Sometimes I get an idea in my head for a new dress design, it’s often easier to alter an existing pattern than draft a whole new design. This was the case with the McKenzie pattern. I loved the square neckline, and the babydoll fit, and although the instructions do include how to make it dress length as well I wanted to change up the style a bit.

Instead of a pleated skirt I wanted to do a full gathered skirt, with a hi-low hem. I also wanted to still have a color blocked hem but with an added band. Doing this is easy to do and I have a little tutorial for it.

First things first. A basic gathered skirt is often just a rectangle, which is what we start off with here. So you will need to know 2 measurements to get things started. You need to know the desired length you want the skirt and the desired width.

To find the width: I measured the width of the bodice I was sewing the skirt to(front only), and then multiplied it by 3 for a very full gather. Then divide by 2 since you will cut the skirt pieces out on the fold. *The front and back bodice were the same width so I used this same width measurement to cut a front and back skirt piece

To find the length: This gets a little tricky with a hi-low hem, but it’s not bad. Start by determining how long you need the skirt piece to be (like from the bodice edge to the knee or below the knee, wherever you want it to come to) Add hem allowance of at least 1″ to that length. Then add 2 more inches since the front hemline will be higher.

In part 2 of the diagram you will see how you make the high (front) and low (back) part. You start with a basic rectangle of the width and length found above. For the front along the fold edge measure up 2″ then squaring off from the front edge curve down towards the bottom right edge of the rectangle. For the back lower the back 2 or more inches down along the fold edge. I usually go lower in back than I go high in front but it’s up to you. Then again you will square off from the fold edge and curve up to the corner of the rectangle.

Sewing the skirt together you sew up the sides and then gather along the top and sew it to the bodice. For this particular one I used the McKenzie pattern to cut in the under arm curve and then sewed it up following the pattern, except I gathered the top instead of pleating it. To sew the striped hem, I cut strips on the bias. Bias strips sew to the curve very well and are easier than cutting curved pieces on grain.

For the tassel detail I made tassels following these instructions, and then added them on when I was sewing the bodice and skirt together.