Perfect for Winter -Pisco dress – hacking the pattern

Hello everyone!

Do you belong to a group of sewists who is using , hacking and adapting a pattern they like to make many different looks, or do you think it is a waste of time and just prefer to buy a new pattern that resembles the style you want??? I belong to the first group and enjoy immensely the whole process and the final result. I must say that I am not always successful at it, but it is always a learning curve.

The latest hack that I had done, which also was a success, was made on a Pisco dress by SBCC Patterns. You can find a post and my review of this pattern here.

Pisco dress and my design

I fell in love with this pattern so much that I knew I was going to hack it any way I can! As it is a sleeveless dress, the first think that came to my mind was to simply add sleeves. After that I thought it would be nice to have a cosy and warm dress during Xmas holidays ( I went to Poland, where the temperature dropped to -5 and it was snowing alot), so I wanted to also add a turtleneck.

Hacking the pattern

To ensure I do not mess up my existing Pisco dress pattern I had first copied the bodice pieces (front, back and sides) up to waistline and left a free space around each piece to allow me to do any adjustments.

I started adapting the pattern by changing the neckline and drafting a separate turtleneck pattern, because it was the easiest part. To do this I simply merged the front and back Pisco neckline with a Freya top pattern by Tilly and the buttons. Next, I took a Freya roll neckline pattern and lengthened it by 7cm.

The process of hacking the armhole and adding sleeve pattern was more complicated, because original Pisco dress pattern has armhole band that is shapped and not symmetrical, also the bodice is shaped using princess seam with side panels.

First I pinned all parts of the bodice seams together just under the armhole to give me an idea of how the pattern pieces lay together and to see the curve of the armcycle.

Next using the Freya top front and back pieces I placed it on top of The Pieco pattern to check if I can use it as a guideline. It was pretty easy to do on the back so I copied the outline and angle of the shoulder seam and a curve of the back armhole.

I did the same for the front, however I had to guess the shape of the front armhole curve, because of the princess line shaping. To do this I measured the width of the Pisco armhole band at the side seam and use this number to extend the side seam going towards armpit. Otherwise the armcycle would have too low cut. After that I simply conected and smoothed the front and back armhole curves to meet at the new seam line, but keeped the shape of the copied armhole at the start of each shoulder seams as far as possible.

For the sleeve pattern I also decided to use a copy of the Freya sleeve, because the overall circumference of a newly drafted armcycle was very close in measurements to that of the Freya top.



Fabric choice

For this project I had purchased 2 meters of this lovely cotton blend sweatshirting fabric from Universal textiles in Shepherd’s Bush (£12.99/meter). This was a first time I had a chance to sew this type of fabric and I have to say it was pretty easy apart from the rolling edges ( had to use more pins to keep it flat). However I decided to use this as a feature on my turtleneck, by leaving the top edge raw.

I really like how warm and cosy this fabric is, but what took me by surprise was the lack of stretch. I do not know if all sweatshirting fabrics are like this, but when I think about RTW joggers and hoodies made out of this type of material it always seam that it have more stretch to it….but maybe I’m wrong?

Sewing the pattern

The entire process of sewing this pattern was nice and smooth, because the fabric was easy to handle and manipulate and because I am familiar with both Pisco and Freya patterns.

Once I had decided to leave the turtleneck hem raw and allow it to roll naturally I had to take a moment to think what would be best way to finish off the seam at the back. I did not want simply to overlock it because when rolled outside it would be visible, so I opted to go for more of a visible feature stitch. I opened and trimmed the seam allowance and used the biggest zig zag stitch on my machine to flatten and cover the entire seam allowance. It looks more tidy in my opinion and ads some character. Mind you it cannot really be noticable when my hair are down.

I came upon one problem once I finished making the dress. When I tried it on I barely could put my arms through the sleeves. oooohhh boy!!! During the time I was altering the pattern I didn’t know what fabric I would pick and was expecting to use a Ponte Roma fabric which has a lot more give. In hindsight I should have thought about it once I had my fabric, but I didnt think it would make such a difference…..I was wrong! Luckily I had enough of fabric scraps to cut two large rectangles . I had to unpick both sleeves, cut them in half and insert the panels in the middle to increase arm circumference. This process made the sleeve head larger but I still managed to ease it in into the armhole. Next time I will have to pay more attention to the type of fabric and stretch percentage.

Final thoughts

I really like the way this dress turned out, even with all new features and amendments and  I wore it as planned during the Xmas dinner. The process of hacking this pattern and merging it with another one opened a new door for so many possibilities! It definitely saved me a lot of time, because drafting pattern takes time for me. I have few more ideas how I can transform the Pisco pattern, so do not be surprised if you hear it being used again 😉

Monika xxx

Total pattern transformation….is it still Ogden Cami?

