Leila Dress Hack

My Leila Dress hack

Just after the Leila Dress was released earlier this year I stumbled across the below image and instantly saved it on my Pinterest board for a sweet little summer hack of the Leila Dress. The weather is warming up in the Southern Hemisphere and my summer sewing plans are starting to come to fruition.

The inspiration for the Leila Dress hack

Ok, so here’s how I converted the Leila bodice, first tier pattern pieces into a front and back bodice with a side dart. Followed by transforming your sleeve pattern into a little flutter sleeve. And finishing off with detailed instructions on how to sew this hack.


First things first, draw a long straight line which will act as the grainline for the front bodice. Tape or pin the front 1st tier to a piece of paper lining the CF fold to the grainline just drawn. Mark the seam allowance at the top edge of this pattern piece and the lower edge of the front bodice.

Front pattern piece creation

To keep the integrity of the grainline for the front bodice mark a second line 5cm in from the first grainline drawn. This will enable you to line up the front bodice grainline to the drawn grainline. Tape or pin the front bodice to the page lining up the seam allowance of the front 1st tier and front bodice at the neck edge as well as the grainline drawn to maintain the integrity of the pattern piece. Trace around the pieces drawing a straight line from the under arm point to the bottom of the first tier side seam. It is the green line in the image below. Also draw a line to mark where the old seam line would have been.

Traced front pattern piece with dart marked on.

To work out the position of your dart, measure in 11cm from the side seam along the old panel line. This is for a size 6. Add an additional 6mm for each size bigger than this an minus 6mm for each size smaller than this. Measure down 3cm from this point which will become your bust dart point. Measure down the side seam 3.5cm below the old panel line marking this point. Measure 4cm down from this and make another point. These will form your dart arms. I also lowered my underarm point by 1cm. To correct your side seam line and determine your dart arms fold the dart up and draw a new straight line from the underarm point to the bottom of the bodice. Use your tracing wheel to roll over the folded dart. The new side seam can be seen as the blue line.

Dart folded and pinned to draw new side seam. Use your tracing wheel to determine the shape of the dart fold.

In the image above you can see I have folded the dart up so the dart itself sits down. It is very important to trace your dart like this as this is how your finished dart will be sewn and ironed. If you fold the dart down and the dart itself is facing up, the side seam will not be correct. If you would like to raise the neckline now is the time to make this adjustment. The shaping of the neck line could be rounded or a higher V. Cut out the pattern piece, mark your pattern pieces with the cutting instruction and cut on fold grainline.

Finished front bodice pattern piece

Next, pin the back bodice pattern and back 1st tier to a piece of paper lining up the fold line to a grainline drawn. Make sure you overlap the seam allowance of the two pattern pieces. The side seam of the back pattern must match the front pattern. To do this reduce the side seam length by 1cm at the under arm point. Reduce the side seam length by 4cm at the bottom edge which is equal to the dart amount from the front. I also reduced the CB length by 1cm at the bottom but next time I will reduce by 2cm in total at the bottom. The bottom of the back bodice will have a slight curve to it as per the image below.

Back bodice adjustments.

Time to create your sleeve pattern. Pin your sleeve to the pattern piece to a fresh piece of paper.

Sleeve pattern pinned to a page

Trace around the pattern and mark all of the notches and grainline. Mark a point 13cm down from the shoulder point and curve a line back to the front and back armhole just below the notches. Refer to the image below.

Sleeve drawn with new line

Cut out the sleeve pattern piece along the new hem line. Mark the 1cm SA around the sleeve head. Draw lines 2cm apart starting from the middle of the sleeve out to the edge.

Cut the seam allowance from the pattern and then cut through the lines from the hem to the sleeve head leaving a little bit not cut at the top edge to act as the swinging point.

Seam allowance cut from pattern piece

Tape your sleeve pattern piece to a new page leaving a 1.5cm gap between each cut piece. Then add the 1cm SA back to the sleeve head. Your sleeve pattern is now complete. Make sure you note which is the front and back sleeve. The front sleeve has 1 notch and the back sleeve has 2.

Final sleeve pattern


  1. Cut out all of your pattern pieces which include the front and back bodice pieces that you just created, the sleeve, the front and back 2nd tier and 3rd tier. Also cut out the front and back neck facing pieces.
  2. Sew the darts into the front bodice and iron them down.
Darts sewn in the front bodice

3. Sew the front and back bodice pieces together at the side seams.

Sew front & back together at side seams.

4. Overlock side seams together and shoulder seams individually.

5. Sew shoulder seams together and press them flat.

Sew shoulder seams together and press open

6. Sew neck facing pieces together at the shoulders and press open.

Neck facing pieces sewn together

7. Overlock around the outside edge of the neck facing.

8. Sew the neck facing to the neck edge with right sides together using a 6mm SA. Press the seam out towards the facing.

Neck facing attached to neck edge and pressed towards facing

9. Press facing to the wrong side right along the seam line.

Facing pressed to wrong side

10. Stitch the facing down to the main garment. I increased my stitch length to 3.5mm for this step. Keep your foot running an even distance from the neck edge so the stitch line on the outside of the garment is an even distance from the edge all the way around. Add your woven label at this point if you have one.

Facing stitched down

11. Next prepare your gathered skirt panels. Change your stitch length to 5mm and sew 2 gather stitch lines along the top edge of the 3rd tier pattern pieces. The first stitch line is 5mm from the top edge and the 2nd is 6mm from the first stitch line.

12. Evenly pull the gather stitch so that the 3rd tier fits to the 2nd tier. Change your stitch length back to 2.5mm and sew your 3rd tier to the 2nd tier. Overlock the seams. Keep the front and back pieces separate at this point.

3rd tier gathered to the 2nd tier

13. Join the front and back skirt tiers together at the side seam. Overlock side seams together.

Skirt side seams sewn together

14. Sew an 8mm double turn hem to finish the lower edge of the skirt.

Skirt finished with double turn hem

15. Sew 2 rows of gather stitch to the top of the skirt. I sew 2 rows to the front and 2 rows to the back and pull them up separately so there is less chance of the gather stitches breaking.

16. Sew skirt to the bodice and overlock seam to finish.

Main dress finished!


17. Sew a 6mm double turn hem to the sleeve edge.

Finished sleeve hem

18. Attached the sleeve to the dress ensuring you have the front sleeve to the front of the dress.

Sleeve sewn into dress

19. Fold overlocked edge to the inside of the underarm and stitch down. Stitch 2cm past where the sleeve is attached. Do not stitch all the way around the sleeve.

Finished sleeve

20. Give your dress and final press and it’s ready to wear!

The finished dress!
The finished dress on ✌🏼

The Leila PDF pattern is available through my PDF pattern shop.

Published by

One thought on “Leila Dress Hack

Leave a Reply