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Girl’s Shift Dress with Zip ~ How to make your own dress with zip. Easy and free tutorial.

February 2, 2012

Rose Shift DressShift Dress with zip - back view


Shift Dress with zip - back view



Rose Patterned Shift Dress


 I made this today and, considering it’s my first attempt at making lifesize clothes for real people and I kind of made it up as I went along, I’m really pleased with it. I haven’t yet tried it on my Little Person, but as soon as I make a second one for one of my other Little Person (so there won’t be tears!), I’ll get a picture of it on her and add it here.

As promised…


So, it was pretty easy to make, and as ever, here’s a free tutorial for how I did it.

I made some mistakes, and I’ve put in italics how I would do it differently for the next time, but otherwise the instructions are for what you can see. There is a slideshow of pictures at the bottom of the instructions.


* Pic 1) I made the pattern by laying one of the shift pinafore dresses onto some newspaper and drawing round it. It seemed as good a way as any (especially as it is free!).

* Pic 2) I cut the quarters of the dress pattern out and pinned them to the fabric. Quite why I didn’t use one single piece of fabric for the front, I don’t know, but I didn’t, and didn’t have enough material to do it again once I realised my mistake. So, I’d cut two halves for the back next time, and just one single piece for the front of the dress, especially with a patterned fabric as here.

* I used a heavier cotton for the lining to give the dress some weight. Hem the bottom of the camisole lining for both front (one piece) and back (two pieces)

* Pic 3) Sew the two halves of the front of the dress together unless you’ve taken my advice and done just one piece – much better. What was I thinking?! and zig-zag stitch over the hem to stop the fraying.

* Pics 4 & 5) With the front of the dress and lining camisole pinned together, right sides together, sew the armholes and neckline of dress fabric and lining together. I also did the top of the dress (shoulder strap parts), but would leave these unhemmed at this point so as to make for a smoother finish later.

*  Repeat with the two halves of the back of the dress, but make sure that you stop 1.5cm short of the middle of the neckline scoop, to leave room for the zip insertion.

* Pic 6) I made small diagonal cuts in the raw edges of the armhole hems. I can’t quite remember why, but it’s something to do with allowing the fabric to fold on a curve more smoothly.

* Before turning the dress front and dress back the right way round, trim the corners of the shoulder strap unless you’ve left them unhemmed, in which case there will be no corners to trim.

* Pic 7) Fold in the seam for the the middle parts of the back quarters (where the zip will go) – both main fabric and lining (so that the raw edges are hidden away in on themselves, and press.

* Pics 8 & 9) Insert the zip in between the main fabric and the lining seams/folds, folding over the top of the zip in on itself and pin in place.

* Pic 10) Attach the zipper foot and, starting from the bottom of the zip, sew up making sure you get both main fabric and lining. Back stitch a couple of times at the top in particular to secure.

* Pic 11) Swap the zipper foot round to stitch up the other half.

* You now have the back of the dress joined together just to the length of the zip. To make one back piece from each of the main fabric and the lining, pin the remainder of the back of the dress, and the back lining of the dress (both halves together) below the zip.  Make sure the dress fabric is sewn in nice and tightly just below the zip bottom. You may need to hand stitch here as the zip may get in the way of the sewing machine foot.

* Pic 12) Turn both front and back the right way round, and lay them together, main fabric right sides together. Pin together and stitch the side seams together, and zig-zag stitch over the hem to stop the fraying.

* I had already stitched the lining to the main fabric across the shoulder straps, but, doing it again, I would have left these unhemmed so that this time when you stitch front and back together, there will be a smoother shoulder top.

* Pin and hem the bottom of the dress making sure all four (or three if you’ve followed earlier advice) pieces match neatly at the bottom.

You’re done! Made By Yours Truly. Sit back and admire your handiwork…


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3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 2, 2012 23:15

    Reblogged this on theforeverremember.

  2. February 13, 2012 21:13

    Hey there

    I love your butterfly dress!

    It has inspired me to find the pattern I keep meaning to make up and decorate with my hand appliqué.

    Lovely and well done

    cheryl (tinyinc)


  1. My first forays into dressmaking ~ just plans so far… « MadeByYoursTruly

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