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Shift Dress Hack: Gathered Skirt

Shift Dress with Gathered SkirtShift Dress with Gathered SkirtShift Gathered Skirt Tutorial


Adding a gathered skirt to the Shift Dress gives it a completely different vibe, and it's fairly simple to do.  Since you'll be adding a lot of volume to the skirt portion, you might consider cutting the pattern in a size or two smaller than what's shown on the size chart.  Because I love an oversized fit, I stayed true to my size as listed on the chart.  I didn't include the pockets, but I think that some inseam pockets would be a nice addition (perhaps another tutorial for another time).  You don't need the side slits because there's plenty of room for movement in the skirt, but it would be pretty cute to leave them as part of the design for the long version.

As far as fabric goes, this dress only takes an inch or two more fabric than the regular Shift Dress, so you can just stick to the fabric requirements chart on the pattern.  I recommend a light and flowing fabric for best results, because this dress has a lot of fabric.  You won't want it to be heavy!

First I'll show you how to alter your pattern pieces, and then I'll show you how to sew the skirt and bodice together.  After you've completed the steps, use the instructions in your Shift pattern booklet to to finish the neck, hem, and sleeves.

Illustrations indicate RIGHT side of fabric as gray and WRONG side as white.



Start by determining where you want the waistline to hit.  Measure from your shoulder/neck point down the front of your body to your preferred waist placement.  Write down the measurement.  I chose to measure down to my natural waist, and my number was 17".  (Keep in mind the shoulder seam allowance here.)  Measure down the same amount from the high point shoulder on your Front Long Dress Pattern piece and make a mark.  Draw your waistline and cut across the line, dividing the pattern piece into bodice and skirt.  Add 3/8" seam allowance to the bottom of the bodice and the top of the skirt.  The Skirt piece will be the same for both Front and Back.

Shift Gathered Skirt Tutorial


Use your Top Back pattern piece (NOT Dress Back) to make your Back Bodice.  Measure down from the high point shoulder the same amount you did for the Front.  Draw the waistline and cut off the bottom of the pattern piece.  Add 3/8" seam allowance at the bottom of the Back Bodice.  Lay the Back Bodice on top of the Front Bodice to make sure they're the same length.

Shift Gathered Skirt Tutorial


Measure the width of your Skirt pattern piece and write down the number.  Mine was 11" wide.   I wanted around 75% extra volume, so I used this formula to decide how much extra width to add:

11 x .75 = 8.25" 

(I rounded down to 8".)  You might want less volume than I chose.  Whatever number you decide on, add that many inches width to your Skirt pattern piece.

Shift Gathered Skirt Tutorial



  • Front Bodice: cut 1 on fold 
  • Back Bodice: cut 1 on fold
  • Skirt (Front and Back): cut 2 on fold
  • Front Neck Facing: cut 1 on fold
  • Back Neck Facing: cut 1 on fold


  • Center Front at Bodice waist
  • Center Back at Bodice waist
  • Center Front at Skirt waist
  • Center Back at Skirt waist

Shift Gathered Skirt Tutorial



Before sewing side seams, finish side and underarm edges by serging or zigzagging all four (both sides of Front and Back) separately.  Be careful not to trim fabric from the edges as you serge. 

Shift Gathered Skirt Tutorial



With RIGHT sides together, pin Front Bodice to Back Bodice along sides and underarms.  Sew side and underarm seams with 3/8" seam allowance and press open.   

Pin Front and Back shoulders together and sew with 3/8" seam allowance.  Finish seam allowance and press toward Back. Shift Gathered Skirt Tutorial



With RIGHT sides together, pin Skirt Front to Skirt Back along sides and sew with 3/8" seam allowance.   Finish seam allowance and press toward Back. Shift Gathered Skirt Tutorial



Using machine's longest stitch length, sew two rows of gathering stitches at top of Skirt Front, 1/4" and 1/2" from edge.  Leave thread tails long.  Repeat for Skirt Back.  Set stitch length back to normal.

Shift_Gathered Skirt Tutorial



Turn Bodice RIGHT side out and insert upside down into Skirt.  

Shift Gathered Skirt Tutorial


With RIGHT sides together, line up waist edges of Bodice with Top edges of Skirt and pin.  Begin by pinning side seams together, and then pin Fronts together at center notches.  Next pin Backs together at center notches.  Pull gathering threads to distribute Skirt fabric evenly as you pin between notches and side seams.

Shift Gathered Skirt Tutorial

Tie gathering threads.  Sew with 3/8" seam allowance.  Remove gathering threads and finish seam allowance.  Press seam allowance toward Bodice.

Shift Gathered Skirt TutorialShift Gathered Skirt Tutorial

Shift Hack: Forward Shoulder Adjustment

Melizza (@melizzamakes), one of our wonderful pattern testers for the Shift, noticed that when she wore her muslin the neckline tended to slip backward as she moved.  She figured out that she needed to do a forward shoulder adjustment to her pattern before making the Shift in her final fabric.  Not everyone will need this adjustment, but some people's shoulders protrude forward.  (Mine certainly do!)  You can tell this is the case if the shoulder seam of the garment sits toward the back of the shoulder instead of the center.

