When I upcycled a dress into a Pixie Pea Coat for Twig + Tale’s upcycling themed blog tour, I felt inspired to modify the original coat design to have more of a gathered empire shape similar to dress I was upcycling. The following is how I did it.
Even if you have never gone off the rails with a pattern, I assure you this hack is pretty easy and only adds a few extra steps. I find it amazing how I can get two completely different looks with the same pattern!
Step 1: Cut your front and back pattern pieces in half 1″ (2.56 cm) above the line provided for lengthening/shortening the coat. Now you have 4 pattern pieces instead of 2.
Step 2: Retrace the top half of both the front and back pieces adding 3/8″ (1 cm) seam allowance to the bottom of each piece.
Step 3: Now you can trace the bottom half of the front and back pieces. Besides needing to add 3/8″ seam allowance to the top, you will also want to extend the width of each piece to allow for gathering. The extension will be on the right of the pattern piece. How much extra you add is really up to you. You can measure the width of the existing piece, minus seam allowances, and add anywhere from 25% (a little gathering) to 50% (a lot of gathering).
In a my example I added closer to 60% since I wanted to keep the pockets from the dress I was upcycling.
Step 4: Run two gathering lines of stitching on each bottom piece. Pull the threads to gather each piece to the same width as the bodice it will be attached to. Pin right sides together and stitch in place. After pressing the seam allowance, adding a line of top stitching is a nice touch.
Step 5: Once you have your 3 coat pieces you can continue following the tutorial for the rest of the assembly.
I should note, when following the original tutorial your placket will be a single piece, unlike mine. In my original post I explain a bit why my placket has a seam.