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The Wendy Smock | the frilled dress hack

WENDY SMOCK HACK | I did a little hacking of our Wendy Smock pattern and, if I do say so myself, made a rather splendid dress! 

This was actually a salvage job from a previously failed hack and that poor thing has lain, neglected, in the pile of doom all lockdown. But then the sun came out and the UK got hot. And nothing fits anymore (I’m talking body and mood, here! hello menopause, lockdown and well…cake and beer) so I needed a new plan. And voila…she’s now a cool frilled hem dress that’s perfect for the heat!

There’s no actual tutorial just these ramblings…it really is just a case of making our Wendy pattern longer and attaching a frill, but check out our French Dart Frill Sleeve Hack tutorial if you are looking for a little more in the way of detail – it’s exactly the same process just on a different scale.

You’ll need to make a few decisions |

  • how long you’d like your dress
  • how deep you’d like your frill
  • how full you’ll like your frill
  • I’ve included my measurements as a guide but I’m only 5’2″ so bear that in mind. This dress finishes about 5″ above my ankles so adjust to your height/needs/desires! 


First up: lengthen the bodice pattern.

  • overall length – frill depth = amount to add + seam allowances

I added about 5cm extra to the length of the bodice patterns and added 1cm SA to attach the frill. Please remember I am short! And keep in mind we are still going to add more length with the frill. Don’t over-complicate this bit, I literally just extended the side seams and added on the extra length. Do take the time to check your side seams are the same length and that they will create a smooth hemline when you join them.

FRILL | I didn’t actually make a pattern I just chalked it straight on my fabric as the frill is just made up of 2 rectangles, one for the front one for the back.

DEPTH | You’ll need to decide how deep and how full you would like your frill to be.

I made my frill to finish 33cm deep and added 1cm SA to attach to the body and 2cm hem allowance so I could turn it twice and have a cleanly finished hem, so I cut the rectangle 36cm deep.

WIDTH | The width of your pattern will dictate how gathered your frill is. I decided on a gathering ratio of 2:1. That just means whatever the hem width of the front or back panel is, I doubled it for the frill width. My front had a hem width of 65cm; 65cm x 2 = 130cm + 1cm each end for the seam allowance = my rectangle was cut 132cm wide.

You can change the ratio to suit you and your fabric, a bit more or a bit less gathering to work with the amount of fabric you have will be fine! If you are short of fabric you can join several rectangles together to make your frill.  I just made the same size for the front and back panels as they weren’t very different in size and I was very short of fabric!

GRAINLINE | I cut the frill across the piece of fabric so it is on the same grain line as the bodice. If you have a plain fabric you can cut the frill with the longest length parallel to the selvedge, but be aware if you have a printed fabric it may look odd. 

CONSTRUCTION | remember to press everything as you sew.

It’s all very straight forward – make your Wendy as usual and when you get to the hemming stage, just stick a frill on the bottom!

  • Run gathering stitches across the top of each rectangle. I did 2 rows, but do 3 if you prefer, and I gathered each rectangle in 2 sections so I could gather half a rectangle at a time to make it more manageable. 
  • With right sides of the fabric together, join the frills at the side seam. Neaten and press seams open.
  • Hem the frill.
  • Attach frill to the body with a 1cm seam allowance. Neaten the seam together and press upwards away from the frill.
  • Waft around the house/park/shop at whatever is this week’s acceptably social distance.
  • If you need a little more frill info see our French Dart Frill Sleeve Hack tutorial as the method is the same.
  • I decided later to run my dress in a little at the sides and our High Neck Smock tutorial has instructions to help you!

The eagle-eyed amongst you may have spotted a couple of other differences. I used a wider elastic, 2.5cm wide, at the cuff and I can confirm it’s quite comfy! And the neckline of this Wendy is different too as I have elasticated her rather than finished with the usual binding. This was actually the first method I tried out for Wendy at the toile stage many moons ago before settling on the binding method, but I think that will need to be a whole different tutorial!

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The High Neck Smock Hack!

The High Neck Wendy Smock Hack

Sometimes I make things up as I go along, this pattern hack is one of those occasions. One day, I decided I fancied making the Wendy Smock with a slightly higher neck.

I know what I wanted the end result to be but sometimes I make things up as I go along, and change my mind. I let it develop. I learn.

Sometimes good design solutions come from the mistakes. Sometimes they’re just mistakes.

I’m telling you these things because I hope it gives power to your making, to not look at mistakes as a complete disaster but, at worse, as a slight annoyance on a learning curve or even a design development.

