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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.