Hack Your Pattern Patterns Sewing Tutorial

Reef Top into Dress Hack

Hi everyone, glad to see you here again. Even if you don’t know a whole lot about me, you probably have gathered by now that I experience immense joy at modifying patterns, even if just a little. This was surely no different when I got to sew up the Reef Top from Suco by Susana for my daughter as part of my looks in Project Under the Sea from Project Run + Play.

I had this stunning remnant of glitter dot chiffon chosen for the Reef Top originally, and the more I looked at it, I couldn’t help but think of how gorgeous it would be in dress length. I printed out the pattern, studied the pieces and knew it would be easy enough to hack…so I did! Here, I will show you step-by-step what changes you need to make to sew up a Reef Dress. Let’s get started!

Pattern Work for Dress Length

You’ll need the pattern and some extra paper. Start by drawing the waistline across the front bodice. To determine the length of the dress, measure from the true waist of the model, down to where you intend for the dress to stop. I measured 21″ for my daughter, which ended a little above her knee. Add the extra paper and just extend the side seam straight down to meet the new hem. Since this dress cinches at the waist from the elastic, we do not want to disturb the waistline. Make a new parallel line 2″ below the waistline to use as a pivot line for the slashes we will make. Draw three equally spaced vertical lines from the pivot line down to the hem. Cut from the side seam of the pivot line, all the way to the slash line closest to the center fold. You should be able to lift the bottom half of the bodice away from the top. Next, cut your vertical lines from the hem up to, but not through, the horizontal pivot line.

You can then carefully pivot each of the pieces to give even spread between them. The amount of hem fullness you want will determine the spread. I didn’t have much fabric to work with, so I chose 3/4″ between each to not make it too wide. This gave a beautiful result, without making it too full. Add more pattern paper behind the pieces, make the side seam smooth if it got distorted, and then add in your hem allowance. You can repeat the steps for the back bodice, if you’d like, but the easiest/quickest way is to just fold some of the front bodice down and then place the back bodice on top of it, matching up the waist mark. Cut out your fabric using your new pieces and sew it up according to the pattern instructions 🙂

Using a Fabric that Requires Lining

If you’re using a sheer fabric, or eyelet or something you’d like to line, you will need to cut 1 of the front and back in your lining and outer fabrics. I also chose to line the straps, and carefully made sure to keep them aligned while sewing them. Sew up the side seams of your outer dress and your liner dress. Turn both dresses right side out, then slide the lining into the main, matching up side seams. Carefully baste the two layers together around the top opening. Treat as one dress as you follow the rest of the instructions as they are in the pattern (until the hem). When it is time to add the waist elastic, you will need to be very careful, making sure you keep the liner and outer smooth while sewing to not create any puckers or bunching. The elastic will be sewn onto the liner side, but it will be attached through the outer fabric, as well.

All that’s left is to hem. I originally added 1″ to my pattern for the hem. I ended up deciding to do a serger rolled hem on the chiffon to match the flounce, so I trimmed the liner dress down by 1/2″ and then double folded and pressed the hem 1/4″ and sewed it in place. This made the outer 1″ longer than the liner, which is pretty common in RTW, and the perfect look I was going for.

The Reef was such a perfect template for this and the finished dress turned out so divine. My daughter isn’t one for dresses as she’s gotten older, but she really, really loves this and feels pretty in it. She has already claimed that she will wear it to her 8th grade graduation party. While I’m excited, what she doesn’t know is that as a planning committee member, I already know the theme and have another one out of more suitable fabric planned 😉 Check out these photos of my sweet baby in her new dress! Do you plan to make one, too?

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