This is an easy fix to make to your pattern pieces, and we'll show you how!

 Shift Dress with Pockets and Waist Tie



After you make your muslin, wear it around to see if you encounter any slipping back of the garment.  The dress version of this pattern will be more likely to have this effect since there's more fabric in the back that's gathered.  Check out the shoulder seam in the mirror and measure how far the seam sits behind the center of your shoulder.  If you can't tell, start by trying a 1/2" adjustment.



Draw a line across shoulder 1/2" (or whatever measurement you require) down from shoulder line on Front pattern piece.  Do the same for the Front Neck Facing.

Forward Shoulder Adjustment


Cut across the lines you've just drawn, removing the top 1/2" (or whatever your measurement was) from the Front shoulder and Front Neck Facing shoulder.


With edges touching, tape 1/2" strip from Front shoulder to Top Back (if making Top) or Back Yoke (if making dress).  Repeat for Back Neck Facing.

Forward Shoulder Adjustment

If you're adding the 3/4 sleeve, make sure you move the notch at the top of the sleeve 1/2" toward the back to match your new shoulder line.  


Melizza made her Shift Dress using the Linen in Rust from our website.

Shift Dress Hack: Attaching Waist Tie

Permanently attaching the Waist Tie to the Shift Dress at the back waist will keep the gathers looking perfect and prevent the tie from slipping around.  Plus you'll never lose the tie!  


Attaching Waist Tie to Shift Dress


Below on the left you'll see how the back of the dress looks as intended in the pattern you purchased.  Below on the right you'll see how the back of the dress will look with the Waist Tie attached.  There's a little waistband piece between the two sides of the Waist Tie.

Shift Dress Back Illustration

Complete the steps in this tutorial before you begin the sewing instructions in the pattern booklet.  After completing the tutorial, start at the beginning of the sewing instructions in the booklet but skip the last page, which shows how to sew an unattached Waist Tie.



The Waist Tie pattern piece is already included in the Shift pattern, but you'll have to draft a separate Waistband piece to sew the 2 Waist Tie pieces to.  

Waistband dimensions: 2 5/8" tall x 8" wide.  This includes 3/8" seam allowance and is the same for all sizes.

Cut 1 Back Waistband from fabric.

Shift Waistband Dimensions


On Dress Back pattern piece, draw a line straight down from the notch at the top.  Make sure the line is parallel to the center back line.  Measure 9 1/4" down from the top and make a mark on the pattern piece.  Make a second mark 1 3/4" down from the first mark.  This is the same for all sizes.  After cutting piece out of fabric, transfer these marks to the fabric.


Use a disappearing ink pen to draw two horizontal lines connecting Waistband placement marks on Dress Back fabric.  Set machine to longest stitch length and sew two horizontal rows of gathering stitches along these lines, leaving the threads long.  Set machine's stitch length back to the normal setting.

Gather Back Waist


Fold Waist Tie in half lengthwise with RIGHT sides together and press.  Pin edges together.  Sew with 3/8" seam allowance, starting at one short end, pivoting at corner, and then sewing across length.  Leave one short end open.  Repeat for second Waist Tie.

Sewing Waist TiesPress seam allowance toward one side.  Turn Waist Tie RIGHT side out through the open end.  Make sure corners are neat and press flat.  Repeat for second Waist Tie.

Waist TiesTopstitch around the 3 closed sides of Waist Tie 1/4" from edge.  Repeat for second Waist Tie.

Topstitching Waist Tie


Fold the long edges of the Back Waistband piece 3/8" to the WRONG side and press flat.

Waistband EdgesWith Back Waistband RIGHT side up, pin open side of Waist Tie to short end of Back Waistband.  Sew with 3/8" seam allowance.  Repeat for second Waist Tie and other side of Back Waistband.

Sew Waist Ties to WaistbandPress seam allowance toward Back Waistband.

 Press Waistband Seam Allowance



With Back Waistband RIGHT side up, pin the 4 corners to the 4 marks on Dress Back (also RIGHT side up).  Pull the threads between the marks to gather Dress Back until the Back Waistband fits.  Tie threads.  Pin Back Waistband in place.  Edgestitch around all 4 sides of Back Waistband, adjusting gathers as you go.  Remove gathering threads.

Sew Waistband to Shift Dress Attaching Waist Tie to Shift Dress

Shift Hack: Bicep and Square Shoulder Adjustment

By Jacqueline Cieslak 

Jacqueline Cieslak is a body positive maker and teacher at Ewe Fibers (one of our wonderful stockists), as well as a PhD student in anthropology.  We adore her amazing sense of style and her new sweater pattern, Ursa.