Also, I pressed the sleeve seams in the wrong direction the first time! Hee Hee Hee! Look out for the warning below! ?

Abbreviations |    SA | seam allowance    CB | centre back    CF | centre front

Tools | 

  • paper
  • paper scissors
  • pencil
  • set square/pattern master/ruler
  • tracing wheel
  • tape measure
  • sellotape

Construction |

I constructed the high neck smock using the same methods as the original Maker Instructions. The only difference I made was to neaten the armhole seams together, rather than open, as I was using a nice lightweight fabric and pressed them towards the body. I also finished the cuff with bias binding rather than using elastic.  Do try her on after gathering the neck and cuff but before finishing with the binding as you can easily adjust the gathering to suit you.

Pattern alteration | 

So this will involve a bit of pattern cutting – nothing too complicated!

It’s a good idea trace off your original pattern so you can keep it intact to make another original version of the Wendy smock later. If you are tracing off the pattern leave excess paper around the edge to do the following alterations. If you have a PDF version of Wendy, and happy to print another if needed at a later date, you have the option to tape extra paper behind as I have.

Tape a bit of paper behind the front pattern piece. Use a ruler and extend the CF line and extend the armhole line. Mark the 1cm SA on all pattern pieces (this will be your actual stitchline).

Repeat for the sleeve and the back pattern.

Cut away excess pattern paper at the armholes, but leave at the neck.

Pin the pattern together |

Match up the pattern at notches and at the original neckline and lay with one stitchline on top of the other and pin the body to the sleeve along the stitchline. Don’t worry about pinning around the curve of the armhole, you want to keep your pattern flat.

Raise the neckline |

On the CF line mark a point 5cm (2”) above the original neckline and at 90°angle to CF line.On the CB mark a point 2.5cm (1”) above the original neckline. Again at 90°angle to CB line. Fold the sleeve in half and mark a point for the shoulder 1.2cm (½”) above the edge of the original pattern.

These are the measurements I used and I got them by trying on an old Wendy Smock and measuring how much higher I wanted the neck to sit. You can change them but remember that the finished neckline doesn’t stretch and needs to be big enough to go over your head when it’s gathered.

Draw a lovely curve between these points!

Make sure your line dissects CF & CB at 90° right angle, or you’ll end up with a weird pointy neck shape there. You can be a bit free and easy with the shoulder mark, concentrate on getting a smooth line, if you go a little bit either side it’s fine. 

Use a tracing wheel to transfer the new neckline to the pattern piece below before unpinning the pattern pieces.

OOPS! Originally I pressed the armhole seam towards the sleeve and then changed my mind when I tried it on and pressed it towards the body instead, so bear that in mind if yours looks slightly different to the photos! Sometimes you just got to make things up a bit as you go along!

The SA will be pressed towards the body of the garment and the seam allowance needs to get caught in the neckline during construction. When it is pressed to one side during construction SA needs to fold back and be exactly the same shape as the garment or the SA and garment will have a little ‘fight’ and possibly distort the garment out of shape at that point. So we need to ‘true’ the pattern.

Take the front pattern and fold the SA along the stitchline and to the wrong side of the pattern. Pin to hold and cut along the new neckline. (The photo is the sleeve pattern but same method!) Repeat for the back pattern.

Now check the body patterns against the sleeve pattern to make sure they are the same length…

Place the front and sleeve pattern together at the armhole. Align at the notch and check the seams are the same length. Make the sleeve SA is the same shape as the front SA as they are pressed in the same direction. The patterns should be the same length but you can add or reduce the sleeve pattern a smidge so they are exactly the same length. (This type of sleeve doesn’t need any ease). Repeat with the back armhole seam. Trim the sleeve pattern at the neckline.

Pattern done! Now you are ready to cut out and sew your new Wendy!


As I said above I constructed high-neck-Wendy using the same method as the original Maker Instructions. The only difference I made was to neaten the armhole seams together, rather than open and press them towards the body. I also decided to use bias binding to finish the cuff rather than using elastic. Measure your widest part of your lower arm to give yourself a finished measurement. I advise trying Wendola on after gathering the neck and cuff but before finishing with the binding as you can easily adjust the gathering. For the neckline gathering, I settled on a measurement after trying her on and fiddling with the gathering. I actually made my cuff finish at 22cm but it’s a smidge small and a bit annoying when I’ve worn it for a while, so the measurements below are the original cuff measurements when elasticated, adjust to how you want it to feel when wearing and more importantly moving your arms!

