Looking for dress sewing patterns?
I personally love wearing dresses year round, and come summer, they are everyday wear. Pop on a dress, throw an accessory or two at it, and you’ve got an easy solution to looking polished.
And then, there are just so many beautiful fabrics that just scream—make me into a dress!
In this post, I’ll give you some ideas of what to look for in a good dress pattern. We’ll talk about woven fabrics vs. knits for making dresses. After that, I’ll share some dress pattern ideas from free dress patterns to how to score vintage dress patterns.
Even if you’re a beginner to making your own clothes, you’ll find something here.
Table of Contents
What to look for in dress sewing patterns
Before you start cutting up your best fabric, what kinds of things should you look for in a good dress pattern?
Size charts and cup sizes
Always check the size charts on a PDF pattern company website or the back of the envelope to know what you’re dealing with. Many times, I’ve had to say no to patterns because their base measurements fell outside of my own personal measurements.
Another reason to check the size charts is that every company sizes things based on different systems (US, UK, Euro sizing), proprietary systems (Jalie’s letter sizes comes to mind), or something as simple as small to large. It can be confusing to say the least. Look at charts, people! You can call sizes whatever you want to call them, but the only truth is in the inches/centimeters.
Multi-size patterns are very helpful when you make dresses. Many women, myself included are different sizes from top to bottom. If you have a pattern with multiple sizes in one pattern, it’s easy to pick the bust size, waist size and hip size that’ll better fit your own body.
Likewise, more and more pattern companies are offering different cup sizes with their dress patterns. If you are full-busted, this having a dress pattern with cup sizes can take some of the guesswork out of fitting your pattern later on.
Lots of options
Patterns aren’t getting cheaper, so it’s always great to see patterns with lots of different style options like sleeve lengths, hem lengths.
Think of what season you will want to wear your dress in, and see if the particular pattern you’re looking at has a sleeve and hem length that suits the season.
Know your formats (PDF patterns vs. envelope patterns vs. magazines and more)
These days, you can find dress patterns in any print format available.
- PDF patterns are very convenient because you can print them any time. Choose them for variety and if you don’t mind printing patterns at home. Learn more about PDF patterns here.
- Envelope patterns: classic patterns we all know. Choose them for current styles and those awesome pattern sales. Skip out on them if you don’t like wrangling tissue paper.
- Magazine patterns: A ton of patterns in a small space (think Burda, Ottobre, etc). Choose magazine dress patterns for their fashion-forward looks, excellent drafting, and if you don’t mind tracing.
- Large-format printed patterns: Jalie and Kwik Sew (oop)–these are kind of a hybrid between an envelope and magazine pattern. Here you’ll get one printed pattern on large format thick paper printed with all the sizes. Pick these for the excellent pattern instructions and also if you don’t mind tracing.
- Projector files: This is a new pattern format. I have a friend who only sews with projector patterns. Check out the Facebook Group Projectors for Sewing if that sounds intriguing.
Should I make a dress from wovens or knit fabrics?
The cool think about dressmaking in general is that you can find a pattern for just about anything you want to make.
It’s really a personal preference whether you make your dresses from knitted fabrics or woven fabrics.
- Knits: Great for a confident beginner up through advanced. Knits are comfortable to wear, and more forgiving in the fit than wovens. Get lots of knit sewing tips here.
- Wovens: there’s a wide variety of wovens you can pick for dresses. In general, wovens require a little bit more work on your part in fitting a dress for you, especially for styles with fitted bodices. If that makes you nervous, pick looser fitting styles that have more room for error. Learn more about fitting books that’ll help you through fitting your dress pattern.
Dress sewing patterns
Elizabeth Made This
Easy Refashions for Every Season
Inside this Eguide I made, there’s an easy to read version of my Maxi Dress Refashion as well as a fun two-layer t-shirt skirt that could easily be made into a dress.
Sign up for my newsletter to grab the Sunny Days Skirt pattern (when you do, you’ll get a super secret best price offer for Easy Refashions for Every Season).
