Monday, September 16, 2013

Free Pattern & Tutorial: Boatneck Shift Dress {by Blooms and Bugs}

Hello everyone, today we have a FREE PDF Pattern and Tutorial brought to you by Anshu of Blooms and Bugs.  Anshu has created this adorable boat neck shift dress that your little girl will want to wear again and again. Check it out!

Hello Birch Fabric Blog readers, This is Anshu from Blooms And Bugs. I write mostly about sewing for kids. I also have a etsy store specializing in party wear and dress up clothes for little girls.

After drooling over the yummy Birch Fabrics collections popping over the blogosphere, I finally decided to throw my hat in the ring and ask them if they would send me some of their fabric-y goodness for a dress pattern I was working on.
They graciously sent across fabrics from this gorgeous Fort Firefly collection by Tegan White. What can I say - I never thought brown could look so pretty. This collection is beautiful in an understated way, the various shades of brown bring the best in the print and turquoise provides the perfect contrast without overpowering the brown.

I went to work with this beautiful fabric and the dress above is the result. I love it on so many levels, from the yoke with the trim to the square pockets and the exposed zipper. I hope you would like it too and help yourself to some of this pretty print to make this dress.

Here is the how to:

Skill Level:

2 hours

  • Rose Garden Taupe : 1yd ( for the main dress)
  • Firefly Print ( Coral): 1/2 yd  ( for yoke,hem and back bow-tie)
  • Jars blue : 1/4 yd or less for pockets and yoke trim
  • zipper
  • Ribbon scrap

Download the four-page Shift Dress Pattern ( size 3T). Print it on A4 (8.5 X 11 inches) paper with margins set to 0. Tape the pages together using the overlapping areas ( instructions on pattern). Cut out all the pieces except collar. Instead of collar, we are using yoke in this dress. Download the yoke pattern piece here. Print it on A4 (8.5 X 11 inches) paper with margins set to 0.

Seam Allowance:

3/8 inch unless otherwise stated.


firefly shift dress free pattern

1. Cut out the pattern pieces. You should have
  • Dress body - 2 pieces ( front and back)
  • Yoke - 2 pieces ( front and back)
  • Trim for yoke - cut out from the turquoise fabric - 1.75 inches wide
  • Pockets - 10 inches wide - 5 inches long
  • Trim for hem - 3 inches wide
dress free pattern - sew the yoke

2. Sew the yoke to the main front piece  by lining it up along neckline. Yoke right side should touch the wrong side of main fabric. Leave 1 inch on either ends( i.e. don't sew 1 inch in the beginning and at the end  we will use it to join the front and back pieces).
Repeat for the back piece.

3. Now line up the front and back pieces and join the main fabric along the shoulders and sew a seam to join. This is where we will use the 1 inch that we had left raw while sewing the yoke.
Now sew the front and back yoke pieces together.
Once you have joined both the pieces on both sides, sew a seam along the neckline to sew over the 1 inch gap you had left earlier and sew the yoke and neckline together all around.

4. Snip along the neckline curve to get a nice finish when you turn the yoke out.

Prepare the Trim for the yoke:

5. Cut 30 inch x 1.75 inches wide strips on bias from the blue jars fabric. Join the strips together. Fold them in half ( wrong sides together) and press.

6. Line up the raw edges of trim along the raw edges of yoke and sew it on the right side of the yoke.

7. Turn out and press. Sew a seam on the blue trim along the edge where it meets coral fabric.

Finishing the armholes

8. Snip a 1 inch horizontal slit 6 inch below the shoulder seam on both sides. Fold the edges 1/2 inch twice onto themselves and sew a seam. Repeat for the other side.

9. Sew the side seam 1 inch from the raw edges starting from half inch of the folded armhole seams. Go over the armhole a couple of times as this point bears a lot of stress while wearing the dress.

Preparing the pockets

10. Fold the pocket pieces in half on 10 inch side ( right sides together). Sew along the two right sides, on the third raw side leave a gap of one and a half inch in the center for turning out.
Snip the corners.

11. Turn out, poke corners with a pencil and press.

Repeat Steps 10 & 11 with the other pocket piece.

Hem and Trim near hem:

12. Draw a straight line 1 and half inch above the hem.

13. Prepare the trim by cutting 2.5 inch wide x 40 inch long strip from Firefly print fabric (coral) and fold half an inch on both sides along the length to prepare a kind of single sided bias tape.

14. Line up the bottom edge of the strip along the line you drew in Step 12. Sew a seam as close to the edge as possible. Sew another seam along the upper edge.

15. Fold the hem 1/2 inch twice onto itself and sew a seam.

Setting the pockets:

16. Pin the pocket such that
  •   The bottom edge is 6 inch above the hemline 
  •   Center of the width falls on the side seam.
  •   The opening we left for turning out doesn't fall on the top edge.
Sew a seam along the pocket sides except the top.

17. Check the placement of the other pocket for symmetry. Repeat for the other pocket on the other side seam.

Optional - Exposed zipper at the back.

This dress has a boat neck so it doesn't need an extra opening to get over child's head. But I still added an exposed zipper at the back as a design element. You may skip it if you don't want it.

18. Pin a zipper in the center of back in matching color.

19. Sew along both sides ( with a zipper foot preferably) to set the zipper.
If you need an opening, you could unzip the zipper and cut a slit carefully in between to get an opening here.

Optional - fabric firefly at the back

20. Cut two fabric pieces 2.5 inch X 5 inch.  Sew along the edges ( right sides together) with an opening for turning out. Snip the corners.

21. Turn out. Press.

22. Cinch the center with a ribbon scrap and tie knots at the ends of ribbon to make antennae for the butterfly.
Sew it over the zipper end to conceal it.

And we have our shift dress ready!

With a cute little firefly at the back!

So that was my Firefly shift dress tutorial for you. Visit my free tutorials page for more cute kids clothing tutorials or visit my store if you need princess, my little pony or any other girl costumes.

Thank you Anshu, for a perfect little girl's dress to make again and again.


  1. Love the dress. The colours are wonderful. Love the detail on the dress :) Thank you for sharing :)

  2. Adorable. The only problem is the shift dress download links to a bloomers pattern?????

  3. @Rose: Here is the corrected link to the pattern:

    I'm really sorry that the wrong pdf got linked up. I am trying to get it fixed now.

  4. Hi everybody, Sorry for the delay. The correct PDF pattern has been uploaded.

  5. love the shift dress shape I have been looking for this shaped top for my daughter for a year, is this pattern for sale in larger sizes?

  6. i love this dress! thank you. as a beginner I am excited to try it out! could you tell me if I can purchase a bigger size or how can I adjust it to a size 5? thank you so much!

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