These are the measurements I ended up using – treat them as a guide and adjust to suit you.

In the spirit of making it up as I went along…Try your top on as you go to check you are happy with how it’s fitting. Even though I usually quite cheerfully wear Wendy as is, straight from the packet as it were, with a higher neck I felt the proportions were wrong for me (I’m 5’2″ and a 36″ bust, and use the small size – if that helps anyone!). For me, she was too loose and too long. You could do this alteration at the pattern stage but I just tried the top on (inside out) with the sleeves attached, side seams closed and neck and cuff gathered but not bound. I literally just pinned on myself first and then sewed a new seam and trimmed off the excess.

I found that I needed to take in 2.5cm/1″ on the doubled fabric  (5cm/2″ each side in total, 10cm/4″ in total from the whole garment) at the underarm, straight down to the hem and back to the original stitchline at the cuff.

I made her shorter too, but instead of cutting any off I made a very deep finished hem of 6cm.

Hem | Turn and press the hem up 1cm and then fold and press again at 6cm. Tack and topstitch.

NOTE | If you have tapered the hem you will need to make sure the hem allowance is the same shape as the body when its folded up into place – as we did for the SA earlier. If the side seam is straight it should be fine, but fold the pattern as if you were hemming it to make sure it is ‘true’ and the hem allowance is the same shape as the body.

TIP | Use a safety pin in the back of the garment so you can tell which is the back and front neck easily during construction – it’s quite easy to get them confused!

  And then, on the finished garment, I hand stitched a running stitch along the inside of the binding at the back neck. And that, as they say, is that!

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The Patch Pocket Tutorial

We had a couple of requests for a photo tutorial for the patch pockets on The Maria Apron. So here it is!

The same principles will apply to the pockets for our Wendy Smock Top too. Wendy just has a little gathering at the base of each pocket, do that first and then follow below!MAVEN PATTERNS_MARIA APRON MAVEN PATTERNS_PATCH POCKET TUTORIAL


 KEY | RS(U): right side of pocket (up) | WS(U): wrong side of pocket (up) | S/A: seam allowance

You’ll need your Pocket Bag Former pattern piece. To work this really needs to be in card (a cereal box will do the job perfectly). If you need help here’s my tutorial


We are going to start at the ironing board: Everything above FOLD 2 is actually the facing of the pocket (a grown-on facing). The corner of the pocket bag will be ‘bagged out’ with the grown on facing so the raw edges will be concealed inside of it. Don’t freak out at the term ‘bag(ged) out’ it just means sewing your fabric with right sides together and then turning through so the RS is facing to the outside and all the stitching and seam allowances are enclosed on the inside.

Make fold 1 | Start with the RS of the pocket bag facing downwards and press the top edge 1cm to the WS – use the notches as a guide.


Make fold 2 | Still with RS facing down, at the next set of notches fold down again to the WS of the pocket and press in FOLD 2, creating the facing for the top of the pocket. Fold 2 is 2.3cm from FOLD 1. Why such a random number I hear thee ask? Because, a little later, we will topstitch 2cm down from the top edge of the pocket (this will stop the facing poking out during wear), which leaves a 3mm allowance to catch the stitching on. Clever stuff.


Turn facing to RS | Turn the pocket bag over so RSU is facing you.

At FOLD 2, flip the facing over from the back of the pocket to the front, and pin through the facing and S/A.


Stitch | At each pocket corner, take a 1cm S/A and stitch through the facing.

Trim each corner to reduce bulk and give a little press.


Turn corner | Turn those corners out to the right side now. Poke out the corners gently so they are nice and square (I use my small scissors, but be careful!) and press again. There you go, a bagged out corner!


Pressing the curve | Grab the pocket former and slide it underneath your pocket facing and then use it as a template to press a 1cm S/A around your pocket. Remove template.

Oh look, a delightfully smooth curve and 2 matching pockets. Hurrah! Now is a good time to check they are in fact the same size and shape. They are? Jolly good – on we go.


Topstitch and pocket placement | Topstitch across the top of the pockets 2cm down from the top edge to hold the facing in place.

Pin the pocket on your apron. Remember the pocket marker dots sit 5mm INSIDE the finished pocket edge (an industry trick so the marks don’t show on the finished garment).

TIP | You can use a fabric marker pen or chalk to mark a line 5mm above the dots which is where the top edge of your patch pocket sits and mark a line 5mm on the outside of the dots for the outside edge of the pockets. Check you are happy with the position of the pockets and then tack them in place.


