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MN2303 Briar / MN4303 Mini Briar / Sewalongs

Briar Variation: How to make a Briar gathered dress (two ways!)

How to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen Patterns

Hi everyone! Are you enjoying this month’s pattern of the month – the Briar tee and sweater? Pssssst – it’s now available in Curve, and of course – Mini! In celebration of it being the pattern of the month as well as its new extended sizes, I have a fun tutorial for you today – a gathered Briar dress. And that’s not all… it’s a two-in-one! I’m going to show you how to create two different looks with the same technique – straight hem and hi-lo hem, both while maintaining the fun curved seam that the Briar has.

Meg has created and shown you one of these before, as a maternity dress. So we figured it’s about time to add a tutorial for you all!

Let’s jump in…..

OPTION 1 – STRAIGHT HEM

To achieve a straight hem while keeping the curved seam that makes Briar so great, we will need to create a skirt with a curve along the top edge.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen Patterns

You will want to work with the cropped version for this dress.

NOTE: If you are making this as a maternity dress, I would suggest cutting off an extra 2-3″ or so from around the entire hem of the bodice so that the seam sits above your bump comfortably.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen Patterns

Starting with the front pattern piece, place it on a large blank piece of paper, lining up the centre front with the straight edge of the paper.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen Patterns

Trace the curved edge of the hem, and make a small mark downwards at the side seam.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen Patterns

Now you need to decide how long you want your skirt to be. I did this by holding the front top pattern piece against my body and measuring from where the curved hem hit me at the centre front, down to where I wanted the skirt hem to be.

You want to measure from the centre front because it is the highest point of the curved seam.

Add 1 1/4″ to this measurement (1/4″ for seam allowance, 1″ for hem).

Now take this measurement, and mark this length along the edge of the paper (this is the centre front, remember). Square out from this point.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen Patterns

Square up again to meet the edge of the top curve, this creates the side seam.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen Patterns
how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen Patterns

Cut it out, and now you have the beginning of a skirt pattern, where the curved edge matches up with the curved edge of the top bodice.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen Patterns

Now repeat the same process for the back.

Place the back bodice on a large blank piece of paper, lining up the centre front with the straight edge of the paper.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen Patterns

Trace the curved edge, and make a small mark downwards at the side seam.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen PatternsNow go back to the front skirt that you just made, and measure the length of the side seam.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen PatternsUse that measurement to draw your back side seam, parallel to the centre back.

Then square out the hem to the centre back/paper edge.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen PatternsCut it out, and see how the curved edges of the skirt and bodice match up.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen PatternsAs you can see – the side seams of the back and front skirt line up.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen PatternsNow we need to slash and spread the skirt pieces so we can create gathers! Let’s start with the front skirt.

Measure the width of your front skirt, from side seam to centre front.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen PatternsDivide these measurements into equal sections (I did 4 because it was an even number and made sense. You could 5 or 6 sections – whatever works.

Draw parallel lines dividing these equal sections.

Number each section, with the section closest to centre from being #1, and the one closest to the side seam being the last one.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen PatternsCut along these lines.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen PatternsLayout a large piece of blank paper. Draw a horizontal line across the paper, perpendicular to the edge of the paper.

Place piece 1 down so that the centre front lines up with the edge of the paper, and the bottom edge lines up with the horizontal line you drew. Tape in place.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen PatternsSo now you need to determine how much to spread each section. You want your pattern to end up being about double its current width in the end.

For example, my front skirt was 8″ wide. I wanted my final skirt pattern to be approx 16″ total, so I needed to add another 8″. With 4 split sections, that leaves 3 places to spread. So 8″ divided by 3 = 2.6. So I spread each section about 2.6″.

So draw a straight line, parallel to the edge of piece 1, by the measurement you determined (mine 2.6″). Place piece 2 down along this line, with the bottom edge lined up with the horizontal line you drew. Tape in place.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen PatternsContinue spreading each numbered piece by the same measurement, until you have taped down each one.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen PatternsRe-shape the upper edge to have that same curved shape.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen PatternsCut it out. This is your final front skirt pattern piece. Cut one on the fold.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen Patterns

Now repeat the same exact process for the back skirt.

Divide into equal parallel vertical sections. Cut, and spread each section until the final width is twice as much as it was to start.

Reshape the upper edge as I have pictured above.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen PatternsCut it out. This is now your final back skirt pattern piece. Cut one on the fold.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen PatternsTime to sew!

Complete your cropped tee just as described in the instructions. Complete every step up until the hem (don’t do the hem).

