Last stop on our Olive sewalong, and its one more fun hack – a shift dress! And guess what? It has pockets! Of course, you don’t have to include the pockets. I know we all love pockets, but sometimes they can kind of ruin the silhouette of certain shapes, like this. BUT I wanted to make sure to include it as an option! Anyway, the process of extending the top into dress length is actually pretty simple, even if it seems photo-heavy below (I just went into detail!)
So you wanna just see? Let’s go!
Ok, so there are probably a few different ways to lengthen this. But since the blouse length is meant to lay right at hip length, I’m going to just going to extended right from the bottom edge (but make sure you cut the pattern at the blouse cut line!)
Let’s start with the front.
Add some paper underneath the front pattern piece, lining up the center front edge with the straight edge of the paper. Tape in place.
Since the neckline dips so low, and there is no traditional underarm/armscye, we need to decide where the best place to measure from to determine how much you want to add. I’m going to measure from the bust point / bust apex.
On your body, using a tape measure, measure from the middle of your bust point down to where you want the hem of your dress to hit. Add 3/4″ to that measurement for seam allowance.
Now take that measurement + seam allowance, and draw a line that length down from the bust apex. Making sure that it is parallel to the center front.
At the end of this measurement, draw a perpendicular line from the center front over.
Now extend the side seam down to meet that bottom edge line.
Cut out along those side seam and bottom edge lines.
Now place paper underneath the back pattern piece the same way, lining up the center back with the straight edge of the paper, and tape.
Of course, there is no bust apex on the back to measure from, so instead, we’ll use the front pattern piece that we just extended as a guide.
Since the side seams of front and back are the same length, we will use that. Measure on your new front dress pattern piece, exactly how much you added from the side seam down.
On the back pattern piece, add that exact amount to side seam as well, making sure that it is straight down, parallel to the center back.
Extend over to the center back, making sure that bottom edge line is perpendicular to center back.
Cut it out, and you have front and back shift dress pieces.
Ok, so technically you could stop here. The blouse length of Olive hits at the hips. So if this is the widest part of your body, this should be fine. BUT, if the widest part of your body sits below where the blouse hits (i.e – your bum), you are going to want to add some width to the pattern pieces so that they fit.
Using the size chart provided in the pattern booklet, compare the finished garment hip measurement to the measurement of your widest part of your body. Decide how much needs to be added in width, and divide this number by 4.
So, widest part of your body (minus) finished garment hip measurement (divided by) 4 = X.
Place more paper along the side seam of the front pattern piece.
Using that X width, draw a line parallel to the side seam, from the bottom edge up to where the pattern starts to curve.
Then you can just carefully re-draw a curve to re-connect to the waist. NOW you have a finished shift dress front. Repeat the same for the back, using the same X measurement.
Now if you want to add pockets – the measurements for the pocket notches will be different for each size. So instead of trying to give you a measurement, you can hold the front pattern piece up to your body and determine where you want your pocket to fall, ideally. I marked where I wanted the top of the pocket to start.
Then using the included pocket pattern piece, match up the top of the pocket to where you marked on the side seam where you wanted the top of the pocket to start, match up the notches to the side seam and mark.
Repeat for the back pattern piece, making sure that the notches match up perfectly on the front and back.
Maybe not very technical, but it gets the job done!
BUT, that pocket provided is intended to be anchored in a waist seam, and this shift dress won’t have a waist seam. So we have to re-shape the pocket so that it isn’t squared at the top.
Re-draw to your liking, and cut out.
Cut 4 pockets out of your fabric.
Phew, now we can finally start sewing!
Finish the raw edge of the curved edge of each pocket.
Ok, so we’re going to attach the pockets before we do anything with the neckline (I sewed in the v-insert, but not the shoulder seams and bias facing. You can do the same if you’d like – the v-insert and patch pocket, but adding the side pockets are easier to do before the shoulder seams are sewn.
Place your front down with the right side of the fabric facing up.
Place each pocket down upside down, so the right sides of the fabric are facing each other, lining up the raw edges and matching the notches.
Stitch together 5/8″ from the raw edge.
I forgot to do this part, but at this point you will also want to finish the raw edges of the side seams.
Press each pocket, and seam allowance, away from the dress.
Understitch on the pocket, close to the seam.
Repeat all the above steps on the back as well.
NOW sew in your v-insert, the shoulder seams, and bias facing, using the instructions provided in the instruction booklet (or the previous posts! Find the links below for help).
Fold the dress over so that right sides of the fabric are facing each other.
Line up the side seams and pocket edges.
In one continuous line, sew 5/8″ form the edge along the side seam. Pivot when you reach the pocket, sew along the pocket, pivot again when you reach back at the side seam again, and continue sewing 5/8″ from the edge down to the hem.
Press the seams towards the front.
That’s it! Now you can finish the sleeves and hem, and you have a finished dress!
// Looking for more Olive posts? //
- Sewalong Intro Post
- Inspiration and Ideas
- Tester Round-Up
- FBA with dart added
- Neckline Prep
- Patch Pocket
- V-Insert Option 1 (clean finish)
- V-insert Option 2 (topstitch)
- Bias Sleeve Finish
- Sleeve Bands
- Long Sleeves
- Pocket and Skirt
- Bonus Hack – Dress ties
- Bonus Hack – Elastic Hem Cropped Top
- Bonus Hack – Shift Dress (this post!)