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Gathered Willow Tank Dress

Let me start by saying I don’t know much about pattern drafting, but I have always liked trying simple and easy hacks for patterns I already know and love. The Willow tank is just that! I made my first Grainline Studio Willow Tank last summer and was a big fan of the clean fit, high neckline and ample coverage of the top. 

I have been trying to figure out exactly what to make with this stashed cotton linen stripe fabric (we are sold out of the natural color, but still have a lovely denim variation) I bought a while back when a friend suggested a loose-fitting, gathered tank dress for the summer! I loved the idea of an easy to wear, non-fitted dress and the option of using the stripes of my fabric in both directions, so I set to work finding a pattern that fit the bill without much luck. 

Gathering detail on Kaylee's non-fitted Willow Hack

Then I got the idea of using a tank pattern I already had and adding a slightly gathered skirt to it! Easy peasy! So here are the super simple directions for creating your own Gathered Willow Tank Dress.

Styled gathered Willow

1. I already had the Willow Tank traced in my size, so you should do this if you haven’t already!

2. Cut off both the front tank and back tank pieces at the lengthen/shorten line

3. Determine the width of your skirt pieces-

Measure the bottom of your front bodice piece (along the lengthen/shorten line you just cut at) and multiply times 2. This gives you the total width of your front bodice piece. Now multiply the total width of your front bodice piece by 45% (.45). Now add that number back to the original width of your bodice piece. This will be your finished skirt width. 

Formula: Pattern Width x 2 = Bodice Width
(Bodice Width x .45) + Bodice Width = Skirt Width

Repeat for your back bodice piece. *Note* My front and back pieces ended up the same width, but I’m not sure this will always be the case

Here is the math for my skirt: Front tank piece measured 10.5” across the bottom
10.5” X 2 = 21” total width of the front bodice piece
21” X 45%= 9.45”   l    21” + 9.45”= 30.45” total front skirt width
(I rounded to the nearest half inch, this doesn’t have to be super precise since you will be gathering your skirt anyway)

Gathered Willow dress length

4. Determine the length of your skirt. I’m 5’8 and cut a 32” length (2” for hemming so 30” finished skirt length). Decide how long you want your dress based on your own height, keeping in mind you can always cut this down if it’s too long, but you can never add fabric back.

*Note -  Based on the math above I cut my skirt pieces 32" x 30.5"

Pocket Detail

5. Cut out your modified tank & skirt pieces and sew your bust darts now. I added pockets to my dress skirt. If you want pockets on your dress too this is the time to add them. I recommend starting your pocket pieces about 5” down from the top of the skirt. There are tons of tutorials online if you are unfamiliar with this process and desire to do so.

6. Add 2 rows of basting stitches at 5/8” and 3/8” from the top of your front skirt piece and gather it to the same width as your front bodice piece. Repeat with the back skirt and bodice pieces.

7. Sew the top of your front skirt piece, right side together, with the bottom of your front tank piece with a 5/8” seam. Repeat with back bodice and back skirt pieces.

8. Now you are ready to assemble the Willow as directed. Just pretend it is a really long tank top!

9. When it comes time to hem, I turned my fabric under 1” and then turned it under an additional 1” for a total of 2”, but feel free do what makes sense for your fabric and preference.

You made a super simple Gathered Willow Tank Dress! Cool! 

Comments on this post (1)

  • Jul 20, 2023

    Thanks so much for sharing this. I used your idea age brilliant post to make my own. I love it so much. I chose a really similar linen cotton to yours… It’s even stripy blue and white! Inspired.
    Hope to share on Instagram if I can ever get a decent photo. Thanks again. Love the hack.

    — Megan

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