Celia Dress: The Dropped Waist Hack

Celia Dress: The Dropped Waist Hack
The weekend long read.
When I was thinking of building a capsule summer collection the first garment I had in mind was the Celia Dress (if you missed last weeks newsletter on how I’m making a mini collection you can catch up here - 'How to Plan a Summer Capsule'). I haven’t made a Celia Dress in over a year so I really felt like giving this pattern some love.
In my recent trip to the V&A I saw a number of dress styles from different eras and I particularly loved the dropped waist twenties pieces. I've never worn something with a dropped waist and I think it looks so elegant and breezy; this makes sense as the very reason this style became popular was to rebel against the age of tightly fitted dresses with full skirts. Women wanted to move and breath in their clothes and this is a sentiment I whole heartedly agree with!
Since I haven’t done any sort of hack with the Celia Dress before it felt like a nice opportunity to rethink this pattern and utilise this silhouette that had stuck in my mind.
Nearly everything I make is for the purpose of feeling put together in a laid back way. I imagined this dress to feel breezy, flowy and fun to wear. Something to swish around in and wear casually with trainers to work or with smart shoes to a wedding. I think it strikes that balance really well which is genuinely a hard one to achieve!
I’ve already worn this dress since finishing it and I can confirm it feels like a real treat. And yes, it’s a very easy hack to do (details are below). I think this could be a hack that trickles into the instagram feed and I’ll be very excited if and when it starts to do so.
As the first piece of my mini summer capsule I'm really happy with it and I’m looking forward to building the rest of this range around it.
I'd love to hear what you think and hopefully it gives some of you an idea or two of your own!
Make Details
Cut: Celia Dress
Size: 10 (I’m a UK 10/S and 5”10). For this gathered skirt hack I bought 3.5 metres of 150cm wide fabric and I used up most of it.
- short sleeves
dropped waist gathered skirt


For this piece I went for a light coloured linen. I loved the idea of using an off-white colour but this isn’t much good for being a wedding guest and generally would pick up more dirt with the very long and gathered skirt. I chose a light coloured yellow linen (bought from Woolcrest in Hackney) and I opted for a matching thread rather than a contrast one. I used these pearly buttons which helps to give the piece a smarter feel.

Shortening the Length

When cutting the body of the dress I shortened the front and back pieces as shown in the picture. The finished length of the body section is 63cm but please note that I’m quite tall at 5ft 10. It’s best to cut the bodies a bit longer than what you think you’d need and then shorten it as required.

I also curved off the hem on the front and back pieces at the side seams to avoid getting a point in the hem after the side seams are joined. You can do this by following the diagram below.

I made the top part of the dress in the exact same way as if it were the full length version - it even has the side pockets in the side seams. I actually really liked it at this stage and if it was longer it could have been a lovely mini dress version!

Adding the Skirt

To start playing with the skirt volume I pinned a length of fabric on to the bottom of the dress while it was on the stand.

I then gathered a length of fabric on the machine and pinned it on properly to try it on and check the proportions. It was at this point that I had the idea for the very deep turn up hem.

The shape and dimensions of the skirt are below. I made it by french seaming the side seams and then gathering the top edge and sewing it to the skirt. I then overlocked the gathered seam to tidy it up and tried it on again to check the length. I pressed up the hem by 1cm and then 20cm and stitched it into place.

Skirt Measurements:

The gathered skirt is made of 2 rectangle pieces cut 95cm tall by 142cm wide which includes 1cm seam allowances and a 20cm hem turn up. This width works well for the size 10 for other sizes you might want more or less volume.

Cropping the Sleeves

I felt like the sleeves needed to be shorter to balance out with the amount of volume in the dress. I rolled them up to check the length and finished them just above the elbow.


The final thing I added was topstitching around the lapels. It could have easily gone without but I think it adds a bit of definition around the edges. I always like to build these details up slowly to match the fabric and features - if it was a cotton or denim it might have looked nice with a double row of stitching. You can pick and choose these finishing details to match the look you want to go for.


Follow the thread - Continue reading the summer capsule journey