How I made a shift dress pattern

In the picture is a shift dress I bought at H and M a while back. Finding a pattern to make this dress proved impossible.

So in the end, much like the slip top in earlier posts, I decided to cut a pattern from this dress. It’s not easy cutting a pattern. I battled to get it right.

A few tips for cutting a pattern off a garment you love –

1.  Pin the garment perfectly flat, straight and square on to the newspaper or whatever paper you are using to make the pattern. Make sure you are working on a flat surface and that nothing can slip or move.

2.  Trace the exact outline on to the paper. If the back and front differ, like this one at the neck, trace the back and the front necklines. To make it easier, I opted to make the back and the front exactly the same but made the neckline midway so the opening would be the same size.

3.  Now remove the original garment. You need to add a seam or hem allowance around the edges of the pattern. I also wanted slightly looser and longer openings at the arms. The thing with fiddling with the original proportions is you could end up misjudging and making something that looks and fits wrong or is lopsided.

4.  Make sure you fold the pattern in half when you cut the pattern so that both sides are symmetrical. Often I have to cut a pattern more than once to get it perfect.

5.  Lastly, remember that if you intend making a facing for the neckline, the seam will reduce the area and your neckline could be too wide. That is why your seam and hem allowances are critical.

Fortunately this dress and the slip tops are simple styles. I wouldn’t dream of trying to cut a pattern for a pair of trousers. This is Part 1 of the instructions. Find links to the rest here – Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

The Greenie Galleries at the top of this page have 100s of photos of older and newer projects showing multiple ways to make your own clothing and accessories. There are also ideas to recycle or upcycle.

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