Today we will take you through a dress hack for our London pattern, making it hot summer friendly and even maternity friendly! Our co-founder Caroline will take you through the easy steps to make this breezy summer dress, which involves eliminating all darts, eliminating the zip, gathering the skirt onto the waist and adding a ruffle to add length and use up as much fabric as possible. For this hack, the only scrap we were left with was less than 20 x 20 cm! A great way to use up every bit of a beautiful fabric. This dress hack is great if you like a bigger, floaty garment; if you struggle with back fastenings because of an injury or disability; for growing baby bumps; for accessorising with a great belt to create an empire look.
You will need:
- The London dress pattern
- Enough fabric to make the dress in your size (you won’t need extra fabric for this hack)
- A few hours of your time
The only scraps we were left with!
Step 1: Cutting Out
For this hack, Caroline went up a size to create a roomier garment to be able to use it longer for pregnancy. You can also stay in your own size for this dress hack.
Cut out the sleeves and facing as per usual. For the bodice front and back, straighten out the side seam to create more room. When cutting out the skirt pieces, straighten out the top of the side seam where it normally curves into the waist.
Shorten the bodice front and back by 1 inch / 2.5 cm if you are making this as a maternity hack. This way your dress sits a bit above the waist, away from growing bumps. You can do this step even if it’s not made as a maternity hack: the higher waist will create a looser look.
Step 2: No Darts!
Use your pattern instructions to make up the dress, but don’t sew any of the darts in. Make up your dress until your bodice is together and you have sewn your skirt pieces together. The next step is to attach the two together.
Step 3: Gather Skirt
Run a gathering line (on your machine’s biggest stitch, don’t backstitch!) on your skirt pattern line. Run a second line a foot’s width above it. Make a centre front mark on your skirt. Now pin your bodice onto the skirt, matching the side seams and the centre back. Pin the centre front of the skirt to the centre front of the bodice. Start drawing up your gathering threads. Work on the skirt as two halves, so draw up from one centre back and distribute the gathers between there and the centre front. Then start drawing up from the other centre back and do the other half of your skirt. The skirt is too wide to do it in one go!
Finish the waist seam as per your instructions. You can now pin up the centre backs to see if you can get it on without a zip. Leave about 15 cm unpinned at the top where you will have an opening. If all is well, go ahead and overlock the centre backs and then sew up, remembering to leave a gap at the top (for your head).
Step 4: Add a Ruffle
If you have any lengths of fabric left, use these to prepare a ruffle. Caroline sewed two strips together to create more length. Aim for a ruffle that is about 8-20 cm deep, depending on how much fabric you have left, and use up the full width, or make a strip that is 3 to 4 times the width of the skirt.
Hem one long side of your strip by turning a double hem. Then run gathering threads on the other long side just like we did above for the skirt.
Mark the centre of the strip, then divide each side into halves. Sew up the short raw edges, overlock the seam allowances together and press. Your strip is now a big circle. You can now pin the strip to the skirt hem, right side to right side (your ruffle will be lying upside down on the outside of your skirt, like in the picture below). Match the centre mark to the centre of your skirt hem, the half point marks to the side seams and the seam to the centre back of your skirt hem. Start drawing up your gathering threads, working on the strip as two halves, just like for the skirt. Distribute the gathers nice and evenly using lots of pins. Sew, overlock and flip your frill down. Give the seam allowance a little press and your frill is ready!
Step 5: Finish the Bodice
Because we are not using a zip in this hack, we need to leave a small opening at the top of the bodice to be able to get our heads through. Turn the raw edges of your facing under and hand stitch down. Add a hook and bar to the top that you can fasten once the dress is on.