How to make a gathered and tiered skirt for Rhapsody Dress

May 24, 2022 | How To, Pattern Hack, Rhapsody Blouse | 4 comments

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I recently posted this gathered and tiered skirt twist on my new favorite Rhapsody Blouse and Dress make on the Love Notions Pattern Support Group. My version has just a few tweaks from the original pattern — the gathered and tiered look is everywhere right now and I had just the fabric and pattern to create my own version. After I posted many requested a quick written tutorial on how I did it. So here ya go!

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Ok, back to my #LoveNotionsPinspiration with the Rhapsody Dress.

So what did I do to get this gathered and tiered skirt look on my Rhapsody?

Here are the simple steps I took:

  1. Cut only the Rhapsody bodice pattern pieces and shortened the dress-length bodice about 2 inches per my preference. I wanted the bodice to end just an inch or two below my bustline as I held the pieces up to my body.
  2. With my remaining fabric folded over, selvedge to selvage, I cut a straight rectangle that was about the length from my under-bust to my knee. No formal measuring. This became the top tier of my skirt.
  3. While the remaining fabric was still folded, selvedge to selvedge, I cut it straight across into two equal rectangles that were about the height of my knee to mid calf. This became the bottom tier of the skirt. (PS — this was basically a zero waste make! Almost every scrap of my 2 yard cut was used — aside for the bits and pieces around the bodice cuts.)
  4. Then I sewed the top skirt side seam, RST, and marked the quarter points on the top and bottom.
  5. Next, I sewed the two shorter rectangle pieces that created the bottom tier of the skirt, RST, along both side seams. Then I marked the quarter points along the top. I also finished the hem of the bottom tier at this point by serging it and folding it up into a narrow hem and then topstitching.
  6. Next, I used clear elastic to create neat and even gathers for my tiers. I think this is the easiest and fasted way to create gathers. I did this by measuring the circumference of the bodice with the clear elastic (careful not to stretch). The circumference of the bodice is affected by pleat in the back, so I just basted the pleat on the bottom similar to how it was done on the top where it attaches to the yoke. Then I sewed the ends of the cut elastic together and marked the quarter points.
  7. Then I sewed the elastic onto the top of the first skirt tier onto the wrong side of the fabric – matching quarter points and stretching the elastic — but not the skirt fabric. I used a triple zig zag stitch.
  8. Next I finished that seam with a serger. My serger goes over clear elastic just fine but test yours out to make sure it will go over safely.
  9. Then I repeated the same process with the bottom tier of the skirt.

Fabric Details for my gathered and tiered skirt hack

You can find my fabric at Surge – it is a lovely stretch woven in cobalt blue. It was just the right weight for a light summer dress – but it still provided an opaque look for my flowy dress. Sometimes you can see right through a lightweight woven — but not this one. Also this fabric has the coolest texture to it – it’s not super slippery and shiny but instead it has an almost crepe feel. It’s very cool to the touch and I know its going to keep me feeling breezy and light during the humid and hot weather we have coming our way.


Use the gathered and tiered skirt technique on these patterns:


Save this gathered and tiered skirt post to your sewing Pinterest Board:

rhapsody tiers

4 Comments

  1. Toni

    How did you calculate the width of the tier layer, did you measure the layer above it and increase it by a percentage e.g 30% 0f the layer above or by a specific measurement e.g add an extra 30cm. Getting the correct amount of extra width would be important to get the right look of the finished dress

    Reply
    • Keira Wood

      Hi Toni. The general rule for a gathered tier is 1.5 to 2 times the width of whatever it will be applied to. It all depends on how much fullness you want. And sometimes the way the calculation works out, you may end up with a figure close to the width of the fabric. In Tessa’s case, she just used the entire width of the fabric for the first tier. And pieced together 2 rectangles the entire width of the fabric for the next tier. So the bottom tier is actually 2 times the width of the first tier. Hope that helps! ~K

      Reply
  2. Mercedes

    Amazing tutorial!! 😄 Quick questions… Does the bottom rectangle need to be wider than the top one to get the gathers? And by the same ratio as the top rectangle is wider than the bodice? Or is that all personal preference for how full you want it?

    Reply
    • Keira Wood

      Thanks Mercedes! The general rule for a gathered tier is 1.5 to 2 times the width of whatever it will be applied to. It all depends on how much fullness you want. And sometimes the way the calculation works out, you may end up with a figure close to the width of the fabric. In Tessa’s case, she didn’t do any formal measuring. She just used the entire width of the fabric for the first tier. And pieced together 2 rectangles the entire width of the fabric for the next tier. So the bottom tier is actually 2 times the width of the first tier. Hope that helps! ~K

      Reply

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