Jacqueline Cieslak Jacqueline Cieslak


The Shift Dress + Top is designed to have an oversized, relaxed fit in the body and the arms, but depending on your proportions, the size that fits your body might not work for your upper arms. In this post, I’ll walk you through the steps to do a square shoulder adjustment for your dress or top, giving you extra room in the bicep and shoulder at any of the sizes offered in the pattern.

Here is what the adjustment will look like:DETERMINE IF YOU NEED A SQUARE SHOULDER ADJUSTMENT

  1. Determine what size you want to make.
    My measurements are 48-42-52 so I made the size 22.
  1. Measure your bicep circumference by wrapping the tape measure around the largest part of your upper arm.
    My bicep is 19”. 
  1. Find the number for bicep circumference from the “Finished Garment Measurements” chart.
    For the size 22, the finished garment measurement for bicep circumference is 19 1/8”.
  1. Subtract your bicep measurement from the pattern’s finished garment measurement for bicep circumference. If the difference is less than 1” (or negative), you probably need an adjustment.
    The difference between my bicep and the pattern’s finished garment bicep is 1/8”.
  1. Determine how much ease to add. By subtracting the pattern’s given bicep body measurement from the bicep circumference for finished garment measurement, you can determine how much ease is suggested for your size. However, you can choose to have less ease if you prefer.
    For the size 22, the bicep ease suggested by the pattern is 3 1/8” (19 1/8 – 16). However, I muslined the size 22 and determined that I only needed an additional 1” of ease, not the full 3”.

 NOTE: The pattern’s finished garment measurements for the bicep are taken at the point where you attach the sleeve, but your fullest bicep measurement will probably be higher on the arm than that point. So, at the seam, you will have more ease than determined in step 5 above. For example, by adding 1” to the armhole with a square shoulder adjustment, I ended up with about 4” of ease at the sleeve seam. 


JAcqueline Cieslak



1. Begin with the front piece. Draw a line from the top neck corner to the bottom armhole corner.


2. Cut the pattern piece along that line, then rotate it out from the top corner until you have half the amount of additional ease you want to add to armhole (I added 1/2” because I wanted to add 1” ). Make sure you measure the ease where indicated by the red bracket in the illustration.


3. Use scrap paper and tape to fill in the space created in the pattern, and add some extra paper under the underarm. Use a French curve or just eyeball it to redraw the underarm to meet the side of the body. 


4. Cut along the curve. Your new pattern piece is ready!


5. Repeat steps 1-4 for the shirt back piece, tracing the underarm curve from the front piece when you get to step 3 so they match. IMPORTANT: You must do this step EVEN IF you are making the dress. 



1. Draw a line down the center of the sleeve pattern piece. Cut along this line.


2. Rotate both sides of the sleeves out from the center bottom point until you have the full amount of additional required ease at the top (twice what you added to the front and back pieces; I added 1”). Make sure you measure the ease where indicated by the red bracket in the illustration. 


3. Use scrap paper and tape to fill in the space created in the pattern. Draw a line along the top of the sleeve, from corner to corner. Cut the excess paper off, and move it to the bottom, where you can use it to fill in the space from bottom corner to bottom corner. Cut excess from the sides of the sleeve.



NOTE: You need to have a modified shirt back piece before starting the dress back, even if you are not making the shirt.

1. Place your yoke piece over the top of your modified shirt back piece. Make sure that the piece is perfectly lined up over the back piece at 3 corners: the top of the neck, the bottom of the neck, and the bottom of the yoke (indicated by the red arrows in the illustration). 


2. Draw a line on the yoke piece from the top left corner to somewhere a few inches in on the bottom of the piece. Cut.


3. Rotate the side piece out from the top left corner until it lines up with your modified shirt back piece. 


4. Create your new pattern piece either by: a) tracing an entirely new pattern piece over the top of both pieces, or b) adding and taping scrap paper to the top and gap of the yoke piece and trimming the bottom edge of the rotated side.


5. Place your dress back piece over the top of your modified shirt back piece. Make sure that the piece is perfectly lined up over the back piece in 2 places: the underarm curve and the right edge of the pattern piece (indicated by the red arrows in the illustration). 


6. You will add to your dress back piece so it matches the modified shirt back piece at the armhole and underarm. You can do this either by: a) tracing an entirely new pattern piece over the top of both pieces, or b) adding and taping scrap paper to the armhole and underarm.


That’s it! Congratulations, you have completed a square shoulder/full bicep adjustment for your Wiksten Shift Top + Dress!


JAcqueline Cieslak

Jacqueline Cieslak

Jacqueline is wearing the Short Shift Dress with 3/4 Sleeves made from the Linen in Pink Clay from our website.

Button Loop Tutorial

 This button loop tutorial is used for the Wiksten Iris Pullover, but is a great technique for adding afterthought button loops to any knitting - the front of a kid's cardigan, the end of a flip-top mitten, the edges of a buttoned scarf. It can be made to accommodate any size button, and is also an opportunity for a little hit of contrast yarn if you so choose.