Egyptian shift, free basic pattern

This is the basic pattern for the Egyptian shift dress. I haven’t included the proper printable version because it really needs to be adjusted to size, but it can easily be done.

To start, you will need measurements for bust, underbust, waist, hip, nipple to underbust vertically (depth), centre of bust to side, back (side to side at underbust level), bust front (side to side through the fullest part of your bust), length from where you want your back to be, to the hem, and length from right under the bra to the hem. The straps you will pretty much adlib too, but those depend a lot on what sort of underwear you will be wearing, and how thick you want the straps to be.

Start by listing all your measurements, add 2-4 inches to each full circumference as ease (depends on how loose you want your garment to be). As a rule of thumb, make sure that each circumference on the final garment is no more than 15% bigger than the actual measurements, and you should be fine, and be able to put on the garment without problem.

For altering the piece A you will need the bust-related measurements. Use the bust depth to measure the length of the dart, then take the front bust, add half the ease and divide in two to get the width of the bust piece; substract the front underbust  (underbust – back + half the ease) to figure out how wide the dart needs to be. This piece will, once folded and sewn, curve in space to give coverage to the bust; the curved outer is necessary for this effect to happen too, so it’s a good idea to keep this in mind when drafting it.

Different figures would benefit from different cuts, and truly, doing an A-line from the underbust down seemed to give the best effect overall for most everybody (except the unfortunate busty apple, whose dress I had to adjust 3 times).  But regardless, don’t be scared to make it, because the shift is so loose that it is highly difficult to make something that won’t fit right -or can’t be adjusted properly- as long as the overall general measurements and ease are there. The assembly instructions are in the PDF, that you can download here:

Egyptian basic shift pattern and instructions

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