The Avid Makers: Maria’s Shift Dress

You could say I’ve been a secret Avid Maker since 2018. I have had The Shift Dress for three years, and it has seen me though day to day life and various events and occasions; worn and enjoyed time and time again. This post shows you how versatile The Shift Dress is. 

The red vintage style dress is my very first version of The Shift Dress, sewn in 2018. 

My first adjustment to the pattern was a forward shoulder adjustment. I then shortened the bust point and shortened the skirt, an alteration I always make because of my height.

The dress description states ‘the Shift Dress creates an elegant silhouette that’s modern, sophisticated and versatile.’ It was this description and the line drawing that made me want to make this dress. How can you not want to try a dress that has such a great back neckline?!

When I wore this first shift dress I felt the back neckline was a bit too low to hide my bra band. The solution is simple – raise the back neckline curve on the back bodice and back neckline facing.

I also found that the skirt wasn’t sitting at my natural waistline, so I tried pinning the skirt and bodice at the centre front waist to see what worked best. Once I had pinned the front skirt waist higher on the front bodice, I unpicked the seams and basted them again and the problem was solved! That’s why the centre front waist on the bodice is curved higher on the bodice pattern. 

These minor adjustments mean the shape of this shift dress works perfectly for my body shape.

The Shift Dress #1 – vintage style test version

This is the first version I made in 2018. 

On this version, while the fit wasn’t perfect, it was great to make this dress as a wearable toile. The fabric I used was a classic red with small polka dots. I had some pearly white buttons that I added onto the bodice.

The other feature I tested was adding piping on the top seam for the lower front skirt panel. Both the button feature and the piping feature take away from my waistline and add to the vintage style of this dress.

I’ve used the facings from the pattern and I’ve overlocked the seam allowances on this dress.

The Shift Dress #2 – lobster print

For this version with the lobster print fabric, I made changes to suit my weight gain at the time. The body adjustments I made on the first version worked, plus I increased the seam allowance to the skirt and bodice side seams.

This is a quilting fabric and the lobsters are a denim blue tone so I pair this dress with a denim work jacket so I can wear this outfit to work. Each year there’s a day when we’re supposed to wear orange to the office and this is the dress I grab to wear on that day.

The fun lobster print on this fabric was also my way of testing my print placement skills. You can see all the lobsters are in alignment with each other. I’ve used a blue piping to stand out on this dress as well.

Since making this dress and the first dress, I’ve since worn both to the office because they’re comfy to wear. The instructions are easy to work through especially if this is the first fitted dress you’ve made. 

The Shift Dress #3 – formal occasion 

This dress took some planning so that I could make the best use of the flowers on both the front and back of the dress. The lobster print version gave me practice in placing the print with this future version in mind.

I wanted to have this fabric fully supported so I fully lined the dress and the sleeves. The dress lining is created with the same bodice and skirt pieces. 

The two part petal sleeves were also an idea I wanted to test on this dress, although now I can’t believe I was testing this idea on this amazing Italian embroidered fabric!

The pictures show how I planned the petals on the basic sleeve pattern and then I was able to cut out a front and a back sleeve piece. Each sleeve piece is fully lined and the same sleeve pieces were used for the lining. 

On the sleeve pattern pieces I drew on the 1cm seam allowance so that I could better plan the flowers on each section.

The Shift Dress #4 – BHM pattern designer print

I bought this fabric earlier this year to support Black History Month pattern designers. The colours on this print are gorgeous and I wanted to use as much of the grey print on the front of the dress as I could. I had just enough of the fabric to place this part of the print where I wanted it to be.

This fabric has a bit of give in it and it’s cotton based so I’m really pleased to have another go-to dress I can wear all day. 

From this one sewing pattern, I’ve made three really handy dresses for work and for fun. I’ve also created the formal version that is perfect for special occasions. The Shift Dress is such a classic dress, and hopefully you can see how versatile the sewing pattern really is.

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