Lilly Shift Dress pattern – POTM

Sew your own designer dress using the simple Lilly Shift Dress pattern.  Ideas for designer style embellishments.

There is a certain designer store which is really popular here in Cayman, full of simple shift dresses in fun tropical prints – with exotic price tags to match!  As much as I admired the style, they simply weren't within my budget.

So as people who love to sew, what do we do about that?  We make our own designer dresses!

Sew your own designer dress using the simple Lilly Shift Dress pattern. Ideas for designer style embellishments.

Sometimes a simple shift dress pattern is all you need to look elegant.  Pick the right fabrics and trims, change up the length, and you can create a wardrobe of your own designer dresses in every possible style to suit your lifestyle.  Check out designer fabrics and trims for inspiration, and recreate the designer look for yourself at a fraction of the cost.

Sew your own designer dress using the simple Lilly Shift Dress pattern. Ideas for designer style embellishments.

Mix and match your shoes and jewelry and take this dress from beach, to shopping, to work, to evening wear. Check out some of the ideas below from our pattern testing team.

Features of the Lilly Shift Dress Pattern

  • Sleeveless
  • Fully lined
  • Invisible back zipper, or add an exposed zipper
  • Bust darts and back shaping darts
  • Just two pattern pieces
  • Layered PDF – just print your size
  • In sizes 32-46 inch bust, 36-50 inch hips

Pattern difficulty rating:

Intermediate (invisible zipper and lining required)

Sew your own designer dress using the simple Lilly Shift Dress pattern. Ideas for designer style embellishments.

Sew your own designer dress using the simple Lilly Shift Dress pattern. Ideas for designer style embellishments.

Opt In Image
Buy the Lilly Shift Dress pattern

You can download this pattern from my design account on Payhip.  Add it to your cart and check out.  The pattern will be saved in your Pattern Library safely until you are ready to sew, then you can download and print it at any time.

The Shift Dress Pattern Tester versions and their comments


Judy at Stoney Sews – Pattern seems between Advanced Beginner and Intermediate because of invisible zip, being fully lined and the sewing of curves. I love the pattern Deby! 2 pattern pieces with a couple of hours and one has a new dress. This is the best and easiest way I have seen of attaching a lining to a dress. Thank you Deby for doing this pattern. It is all I could imagine and more!!


Sue at Fadanista – I loved the checklist idea in the instructions. The layered printing is also genius – I have never seen this before, and it was wonderful. The Lilly Shift itself is simple and elegant, and I can imagine making a few of them.  I didn't embellish my first one as I had nothing appropriate in my stash. I think a lace one would be stunning.

I might add pockets to my next one…

Diane C

Diane of Two Chicklets – Your dress is gorgeous on you and I absolutely love this style. I knew immediately which fabric I would use for mine and have decided I need one for every day of the week! Yes, it's that comfortable!  I had to do some alterations to this shift dress pattern, I shortened the bodice and the length for my height. The bust darts ended up a little too low. For the next one, I'll have to adjust that a little.


Sarah from Musings of a Seamstress – I like the dress. It is pretty basic so it has a lot of room for personal embellishment choices and possible variations.  I did a cursory glance at the instructions and mostly went by the quick reference list for experienced sewers.  Collage

EmmaLovely simple style, Just two pattern pieces which is really easy.  The pattern pieces went together perfectly, especially when I learnt how to just print my size!

Jemma – I thought it was a great pattern but I would have to lower the neckline for my preference. I also had to take the waist in a little and shorten the dress at the waist line but that is because I am under height and over curvy! Because this was only 2 pieces the adjustments were easy to do. I also had to narrow the final hem area a little as it looked better on me slightly less A-line.  You can see the dress in action at a wedding party!

Ruth – I love dresses and I love classic style, so this dress appealed to me immediately! Although it appears simple (only 2 pattern pieces!), there are definitely some techniques that require a bit more than basic skills. I haven't done a full lining in a few years and this was a great refresher for my skill set.    I definitely plan to make several more!

Diane D collage

Diane – I have always loved a classic sheath dress and was anxious to try it. Seeing it was lined and had an invisible zipper, I was a little nervous but it was a simple make! I substituted an exposed zipper for the invisible one and everything else was a breeze!  Even though I usually make some adjustment to your patterns, Deby, I always learn something new, (this time doing a lining and the lace hem facing. And every technique you use is explained so well – thanks!


