How to Sew a Sheath Dress

Written by lisa duncan
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How to Sew a Sheath Dress
A black sheath dress (woman in a black dress image by Cora Reed from

A sheath dress is a timeless and fairly simple dress pattern to sew. Many people confuse a shift dress with a sheath dress; do not make that mistake. Though both refer to a knee-length dress; a shift dress is generally looser at the middle, while a sheath dress is more form fitting because of the darts. A sheath dress may be lined or not. To sew a simple sheath, simply bring your sewing machine, fabric and pattern to your sewing space.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Fabric
  • Tailor's chalk
  • Sewing machine

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  1. 1

    First wash, dry and iron your fabric to keep the dress from shrinking in the dryer after you have sewn it. There is nothing worse than a dress that fit after sewing, becoming too small after a run in the washer and dryer. Ironing your fabric will ensure smooth lines when cutting out the pattern.

  2. 2

    Check your measurements. Dress patterns sizes are different than the sizes you buy in the store. Often, dress pattern sizes are bigger than what you buy in the store. If you are a size eight, the pattern size you may be cutting out is actually a 12. The pattern envelope will have a section that tells you what size to cut out based on your measurements. If you are unsure of your measurements, take a measuring tape and measure around your bust and the widest part of your hip. You will find those measurements on the pattern envelope, and will be sure you are cutting the correct size.

  3. 3

    Cut the pattern pieces you will need from the pattern paper that came with the sheath dress pattern. Attach the pattern pieces to the fabric with pins. Each paper pattern piece will tell you how many pieces of the fabric to cut and whether or not to cut on the fold of the fabric.

  4. 4

    Transfer all the markings from the pattern paper to the right side of the fabric. Many fabrics have an obvious right side, which is the side that will show, and wrong side. If your fabric doesn't have obvious right and wrong sides, decide which side is going to be right and wrong and mark the wrong side with tailor's chalk on each piece of fabric. Look for the notches, darts and zipper markings. Using tailor's chalk, transfer all markings.

  5. 5

    Sew your dress. Using thread that matches the colour of your fabric, sew together the pieces of your sheath dress following the pattern instructions. Read each section of the pattern instructions before sewing. Rushing and sewing never mix. Start with your darts, next attach your shoulder pieces, sew your neckline, and sew up the sides and back. Finish your sheath dress with a bottom hem, and give it a good press with an iron.

Tips and warnings

  • Measure twice and cut once is an old saying in sewing. This is a tip to live by.

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