Willow 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!


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.

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.

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.

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!


Mentioned Products

  • Willow Tank & Dress 0 – 18
    Willow Tank & Dress | Grainline Studio