Linda – Great dress pattern! This dress is flattering and so comfortable for summer. It does show up woman's curves so nicely. I love all the options of making it with a trim or without, in a nice print, a nice solid color or a combo of both. You can easily dress it up or down as you wish. I love the addition the option of printing only one size and the quick step by step checklist. Your instructions looks very professional and the pictures are great. I love all the tips for making the dress look very professionally done.


Stephanie – A classic dress! Great shift dress pattern.  It's great to find a simple silhouette that can be done with a woven fabric. I love that this dress can have so many looks based on the fabric picked and the accessories.

Sew your own designer dress using the simple Lilly Shift Dress pattern.  Ideas for designer style embellishments.

Opt In Image
Buy the Lilly Shift Dress pattern

You can download this pattern from my design account on Payhip.  Add it to your cart and check out.  The pattern will be saved in your Pattern Library safely until you are ready to sew, then you can download and print it at any time.

If You'd Like To Support Our Site

If you want to help us continue to bring you a wide selection of free sewing patterns and projects, please consider buying us a coffee.  We'd really, really appreciate it.
Bookmark the permalink.

53 Responses to Lilly Shift Dress pattern – POTM

  1. Concha Rodrigo says:

    I love this dress. I bought your pattern some weeks ago. I’ve print the pattern and cut it. My size is A and before cut the fabric I’ve just read the instructions but I’m not sure if the pattern include seam allowances. Do I have to add them?

  2. twirlingdervish says:

    I’m thinking, Where is Deb? I have not seen your sewing posts for quite a while. I followed you from the beginning, and you are no where to be seen. Missing you.

    • Mayra Cecilia says:

      Hi Rosemary, Deby has not been here at So Sew Easy since late 2015 when I bought the blog and all social media for a 6 figure sum. I am still paying for it. As many serial successful entrepreneur she has moved on to greener pastures. Before buying this blog I had no idea this business existed and that people would create blogs to sell, just like real state, build then sell, build again sell again and so on. Hope at least you still like sewing and have found the site useful. Kind regards,

  3. Wendy says:

    I love this dress and am wondering if it could be made in a stretch cotton?

  4. Deanna says:

    I keep seeing mention of a video, but I cannot find the video. Can you tell me where to find it? Thanks!

  5. Eileen Douglas says:

    Cap or butterfly sleeves would look nice, I think, but I, too, don’t go sleeveless anymore.

  6. Lisa says:

    You are so correct in your statement: “Sometimes a simple shift dress pattern is all you need to look elegant.” My MIL was elegant to the tips of her fingers and at our wedding in 1976 she wore a very elegant sheath dress with bracelet length sleeves. She had her dressmaker sew them up in a variety of fabrics for all seasons. Looking at our wedding pics 44 years later, she looks elegant and her dress does not look dated. I loved my MIL deeply and though we have lost her, her sense of style has stuck with me and her love of a good sheath dress. I don’t care for the current Lilly P dresses because they are too short in length (for me) and most are not made of cotton, not to mention the prices. I’m loving what I’ve seen on your site and I most definitely will sew my own.

  7. Sandra says:

    Do you think I could possibly get it over my head without a zipper? The original Lilly shift didn’t have a zipper but had a button at the top. I can sew but have never mastered zippers.

    • Mayra Cecilia says:

      Hi Sandra, this is the perfect time to take the jump into sewing a zipper. Follow the video and you will be amazed as how easy it is. You do need a zipper with this and most shift dresses.

  8. Rachel says:

    I have always loved this style! And I have the perfect fabric sitting in my stash! I’m busty (50-40-50 with a G cup), and I was wondering how to make this pattern work for me. Grade out for the bust, do a full bust adjustment and modify the darts in the front? Or is the pattern just that little bit too simple? Did any of your testers have similar measurements or proportions?

  9. oldanna says:

    Love the dress pattern! Do you have a hack for me to make it into maternity?

  10. SUZANNE QUALLS says:

    Could you please tell me why the shift has to be lined? Thanks, Suzanne

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Because your underwear will show, it will lay on your body better, it makes for a better garment that will look better and last longer. Well made dresses are always lined.

  11. Donna says:

    Absolutely what I have been looking for……..but need 3/4 length sleeves. Is it available? Love your blog

  12. Nancy Stock says:

    How much decorative trim do you need?

  13. Shirley Bulmer says:

    hi i have got this pattern but like others have said, I would love short sleeves. Can you tell me where I can find the sleeve pattern and video. Thanks

  14. Shirley Bulmer says:

    I’ve got this pattern but would love short sleeves. I see there might have been an update with sleeves. Can you tell me where I can find it please.

