Sparkly Shift Dress


I’ve been on a mission to find a TNT shift dress pattern lately, and I think I’ve cracked it!

The pattern is the Sew Over It shift dress, more or less. My muslin showed that the sleeve head is way to tall with too much ease for a knit dress, so I recut the armscye and sleeve head using the Sewaholic Alma blouse. Really, comparing the patterns, I should have just started with Alma as my base – it’s very similar to the shift dress in shape, and has the bonus of offering front and back fisheye darts if you want to make it into a more fitted sheath. (I did actually consider this route, since I’ve made an Alma dress before – click the link if you want to read my 2012 thoughts about editing, photography, and taking fancy photographs vs. getting the job done!)


My first muslin of the pattern in stable french terry turned out to be a shapeless mess – after recutting it, it’ll be a wearable house dress, but it’s not great. For this second version, I totally undid the FBA that I’d been so worried about doing! I’m not quite sure why I don’t need one, but it seems to fit fine as is!


This fabric is… well, cheap and hideous and I love it! It’s pure synthetic, and it feels like it. No mascarading as a more luxe fabric here. It’s a double knit, with a slithery black layer underneath, and a scratchy puffy paint print with metallic threads on the front. Sounds awful, right? But dang, if it doesn’t make a flattering dress!

I think the proof of a well-fitting shift dress is how it looks when you aren’t standing perfectly straight… so here I am, lounging on my car!

car Collage

(Any one else own a silver Toyota Matrix? They are really common around here – I saw 3 in just 1km of road yesterday!) 

What I like most about this dress is that the slippery inner surface of the knit means I don’t need a slip but the dress falls back into place perfectly after I bend or move. My french terry version doesn’t do this as nicely, which makes me question my choice of a sweater knit for my next version… should I bite the bullet and line it so that I end up with a dress I’ll really like?

side seam Collage

I matched the stripes from the hem up, and not from the shoulder down, since the bust dart would change the whole alignment. I actually think I could have pattern matched the sleeves if I’d rotated the pattern piece 180*… but I only had 1.3m of fabric, so frankly, I was just pleased I had enough left for sleeves at all!


My favourite part of this pattern is the sassy length. I love short dresses with leggings and boots in winter! If you try the pattern though, keep in mind that I’m only 5’2″/160cm, so it could be much more mini on you!

Since this month’s Better Pictures Project theme is editing, here’s one picture, edited 5 different ways! (The original is top left.)


Which effect do you like best? I think the bottom left is closest to how I usually edit my photos – saturated with dark blacks… but the bottom right is closer to the trendy matte blacks that Heather talked about here. The two centre pics are less saturated than I usually prefer, but I could see how the dreaminess would be right for some outfits. All of these are preset filters from the Darkroom app on my phone – right now they are all a bit too obvioulsy editing for my tastes. I think any of them would be good if they were applied at less than full-strength!

Shift dresses – editing – sparkles! I don’t know WHAT to ask you about after that rambling post. Tell me everything!

42 thoughts on “Sparkly Shift Dress

  1. Looks great! I love that short dress / leggings / boots look too – comfy AND sassy – it’s a winner. The best thing about winter! I personally wouldn’t want to line a knit dress. For me, it’d take away the cosiness for some reason. Not sure why! 😊 P.S. I like the top middle filter best. It’s a bit less yellow?


  2. Well you answered my question before I even asked…I wondered why this dress doesn’t appear to ride up on your tights. I always have this trouble and I’m not fond of slips. Lucky that this fabric has a slippery side! Hooray for synthetics!?? 😉 Great dress Gillian! Your fit is perfect.


    1. Bless a fabric that falls back into place and skims lumps and bumps! This dress is actually a leeetle snug at the belly, but I think the fabric distracts from that well! 😉


  3. All things considered, do you recommend the Sew Over It shift dress pattern? Your rendition is great, but did it required so many adustments that it is now far from the original pattern? BTW, I know what you mean about this kind of synthetic “mysterious” fabric. They can be lovely sometimes!


    1. I’m really torn on this pattern! One the one hand, I’m going to get lots of use from it. On the other, I really wish it had optional fisheye darts for a closer fit, and less ease in the sleeve head. Christine Hayes just released a shift dress pattern 0 I’d be curious to compare the two!


  4. I like the top middle edit the best. compared to the rest of the pics on the post, the colors seem the most true (can see the purple more) and it looks like a nice Fall-ish theme.

    And I think you should take the time to line your French terry dress 🙂


    1. Here’s my dilemma about lining a knit dress: Do I hem them together, do a proper bagged hem where the lining has extra ease, or hem them seperetely? I can’t decide!


    1. Do you ever wear shift dresses? I could see them being really cute on you!

      Top middle turned out to be the most popular filter – it’s not my fav, but it’s neat to see what other people like!