Stitch into place | The pockets will be edgestitched onto your garment, but as this is a functional garment that will hopefully get a lot of wear, the pockets will benefit from a little reinforcement. This should help to give many years of joy and use from your apron.

Reinforce corners with a triangle | Start at point 1, stitch up to point 2, pivot your garment 90º and stitch across 3 stitches to point 3 (doesn’t matter how many stitches, but keep them the same number on all of your corners). Pivot again and stitch back to point 1 completing the reinforcement triangle. Then just continue to edgestitch the pocket bag all the way around and finish with a triangle again on the other side.

Voila! You’ve mastered the art of the patch pocket.

Get creative | Don’t forget you can have some fun with your patch pockets to make the most of your fabric’s design. Stripes can run in different directions – a good plan if you don’t want to match them to the apron body but don’t want to look like you didn’t think about it. That’s why ready-to-wear check shirts usually have pockets cut on the bias – it avoids stripe matching. Or you could pick a favourite part of a print and give it pride of place on your pocket. If you do get creative, remember that patterns or stripes on pockets are usually cut to pair each other!


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PATTERN HACK…How to make an Off the Shoulder Top!

Off The Shoulder Tops…



…they’re everywhere this summer, aren’t they? I’m not one to usually bother with fashion trends. I’m not a big fan of buying or especially making clothes unless it’s something I really love and will wear loads. I do, however, like to get the maximum mileage out of a pattern, fabric and mostly out of my time. I thought about this trend for a while and came to the conclusion the off the shoulder top, or The ‘Bardot’ Top (or as my eldest called it Bar-Dot, worth writing a tutorial just for that!), could actually become a holiday summer basic.

I started with The Wendy Artisan Smock pattern and thought this would be a great little pattern hack to share. It does make the most perfect beach cover-up, just lengthen your pattern to get the leg coverage you are after. It would also make a delightful holiday dress with a little tie belt at the waist too. I’ve made it in an embroidered spot voile. Beautiful fabric – but be warned, it is quite sheer in the white if you are going down the dress route!

And I thought I should probably share it now as in England we’ve had more than 3 days of glorious sunshine this summer, and it’s now 50/50 (yes, I know that’s being optimistic) for the rest of August wether we get any more sunshine.



Wendy Artisan Top Pattern, Tape measure, Scissors, 1 metre (approx) of 2.5cm wide Elastic, Safety Pin

I recommend, as always, making a toile: it’s a test run in calico or a cheap fabric – you don’t want to waste your favourite fabric on a less the perfect top!

  1. Cut out your pattern using VERSION B (with no centre front neck opening) and don’t cut the binding pattern.
  2. NECKBAND: cut one long rectangle 7.5cm wide  x  SMALL: 123cm long / MEDIUM: 128.5 cm long / LARGE: 134cm long. It can be cut along the selvedge or across the fabric width on the straight grain. 


Make up your top, following the instructions in the pattern: Attach pockets and sleeves, close side seams.

Cut neckline down by 4cm. Of course you could trim down your pattern pieces before cutting out your garment.


Press the neckband in half length wise


Join with a 1cm seam allowance to make the neck band into a loop, press the seam open


| Attach the band |

Pin neckband to RIGHT SIDE of the body. Depending on your fabric your neckline may ‘grow’ as it’s on the bias grain in places, just ease your garment onto the neckband.


Stitch your band to the body with a 1cm seam allowance. Leave a gap of about 5cm to thread your elastic through.

To get your elastic length: wrap elastic around shoulders where you want your top to sit, pulling slightly so it stretches, and mark. It needs to be tight enough to stay up but not so tight it cuts off the circulation and if it’s too tight it will ride up, too loose and it’ll drop down! Everyone’s measurement will vary as it depends on a lot of outside factors how stretchy is your elastic/ how tight are you comfortable with etc?


| Thread the elastic |

(This is the same process as the sleeve hem for the Smock) Attach a safety pin to your elastic to help thread it through the neckband channel. Once threaded lay the elastic with the ends flat on top of each other and stitch where you marked it earlier. Try your smock on and see how that elastic feels, now is the time to adjust if you need to. Once you are happy, make sure that elastic is stitched securely, and trim away excess elastic.


Then just stitch the gap closed, and neaten the raw seam allowance.



Now just enjoy the sun in your off the shoulder top, like the fashionista you are!