I wrote this free pattern with a size chart for girls 2T-14, but you can easily take this idea and use it for women’s sizes.
This is another refashion t-shirt dress. This is such a fun way to mix your knits!
Day and Night Dress Challenge
For a couple years, I ran a dressmaking challenge on Instagram with blogger and vlogger friends all over the world. We made so many dresses! If you’re looking for some dress inspiration, check out the Day and Night Dress Challenge archives:
Pattern companies where you can buy dress sewing patterns
This list is by no means exhaustive. My hope here, is that you’ll be able to get a good idea of some places to find dress patterns without having to search endlessly on your own. This list is as eclectic as possible too because I know we all have different styles and details that speak to us! I’ve included size information and cup sizes when they’ve been available.
While you can get Burdastyle’s envelope patterns from Simplicity, look for PDF dress patterns from the magazines from Burdastyle here.
In sizes 0-16 and 12-32. Great everyday and dressier dress patterns and even a nursing dress option.
Modern dress patterns with elegant vintage styles from Gretchen Hirsch. If you love vintage, but need a little more help to reproduce these styles faithfully, Gertie is your lady. Sizes range from 2-22 with A-H cup sizes.
Beautifully drafted dress patterns with sizes from 0-20 and 14-32.
French company with dress in sizes 34-48 and 46-60.
Great collection of casual dresses with unique construction details and lots of length options. Sizes 4-22 on most patterns and up to 30 on some.
Modern PDF dress patterns. Sizes 00-20 and some 00-40 and cup sizes A-DD. Look out for in-seam pockets!
Canada, sizes from 2T-women’s 56. Excellent pattern directions for mostly knit fabrics, but some woven patterns as well. If you have multiple people you sew for in your life, it’s hard to beat Jalie for their size range.
Elegant dressy dresses with vintage inspiration. B-D cups available (A also on many) in sizes 6-24.
Very unique fashion-forward designs in made to measure PDF patterns. These are probably dress patterns more suited to those comfortable with taking a thorough set of their own measurements.
Excellent patterns with lots of different options for confident beginners. Sizes range from XS-5X.
Lots of free dress patterns and pattern hack ideas from Mood in sizes 00-32.
Modern dress patterns. The Kielo Wrap dress is the dress that introduced me to this company! Sizes US 0-24/Eur 32-56/UK 4-28.
Modern, truly architectural patterns from New Zealand. Sizes in 6-20.
Beginner friendly dress patterns with tons of options to choose from. Sizes are from XXS-P5X.
Tons of options on many different styles of dress sewing patterns. Sizes are from 1-10 and curvy sizes from 6C-15C.
It seems that all these brands are now owned by Simplicity. Nonetheless, you can still find great dress patterns from all these individual brands and designers like Mimi G, Madalyne, Tracey Reese, Rachel Comey, Badgley Mischka and more.
Individual patterns and member exclusives, many in sizes 00-16 and curvy fit 12-26, some with online sewalongs.
Variety of dress patterns for absolute beginners on up in skill levels. Sizes range from UK 6-20 (B cup) and 18-30 (D cup) in some patterns.
Australian brand originally with single size patterns, but they also have PDFs and printed versions with multi-size options. Sizes 4-30 on most patterns, and some to 36.
Urban casual looks that are always fun to sew. Sizes for 0-18.
Where to find vintage dress sewing patterns
We’ve all seen them online. There’s so many gorgeous vintage sewing patterns from bygone eras. Keep an eye out at thrift stores, estate sales, garage sales. Some times you’ll find vintage dress patterns
Ebay and Etsy are also good sources. I often frequent either Ebay or Etsy when I’m trying to find a pattern that’s recently gone out of print.
Who knows, you might even snag that coveted iconic Diane von Furstenburg Vogue 1549 wrap dress pattern.
And if you love the design, but know you’ll never sew yourself a vintage dress pattern, here’s an easy non-destructive way to make your vintage patterns into wall art.
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.