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Pattern Hackers: Turn a Top into a High-low Dress

Break the rules with three pattern hacks for the Clarke top, by Chelsea Eisenberg.

Posted in: Tutorials & Techniques • June 30, 2019

Everyone knows that sewing gives you superpowers. First on that long list is the ability to break the rules and make garments that represent you and your taste. We want to encourage you to think of our patterns as a blank canvas that you can customize to truly suit your style.

Our pattern hacks are designed to teach you hacking basics that help you customize patterns so that you can become a confident pattern hacker. Each month, we will show you how to draft and sew one new pattern hack, and we'll share links to two additional pattern hacks from our pattern hacks library.

These hacks help you give your Seamwork patterns a custom spin—all you need is paper, a ruler, and a pencil!

This month, we teach how to lengthen your Clarke tank into a dress with a high-low hem. You can also check out two more hacks for turning your Clake tank into a dress. One will teach you how to create a gathered skirt for an empire silhouette, and the other will show you how to create a ruffle to add to the hem.

Note: For best results, be sure to make any necessary fit adjustments before hacking your pattern.

You'll Need:

  • The Clarke tank

  • Paper

  • Pencil

  • Scissors

  • Clear ruler

  • Curved ruler

HACK ONE: Dress With a High-low Hem

Turn the Clarke tank into a dress with a high-low hem, perfect for any summer occasion!


1. Measure how much longer you would like your Clarke dress to be—we lengthened by 30". Extend your Clarke side seam on the front by this amount.

2. Repeat this measurement on the back side seam.

3. Re-draw the hem on the back of the dress.

4. Measure how far up you would like the highest part of the front hem to be—we did 15 1/2". Mark this length at the center front.

5. Use a curved ruler to draw a curve up to meet the mark at the center front.


1. Sew the pattern according to the pattern instructions. You may find the curved hem easier to sew if using a baby hem.

HACK TWO: Gathered Skirt and Empire Bodice

Make a gathered skirt for an empire silhouette using this hack from Seamwork issue no. 39.

Ruffle Hem

Add a ruffle detail to the hem of your Clarke dress using this hack from Seamwork issue no. 31.

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