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DIY Shift Dress

Sewing a stylish shift dress is surprisingly simple with this how-to from Summer Phoenix and Ruby Canner, owners of the Some Odd Rubies vintage store.

Source: The Martha Stewart Show, September 2010


Resources: Singer 4423 Heavy Duty sewing machines are available at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores or Amazon.


  • Long secondhand skirt with elastic waist

  • Ruler

  • Disappearing fabric marker or pencil

  • Scissors or rotary cutter

  • Seam ripper or small, sharp scissors

  • Sewing machine threaded with coordinating thread

  • 3-4 yards of coordinating ribbon

  • Safety pin


  1. Cut elastic waist from skirt. Lay skirt flat, and cut top edge with scissors or a rotary cutter to make even.

  2. Measure 1 1/2 inches from top raw edge and draw a line across skirt.

  3. With a seam ripper or small pair of sharp scissors, open side seams 10 inches down from drawn line (this will create a 9-inch armhole).

  4. Finish opened seam edges with a machine-sewn baby hem.

  5. On one side of skirt, fold top raw edge down one half inch, then another half inch. Pin in place. Machine-sew across skirt, along bottom edge of folded "tunnel." Repeat on other side of skirt.

  6. Attach a safety pin to lengths of ribbon and thread through the tunnels you have created on both sides of top of dress.

  7. If desired, tie a length of the same ribbon around middle of dress to create a belt.

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