What is an empire line dress?

The empire silhouette is a style that dates back to the late 18th century with French origins; Napoleon's first Empress Joséphine de Beauharnais was influential in popularising the style around Europe. The style evolved until the early 1820s, becoming gradually less simple, after which the hourglass Victorian styles became more popular.

In modern day, the term empire line or empire waist is used to describe dresses which feature a fitted bodice ending just below the bust, giving a high-waisted appearance. The outline is flattering to anyone wishing to disguise the stomach area, emphasise the bust and lengthen the body's appearance.

Search #empiredress on Instagram to see old and new dress makes

5 FREE Empire Line Dress Patterns

Peruse through our round-up of  empire line dresses to find you next project. We're bringing you a selection of free patterns which work for a range of abilities and can be made in fabric of your choice! There's something for everyone in this collection, click the links below to find the pattern you love!

The Milly Dress

The Milly dress features a charming frilled hem and flattering empire-line bodice. Originally featuring in issue 78 of Love Sewing, this gorgeous timeless dress is suitable for all ages and occasions.


Marjorie Empire Line Dress

Marjorie is a sleek and sophisticated long-sleeved empire dress made in a fluid crepe. Burgundy wine is a great colour for autumn/winter and a longer length and slender line makes this a flattering figure-hugging dress.


Marianne Dress

Dress to impress with this beautiful dress, featuring a fitted style with gathered empire-line style. Choose a bold print as shown here, or pair it back with a colour block to suit different occasions.


The Mimosa Dress

The Mimosa Dress from Mood Fabrics is a more casual simple sewing pattern featuring am empire style with a wrap design. Made here in a luxurious bamboo jersey, this dress would look stunning in anything from cotton jersey to rib knit!


Yvonne Empire Waist Dress

This fantastic free pattern from the Tiana's Closet blog has all bust darts turned into gathering at the empire waist line, and a fun flared skirt down the hemline. See this dress mocked up in a range of fabrics on the site and follow Tiana's handy step by step guide!


If you're looking for more sewing content on CraftWorld, check out the following links!

An Introduction to Dressmaking

5 FREE Wrap Dress Patterns

5 FREE Buffet Dress Patterns

5 FREE Cocktail Dress Patterns

5 FREE Dancing Dresses

Happy Sewing,