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Block Paper Scissors

Create a gathered drop waist Willie dress, by Anna Aguirre.

Posted in: Tutorials & Techniques • November 30, 2016


Block Paper Scissors is a monthly column featuring patternmaking hacks that will help you give your Seamwork patterns a custom spin—all you need is paper, a ruler, and a pencil!

This hack modifies Willie into a sleek drop waist dress with a gathered skirt. Make it in a luxurious velvet for a little black dress that will be a hit at all the holiday parties on your list.

Note: Be sure to make any fit adjustments before doing the pattern hack.

You'll Need:

  • Willie

  • Pencil

  • Clear ruler

  • Paper

  • Tape

  • Scissors

How to:


Step | 01

Measure the width of the waistline of the front bodice pattern piece. Multiply this measurement by 2 to create a new skirt waistline measurement.

Step | 02

Repeat step 1 for the back bodice pattern piece.

Step | 03

Measure one short edge of a bottom ruffle pattern piece.


Step | 04

Using a clear ruler, draw the stitch lines that join the front middle panel to the front bottom panel pieces.

Step | 05

Repeat step 4 for the back middle panel and back bottom panel pieces.


Step | 06

Tape the front panels together along the stitch lines, overlapping the seam allowances. Draw a lengthen cut line through the middle of the front bottom panel.

Step | 07

Repeat step 6 for the back panels. These pieces will now be referred to as the front skirt and back skirt.

Step | 08

Cut along the lengthen lines on the front and back skirt pieces.


Step | 09

Place the front and back skirt pieces on a fresh sheet of paper. Lengthen the skirt pieces by the width of the bottom ruffle.

Step | 10

Trace the new front and back skirt pieces.


Step | 11

Draw vertical cut lines, parallel to the grainline, on the front and back skirt pieces, roughly dividing the pieces into thirds. Label the sections 1, 2, and 3.

Step | 12

Cut along these lines.


Step | 13

Tape the 1st portion of the front skirt to a fresh piece of paper.

Step | 14

Evenly space the 2nd and 3rd portions from each other so that the waistline of the front skirt equals the new skirt waistline measurement from step 1.

Step | 15

Repeat steps 13 - 14 for the back skirt.


Step | 16

Trace new front and back skirt pieces and label them to be cut on the fold. For larger sizes, if the pattern pieces become too wide to be cut on the fold you can add seam allowance to the center front and center back. Alternately, try cutting the front and back skirt on the crossgrain.

Sewing Notes


  1. Sew Wille as directed in the instructions, stopping after the the side seams are sewn.

  2. With right sides together, sew the skirt front and back together, finishing the seam allowances with your preferred method.

  3. On the front skirt, sew three lines of basting stitches along the waist seam, at 1/4", 1/2", and 3/4". Repeat on the back skirt.

  4. Pin the skirt to the bodice with right sides together, matching the side seams, center front, and center back.

  5. Gently pull the basting stitches to gather to the skirt to fit the bodice, distributing the gathers evenly. Stitch at 5/8" seam allowance. Finish the seam allowance with your preferred method.

  6. Hem dress.

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