Hi sewing friends! Is the summer in UK already over??? That cannot be!!! I haven’t had a chance to wear my new dress that I made especially for a hot summer days!!! Couple of weeks ago I posted on my Instagram Stories 3 different yet very similar summer dresses that I was considering making, but suddenly changed my mind when I realized the total cost of the patterns and all fabrics I would need! (Are you rolling your eyes too??) Anyway, money problems aside I wanted to improve my pattern drafting/hacking skills so I grabbed my beloved Ogden Cami pattern, traced it on a clean paper and begin my hacking process. The result makes me smile every time I look at it!


Seren dress by Tilly and the Buttons was the very first dress that I really wanted to make. I was not that keen about these ruffles but the button placket was major envy driven force that made me want to do this project.

My eyes nearly popped out when I came across the Fiona sundress by Closet Case Patterns. This dress is slightly more fitted but looking at it I knew I wanted a bodice with princess seams.

Jessica dress by Mimi G is the closest reflection of what I wanted to achieve. Gathered skirt and big patch pockets were a must feature that I wanted to recreate.

Hacking the pattern

If you are also on a buying fabric/pattern ban feel free to use this tutorial.

First trace front and back Ogden Cami pattern pieces up to your waistline. For me this is about an inch below the shorten and lengthen line but remember I’m pretty short. Before you do anything else measure your waistline and the waistline on the pattern. The difference between those measurement will be need later.

Draw a vertical line starting in the middle of strap placement ensuring it runs parallel to centre front and back. From now on this will be our grain line.

On the back pattern piece extend the line (slightly curved) that starts at your armpit ending at a centre. It need to finish at 90 degree angle here.

Cut along the lines .

You can mark those pieces B1 and B2 so you won’t get confused. The top piece will be needed later so put it aside for now.

Your B1 pattern is cut on fold so make sure to mark it. This is a centre back piece that will be elasticated so add about 3.5 cm at the side ( that includes seam allowance). You will need to cut two on fold ( one main bodice and one lining).

On B2 piece add seam allowance to the side you cut out before.

At this point you will need the difference in waistline measurements. For me it was about 16 cm. As the bodice needs to be more fitted around the waist draw a straight line at the side seam, parallel to grain line and cut it off. This takes away about 6 cm from a total waist circumference.

Now we will work on the from bodice piece. Draw a straight line and the side seam in the same way as before (this again reduces waist circumference by another 6 cm). Next cut along the first line dividing the front pattern piece in two F1 and F2.

So far we managed to reduce the waist by 12 cm in total. The remaining 4 cm will be taken away at the next stage. Mark 2 cm from a cut grain line on both pieces.

Now we will do some shaping to the princess seam so add some extra paper.

In the process of reducing the excess fabric at the waist we also amended bust circumstance, which we will need to reverse. I drew some horizontal lines to make this step a little easier to navigate.

Measure in few places the amount you had taken away at the side seam, divide it in half and mark it as a dots on both F1 and F2 pattern pieces at the cut grain line. Now draw a curved line starting at the top where the strap placement is and ending at the waist at marked 2 cm. Do not worry if you do not go through all your dots.

I will be using buttons 2cm in diameter, so decided that my button placket will be 3.5cm wide.

Not to bore you with calculation, cut off 0.75cm at the centre front on piece F2.

Extend the strap pattern by 13,5 cm or whatever your measurement is.

At this stage I wanted to test the fit of the bodice so a used some old fabric and cut out my new front and back bodice pieces, straps and two rectangles 9cm by 30 cm ( short button placket) and a long roughly gathered piece and made a muslin.

What I learnt is that because Ogden Cami pattern has no bust shaping the front waistine is raising substantially in comparison to my back.

Going back to the front bodice pattern pieces I cut along the horizontal lines leaving a hinges at the side seam on F1 and opened it by a total of about 5/6 cm. On F2 I spread the distance equally. The amount needed will depend on your bust cap size, so I would advise you to make a test bodice.

Other then that I adjusted the princess lines slightly taking it in above and below the bust making it more fitted.

To draft a skirt part of your dress measure the lenght from your waistline to a desired skirt hem line, draw a vertical line and square it off on both ends…

Again it is up to you how much and where you want the gathering on the skirt but I opted to only partiality gather my skirt at seams F1 and F2, B1 and B2. I was considering to do pleats instead, hence the P1,P2,P3 markings….so ignore it.

I added 12 cm between F1 and F2 , and 8cm between B1 and B2.

Square of the skirt side seam on both back and front. Back piece will be cut on fold once. Front piece will be cut twice.

I wanted more of an A-line skirt so added extra 5 cm at the hem to both front and back.

Place the side seam together and smooth the hem and waist lines.

Now you can draft a button placket pattern, which is 9cm wide by total lenght of F2 and front skirt (1cm seam allowance included).

For patch pockets I drew a square 20cm by 20cm adding extra 2 cm to the top.

If you are still reading this congratulations!!! You completed the entire hacking/drafting process. Hope I didn’t bore you too much. Hihihihi

In the next post I will talk more about sewing process, my fabric choice and anything else worth of knowing.

~see you next sunday~

Monika xxx