  5. Ooh! I like it! I mean, I would never have chosen that fabric, but you made it shine. 🙂 I never had a toyota matrix, but we used to have a silver honda cr-v, and there were times I’d have to hit the locks to see which one was mine in a parking lot!

    On the picture editing, I like the top middle the best. I’m not sure why though.


      1. Sort of, since it’s a Mazda, it’s definitely not as popular as the cr-v’s and RAV4’s. But the color we chose seems to be the most popular, so if there’s another one in the parking lot, it’s probably the same shade of blue! (Side note: never again will I buy a car that’s not silver–the blue is incredibly gorgeous, but SO hard to keep clean!! #thestruggleisreal)


    1. I wear slips every time I wear a dress because I hate the riding up! I wonder though, do most women still wear slips? If we are all wearing them, why the heck are they so ugly and still kinda expensive?


  6. That’s a great dress, and I love the fabric! I would have chosen that fabric, wouldn’t have thought to do a shift dress…great choice!


  7. Yes to “scandalous” short dresses in the winter with leggings! It’s so funny that I wear blousey stuff and as soon as winter hits I’m in more form fitting layers and mini dresses! Glad I’m not the only one who loves and rocks this style!


    1. Me too! I’ve gone up a size since I sewed my Lola dresses, and they are pretty form fitting now… way tighter than I’d ever wear in summer, but feels totally fine in winter! 😉


  8. Great dress! Love the shift dress/tights/boot combo. You’re right about the length- it’s perfect! I like the center top photo- the faded background makes you and the dress pop!


    1. Pretty soon I’m going to have to add the floor-length down coat on top of the cute mini dress/leggings/boots combo… but now tis the season for cute winter dresses! (Here, clearly not in Thailand! 😉


    1. Centre top is by far the most popular! Funny that I’m in the mood for the warmer filters right now, for once… and everyone else is liking the cool!


  9. Love it. A well made shift dress is timeless and classic – puffy paint and all! It’s a great pattern and looks so lovely on you. And I actually prefer the top centre edit of the photo, I feel like it makes the dress really pop.


    1. I’ve already made my third version of this pattern… and I still haven’t made the one I originally intended! This could be the winter of shift dresses!


  10. Yay for bottom left–it looks the most natural, and in the end, I think the natural effects are the ones that will stand the test of time. Sometimes “of an era” is a cool look, and sometimes those kind of effects just end up looking like everyone else’s pictures of the time which is a shame when you work so hard to get good pics in the first place! 😀

    I totally know the type of knit you mean! I made a maternity tunic several years ago with something similar. It had the texture of…junior high gym shorts. Ew for sure, but doggone if that silly top didn’t look awesome for the sheer fact that there was 0% chance of it wrinkling. The colors and pattern of the knit and the fit look good, so I say, go for a lining! It’ll add more warmth (something) never unwelcome in winter) and take out the ew factor of the knit. The length is great. I’m only 1/2″ taller than you, and I love winter dresses right about there too–perfect for the boots/leggings/scarf combo.


  11. This is a great dress! I love how the stripes and the darts come together – very pleasing! I might be tempted to try stripes with my shift dress block sometime. And as for the photos, I think I like the bottom left. It seems the crispest to me, but I like the colours of the original best.


    1. Hey, can I ask you a drafting question? on my next version of this pattern, I really notice that when I raise my arms, the whole dress lifts up. The upper sleeve is already as tight as I’d want it, so I can’t just take in the bodice and sleeve with a seam… How do i make the armscye higher in future verisons without affecting the sleeve fit?


  12. That is SO flattering and adorable on you. Everything about it is pretty much perfect. I want to make a shift now, too! Love the way you styled it with the boots. Very cool!


  13. I love this and think that the fabric is great. It might be as cheap as chips but it looks fabulous . The stripes are very becoming and the length is great, although I can see what you mean about it being a bit breezy on someone taller. I had that problem with my Mabel. Honestly, my butt wasn’t even covered by the original length. 😀 I like all your photo edits and love the desaturated leaves in the bottom middle but not how it dulls down your lovely frock. Your are rockin’ it in those boots! Xx


    1. Bahaha – now I want to see the fit on your mini-Mabel, except that seems like a pervy thing to say. Only in sewing, right?


    1. I feel a little crazy for worrying about and FBA, and then undoing it all when it turned out to be unnecessary… but hey, I learned a skill, right? 😉


  14. Great dress! I love the fabric + silhouette combo–the stripes and colors really shine!

    I LOOOOVE filtering photos for fun, but never use them for the versions I blog (I will IG filtered shots, though); I guess I worry that they will look Edited!!!!!!!! rather than tastefully adjusted, if that makes sense. Once I finish something new, I will have to try posting some, just for a change! =)


    1. I edit the shit out of my IG photos, for sure. Like you say though, I always worry that my blog pics will turn out dated! Just a little bit of editing is nice though… if I can stop at the right point! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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