options that you may end up making a few party dresses to keep you going this season.

The Shift Dress sewing pattern by The Avid Seamstress


The Shift Dress creates an elegant silhouette that’s modern, sophisticated and versatile.

The Shift Dress has a fitted bodice, fitted sleeves and pencil skirt with a panel at the bottom of the front skirt. The back of the skirt has flattering waist pleats, a kick pleat at the bottom with the back bodice finished with an invisible zip. Pattern includes optional inner pockets.

Pattern sizes – UK 6 – UK 22

Skill level – Intermediate

Enjoy 10% off The Shift Dress – use sparkleshift at checkout to redeem
* This code only works on printed patterns (not digital)
* Discount offer ends 31 Dec 17


Here are some gorgeous fabric suggestions. Not in the mood for sequins? How about velvet or a gorgeous crepe for a luxurious dress.




The key to sewing with sequins is to keep your pattern simple. Sequins work best with minimal fuss, darts and seam lines.

Buy a leather needle! Yep, this extra strong needle will breeze through stitching sequins. Be careful of any rogue shards.

If your sequin fabric is fairly thick, it’s best to unpick sequins that are within darts and stitching lines. For darts, hand-baste the dart outline and unpick as many sequins as you can along each dart tail and in the centre, you’ll find stitching the dart easier. The dart will also sit a lot flatter on the right side of the garment. We also unpicked a few rows of sequins within our shoulder seams to ensure the shoulders sat nice and flat. We haven’t turned up the hem of the sleeve as, with sequins, it can make the seam quite bulky. We also love the floaty look without turning up the hem.

Keep hold of a few discarded sequins. You may need to hand-sew these onto any bald patches.

When sewing your zip, it is possible to still use an invisible zip. We took our time, basted the zip by hand first then carefully machined the zip using an invisible zip foot and leather needle. You may need to run the zip up and down a few times to ‘break in’ the sequins, but it works!

Depending on the type of sequin fabric you buy, it may not feel that great on the inside. To prevent that ‘itchy’ feeling it’s best to make a lining. For The Shift Dress this is very straightforward. Do not cut the facing pattern pieces, instead cut and stitch a second version of the dress (bodice and skirt pieces) in your lining fabric. You then attach and machine stitch this at the neckline including the back v-line. The lining is additionally hand-sewed to the zipper tape.

Enjoy making yourself a gorgeous party dress this season. Don’t forget to share your gorgeous pics on our social media.

Happy sewing



Wednesday 29 November
Africa, Middle East

Monday 4th December
Caribbean, Central & South America, Cyprus, Asia, Far East (including Japan), Eastern Europe (except Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia), Turkey, Malta

Wednesday 6th December
Greece, Australia, New Zealand

Tuesday 12th December 
Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Austria, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Poland, Finland, Sweden, Canada, USA

Sunday 17th December

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