Debra empire waist dress – Free PDF sewing pattern

Debra empire waist dress - Free PDF sewing pattern

I have been seeing a lot of empire waist dresses and got so inspired to design one. The Debra dress features a scoop neck, gathered front waist detail, flared skirt and puffed sleeve, and of course, a curved empire waist. This style is great if you want to cover up the tummy and create an illusion of longer legs!

Let’s look at the design in more details:

Debra empire waist dress - Free PDF sewing pattern
Debra empire waist dress - Free PDF sewing pattern
Debra empire waist dress - Free PDF sewing pattern
Debra empire waist dress - Free PDF sewing pattern

Tiana’s Closet sewing patterns are made in 10 sizes from XXS to 5XL so you may find a suitable size for yourself. If you are not sure which size suits you, take a look at the measurement table before doing anything here: SIZE GUIDE.

The pattern is made using layered PDF, please check for your desired size before printing so you won’t waste your paper. I have included a first page with many details about sizing and printing, so please first read the first page and make sure you know what size you need! If you still do not know how to print a layered PDF, please check for the printing instruction in this post: PRINTING GUIDE.

My patterns are now made in both A4/Letter paper and A0 paper format so you can print at home or at any print shop!

For home printers, you can print this using your home printer and either A4 or Letter paper. I calculated the printing area so that you will be able to use either type of paper to print the pattern out perfectly. Always print the first page first and check with the test square if you are printing at the right scale before you print out the whole pattern – avoid waste of ink and waste of paper, save the earth!

Some PC may print smaller than actual size even when you choose 100% scale – I don’t know why this problem exist, but my HP laptop cannot print true to size. I have to scale up to 103% to get the right size. You may need to check with your PC to see if it prints true to size, if not, scale up a bit. I was informed by a reader that you can also print the pdf as image to get the right scale, however I never tested it on my computer.


You will need:

  • Fabric of your choice. This pattern is intended for woven fabric.
  • Invisible zipper for center back closure
  • Lightweight fusible interfacing for neckline facing
  • Scissors, pencil or fabric marker, ruler, pins
  • Sewing machine/Serger or needle and thread
  • Printed pattern

How much fabric do you need for this piece of garment? To be precise, you may need to check how much fabric you need before buying. It will depend on the selected pattern size, the width, and design of the fabric you plan to use. Just to be sure, print all the paper patterns and lay them out at the width of fabric you plan to use (usually from 90 to 150 centimeters or 35 to 60 inches). Measure how much fabric you will need. Don’t forget to account for pieces that need to be cut multiple times and pieces that are cut on the fold.

Cutting instruction:

After printing out and taping all the pattern pages together, you will get something similar to this:

Debra empire waist dress - Free PDF sewing pattern

All my patterns already include 1cm (3/8in) seam allowance. Just cut the pattern pieces as is and use a 1cm seam allowance when you sew.

The fabric will be cut into following pieces:

  • Front Bodice: cut 1 piece on the fold
  • Back Bodice: cut 2 mirrored pieces
  • Front Skirt: cut 1 piece on the fold
  • Back Skirt: cut 2 mirrored pieces
  • Sleeves: cut 2 mirrored pieces
  • Front Neckline Facing: cut 1 piece self fabric + 1 piece fusible interfacing
  • Back Neckline Facing: cut 2 mirrored pieces self fabric + 2 mirrored pieces fusible interfacing

Place the pattern pieces on the fabric, pin the pattern pieces to the fabric to secure them in place. Using sharp scissors, carefully cut out the fabric pieces along the outer lines of the pattern. Take your time to ensure precise and clean cuts, as this will affect the fit and overall appearance of your garment.

Make sure to mark all notches and other design features such as darts, pleats, draw marks etc. from the pattern pieces onto your fabric. When sewing the garment, pay attention to notches, they must match up.

Sewing instruction:

1. Sew the Front Dress:

– Gather the middle section of bottom edge of the Front Bodice (between two notches) to match the middle section of the upper edge of Front Skirt. Video tutorial: How to gather fabric.

–  Place Front Skirt and Front Bodice right sides facing. Match the center front, notches and side. Sew to get the Front Dress.

2. Sew the Back Dress:

– Fold and sew the waist darts on the Back Bodice. Video tutorial: How to sew a dart.

– Place Back Bodice and Back Skirt right sides facing. Pin and sew the waist seam.

3. Sew the Main Garment:

– Place the Front Dress and one Back Dress right sides facing. Carefully match the side seam, waist seam positions. Sew the shoulder and side seams. You can add inseam pockets if you like. Video tutorial: How to add an inseam pocket.

– Repeat with the other Back Dress piece to get the Main Garment.

5. Sew the Sleeve:

– Fold the Sleeve right side in and sew the underarm seam.

– Set in Sleeve. Video tutorial:

 6. Attach invisible zipper to the back of the dress and finish back seam:

– Video tutorial: How to sew invisible zippers.

7. Sew the Neckline Facing

– Apply fusible interfacing to the corresponding pieces.

– Place Front Neckline Facing and one Back Neckline Facing right sides together. Sew the shoulder seam. Press seam allowance to the sides.

– Repeat with the other side to get the Neckline Facing.

– Place Neckline Facing and Main Garment right sides together. Pin along the neckline, matching the center front points, shoulder seam and back edge.

– Sew along the neckline. Trim off half of seam allowance and staystitch seam allowance to the facing piece.

– Finish zipper end. Video tutorial: How to finish invisible zipper end on a garment with facing.

8. Finish dress and sleeve hem:

Turn the edge of the hem towards the wrong side of the fabric. Press the folded hem in place with an iron to create a crisp edge.

Choose your desired finishing method:

  • Topstitch: Sew a straight stitch along the folded edge of the hem, securing it in place.
  • Slip Stitch: Use a hand sewing needle and matching thread to invisibly stitch the folded hem to the main fabric.

Although it requires some skills to finish this dress, I know you will love it!

This is the download link:



To download just click on the link above and choose “Save link as”. The PDF file will be downloaded to your device. An advertisement may pop up, just close it and continue with your download. In case some ads attempt to make you enter your personal info, just ignore and close it. I do NOT require any kind of information to download my pattern files.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Because of many cases of copyright infringement, I have restricted permission on my patterns from now on and you will not be able to open it using pdf editing software like Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw etc. Please use PDF readers to open and view the files – there are many free PDF readers that offer layer viewing and printing, like Adobe Reader, Foxit Reader…

Happy sewing! And don’t forget to share your project on my Facebook page: Tiana’s Closet Sewing Patterns or tag me on Instagram #tianasclosetsewingpatterns, I will be thrilled to see the garment in real life!

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