B6453 Pattern Hack – The Tiered Skirt

In my last post I talked about the dresses I have made with Gertie’s B6453 pattern.  Today’s post is going to be a variation on that same pattern.  I have left the bodice the same, but changed the skirt to make a tiered version that I embellished with some pretty trim.

When I was deciding how many tiers to make and how full I wanted my skirt to be, I knew that I didn’t want to use too much fabric. The more fabric I used, the heavier the skirt, which would weigh down the fullness that I love in the normal B6453 pattern.

So the first thing to do was determine my skirt length.  As I stated previously I typically like my skirt to be about 27-28″ in length.  Next I chose how many tiers I wanted. This is really down to personal preference.  I loved the look of the below dress and have now made this version with both 3 and 4 tiers.  The 3 tier dress is my favorite of the two.  Even though I used the same basic math to create both dresses I like the overall look when 3 tiers are used in lieu of 4. If the skirt was tea length I think 4 tiers would be better. Since my preference is the 3 tier skirt that is the example I will use in my calculations below.

b.bardot tiered dress inspo
Brigitte Bardot and Pablo Picasso

Once you have determined the overall length and number of tiers,  you must decide how long each tier should be.  I like tiered skirts that are staggered, meaning the bottom tier is the longest, the middle tier is an average length, and the top tier is the shortest.  So I took my overall skirt length of 27”, divided it by my number of tiers (3), and got my mid-tier length (9″).  In order for the skirt to still look balanced I kept the tiers equally staggered by adding 2″ in length to the bottom tier (11” total) and removing 2″ from the top tier (7” total).  I then added a 5/8” seam allowance to the top and bottom of each tier length (1¼” total).  Therefore, the final length measurement of each tier is: 8¼” for the top tier, 10¼” for the middle tier, and 12¼” for the bottom tier.


Yellow Rose 9
Note: This 4 tiered skirt was 28″ in length. I divided by 4 and got 7″ for my two mid-tiers. I still wanted this to be staggered so I split the difference between the 14″ for the middle tiers to get 6″ and 8″.  Then subtracted 2″ from the 6″ for the top tier and added 2″ to the 8″ for the bottom tier. So the tiers were 4″, 6″, 8″ and 10″ before seam allowances were added.  The tier width was multiplied by a variable of 1.75.

Next I needed to determine the width of each tier. I started with my waist measurement (32”) and multiplied it by 2.  This will be the width of my first tier (64”).  I then multiplied the width of the first tier by 2 to get the width for the middle tier (128”) and once again multiplied the width of the middle tier by 2 to get the length of the bottom tier (256”).  I did this so that when I gathered the fabric it would be equally ruched at each tier.

Based on my calculations, the final measurements for each tier is:

8¼” x 64”

10¼” x 128”

12¼” x 256”

Next I decided how I would cut the fabric in order to make the skirt.  I wanted to keep the hidden pockets from the original skirt pattern so each tier would be cut in half width wise. That way I could gather and sew the three tiers together, pin the pockets to the side seams, and sew them together in the same manner as the original skirt instructions. The overall length of the bottom tier is 256″.  Cut in half it is 128″ which equates to 3.5 yards. The average yard of fabric is 45 inches wide and the pattern normally takes 4 yards of material.  I drew up a quick cutting map as if I bought 4 yards of fabric to see how far that would get me.  Turns out 4 yards is the perfect amount.

Tiered Skirt Cutting Diagram 1_001
Note: The 4 tier skirt used 13 yards of trim.

If I was going to the hassle of making all these tiers I wanted to really emphasize the skirt detail.  So I used a decorative trim where the tiers joined.  I also trimmed around the neckline of the bodice.  In order to calculate how much trim was needed I added the tier widths (64” + 128” = 192”/36 = 5.3 yards of skirt trim) and added an extra yard for the bodice just in case.

Here is how I assembled the tiers:

Tiered Skirt Instructions_001
Gather the fabric along the top of the middle and bottom tiers.
Tiered Skirt Instructions_002
Sew the gathered tiers together, as pictured above. If using a trim to accent the tiers, stitch trim to the right side of the fabric along the seam line. I use a zigzag stitch.


Tiered Skirt Instructions_003
Sew the pockets to the tiers, as pictured above. I use the B6453 skirt pattern piece as a guide so the pockets are placed in the same area.
Tiered Skirt Instructions_004
You should now have two skirt pieces that look like this. Sew them with right sides together to make one continuous skirt. Gather the top pf the skirt till it matches the bodice width and sew the skirt and bodice together.



For the zipper, I didn’t want to bisect the decorative trim. So I opted to use an invisible zipper rather than a lapped zipper. I cut a straight line down the first tier of the skirt back following the center back opening on the bodice.

Tiered Skirt Instructions_005
For zipper insertion, cut down as shown above.

The standard B6453 is a quick and easy sew. Due to the extra tiers there is a lot more gathering involved with this skirt so it took me closer to 5 ½ hours from start to finish.  Even with the extra time involved this is an easy weekend project and I really like the detail the tiers add.  Overall I am really happy with the outcome as this was my first pattern hack. Stay tuned as I have one more version of this dress pattern coming up.  I got creative with some white broadcloth, RIT dye, and fabric paint… can you guess what I might be making?

~Sewcial Dee


3 thoughts on “B6453 Pattern Hack – The Tiered Skirt

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s