Pattern Scout Fern top dress hack

Happy Tuesday sewing friends!


Have you been sewing for a minute and find yourself always wishing you could take a stab at hacking a pattern but something holds you back? That’s been me for like…3 years. Even the easiest hack has me stopping in my tracks if it doesn’t have instructions to go along with it. Something about a pattern makes me feel safe, and when I try to deviate from the given options I instantly get so nervous I’m going to do something wrong and mess up. I know there’s always more fabric, or it’s just fabric but…I love my fabric. I never want to mess it up or waste it or not treat it kindly so with the exception of the Helen’s Closet York and Winslow hacks, I’ve just been staying out of all the #youcanhackit inspiration on Instagram.

Until I saw the Pattern Scout Fern dress hacks floating around on Instagram. Since I’m fairly confident in hacking my Yorks to have a gathered waist (thanks Helen!), I knew this was a hack I could accomplish with the knowledge I already have…instructions be damned. 

So, for any adventurous beginner/intermediate sewist, who maybe like myself find it hard to stray from a pattern without a set of instructions for a hack…I wanted to write a blog about this hack for you.

So…the Fern top is a newer pattern from Pattern Scout and it’s pretty size inclusive with their largest size being a 54″/48″/58″ size 28. The pattern is for a boxy top with a sectioned bodice and a skirt bottom, and there are 2 versions featuring two different skirt options.

If you want to turn the top into a dress, you will only need the sectioned bodice pieces: the front, back, front sleeve, back sleeve, sleeve cuffs (which are optional but totally make this top in my opinion), and facings for the front and back. Since there are so many pieces for the top part of the bodice, it makes playing with stripes or other patterned fabric really easy, and really fun.

When it comes to the gathered skirt, you need to measure the front of your bodice and times that by 1.33 to get the width that you will need for each skirt piece. To measure your bodice, you will measure the center front piece of your pattern, times that by two, and do the same for one of your sleeve pieces.

For example, my center front piece for my size was 8, but since it is cut on the fold, it’s really 16. One of my sleeve pieces measured 7, but since there are two sleeves that make up the front of my bodice it’s really 14. To find the width of my entire front piece, I would add those two numbers together (30) then I would times that by 1.33 to get 39.9, which I rounded up to 40. So my two (one for the front, one for the back) skirt pieces need to be 40 inches wide.

Now that you have the width of your skirt pieces you need the length, which is dependent on your comfort and how long you want your dress to be. I just held the center front piece up and measured from the end of it to how long I wanted my front to be, I used 30 inches and ended up cutting about an inch off and still had to fold it three times when I hemmed until it was the length I wanted.

Once you cut your skirt pieces out, they will replace the skirt pieces in the instructions, so you would just follow along with Casey’s assembly instructions from there. To gather I recommend 3 basting stitches 1/4, 1/2, and 1 inch apart to gather evenly (skip 5/8 as that is the seam allowance).

The last hacked part of this pattern is the patch pockets, for those I measured out 2 8.5 inch squares and attached the skirt to the front bodice then held it up to guesstimate where to pin the pockets. Once I pinned them on, I held it up again and moved them to where I wanted then sewed them on.

The Fern is an adventurous beginner friendly pattern, I truly believe that as long as you go slow on the parts you aren’t comfortable with, anyone could sew up a Fern top or dress successfully!

Do you have any plans to sew up a Fern top or hack it into a dress? Follow Pattern Scout on Instagram to really get those sewjo juices flowing!

Happy sewing y’all,




    • lbagala

      Thank you! I’m hoping I’ll get more comfortable with hacking without instructions because it was fun to go outside of the pattern box. It’s just so scary though! Haha.

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