The Avid Makers: Vicky’s Gathered Dress

Hello, my name is Vicky, although you might know me better as @sewstainability on Instagram. This is my first post for The Avid Makers and I am so excited to be starting off with The Gathered Dress pattern. I’ve admired The Gathered Dress for a long time but have just started working in an office and now is the perfect time to make some simple but smart sheath dresses!

Flat lay of The Gathered Dress sewing pattern on top of rust coloured fabric, and two pairs of sewing scissors.

This was also my first time sewing an Avid Seamstress pattern and I was very impressed with the clarity and depth of the instructions. I have been sewing for over ten years and I would say these are the most comprehensive instructions I’ve ever worked with!

The Gathered Dress is marked as an intermediate pattern, however, I must have been feeling lazy when I cut it out because I decided to hack it to remove the centre back zip which simplifies the garment massively. Removing the back zip means:

  • Cutting the top back on the fold
  • Cutting the back skirt on the fold
  • Cutting the back facing on the fold
Detail shot of the back of The Gathered Dress, showing the zip has been removed.

As well as cutting those pieces on the fold, the sewing was hugely simplified. After stitching on the pockets and sewing the darts, I gathered the back skirt piece and attached it to the top before joining the sleeves and front into a circle. Then just sew the facing, side seams and hem! 

Taking away the back zip does add around 3cm to the centre back of the dress, this is important to make sure that you can get your head through the neck hole! However, it does make the back less fitted and so it is a personal preference whether you would like that or not!

Portrait photo of the back of The Gathered Dress.

My body is pear-shaped and I have roughly 14inches difference between my waist and hip measurements, this means I have to adjust pretty much all dresses, trousers & skirts that I make. The Gathered Dress pattern was perfect for me because I didn’t have to grade out at the side seams as I often do when making dresses. Instead, I looked at the size guide and cut the whole front and bodice back for the size that would fit my bust and waist (size 12) and then cut the back skirt piece two sizes larger (size 16). It was easy to gather the size 16 skirt to fit the size 12 top back and means that this dress is made to fit my body perfectly!

Full body photo of Vicky wearing The Gathered Dress in a rust coloured fabric.

I realise that I haven’t mentioned the fabric! I try to sew as sustainably as I can and therefore most of the fabrics in my stash are second hand. This rust-coloured cotton came from a charity shop in York – I got 6m for £4! This dress took roughly 1.8m and so I still have plenty left and have plans to make a quilted jacket with the rest – matching dress & jacket, anyone?! 

This fabric is considerably thicker than quilting cotton and feels almost like a lightweight denim. I think it gives the shape some good body and holds the gathers well, giving the overall garment a smart look that is perfect for wearing to the office! I think linen or denim would be equally amazing and will keep my eye out for some to make another.

I originally had plans to add a big pleated collar to this dress as I think it would look amazing with some added drama, but despite my best efforts my fabric manipulation skills were not up to the challenge! This is why we need experts like The Avid Seamstress to draft our patterns for us! I don’t have space for a dress form and I think one might have helped me with draping a collar. I haven’t given up on the idea, but I think it’s more practical to have a removable collar anyway so maybe we should pretend this was deliberate?

I am really happy with my dress as it is and I think it is perfect for putting together autumn-in-the-office looks. I think it will be great layered with knitwear and various pairs of boots! The Gathered Dress pattern was a pleasure to sew and I will definitely make another!

Click here to get your copy of The Gathered Dress. Did you know we also have a children’s version too? Perfect for festive gifts!

2 thoughts on “The Avid Makers: Vicky’s Gathered Dress

  1. I so agree! I have made 2 of the gathered dress and found the pattern and instructions so clear and I love the result.

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