Kate Underdown

If you’ve had an invite for a special do, I know the first thought that runs through your head… “What shall I sew?”. It is a popular topic in our lovely Facebook group and a list we’ve had requests for many times, so here we are! If you have had an invite to a wedding, garden party, baby shower or soirée of any kind, we have a few ideas for what you could sew.

Occasionwear is a lovely garment to make. You may find you need to test sew your garment before cutting into any precious fabric, and that tweaking the fit will give you a result that will last for many occasions. You will just need those invites to come rolling in as you have the perfect thing in your handmade wardrobe for the job! We’re focusing on dresses for this post to narrow the search down but jumpsuits, suits and blazers paired with skirts are lovely options too! So, now onto the patterns…

Deer and Doe Orchidée Dress and Blouse


Deer and Doe have the knack of getting occasionwear pieces spot on. The Orchidée Dress is a lovely option for any special occasion. This lined dress has a deep V-neck, bridal buttons, and statement sleeves. Those details make it feel elevated and it would look just as lovely in plain fabrics as it would bold prints. It would be a lovely pattern for bridesmaid dresses too if you have been roped into making them!

Sizing: UK 6 – 14/16

Format: Paper 

We also love the Magnolia Dress, the Coquelicot Dress, Passiflore Dress and Top and the Sirocco Jumpsuit.

(These are the last paper copies Deer and Doe pattern as they are going out of print – catch them while you can!)

Nina Lee Kew Dress and Skirt


The Nina Lee Kew Dress is oh-so-popular with the sewing community. It has just the right amount of details that make it feel special but can look as great in casual, daywear fabrics as it does in fancy threads. Version 1 has a touch of 1940s tea dress to it and features ruched sleeves. Version 2 is hot-weather ready, with a strappy bodice and the option of on-trend cold-shoulder sleeves. We have some lovely reviews on the site if you want to see what other makers thought about it!

Sizing: UK 6 – 20 or UK 16 – 28. The UK 16 – 28

We also love the Park Lane Dress, Bakerloo Blouse and Dress in a fun organza or taffeta fabric and Mayfair Dress which is elegant and supremely comfy!

Format: PDF and Paper (These are the last paper copies of this pattern as it is no longer in print – catch them while you can!)

Tessa Roosa Veera Dress


I really love the simple elegance of Tessa Roosa’s patterns and I think the Veera Dress is a lovely shape for any occasion. Veera is a light and effortless dress with puff sleeves, a boat neck and knee-length A-line skirt. The clean and simple lines and pretty details give you lots of scope to pick a print. I can imagine this in a lovely bold floral print. What do you think?

Sizing: UK 6 – 22/24

Format: PDF

We also love the Vilja Wrap Dress – especially the pretty flowy butterfly sleeve version. It’s so elegant!

Pattern Sewciety Sari Sheath Dress


We had to include this stunning dress as it’s so popular! Sari is a versatile dress pattern that offers you an option for every occasion. Add a bit of femininity with a lovely frill/ruffle, or make it in a timeless and classic sheath style. Whatever view you choose to make, you won’t be breaking any style rules with this one. It is asking to be made in a striking colour like the sample, don’t you think?

Sizing: UK 8 – 14/16

Format: PDF

We also really love the Mila Dress, the Ella Wrap Dress and Top and the Margot Top and Dress with its elegant circle flutter sleeves.

Pattern Fantastique Mersis Dress and Top


Mersis is a shift dress for superstars. It draws on 80s glam (yes please!) with generous shapes and peek-a-boo features that suggest more than they reveal. Mersis features Dynasty balloon sleeves, a deep ‘V’ neck at the back and a midway ‘V’ for the front neckline. The ‘V’ necklines are purposefully cut to be above most bra straps and to minimise shoulder drop. If you like to make a bit of a statement, this one is for you!

Sizing: 6 – 26

Format: Paper and PDF

Our Lady of Leisure Gin and Tonic Dress


Elegant, with a generous serving of personality, the Gin and Tonic Dress is a real eye-catcher! This is a flattering A-line dress, with a unique “grown-on” wrap detail. It is designed to be made in two contrasting fabrics, but looks equally lovely in a single colour. The dress closes with an invisible zipper, and features a lovely wide neckline.

Sizing: UK 6 – 18

Format: PDF

Our Lady of Leisure has some great occasionwear patterns. We love the Margarita Dress, Paloma Jumpsuit, Cosmo Dress and Mai Tai Dress.

Sewing Patterns by Masin Sicily Slip


One of our top 10 indie patterns of 2021 would make a rather lovely occasionwear dress! The Sicily Slip Dress is a romantic bias cut slip dress inspired by summer road trips through southern Italy. If you have an elegant summer do, this would be a lovely pattern to go for!

Sizing: UK 6/8 – 28

Format: PDF

Style Arc Gertrude Dress


We do like to drool over design details and I promise this one will make you swoon! The Gertrude designer dress features a fitted bodice, dropped shoulder line, engineered sleeves with under-sleeve tucks, inverted pleats and back zip. Pop on a statement necklace and some heels and you are good to go!

Sizing:  UK 4 – 16 or UK 18 – 30

Format: Paper

Fibre Mood Agatha Dress


Who says your special dress doesn’t have to be supremely comfy to wear? The romantic Agatha Dress has everything going for it with its fluttery sleeves, an empire waist, and an elegant fanned circle skirt with hidden side seam pockets. If comfort is key, this dress will feel like secret pyjamas while you look like a million dollars!

Sizing: UK 6 – 26/28

Format: PDF

Tessuti Fabrics Lois Dress


 A simple silhouette is all you really need for a show-stopping dress. The vintage-inspired Lois Dress features a v-neck bodice and a floaty, A-line skirt that falls to a flattering midi length. Finishing features include cuffed arm bands, a top-stitch detail around the neckline and waist, and an invisible side zipper. It looks romantic in a floral and would look gorgeous in a luxe fabric, like silk satin.

Sizing: UK 6 – 16

Format: Paper

We could go on and on with this list, so if you fancy going down a dress’s rabbit hole you can filter by style and details you are after in our pattern sewing-specific search tool. By Hand London are known for their wonderful occasionwear patterns, and we have a few paper patterns left on sale in the shop for you to browse!

Leave a comment
All comments are moderated before being published.

Read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

Related posts



    Are you tired of the same old boring patterns for your little ones? Do you want to add some flair and personality to their wardrobe? Look no further! We've curated a list of six indie sewing pattern designers that will take your kids' style to the next level. If you sew clothes for children you won't want to miss this.


    Thinking of dipping you tow into a bit of accessory sewing? Check out our shortlist of the best bag patterns around


    Are you off to a wedding or event this summer? We've rounded up the best aisle attire for the big day....


    You can't beat a good blouse... check out our spring favourites in this round up