10 Free Shift Dress Patterns for Work and Play

Posted by on Sep 14, 2016

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While shift dresses may conjure up images of Audrey Hepburn and Jackie O, this vintage style flatters almost everyone. It skims the body but doesn't cling, and this versatility makes the shift dress perfect for sporting it solo on the beach or layering it with a blazer in the office.

If you plan to put these free sewing patterns to the test this summer, get your hands on cool fabrics like cotton, linen and light knits. Reserve the wool and heavier knits for cooler months.

Oh, and on a personal note, let's remember that Audrey wasn't just a style icon credited with popularizing the shift dress, among several other fashion trends. She spent her early years carrying messages for and performing ballet to fund Dutch resistance against the Nazis (really!), and from the '60s onward, she devoted much of her time to being a UNICEF ambassador. Let's celebrate that Audrey when wearing these sassy, classy shift dresses.

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Woman wearing breezy shift dress
Breezy Shift Dress

This box-shaped shift dress looks stunning with a belt. Its wide armholes and slits on each side of the skirt would do wonders for the summer heat if sewn with linen.

Don't be intimidated by the German website! Find the free sewing pattern at Brigitte.de.

Woman wears refashioned T-shirt shift dress
Refashioned T-Shirt Shift Dress

Want to take it a bit slower? This quick and easy T-shirt refashion turns an oversized and out-of-fashion garment into simple and delicious eye candy.

If you like this T-shirt dress, check out our roundup of 10 ways to refashion T-shirts to revamp your closet on the cheap!

Check out Craftfoxes for a video tutorial.

Woman wears J.Crew-inspired shift dress
J.Crew-Inspired Beach Cover-Up Shift

Okay, technically this is a beach cover-up, but there's great potential for wearing this sans swimwear. The deep split neckline is fun and modest, and avoiding the hefty $65 price tag at J.Crew is, well, priceless.

Having a lot of fun in the sun? Planning to? Have a look at our list of free sundress sewing patterns.

Get the free tutorial and free sewing pattern at Merrick’s Art.

Woman wears lace and ribbon shift dress
Lace and Ribbon Shift Dress

Shift dresses have a minimalist appeal. This one is for those of us who need ruffles. 

When Rin over at Sew in Love cut her hair, she felt an impulse to adopt a girlier style. She's shared a sewing tutorial and free pattern for this stunning lace and ruffle dress. As if this design alone couldn't get any cuter, Rin added a ribbon in the back for subtle feminine flair.

Get the free tutorial and free sewing pattern at Sew in Love.

Women wear asymmetric neckline shift dress
Asymmetric Neckline Shift Dress

Don't let the language barrier keep you from sewing this show-stopping shift dress. Be sure to have elastic fabric handy as this free dress pattern depends on that kind of give. The asymmetric neckline and ruched shoulder add a bit of texture to this otherwise seamless piece fit for the office with a blazer or a night on the town.

Get the free pattern for this shift dress at New Sewing.

Wawak Sewing


Woman wears shift dress with scalloped collar
Scallop Collar Shift Dress

This is another beautiful feminine dress in sore need of being made and flaunted. The scalloped collar is made of 15 semicircles and adds panache to an otherwise simple shift dress. Rather than being a box shape, this shift dress adopts a flattering A-line silhouette.

Woman wears mod shift dress
Mod Polly Shift Dress

Dying to experiment with bold color blocks? This shift dress could be your new party frock go-to. Pair it with sassy heels and a devil-may-care attitude for full effect.

For adding to your collection of dresses for special occasions, picnics and parties, see our beginner-friendly list of 10 free party dress patterns.

For the free sewing tutorial and irreverent instructions, stop by By Hand London.

Illustration of drape shift dress
Drape Shift Dress

Feeling Greek? This drape shift dress is reminiscent of a toga and falls gracefully to the hips in billowy cascades. Use a light fabric — the pattern designer, Anita, recommends a bit of rayon — for the desired graceful look.

Make your own drape shift dress pattern with help from Well-Suited


Woman wears retro shift dress
Retro Shift Dress

Stop by a thrift shop for vintage or recycled fabric; this classic shift shape isn't going to sew itself. For cooler months, pair it with a solid color cardigan and tights. If you're feeling particularly nostalgic (or just a rush of hipster vibes), pick up a pair of saddle shoes to supplement this retro look.

For instructions and a free sewing pattern for this classic shift, stop by Peppermint.

Child wears color-block shift dress
Color-Block Kids' Shift Dress

We've got to bring this timeless trend to the kiddies. Farrah of the Sewing Rabbit Team has shared a free sewing pattern and tutorial to make an easy shift dress for future fashionistas. Let her pick the color pairing for the color-block!

Grab the free sewing pattern at The Sewing Rabbit.

Image credits (top to bottom): Brigitte.de, iCandy Handmade, Merrick's Art, Sew in Love, New Sewing, iCandy Handmade, By Handmade London, Well-Suited, Peppermint, The Sewing Rabbit.



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  • by enquiries
    User profile

    Thx :)

  • by enquiries
    User profile

    Hi Craftfoxes from Anita of Well-Suited. Thx for sharing my blog on your site. :) However I produce pattern making instructions rather than free patterns. Would you mind changing the details in this blog to reflect that. Really don't want your fans to be disappointed to find there is not pattern on my blog. Thanks again. :)

    • by craftfoxes
      User profile
      craftfoxes Rate this comment 1 0 | Report

      Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Anita! We've re-worded the article to reflect the nature of your blog. Thank you for your lovely work, and happy crafting!