It's Ogden Month at True Bias and part of that means that we are sharing fun Hacks using the Ogden pattern. Our first one is the multi tiered maxi dress and we love how it turned out. We are going to show you just how we made it so that you can recreate it too.
Cut Out Your Bodice Pattern / Fabric
You are going to need 3 pattern pieces for this project. You will use the lining pieces instead of the main pattern pieces since they are closer to the length we are wanting. Because we will fully line the bodice section of the dress, you will use the lining pieces for both the main and lining pieces. I added 2 1/2 " to the bottom of of the front and back because I wanted it a bit longer. You also will want to cut out your straps. I added bra ring and sliders to this hack, but that is optional. If you do, you need to cut 4 straps instead of 2 and make them about 4 inches longer. Here is the break down:
Pattern Piece 3 - Cut 2 on fold (one for main and one for lining)
Pattern Piece 4 - Cut 2 on fold (one for main and one for lining)
Pattern Piece 5 - Cut 4 if using bra ring and sliders or 2 if not
The tiers will just be rectangles gathered along the bottom. We will calculate that after making the bodice.
Sew The Bodice
If sewing up the bodice without the rings and sliders, assemble your bodice according to the Ogden instructions. The only exception being that the lining does not get hemmed.
If you are using the bra ring and sliders, use the following step by step tutorial for adding them from my Calvin Sewalong. They are super detailed and will walk you thru it. You will need to adjust the lengths of your straps in the process.
The last thing we need to do before moving on is level the bottom of your bodice. Because the remaining pattern pieces are all rectangles, we need to make sure that the bodice is level when on your body, so the dress stays level once sewn.
To check this, put your bodice on and turn to the side. You want the hem to be in a straight line from front to back like my dressform shows below. It may be off due to chest size, posture etc... If so, no big deal. mark and shave off what is needed so it's level.
Calculate Your Tiers
Now that the bodice is complete we need to cut out the rectangles that are going to be our tiers. This takes some math. I will show you what I did and you can adjust them for your own measurements.
First you need to measure the hem of your bodice (average out the front and back so you are just dealing with one measurement). Mine was about 20".
I decided to make my ruffles all 1.3 x what the measurement was above it. In retrospect I wish I would have done 1.4 or 1.5 for more drama, but 1.3 worked out great with the limited fabric I had.
So the first tier width is 20 x 1.3 = 26" + seam allowances = 27"
The second tier is 26 x 1.3 = 33.8" + seam allowances = 34.8"
The Third tier is 33.8 x 1.3 = 44" + seam allowances = 45"
For the height of each tier, I wanted them all to be the same. I figured out that I wanted it to be about 36" from the bottom of my bodice to the hem. I divided that by three and that meant that each tier should be 12" + seam allowances = 13" height for each tier. Keep in mind that I am 5'3".
So my final pattern pieces were:
Tier 1 (cut 2) = 27" x 13"
Tier 2 (cut 2) = 34.8" x 13"
Tier 3 (cut 2) = 45" x 13"
If you want to add pockets like I did, you are going to need to grab some pocket pattern pieces from another dress or skirt to use like the Mave or Southport (I am using the Mave). I am sewing in hanging pocket bags so I cut out 4 of them.
After measuring some other RTW dresses I have, I decided that the top of my pocket opening should be about 11" down from the underarm of my bodice. This is very subject to your height and preference, but this worked well for me.
I added the pockets to my first tier using my Mave Sewalong instructions. You can check them out here and it will walk you step by step on how to add hanging pockets. Or use the pocket instructions from whichever pocket pattern piece you are using.
Adding the First Tier
Now it's time to add those tiers. Add gathering stitches along the top of the first tier. Since the seam allowance is 1/2" I like to add a basting stitch at 3/8" and 5/8" so they are easy to remove later.
Now let's add the first tier to the bodice. To have a completely lined bodice with no seam allowances, attach the tier to the main cami only, leaving the lining free.
Gather the basting stitches so that it is the same width as the or bodice hem it is connecting to. Pin with right sides touching, stitch at 1/2" seam allowance, and remove basting stitches.
Now to attach the lining. Press the hem of the lining up by 3/8" and pin along the inside so that is just covers the seam you just made.
On the right side of your dress, stitch in the ditch in the seam between the bodice and first tier, catching the folded edge of the lining underneath as you go. You can also choose to hand stitch this.
Adding the Last Two Tiers
Now it's time to add those last tiers. The process is the same for both. Sew up the side seams, finish side seams, press seam allowances. Add gathering stitches along the top of each tier. Since the seam allowance is 1/2" I like to add a basting stitch at 3/8" and 5/8" so they are easy to remove later.
Gather the basting stitches so that it is the same width as the hem it is connecting to. Pin with right sides touching, stitch at 1/2" seam allowance, and remove basting stitches. Press.
And the last thing we need to do is hem it. I did a narrow hem by pressing the bottom up by 1/4" twice and stitching to secure.
That is it! Love how it turned out. I'm tempted to make another one right away.