Rowan Tee Hacks Series: Gathered dress

June 29, 2018

Craftstorming gathered dress tutorial

Today I will be sharing the second hack in the Rowan Tee Hacks series. If you didn’t catch the first post in this series, then go here to read about all the tutorials I’ll be sharing as part of this series. Today’s hack is a simple tutorial to turn your Rowan Tee into a dress with a gathered skirt, and I’ve included free pattern pieces to make it even easier for you. Have you tried the first hack from last week yet? If not, you might want to combine it with this hack to create a dress with flutter sleeves. This is what I’ve done with the dress I’m sharing today, and my dress loving daughter is a big fan of this double hack.

The fabric for this dress is another Art Gallery print. This one is Chad’s Retreat from the Lagom collection. This whole collection is a mix of beautiful tones with understated designs. I’d happily sew with every one of them.

OK, let’s begin. Before you start cutting your fabric, consider whether the fit you would like. The dress shown in these photos is the correct size based on the measurements chart. However, for a slimmer fit you can go down a size in width.

You will need:

  • Rowan Tee pattern
  • Regular Rowan Tee supplies
  • Free dress pattern pieces
  • Clear elastic (ideally 6.5mm (1/4″) but otherwise 1cm (3/8″))

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Options: note that the dress is compatible with all of the shoulder and stripe options, and the hood or regular neckline. It is not compatible with the cuffed hem on the body. The front and back body are shortened so the seam of the dress sits at the waist.

The reason I suggest using clear elastic is because it is a brilliant stabiliser for the waistline of the dress. It will prevent the weight of the gathered skirt from pulling the top down, stretching it out and distorting the seam. While you could substitute regular elastic it is much stretchier and will not be as effective.

Free pattern pieces are available to download for both of the dress skirt and the body shortening piece. If you prefer to use measurements instead of printing rectangles, then these are available in the table below. However, the pattern pieces do also include the notch markings that make it easier to gather evenly.

Rowan Tee Hacks Tutorial Gathered Dress measurements

To start with you will need to make some adjustments to some of the original pattern pieces.


Take your front body piece and the body shortening piece. If you are used to blending different sizes for width and length in the main pattern, then do the same thing with the body shortening piece (and for the skirt piece).

Align the bottom of the shortening piece with the regular hem line of the front body. Now draw a new line across the front body piece to indicate the cutting line for the dress. Make sure to transfer the centre and quarter notch markings as well.

Titchy Threads Body pieces shortening diagram

Repeat this for the back body piece. Now cut all the pattern pieces as normal, using the shorter cutting line on the front and back body.


While cutting your t-shirt pattern pieces you will also need to cut 2 skirt pieces. Mark the notches with a fabric marker or by clipping within the seam allowance.

Titchy Threads Rowan Tee Gathered Dress Hack tutorial - pattern pieces 1 Titchy Threads Rowan Tee Gathered Dress Hack tutorial - pattern pieces 2

Recommended prep: pre-press the hem on both skirt pieces. Fold the bottom 2.5cm (1”) to the wrong side and press well. Unfold before sewing.
Titchy Threads Rowan Tee Gathered Dress Hack tutorial - prep


1. Follow the regular Rowan Tee instructions so the top half of the dress is complete, except for hemming the body.
2. Stretch out your clear elastic a few times before cutting a piece that is 2 x the width of the front body.

Baste the elastic onto the wrong side of the fabric, around the bottom of the t-shirt. Use a wide zigzag stitch, positioning the elastic within the seam allowance. If your elastic is less than 1cm (3/8”) wide position it away from the edge but still within the seam allowance.

Once you get all the way around, overlap the elastic by about 1cm and backstitch to secure.

3. Place the skirt pieces with right sides together and sew the side seams, using a 1cm (3/8”) seam allowance.

Titchy Threads Rowan Tee Gathered Dress Hack tutorial - step 3

4. Hem the skirt. Fold the bottom of the skirt up at the pre-pressed hem line, so fold up 2.5cm (1″).

Hem using a double needle (or even a regular straight stitch as the bottom of the skirt will not be stretched out). Use a 2.2cm (7/8″) seam allowance. Start at one side seam and sew all the way around.

Titchy Threads Rowan Tee Gathered Dress Hack tutorial - step 4

5. Sew two rows of gathering stitches, across the front of the skirt only (not all the way around), from one side seam to the other. The first row should be 6.5mm (1/4”) from the top and the second row should be 1.25cm (1/2”) from the top. Leave long threads at each end and do not backstitch. I recommend using contrast thread for this.

Titchy Threads Rowan Tee Gathered Dress Hack tutorial - step 5

6. Repeat to sew two rows of gathering stitches across the back of the skirt.

Once you have sewn gathering stitches across the front and back, you will have 4 top threads and 4 bobbin threads at each side seam.

7. Slide the t-shirt part of the dress into the skirt, so that the top edge of the skirt is aligned with the bottom edge of the t-shirt, with right sides together.

8. Start with the front of the dress and t-shirt. Align the centre notches and side seams and pin together, then pull the bobbin threads on the left side to gather the skirt until the width of the skirt fits the t-shirt. Now arrange the gathers evenly, making sure to align and pin the quarter notches. Repeat for the right side of the front.

Titchy Threads Rowan Tee Gathered Dress Hack tutorial - step 8

Titchy Threads Rowan Tee Gathered Dress Hack tutorial - step 8b

9. Now turn the pieces over and repeat for the back side of the dress and t-shirt.

Titchy Threads Rowan Tee Gathered Dress Hack tutorial - step 9

10. OPTIONAL: press well around the skirt to reinforce the gathers. I recommend using a pressing cloth if you have used elastic thread.

11. Sew the seam When using a serger I prefer to baste the skirt to the t-shirt on the sewing machine first (using a scant 1cm (3/8″) seam allowance) before sewing the seam on a serger. This also gives you a chance to check you are happy with the gathering. If you are using a sewing machine then sew the seam with a stretch or narrow zigzag stitch.

12. Press the seam allowance up towards the t-shirt and admire your new dress.

Titchy Threads Rowan Tee Hacks - Gathered Dress

If you make this then don’t forget to share it in the Titchy Threads Facebook group. If you add one of the hacks in this series before the end of the series then add it to the hacks album to be in with a chance to win some great prizes, including 2 yards of Art Gallery fabrics and a $40 voucher to Titchy Threads.

I’ll be back next with the next hack in the series, Thumbhole Cuffs.


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