Adding a gathered skirt to the Shift Dress gives it a completely different vibe, and it's fairly simple to do. Since you'll be adding a lot of volume to the skirt portion, you might consider cutting the pattern in a size or two smaller than what's shown on the size chart. Because I love an oversized fit, I stayed true to my size as listed on the chart. I didn't include the pockets, but I think that some inseam pockets would be a nice addition (perhaps another tutorial for another time). You don't need the side slits because there's plenty of room for movement in the skirt, but it would be pretty cute to leave them as part of the design for the long version.
As far as fabric goes, this dress only takes an inch or two more fabric than the regular Shift Dress, so you can just stick to the fabric requirements chart on the pattern. I recommend a light and flowing fabric for best results, because this dress has a lot of fabric. You won't want it to be heavy!
First I'll show you how to alter your pattern pieces, and then I'll show you how to sew the skirt and bodice together. After you've completed the steps, use the instructions in your Shift pattern booklet to to finish the neck, hem, and sleeves.
Illustrations indicate RIGHT side of fabric as gray and WRONG side as white.
1. DIVIDE FRONT INTO BODICE AND SKIRT
Start by determining where you want the waistline to hit. Measure from your shoulder/neck point down the front of your body to your preferred waist placement. Write down the measurement. I chose to measure down to my natural waist, and my number was 17". (Keep in mind the shoulder seam allowance here.) Measure down the same amount from the high point shoulder on your Front Long Dress Pattern piece and make a mark. Draw your waistline and cut across the line, dividing the pattern piece into bodice and skirt. Add 3/8" seam allowance to the bottom of the bodice and the top of the skirt. The Skirt piece will be the same for both Front and Back.
2. CREATE BACK BODICE
Use your Top Back pattern piece (NOT Dress Back) to make your Back Bodice. Measure down from the high point shoulder the same amount you did for the Front. Draw the waistline and cut off the bottom of the pattern piece. Add 3/8" seam allowance at the bottom of the Back Bodice. Lay the Back Bodice on top of the Front Bodice to make sure they're the same length.
3. ADD WIDTH TO SKIRT
Measure the width of your Skirt pattern piece and write down the number. Mine was 11" wide. I wanted around 75% extra volume, so I used this formula to decide how much extra width to add:
11 x .75 = 8.25"
(I rounded down to 8".) You might want less volume than I chose. Whatever number you decide on, add that many inches width to your Skirt pattern piece.
4. CUT FABRIC
PIECES TO CUT
- Front Bodice: cut 1 on fold
- Back Bodice: cut 1 on fold
- Skirt (Front and Back): cut 2 on fold
- Front Neck Facing: cut 1 on fold
- Back Neck Facing: cut 1 on fold
- Center Front at Bodice waist
- Center Back at Bodice waist
- Center Front at Skirt waist
- Center Back at Skirt waist
5. FINISH SIDE AND UNDERARM EDGES OF BODICE
Before sewing side seams, finish side and underarm edges by serging or zigzagging all four (both sides of Front and Back) separately. Be careful not to trim fabric from the edges as you serge.
6. SEW BODICE SIDE AND SHOULDER SEAMS
With RIGHT sides together, pin Front Bodice to Back Bodice along sides and underarms. Sew side and underarm seams with 3/8" seam allowance and press open.
Pin Front and Back shoulders together and sew with 3/8" seam allowance. Finish seam allowance and press toward Back.
7. SEW SKIRT SIDE SEAMS
With RIGHT sides together, pin Skirt Front to Skirt Back along sides and sew with 3/8" seam allowance. Finish seam allowance and press toward Back.
8. SEW GATHERING STITCHES AT SKIRT TOP
Using machine's longest stitch length, sew two rows of gathering stitches at top of Skirt Front, 1/4" and 1/2" from edge. Leave thread tails long. Repeat for Skirt Back. Set stitch length back to normal.
9. SEW BODICE TO SKIRT
Turn Bodice RIGHT side out and insert upside down into Skirt.
With RIGHT sides together, line up waist edges of Bodice with Top edges of Skirt and pin. Begin by pinning side seams together, and then pin Fronts together at center notches. Next pin Backs together at center notches. Pull gathering threads to distribute Skirt fabric evenly as you pin between notches and side seams.
Tie gathering threads. Sew with 3/8" seam allowance. Remove gathering threads and finish seam allowance. Press seam allowance toward Bodice.