Set aside.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen PatternsPlace your front and back skirt together with right sides together. Sew together at the side seams with either a zig-zag stitch or serger/overlock.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen PatternsMake sure you have marked the centre front and centre back points on both the skirt and the tee.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen PatternsSet your machine to the longest stitch length. So rows of basting/gathering stitches along the upper edge, 1/4″ from the raw edge. One along the front skirt, side seam to side seam. And then again along the back skirt, side seam to side seam.

Gently pull on the thread tails to start gathering.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen PatternsRepeat at all ends until the skirt is gathered all the way around.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen PatternsWith your skirt’s wrong side facing out, and your tee right side facing out, slide your tee inside the skirt…

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen PatternsUntil the raw edge of the tee lines up with the raw gathered edge of the skirt.

Match up and pin the side seams, centre front, and centre back. Adjust your gathers so that the edges line up perfectly. Continue pinning all the way around.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen PatternsSew 1/4″ from the raw edge using either a zig-zag stitch or serger/overlock.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen PatternsTurn right side out, and ta-da! It looks like a dress now!

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen PatternsAll you have to do now is hem.

Turn under the bottom edge of your skirt by 1/2″ and press.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen PatternsTurn under again by another 1/2″, enclosing the raw edge. Pin in place.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen PatternsTopstitch using either a zig-zag stitch or double needle.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen Patterns

All done! As you can see here, we’ve maintained the curved seam at the waist, but the hem of the skirt is straight!

You can also see what I mean about if this was a maternity dress, you would want that seam to be a tad bit higher.

OPTION 2 – HI-LO HEM

Most of these steps are exactly the same as above, so this is going to be a bit condensed. But I wanted to show you how you can easily create a hi-lo look by attaching a basic rectangular gathered skirt to the curved edge of Briar.

And I’m showing you this one on mini briar, but it works the exact same way for adults.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen PatternsMeasure the bottom edge of your front bodice pattern piece. Multiple this number by 4.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen PatternsCreate a rectangle pattern piece, where the width is that measurement you calculated above (front pattern piece hem x 4), and the length is however long you want your dress skirt to be + 1 1/4″ from seam allowance and hem.

To determine your desired length, hold the front bodice piece up to your body, and measure from where the centre front bottom edge hits you, down to where you want the bottom edge of the skirt to hit. You want to measure from the centre front because it is the highest point of the seam, and therefore will be the highest point of the skirt.

Cut two of these rectangles out of your fabric.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen PatternsTime to sew!

Complete your cropped tee just as described in the instructions. Complete every step up until the hem (don’t do the hem).

Set aside.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen PatternsPlace your two rectangle skirt pieces together with right sides together. Sew together at the side seams with either a zig-zag stitch or serger/overlock.

Make sure to mark the centre of each one (centre front and centre back), as well as the centre front and centre back of the bodice.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen PatternsSet your machine to the longest stitch length. So rows of basting/gathering stitches along the upper edge, 1/4″ from the raw edge. One along the front skirt, side seam to side seam. And then again along the back skirt, side seam to side seam.

Gently pull on the thread tails to start gathering. Keep going until you’ve gathered the entire top edge of the skirt.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen PatternsWith your skirt wrong side facing out, and your tee right side facing out, slide your tee inside the skirt…

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen PatternsUntil the raw edge of the tee lines up with the raw gathered edge of the skirt.

Match up and pin the side seams, centre front, and centre back. Adjust your gathers so that the edges line up perfectly. Continue pinning all the way around.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen PatternsSew 1/4″ from the raw edge using either a zig-zag stitch or serger/overlock.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern bhow to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen PatternsTurn right side out, and ta-da! It looks like a dress now! And you can already see how you have created that hi-lo – the back of the dress will be hanging lower than the front.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen PatternsJust finish it up by hemming the skirt – turn under 1/2″, turn under again by another 1/2″ to enclose, and then topstitch with either a zig-zag stitch or double needle.

how to make a gathered dress using the Briar tee pattern by Megan Nielsen Patterns

Here’s a look at the final look on my mini, and another good look at that hi-lo effect, compared to the straight hem I made on mine. Again, this would work and look just as cute on an adult women’s Briar dress, too!


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About Author

Holly writes part time for the Megan Nielsen blog– sewing like crazy, creating tutorials and sewalongs. She has been sewing since she was a little girl, and has her degree in apparel design. Now she’s a stay at home mama, and spends all her free nap times at her sewing machine.

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Danielle
Danielle
2 years ago

Does the waist seam need to be stabilized with elastic? Similar to what you might do for shoulder seams on knit garment?