McCall’s 8160 Spotlight on the Best Shift Dress Sewn 3 Ways, You Need This

McCalls 8160 red sequin shift dress

Fashion is ever-evolving, with trends coming and going. However, a few timeless classics have stood the test of time amidst the changing styles. One such iconic garment is the shift dress. In this blog post, we will delve into the rich history of the shift dress, focusing on McCall’s 8160 pattern. We will also explore different ways you can use it to create unique pieces.

If you’ve been following along, you know this is not the first time I’ve brought this pattern out. This is my third go-round with McCalls 8160, which should tell you something about the versatility and beauty of his sewing pattern. 

black women leaning on wall in McCalls 8160 red sequin shift dress

The Birth of the Shift Dress

The shift dress emerged in the 1920s as a revolutionary departure from the restrictive and corseted styles of the previous era. Inspired by the freedom and liberation of the Flapper movement, the shift dress featured a loose and straight silhouette that skimmed over the body, allowing for ease of movement.

The Rise to Popularity

In the 1960s, the shift dress experienced a resurgence in popularity. It became synonymous with the mod fashion movement, endorsed by style icons such as Twiggy and Audrey Hepburn. The shift dress’s clean lines and minimalistic design perfectly embodied the spirit of the swinging sixties.

McCall’s 8160: A Modern Classic

McCall’s 8160 pattern epitomizes the timeless elegance and versatility of the shift dress. This pattern offers endless possibilities for creating stylish and comfortable garments customized to suit your style. Its simple yet sophisticated design, McCall’s 8160 has become a staple in many sewists’ collections. It’s a stand-alone piece like McCalls 7997 blazer dress, it doesn’t need help to be beautiful or fantastic.

Pattern Overview

McCall’s Pattern 8160 is a multi-garment pattern with options for a dress, tunic, top, and pants. With various sleeve lengths, necklines, and hemline variations, this pattern allows you to combine and vary elements to create different looks. It is designed for woven fabrics, making it suitable for various materials, including cotton, linen, rayon, and more.

McCalls 8160 Design Possibilities: 4 key pieces

The Classic McCalls Shift Dress

With its clean lines and simple silhouette, the dress option in McCall’s 8160 is perfect for both casual and formal occasions. Choose a lightweight fabric and opt for a knee-length or midi-length hemline for a breezy summer dress. For a more formal look, select a luxurious fabric and add some extra details like lace trim or a decorative belt.

Stylish Tunic

The tunic variation in this pattern is excellent for creating relaxed and chic outfits. Combine a colorful print fabric with a longer length and pair it with leggings for a comfortable and fashionable ensemble. Experiment with different sleeve lengths and neckline options to create a tunic that suits your style.

McCalls 8160 shift

Versatile Top

The top option in McCall’s 8160 is an adaptable piece that can be dressed up or down. Opt for a lightweight fabric with short sleeves and a keyhole neckline for a casual everyday top. Choose a silk or satin fabric with long sleeves and a V-neckline for a more elevated look.

Comfy Pants

Looking for a perfect blend of comfort and style in pants? Look no further than McCall’s 8160. The pants option features a relaxed fit and an elastic waistband, making them ideal for running errands or lounging. You can use a soft knit fabric for maximum comfort or choose a flowy rayon for a more sophisticated look. I have yet to try it, but it sure looks like a perfect choice for the summer.

Tips for Customization

– Play with fabric choices: Experiment with diverse fabrics to achieve different looks and textures. Use bold prints, luxurious textures, or contrasting fabrics for added visual interest.

– Add embellishments: Personalize your garments by adding decorative elements like buttons, ruffles, or embroidery. These small details can elevate the overall look of your creations.

– Mix and match: Feel free to mix and match pattern elements to create unique designs. Combine different sleeve lengths, necklines, and hemlines to make each garment your own.

Why McCalls 8160? The Enduring Appeal

What sets the shift dress apart from other garments is its ability to transcend trends and suit various occasions. Whether dressed with heels and statement accessories for a cocktail party or sandals for a casual day out, the shift dress remains chic and timeless.

Modern Interpretations

In recent years, fashion designers and enthusiasts have continued to reinterpret the shift dress, incorporating contemporary elements while staying faithful to its classic silhouette. From bold prints to innovative fabric choices, the shift dress has proven to be endlessly adaptable.

How Fashion Reimagined the Shift Dress like McCalls 8160 over the Years

Embellished Shift Dress

Some designers incorporated embellishments into the classic shift dress and their own twist. This can include intricate work sequins,, or even appliques. These details elevate the shift dress, making it a statement piece for special occasions, like my newest version of McCalls 8160 in red sequins, ready to party all night. 

Asymmetric Hemlines, a potential McCalls shift dress hack

Innovative designers have experimented with the hemlines of the shift dress, introducing asymmetry into the design. This can involve a longer hemline at the back or a diagonal cut across the skirt. Asymmetric hemlines add visual interest and give the shift dress a modern and edgy touch. You could hack the hemline of this dress to make it asymmetric.

Bold Prints and Patterns

While the classic shift dress often features solid colors or simple patterns, designers have embraced bold prints and patterns to create eye-catching variations.

African American woman wearing Blue and yellow ankara Mccalls 8160 shift dress

Vibrant florals, geometric prints, abstract designs, and animal prints are examples of how designers have infused new life into the shift dress. This reminds me of my bright blue Ankara version of McCalls 8160.

African American women leaning on post outside in McCalls 8160

Textured Fabrics

Fashion designers have played with different textured fabrics to create unique versions of the shift dress. This includes lace overlays, velvet fabrics, jacquard patterns, or metallic finishes. These textured fabrics add depth and dimension to the silhouette, making it more visually intriguing. I have yet to try this, but even a plaid like Mimi G’s Simplicity 8451 would add some pizzaz. 

Cut-Out Details

For those who want a more contemporary twist on the shift dress, designers have incorporated cut-out details into the design. Whether it’s a keyhole cut-out at the neckline, strategic side cut-outs, or open-back designs, these contemporary elements add a touch of allure and modernity to the shift dress.

These are just a few examples of how fashion designers have reimagined the shift dress in recent years. The versatility of this classic silhouette allows designers to continually experiment and create fresh and exciting variations to suit the ever-changing fashion landscape. 

Overall thoughts on McCall’s Pattern 8160:

As we reflect on the history of the shift dress, it is clear that this garment has left an indelible mark on the fashion world. From its humble beginnings in the 1920s to its enduring appeal in modern times, the shift dress has stood the test of time. Whether you’re a fashion or sewing enthusiast, McCall’s 8160 is a pattern worth exploring to embrace the elegance and versatility of the timeless shift dress.


McCall’s Pattern 8160 offers endless possibilities for creating stylish and versatile garments. Whether you’re sewing a dress, tunic, top, or pants, this pattern allows you to customize your creations to suit your style. With its clean lines and various design options, McCall’s 8160 is a versatile wardrobe staple every sewing enthusiast should have in their collection.

So, grab your sewing machine, choose your favorite fabrics, and let your creativity soar with McCall’s Pattern 8160! With each stitch, you’ll create a beautiful garment and pay homage to a piece of fashion history.

Remember to share your creations, and happy sewing! 


– History of Fashion: The Shift Dress –

– Vogue: The Evolution of the Shift Dress –

– Sewing Pattern: McCall’s 8160 –