13 Easiest Dress Sewing Patterns (Reviewed for Beginners by a Dressmaker)

When you’re looking for a starter dress pattern, here are 5 things that will make it beginner friendly: it doesn’t have many lines of stitching, it doesn’t have many design features, it doesn’t have many pattern pieces, it’s a relaxed or loose fit so you have fewer fit issues, and it comes with well-explained instructions and clear photos/videos.

We’re going to rank the best dress patterns we found from “suitable for complete beginners” to slightly more advanced ones for beginners to try. 3 are free! Plus our tips on how to make a pattern more beginner friendly with the right fabric choices and sewing techniques.

We also have separate roundups for summer dress patternswrap dressesmaxi’sslipst-shirt dresses, and sweater dresses.


“Stevie Tunic” modern boxy dress with grown-on sleeves and tie closure at the back

woman wearing a blue tunic dress with short sleeves and a tied back, and sewing pattern line drawings

Buy now from Tilly and the Buttons – £13-17.50 (approx. $16-21.50)

  • Sizes: US 2–30. Bust: 30” – 60” (76 – 152.5 cm).
  • Format: PDF digital download in A4 / US letter sizes and A0 copyshop size. A printed pattern can be purchased at an additional cost.
  • Fabric: Light to medium weight woven fabrics are suggested, such as linen, double gauze, cotton lawn, or chambray for a more structured look. More confident sewists could also use fabrics with more drape such as viscose, crepe, or sandwashed silk. For a complete beginner I would suggest using a cotton-based fabric such as a cotton lawn or a chambray; as they are stable, easy to work with and press nicely. More drapey fabrics can be slippery and difficult to sew, and therefore require more experience when handling.
  • Extra instructions: You can find additional resources for the Stevie tunic here, including tutorials showing how to hack the pattern to achieve different styles. 
  • Techniques you’ll learn: Sewing straight and curved seams. Attaching a facing. Understitching. Hemming. Sewing a patch pocket. Making a button loop. Sewing a tie closure.
  • Why it suits beginners: There are minimal pattern pieces. The dress style is very simple and doesn’t include any darts or tricky closures like zippers. The dress has grown-on sleeves so you won’t need to insert sleeves. Tilly and the Buttons patterns are designed with the beginner sewist in mind, so they include very thorough instructions with lots of photos.
  • Challenges: The most difficult part of this pattern will be sewing in the facing. It’s important to take your time with this step, sewing slowly and carefully to get an even seam allowance.

“Georgia” boxy t-shirt dress with dipped hem and cuffed sleeves

2 women wearing simple loose fitting shift dresses that are knee length and midi length in orange and white linen and with cuffed sleeves, and sewing pattern line drawings

Buy now from Elizabeth Suzann – $18

  • Sizes: 2XS – 4XL. Bust: 29” – 58” (74 – 147 cm).
  • Format: PDF digital download in A4 / US letter sizes and A0 copyshop size.
  • Fabric: Light to medium weight woven fabrics with no stretch are suggested. For example, linen, cotton voile, silk crepe, seersucker, Tencel, or rayon. Although the designer recommends a fabric with some drape, a beginner should use a more structured fabric, such as a stable linen or cotton as these fabrics are easier to work with and don’t shift around during sewing. Using a fabric with structure will result in a more boxy dress. Using a fabric with some drape such as a viscose, silk, or crepe will result in a dress that hangs more fluidly over the body. 
  • Techniques you’ll learn: Sewing straight and curved seams. Sewing a sleeve cuff in the round. Sewing a dipped, curved hem. Attaching bias binding. Top stitching.
  • Why it suits beginners: There are only 5 pattern pieces, with the front and the back being sewn as one piece with no separate skirt. There are no shaping elements like darts, tucks, or pleats, nor any tricky closures like zippers or buttons.
  • Challenges: The sleeve cuffs  and the bias binding are the trickiest parts of this pattern. Both are sewn in the round, and the fabric needs to be manoeuvred carefully to get a neat finish with no tucks or puckers. Bias binding is quite narrow, can stretch out shape, and requires precise sewing. Using a fabric adhesive, some wonder tape, or hand basting can help with securing the binding to the underside to help “catch” the fabric when topstitching the binding into place.

