The idea for making this DIY gathered tiered dress has been haunting me for a while, and I am sew happy that I finally transposed it from my imagination into reality. With this dress, I am ready to swish and swirl into the warmer months this coming summer.
What gave me the push to sew this up is a collaboration with Rit Dye on Instagram to help promote their Tie-Dye Accessory Kit. I was thrilled to bits when they approached me for this paid partnership, and I jumped at the opportunity not just to make gathered dresses, but to have a bonding experience with my daughter. DIY tie-dye is so much fun, and the Rit Dye Accessory Kit makes it so much easier and simpler. Included in the kit are 2 pairs of gloves, 20 rubber bands, 3 squeeze bottles and a microwavable tray. Rit Dye colours and the ColourStay Fixative have to be bought separately. For these dresses, my daughter and I chose Rit Dye All-Purpose Dye Colours in Eggplant, Fuchsia and Aquamarine.
My daughter and I had a blast designing these dresses together, and out of all the tie-dye techniques, she wanted to try out Shibori tie-dye because she really likes the geometric designs that the folds produce. In my next blog post, I will detail how to create these folds, and a YouTube video is in the making, which will show how to make these Shibori folds and tie-dye the patterns created on these dresses.
My YouTube video for this week features a tutorial on how I self-drafted the gathered tiered dress that I am wearing in these pictures, and you can click on the following to view it:
I show how I draft the dress using my body measurements, and using the video as a guide, you will be able to draft your own gathered dress based on your measurement – no sewing pattern required! If you do sew up one yourself with the help of the video, don’t forget to send me a message here, or to tag me @geri_in_stitches on IG so that I can celebrate your creation with you. It is relatively easy drafting this dress because the pattern pieces are primarily made up of rectangles sewn up together. What I like about this dress is the amount of volume that the gathered tiers create, and when the right weight of fabric is used, it gives the dress lots of flow, movement and twirl.
For my dress, I used a lightweight 50/50 cotton-silk blend that I purchased from Cadena Online. This special fabric has a matte finish on one side, and on the other, there’s a lovely silky sheen. It is quite translucent and I ended up having to make a lining of the first and second tiers of the dress so that I am not revealing my undies when I am standing against the sunlight. For my daughter’s dress, I used a viscose, which has more weight to the fabric. It moves in a different way – not as light and airy – but just as swishy.
To draft the dress, there is only one measurement to take and that is the high-bust measurement. From that one measurement, the dimensions of all the rectangles of pattern pieces are determined from that. There are some decisions to make regarding how long you want the dress to be, how many tiers, and how tall each tier would be. The volume of the dress is determined by the widening circumferences of the consecutive tiers as we move towards the hem line. The principle is that the next tier should be at least 1.5 times as wide in circumference as the tier that comes before it. For my dress, I wanted more volume, so I doubled up the circumferences as I went along. I decided on 4 tiers of equal height, and by the time I calculated the circumference of the fourth tier, it turned out to be 400 inches. That is about 10 metres long!
So yes, this dress eats up a lot of fabric especially if you’re planning on a maxi-length version with many tiers. All in all, I used 5.5 metres of fabric for the dress and lining. However, since the dress has a boho-chic style to it, I suggest using whatever’s in your fabric stash or scrap box to piece together different fabrics to create all these tiers. It’s perfect as a print-mixing or pattern-mixing project or patchwork project. This will also qualify it as a recycling project, or scrap-busting project as well. In addition, if you take the time to carefully plan out cutting of the rectangles in a way that’ll fit your fabric, this can potentially be a zero-waste project as an extra bonus. Most of the 5.5 metres of the fabric I used are on the dress. There is very little waste since all the pattern pieces are made up of rectangles.
If you have the time, please check out the post and reel that I am posting on Instagram for the Rit Dye collaboration. Your support is greatly appreciated! This project turned out to be a full family project since I had to recruit my son and husband to take turns being the photographers and videographers. It brought lots of fun, joy, creativity, and bonding within the family unit, and I am truly grateful for the experience. I hope you’ll join in the fun and jump into tie-dye season with us. We will definitely be tie-dyeing more garments this summer vacation with the kids!