Willow Tank Variation 03: Gathered Waist Dress

We have another pattern modification available for you today that we’re happy to finally be sharing. Jen made this gathered waist Willow Tank Dress over a year ago, but she hadn’t gotten around to photographing it. After seeing a similar version pop-up on social media a few weeks ago, she was reminded of the dress she had made and how much she loved it. We pulled this out of the closet so that we could show you how to make this variation!

Willow Tank Variation 03: Gathered Waist Dress

The alterations to the pattern pieces are minimal, and the skirt is simply a gathered rectangle. If you’re trying to estimate the amount of fabric you’ll need for this, or any other, variation our Tips & Tricks: Estimating Fabric Yardage post shows you how you can lay out your pattern pieces and determine your yardage (or meters!). Let’s get started below.

Begin by tracing off your front and back bodice pattern pieces onto separate paper. Then measure and mark a line 1/2″ (1.27 cm) below the lengthen/shorten lines on both pieces.

Cut along the previously marked line to shorten your bodice pieces.

Willow Tank Variation 03: Gathered Waist Dress

We’ll use our front and back bodice pieces to draft the width of our front and back skirt pieces. The amount of gathers your dress has will be determined by how wide you make your skirt pieces. The formula you can use to calculate your skirt width measurements is as follows:

 bodice edge measurement + bodice edge measurement (0.5) = skirt width

This formula will result in a slightly gathered skirt like the one we’re showing here. If you want your dress to have more gathers multiply by a larger amount.

Starting with your front bodice piece, measure the bottom bodice edge. Multiply this number by 0.5. Add this number to your original measurement for the width of your skirt front.

Willow Tank Variation 03: Gathered Waist Dress

Next you’ll need to determine the length you want your dress to be. We recommend making a muslin so you can assess a final length that works for you. For reference our dress is 28″ (71.12 cm) long and includes a 4″ (10.16 cm) hem. Use your length and width measurements to draw your skirt front pattern piece. Repeat with the back bodice piece to calculate the width of your skirt back.

Willow Tank Variation 03: Gathered Waist Dress

Baste two lines of stitching 1/4″ (0.635 cm) and 3/8″ (0.95 cm) from the top edge of your skirt front. Gather the skirt front so that it matches the width of your bodice front. With right sides facing sew the skirt front to the skirt bodice using 1/2″ (1.27 cm) seam allowance. The top edge of the skirt will be aligned with the lower edge of the bodice. Repeat for the back skirt.

Finish your gathered waist Willow dress by sewing the side seams and hemming!

Willow Tank Variation 03: Gathered Waist Dress

Products Used in This Tutorial

10 replies on “Willow Variation 03: Gathered Waist Dress

  • Helena

    Thank you so much for this, just finished fourth Willow tank (1st cropped)! Have made the dress recently and love it but this gathered skirt is so pretty. It’s very similar to a dress I saw at Merchant and Mills last week where someone had made a cross between Hattie and Ellis, (raised waistline of Ellis and sleeveless like Hattie) top was plain white linen and skirt was checked grey and white. Looked so pretty and I could easily recreate.

    Reply
    • Aimee

      You’re very welcome! That’s incredible that you’ve made so many Willows. We love to see people get a lot of use and wear out of our patterns. The dress you’re describing sounds beautiful. Good luck!

      Reply
      • valya walker

        I live in Guatemala. It definitely looks Guatemalan. But it could be Mexican also. The fabrics here are incredible. One reason I’m here. If I get bored I just have to look at the ikat/haspe.

        if from Mexico it’s from Oaxaca.
        if it is Guatemalan, it is for export, their fabrics are much more intricate for personal use. its addictive ❤️

        Reply
        • Jen

          This particular fabric was imported from India but I would love to be able to buy the ones you’ve mentioned! I’ll have to do some searching online!

          Reply
  • sewitbeginsnanaimo

    I have made 3 Willow dresses and 2 tanks. I changed the neckline on one dress to a V-neck with a facing. It’s my go-to favourite!
    I’m setting up to teach a capsule wardrobe with the Willow dress, Hadley long sleeve, Tamarack jacket and a pair of pull on pants from another company.
    I’ll try the gathered skirt variation next!

    Reply
    • Jen

      You’d need to adjust the armscye a bit since it was drafted to be sleeveless. I’d recommend making a muslin to see how much you’ll need to extend the shoulder / armscye out, then take it from there.

      Reply

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