“Orchard” A-line dress with spaghetti straps and bias-bound armholes

2 women wearing green and yellow a-line cami dresses with flared hems, and sewing pattern line drawings

Download now from Helen’s Closet Patterns – FREE for Newsletter subscribers

  • Sizes: US 0 – 34. Bust: 31” – 62” (78.5 – 157.5 cm).
  • Format: PDF digital download in A4 / US letter sizes and A0 copyshop size.
  • Fabric: Light to medium weight woven fabrics are suggested, such as linen, cotton, batiste, gauze, or chambray. Lyocell, viscose, silk or rayon are also recommended for more experienced sewists. Since stable fabrics are easier to work with and don’t move around during sewing, a beginner should choose a stable cotton blend or linen. A nice stable linen will give you some drape while being easy to sew, so it would be a great option for beginners. Using a fabric with more drape such as a rayon will result in a dress that hangs more fluidly over the body, which would be a good option for slightly more advanced sewists. 
  • Techniques you’ll learn: Sewing straight and curved seams. Sewing in seam pockets. Attaching bias binding. Top stitching. Hemming. 
  • Why it suits beginners: There are only four pattern pieces to this dress and no darts or tricky closures. In-seam pockets are one of the easiest types of pockets to sew. Helen’s Closet patterns are designed with beginners in mind, so the instructions are really detailed with illustrations for each step. 
  • Challenges: Sewing the in-seam pockets requires some extra attention as you’ll need to sew quite precisely around the opening and the curved pocket bags. Taking your time and going slowly will help here. Attaching bias binding can be fiddly and it requires precise sewing and neat top stitching. Using a fabric adhesive, wonder tape, or hand basting can really help to keep everything in place before going in with the top stitching.

“Bella” A-line pull on dress with long sleeves and pockets

2 women wearing green and black loose shift dresses with sleeves, and sewing pattern line drawings

Buy now from Tessuti – AUD $15-28 (approx. $10-18)

  • Sizes: 
    • AU 6-16. Bust: 32” – 42” (81 – 106 cm).
    • AU 16-22. Bust: 42” – 48” (106 – 121 cm).
  • Format: PDF digital download in A4 / US letter sizes and A0 copyshop size. A printed pattern is available at an additional cost.
  • Fabric: Medium weight woven fabrics are suggested, such as linen, cotton, satin backed silk, lace, viscose and crepe. A beginner should start with a stable fabric without too much drape like a medium weight linen or cotton, as these fabrics have more stability and are therefore easier to work with. Satin, crepe, lace and viscose have drape and can be slippery to work with making the sewing process harder. Some experience would be helpful if using these fabrics to obtain a satisfactory garment.
  • Techniques you’ll learn: Sewing straight and curved seams. Sewing in seam pockets. Setting in sleeves. Topstitching. Attaching a facing. Under stitching. Hemming. 
  • Why it suits beginners: The style of this dress is very simple with no shaping involved. There are no fastenings to insert as the dress is pulled on over the head. To make the sewing process easier, the in-seam pockets could be left out and the dress can be made from a stable fabric such as cotton or linen.  
  • Challenges: Sewing in a facing can be tricky since you are sewing a curved seam line. Facings need to be sewed with precision and under stitched with care, so take your time with this part. Using lots of pins or hand basting and going slowly can be helpful.  Sewing in the in-seam pockets can be difficult since there’s quite a tight curve to sew, so sew slowly and take your time with this part as well.

“M8053” pullover tent dress with or without sleeves and length options

woman wearing a pink shift dress with short sleeves, and sewing pattern line drawings showing different lengths and sleeveless options

Buy now from Simplicity – $14.67

  • Sizes: US 8 – 26. Bust: 31.5” – 48” (80 – 122 cm).
  • Format: PDF digital download in A4 / US letter sizes and A0 copyshop size. A paper pattern is also available here.
  • Fabric: Light to medium weight woven fabrics such as rayon, soft cotton, gingham, rayon faille, linen, crepe. Although this is a dress that would work well in a fabric with drape, a beginner should start with one of the more stable suggested fabrics such as a cotton blend, gingham, or linen. Fabrics with drape such as rayon and crepe are more difficult to work with since they can shift around during the sewing process and stretch out if not handled with care. Fabrics with more structure are easier to sew, press and hem, making them perfect for beginners.
  • Techniques you’ll learn: Sewing straight and curved seams. Setting in sleeves. Sewing neck and armhole facings. Under stitching. Hemming. Sewing French darts and bias binding (if sewing version D).
  • Why it suits beginners: With the view A there are only four to five pattern pieces to cut and sew. This dress is very simple with no shaping involved and can be sewn without setting in sleeves. 
  • Challenges: The most difficult part of this pattern will be sewing the neckline and armhole facings. Facings are sewn on the curve and sometimes in the round which can be fiddly and will require precise sewing. Using lots of pins or hand basting will help keep curved edges together, helping you to get a neater finish. The instructions of Big 4 patterns aren’t always as detailed as indie patterns, so some prior sewing experience or additional resources could come in handy. 

“M8213” strappy sundress with optional gathered tiers and bows

woman wearing a striped dress with a gathered tiered hem and thick shoulder straps, and sewing pattern variations

Buy now from Simplicity – $14.67

  • Sizes: XS – 2XL. Bust: 30.5” – 48” (77.5 – 122 cm).
  • Format: PDF digital download in A4 / US letter sizes and A0 copyshop size. A paper pattern is also available here.
  • Fabric: Medium weight woven fabrics such as cotton blends, linen, swiss dot, poplin, or crepes. This pattern would work well in the stable fabrics suggested since they are easy to work with and allow for a clean, crisp pressed finish. A beginner should steer clear of the crepe option until feeling more confident since crepe can be stretchy and has more movement than cotton or cotton blends.
  • Techniques you’ll learn: Sewing straight and curved seams. Creating an elastic channel. Inserting elastic. Sewing straps. Gathering. Sewing a facing. Hemming. Top stitching.
  • Why it suits beginners: The style of the dress is very simple and can be sewn without the tiers and ruffles for an easier sew. A lot of the sewing is straight seams gathered in with elastic to fit. A stable fabric can be used such as a cotton or gingham to make the sewing process easier.
  • Challenges: The most difficult part of this dress will be attaching the gathered ruffle in option B, as gathering can be time consuming and finicky. Sewing in the channel and inserting the elastic could also be tricky, be sure to secure the elastic at one end with a safety pin to avoid losing it in the channel whilst threading through.

“N6666” halter dress with back tie and straight silhouette

front and back view of a woman wearing a yellow gingham halter neck summer midi dress, and sewing pattern line drawings

Buy now from Simplicity – $3.99

  • Sizes: US 6 – 18. Bust: 30.5” – 40” (77.5 – 102 cm).
  • Format: Paper pattern.
  • Fabric: Light to medium weight woven fabrics such as chambray, cottons, gingham, linen, poplin, or seersucker. This dress requires a fabric with structure as this will allow a nice crisp finish to the bow and give the necessary structure to the bodice. Stable fabrics such as cotton and linen are easy to work with as they don’t shift around during the sewing process and are easy to press. Avoid using anything with stretch or too much drape as this will make the sewing process difficult and won’t allow for the structure the dress needs to hold its shape.
  • Techniques you’ll learn: Sewing straight and curved seams. Sewing an elastic channel. Inserting elastic. Creating spaghetti straps. Creating a kick pleat. Sewing a waistband. Sewing darts to create shaping. Creating a bow tie with fabric. Lining.
  • Why it suits beginners: Although this dress does have some more advanced design details like the open back, the bow, the darts and the kick pleat, the fact that it’s sewn from a stable fabric makes it suitable for adventurous beginners. 
  • Challenges: Sewing and turning the thin spaghetti straps could be tricky for a complete beginner. Using a safety pin or a loop turner to turn the straps right sides out can be helpful. Creating the bow tie and lining the bodice requires some precision, as well as sewing the kick pleat / vent at the back of the longer view. Take your time and press as you go to achieve neat results. 

Shirred Dress with full sleeves and gathered skirt

woman wearing a beige shirred maxi dress with puff sleeves

Make now with By Hand London’s tutorial – FREE

  • Sizes: Custom sizing. The dress is sewn from rectangles which are cut based on your own body measurements. A rough calculation is included in the tutorial. 
  • Format: Instagram tutorial. A blog post for how to make a shirred top is also available here. This follows a very similar construction process and the top can be lengthened to make a dress.
  • Fabric: Light to medium weight woven fabrics. A light cotton blend is suggested. Cotton blends are perfect for beginners since they are stable and easy to work with. Cottons also work well for shirring since they hold their shape, giving a lovely crinkled effect. Avoid anything too thick and bulky when shirring, as you will not be able to achieve the crinkled, gathered finish required. 
  • Techniques you’ll learn: Shirring with elastic thread. Sewing straight seams. Setting in sleeves. Hemming. Sewing an elastic channel and inserting elastic. 
  • Why it suits beginners: Once mastered, shirring is a very easy sewing technique, since it’s essentially sewing straight lines. Shirring is also an easy way to obtain a great fit as the shirred panel will stretch and  fit to the body. This dress is made from rectangles which can be cut based on body measurements so there are no difficult pattern pieces to cut and sew. 
  • Challenges: Although shirring is a fairly easy technique to sew, it can take a little bit of practice to get the tension right and to make sure that the elastic and rows are spaced evenly. Sewing a dress from rectangles is an easy way to create a dress but cutting straight lines that perfectly follow the grainline of the fabric can be tricky. Consider pulling a single thread where you want to cut your fabric to get perfectly straight lines. 

“Bardon” sleeveless dress with a scoop neckline and tiered gathered skirt

front and back of a woman wearing an orange tank dress with a tiered gathered skirt and pockets, made using a woven fabric

Download now from Peppermint Magazine – FREE with optional donation

  • Sizes: A – L. Bust: 31” – 53” (79 – 134 cm).
  • Format: PDF digital download in A4 / US letter sizes.
  • Fabric: Light to medium weight woven fabrics like cotton lawn, poplin, linen, gingham, seersucker, or double gauze. Confident sewists could also use fabrics with more drape, such as viscose, crepe, or rayon. Beginners should stick with a stable fabric such as a cotton blend to make the sewing process easier since the fabric will have less movement and is less slippery to sew. Using a stable cotton blend will give more structure and volume to the gathered tiers meaning while using a fabric with more drape will give more fluidity to the garment and allow it to hang closer to the body.  
  • Techniques you’ll learn: Sewing straight and curved seams. Sewing a facing or a lining. Under stitching. Gathering. Hemming. Sewing in seam pockets.
  • Why it suits beginners: This dress is a simple style with not a lot of shaping involved. This would be a good introduction to sewing a gathered skirt since a more stable fabric can be used and the skirt tiers aren’t that densely gathered. 
  • Challenges: Sewing the facing or lining could be difficult for a complete beginner since the armholes and the scoop neckline will need to be sewed on a curve. Precise sewing will be required for the facing/lining and the under stitching to make sure all the layers are sitting flat. Gathering can also be fiddly to manage at first since it’s important to space the gathers evenly.

Basic crew-neck T-shirt dress with length, fit, and sleeve variations

front and back view of a woman wearing a basic t-shirt dress in a striped blue fabric, and sewing pattern line drawing

Buy now from Rebecca Page – $14.50

  • Sizes: 
    • Standard: 1 – 10. Bust: 31” – 54” (79 – 145 cm).
    • Curvy: 6C – 15C. Bust: 44 – 76” (118 – 193 cm).
  • Format: PDF digital download in A4 / US letter sizes and A0 copyshop size. 
  • Fabric: Light to medium weight stretch knit fabrics with at least 20-30% stretch, such as cotton  jersey, silk satin or jersey with elastane, double brushed poly, rayon spandex, bamboo spandex, modal, cotton lycra, ponte, or poly rayon spandex.  A beginner should choose a stable knit fabric with a lower stretch percentage such as a cotton jersey or a ponte. Both two and four way stretch fabrics can be used but a two way stretch would be easier to work with. These fabrics have less drape than knits with four way and high stretch percentage such as rayon or bamboo so the finished garment will have more structure.
  • Techniques you’ll learn: Sewing with knit / stretchy fabrics. Sewing straight and curved seams. Attaching a stretchy neckband. Hemming knits. Sewing sleeves. Overlocking and / or using a stretch stitch.
  • Why it suits beginners: This would be a great pattern for a beginner wanting to advance their skills sewing with knit fabrics. The style of the dress is very simple with minimal fitting involved. Sleeves in jersey garments are usually sewn flat, making the construction process easier. A stable knit can be used for easy sewing and handling. As the pattern comes with lots of length, sleeve and fit options, you can make lots of different styles of dresses when you master this pattern.
  • Challenges: Sewing in a neckband can be tricky in jersey garments since the neck band needs to be evenly stretched to fit the neck opening. It’s important that you only stretch the neck band and not the neckline as you’re sewing the neck band. I’d recommend running a zigzag stitch to keep the two layers of fabric together once you fold the neck band in half, so that the layers don’t become misaligned as you’re sewing the band to the neckline. It’s also important not to pull or stretch the fabric too much as this can cause the fabric to permanently stretch out of shape causing wavy seams or neckbands.

“Thea” boat neck cocoon dress with long batwing sleeves 

2 women wearing simple and loose jersey cocoon dresses that end at the knee, and sewing pattern line drawings

Buy now from Sew Over It – £11.50 (approx. $14)

  • Sizes: UK 8 – 20. Bust: 33” – 45” (84 – 114 cm).
  • Format: PDF digital download in A4 / US letter sizes and A0 copyshop size.  Copyshop printing is available at an extra cost.
  • Fabric: Light to medium weight stretch knit fabrics with some recovery, like viscose jersey or lightweight ponte. Anything too clingy should be avoided. Beginners should choose a knit fabric with a low stretch percentage and a two way stretch. This will help to make the sewing process easier as the fabric will be more stable. Fabrics with a four way stretch and a high stretch percentage should be avoided as these can be very drapey, stretchy and difficult to sew. Using a fabric with some structure will also help to form the cocoon shaped hem.
  • Techniques you’ll learn: Sewing straight and curved seams in knit fabric. Finishing a boat neckline. Hemming jersey. Sewing sleeves into dropped shoulders. Overlocking or using a stretch stitch on a regular sewing machine.  
  • Why it suits beginners: This would be a great knit pattern for a beginner since the style of the dress is very simple. The shouılders are dropped, making the sleeve insertion much simpler. There are only three pattern pieces and no shaping elements like darts or closures. A stable ponte fabric with low stretch can be used for an easier sewing process which is helpful for beginners.
  • Challenges: Sewing the curved shape of the dress could be difficult as some precise sewing will be needed in order to keep the rounded shape even. Finishing the boat neckline can also be tricky as necklines can easily be stretched out of shape. Minimal handling and lots of pins will be helpful here.

“Aaronica” tank top dress with neck and armhole bands

2 women wearing printed tight-fitting jersey dresses with no sleeves, round necklines, and knee-length cuts, and sewing pattern line drawings

Buy now from Seamwork – $16

  • Sizes: US 00 – 30. Bust: 32” – 60” (81 – 152 cm).
  • Format: PDF digital download in A4 / US letter sizes and A0 copyshop size. Projector files are included.
  • Fabric: Medium weight knit fabrics with at least 50 percent 4-way stretch such as cotton jersey, bamboo jersey, rib knits, double brushed polyester, and ITY knits. Cotton blend knit fabrics are easier to sew and should be the first choice for a beginner sewist, since they are easy to handle and they don’t slip or stretch as much as other jerseys with more stretch such as rayon or bamboo.
  • Techniques you’ll learn: Sewing straight and curved seams in knit fabric. Sewing a bound neckband and armholes. Hemming knit fabric. Overlocking or using a stretch stitch on a regular sewing machine.  
  • Why it suits beginners: This is a very simple style jersey dress with no shaping to do since this is a stretchy, figure hugging dress. There are only 2 pattern pieces for the front and back and some small rectangular strips for the bindings, so there isn’t a lot of cutting or seaming involved.
  • Challenges: The most difficult part of this pattern will be sewing in the neckband and armhole bands. These pieces need to be sewn in the round and stretched evenly to fit the neck and arm holes. You’ll also need to make sure not to stretch the fabric out of shape as you’re sewing each seam.

“Ultimate Wrap Dress” with long sleeves, tie belt and length variations

2 women wearing jersey wrap dresses with long sleeves, and sewing pattern line drawings

Buy now from Sew Over It – £11.50 (approx. $14)

  • Sizes: UK 8 – 20. Bust: 33” – 45” (84 – 114 cm).
  • Format: PDF digital download in A4 / US letter sizes and A0 copyshop size.  Copyshop printing is available at an extra cost.
  • Fabric: Medium weight knit fabrics such as Ponte Roma, interlock, or double-knit jersey. These are stable knits and suitable for beginners since they have a low stretch percentage. These fabrics are less likely to move around while sewing and are less slippery. More experienced sewists could also use a knit fabric with more drape such as a viscose or rayon jersey.
  • Techniques you’ll learn: Sewing straight and curved seams with knit fabric. Sewing a faced neckline and wrap fronts. Hemming jersey. Overlocking or using a stretch stitch on a regular sewing machine.  Sewing a wrap tie. 
  • Why it suits beginners: This pattern is designed with a beginner sewist in mind. Sew Over It instructions are clear and easy to follow. Stable knits can be used to make the sewing process easier.
  • Challenges: The most challenging part of this dress will be to sew in the facing along the wrap fronts. The wrap fronts are cut on the bias which means that they can be prone to stretching out of shape easily. Minimal handling and careful sewing will be needed to help everything to fit into place and sit flat once sewn.

Quick Q&A’s:


Can a beginner sew a dress?

Yes, it’s possible for a beginner to sew a dress. Start with a dress pattern that has clear, well-written instructions, a simple design, and a relaxed fit.

What are the easiest dress patterns for beginners?

The easiest dress patterns to sew are dresses with no shaping (like darts and pleats) and no tricky closures (like zippers and buttonholes). Tunic-style dresses with grown on sleeves such as the Stevie Dress by Tilly and the Buttons are great as they are often sewn with just 2-3 pattern pieces. It’s always best to start with a stable fabric with minimal drape as these fabrics are easiest to work with and will not slip and shift around as you’re cutting, handling, and sewing them.  

How do you sew a dress without a pattern?

The best way to sew a dress without a pattern is to use a dress you already have and enjoy wearing. If the dress is old and unwearable, it’s a good idea to take it apart and use the parts of the dress to make pattern pieces for a new version. To make a simple T shirt dress you could draw around the outline of the T shirt shape and lengthen it to make a dress. Neckband pattern pieces can be drafted based on the length of the neckline and reducing the length by the amount of stretch the fabric has. It’s also possible to create a shirred dress by cutting rectangles of fabric and shirring or gathering the pieces in to fit the body, as shown in this tutorial from By Hand London.



What to read next?


This article was written by Sally Gauntlett, and edited by Nisan Aktürk. It was originally published on 29 May 2023 and has since been updated.

Sally Gauntlett (author)
Sally started sewing as a child. In 2008, she started a handmade business selling personalized gifts and homeware. She then became a sewing content creator, sharing her makes on Youtube and Instagram. Read more…