  15. Cherry Bonham-Lovett says:

    Have bought the pattern but unable to download it

  16. S says:

    How many yards does this need for a size 12? I’m overseas for a few weeks and can’t download the pattern, but want to buy some local fabric so I can make this dress when I get back home. Thanks for any info!

  17. Tanya says:

    I made this dress with a cotton and love it! Will the pattern work with a ponte knit?

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      HI Tania, yes it would work with Ponte, it will give you a slight stretch, so make sure you pick the right size. Would you send me a picture?
      so people can see how it looks on Ponte fabric?

  18. Lynne Poirier says:

    I buy a lightweight cotton sheet and line a few shifts for $10 total.

  19. Valerie says:

    I have purchased the pattern just now need to buy fabric. I love shifts so when I master the first one, I’m going to make a few. Thank you!

  20. Mekdes says:

    I need paper pattern to sew thank you mekdes. I love this summer dress
    I want to sew for myself


  21. Marlette Louisin says:

    I remember making this style when I was in my early 20’s. I had sleeves in mine then but could have worn it sleeveless. Now, I need sleeves! I can make a pattern for the sleeve but I’m sure not many who would like sleeves in this dress are knowledgeable enough to do so.
    I’m glad you’ve told us that there will be an additional tutorial for cap sleeves. Would it be possible to draft an optional sleeve pattern and make it available?
    I don’t have the pattern so I don’t know how you’ve drafted the armscye. That might make a difference in just adding a sleeve pattern.

    Thanks for being so considerate of your audience and listening to all ladies regardless of age or experience.

    I’m a bit envious of your location. The Cayman’s are gorgeous!

  22. Clara says:

    I do love the dress, but I do wish it had 3/4 sleeves. Lots of older ladies such as myself, don’t like the way their upper arms look due to aging. Please, please, please come up with some EASY 3/4 sleeve tops and dresses. Thank you so much.

  23. Michele says:

    What type of lining fabric do you use for cotton dresses?

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      I always us cotton batiste, muslin or silk, try to find as thin as possible. do stay away from polyester lining.

  24. Tina says:

    Love the dress! Do you need any pattern testers?

  25. Ginger says:

    The trim on your dress takes it up a notch. So pretty. I just read this blog post, all about Lilly Pulitzer and thought about your dress that I read last night. Thought you might enjoy it. I’m not affiliated with Rhonda, I just enjoy her blog.

  26. Robyn says:

    Hi Deby, I have been waiting for a shift dress pattern and love it, but, because I am getting older I would love sleeves in it. I love the dress and would like to make it if I could just add sleeves.

  27. Rebecca says:

    Hi, Deby, just wondering what type of fabrics can be used for this shift dress? Maybe something in a knit or with a little spandex? I’m loving the comfort of some of the fabrics now and hope this one isn’t just out of cotton. 🙂 Enjoy your blog and an anxious to try some of your patterns! 🙂

    • Yes you can certainly use a fabric with some lycra so something like a stretch cotton sateen would be lovely. If you do that, then use a lining with give or stretch to it as well to get the full benefit. One of the testers did make it in a jersey knit, excluded the zip in the back and it fitted well without any alteration.

  28. stoneysews says:

    Deby, congrats on the launch of the Lilly Shift! Lovely pattern!!

  29. Angie says:

    Love the dress pattern. But, I’ve not sewn clothing or lined anything…ever. So, when lining was mentioned I don’t think I should proceed. Question: are those Dolphins in the swimming pool behind you?

    • Yes, but not real dolphins! Yes, if you’ve not ever sewn clothing before, then this probably isn’t the pattern for you to start because it does have darts, a lining and an invisible zipper. It’s not too hard, but probably isn’t right for your very first pattern. There a lot of simple ones to get you started on the free patterns page, maybe try some of those. Good luck.

  30. sooo i love your dress and i love the dresses made by your testers. Do you think your testers would agree to mention their measurements? i’m a busty gal and they all look so wonderful in their dresses i’m not sure if they have the same fitting issues as i do.

  31. Doreen says:

    Just what I wore in the 1960’s! I love the style and made three formal dresses besides the short sheath. I like that you show your patterns on all figure types with the testers’ comments. Unfortunately, I don’t go sleeveless in public anymore. Wish I could!

  32. Love the simple style! Looks like a cool and comfortable dress to wear in hot weather. Again, when time permits, I would love to start sewing clothing for myself, and this would be at the top of the list!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *