Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer and mom of two little ones. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
I believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!

An awesome knock-off: DIY J.Crew Factory scalloped shift dress tutorial!

I was totally inspired when I saw this simple J.Crew Factory shift dress the other week. I've been making more sheath dresses (no waist, straight skirt) recently, and I love playing around with them and making them interesting with some kind of detail or great fabric. So this one stood out because it's a totally simple, classic shape but is way cute and fresh because of the scallop detail on the armsceyes and hem. Plain fabric, plain color (it also comes in brights), but totally chic and interesting with that detail!

A DIY challenge! I immediately wanted to make my own. And I had the perfect fabric waiting for me, this organic cotton sateen that Organic Cotton Plus sent me to try out. (The original dress is poly/viscose/spandex, but I prefer working with natural fibers and it's difficult to find J.Crew quality fabric at the fabric store anyway if I had wanted to work with a poly. This organic cotton sateen worked great instead!)

So, I developed a technique for making these cute scallops on a simple shift dress pattern. Check it out!

DIY scalloped shift dress tutorial

You'll need:

  • Shift dress pattern (I used McCall's M5799, which is out of print, but any simple pattern - great if it has long vertical bust darts - will do)
  • Dress fabric plus an extra 1/3 - 1/2 yard for the facings
  • 1/3 - 1/2 yard lightweight fusible interfacing
  • Lightweight cardboard to make scallop pattern
  • Basic sewing tools

1. Cut a scallop shape out of an old card until it looked like the right size and proportion. I folded mine in half  while cutting to make sure it was symmetrical.

I wanted my dress to be slightly longer than the pattern, so I planned to add the scallops on to the pattern hemline. To do this, trace the scallop piece one at a time onto your fusible interfacing, moving it along the curve of the hem. (Front and back pattern pieces - cut 2 back, cut 1 front on fold or per pattern instructions.) Extend the interfacing about 2" into the main pattern piece.

At the side seams, I left an extra 1/2" to provide for a 1/2" seam allowance down the side seam.

2. I used my interfacing pieces as my pattern pieces for the scallops. Cut the dress out, maintaining the scalloped interfacing placement and copying it with the hem of the fabric.

Oh, the armholes are a little more tricky. On mine, I just did my best to place the scallop pattern along the curve of the armscye and made some slightly flatter scallops toward the deepest part of the curve.

3. Cut hem facings and armhole facings (can combine with neckline), using the interfacing/main pieces as your pattern. (See more about how to make a facing here.)

4. Iron the interfacing pieces on to the underside of the main dress pieces, matching them up perfectly since you cut them all in exactly the same shapes. (Typically you iron interfacing to the facing piece instead of the fashion fabric to prevent bubbles, but in this case I wanted the scallops to be stiffer and stand up for themselves in this slightly structurally insecure design. If you used a heavier fabric, you might want to put the interfacing on the facing pieces and trust the outer fabric to hold its own!)

5. Assemble the dress (darts, side seams, zipper) per pattern instructions.

6. Sew facings to the (interfaced) main pieces, right sides together. I used a small (1/4"/presser foot width) seam allowance to get the maximum length on the dress and to keep from having to trim as much. At the corners of the scallops, pick up the presser foot, turn, and start curving again.

7. Trim! Carefully.Trim close to the seams at the corners and snip angled triangles out of the convex curves to get rid of some of the bulk.

8. Press and turn right side out, all the way around. (Tip: I found it very helpful to use my old cardboard scallop pattern piece to help the scallops round out!)

9. At the hem, turn under 1/2" on the facing. Use a blind hem stitch to hem.

10. At the armholes and neckline, I just pinked the edges of the facing. As you can see, I did my facing as all one piece, and I didn't cut it exactly the same as the interfacing at the inside edge! Oh, well.


I'm totally happy with it! Love the fun scallops and simple, wearable shape. Great for a party, outdoor event, walking around shopping, or even work! Easy to dress up or down because of the solid color, too. Thanks for the inspiration, J.Crew Factory!

I think I might have to put scallops on the hem of another dress sometime! Fun!


  1. Love this look! I've got a Craft Gossip post scheduled for later today that links to your tutorial:



  2. You did a fantastic job! It looks amazing

  3. Oh this is just lovely! So glad to see it on Craft Gossip.

  4. This turned out great! I've been wanting to do a scalloped hem on shorts and it think I can do it with your tutorial!

  5. Oh, awesome! Thank you! So cool you tried it out!

  6. Awesome, thanks so much, Anne!!

  7. This is really cute, it definitely adds just the riht amount of interest to the shift dress.

  8. The dress looks great, the scallop detailing does add that unique yet simple interest and I like the fact it's classic Navy so that the waves can really play up some whimsical nautical accessories!

  9. That is so cute!! And what a great idea. I love this

  10. I love it! It looks great on you too.

  11. I like the scallop detailing, however, I don't like the seam at all. I think it's a great idea though. I'm definitely going to recreate this without the hem seam. I also love you in fit and flare silhouettes and circle skirts

  12. I love this! It looks really great! I love your shoes too! I think I might have to make a similar one myself! Thanks for the tutorial!

  13. This is adorable! I made a dress with scallop detailing a few years ago but it had a much looser fit. I love yours!

  14. Lovely dress and you look great in it. Not only are you a talented sewer but that is a very helpful tutorial. Thank you.



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