tutorial: classic shirt to tiered dress

We love the tired shirtdress that Mire made from the Classic Shirt pattern. She has provided a tutorial on how she altered the pattern to meet her vision. Check out this easy pattern hack. She liked it so much she sewed two!

Woman wearing tiered shirtdress from the Liesl + Co Classic Shirt

I love sewing shirts, and I also wear shirts quite often. But I realized that I didn’t need any new shirts, so I decided to sew a tiered shirtdress using the Classic Shirt pattern.

Shorten bodice

At first, I shortened the front and back pieces to my waist. I sewed the shirt following the instructions. Then it was time to make the tiered skirt.

Classic shirt pattern folded to shorten the waist

Add a tiered skirt

Determine the length of your skirt. When you have your length, you will need to divide the length by two. Then add 1” (seam allowances) to that number to get the length of your piece. For example, I wanted the length to be 20”. So the length of my piece was 10” + 1” = 11”.

The next step is to calculate the width of each tier. Measure the circumference of your bodice (shirt) and then multiply the measurement by 1,5 for the first tier. For the bottom tier, multiply the width of the first tier by 1,5. For example, the circumference of my bodice was 40”. So the first tier was 1,5 * 40”= 60” and the bottom tier 1,5 * 60” = 90”.

Cut your fabric using the measurements. (I cut one rectangle measuring 11” x 40”. Because the width of my fabric was less than 90” for the bottom tier, I cut two rectangles 11” x 45”)

Sew the skirt. Sew the short ends of the first tier together using 1/2” seam allowances and finish the seam allowances. Stitch a row of gathering stitches 3/8 from the top edge of the skirt. Then sew a second row of gathering stitches 1/4 below the first row.

Pin the first tier to the bodice with right sides together. Then pull up on the gathering stitches to make the skirt fit the width of the bodice, distributing the gathers evenly. Stitch the skirt to the bodice with a 1/2” seam and finish the seam allowances together.

Sew the short ends of the bottom tier together and finish the seam allowances. Sew gathering stitches and sew the bottom tier to the first tier.

Finally, hem the skirt, and your dress is finished.

Woman wearing tiered shirtdress from the Liesl + Co Classic Shirt

Autumn variation

I was so pleased with my new shirtdress that I also wanted to sew a long-sleeved dress for autumn. This time I didn’t make a tiered skirt. I just cut one rectangle.

I multiplied the width of the bodice by 1,5 and used my length measurement. (I cut the rectangle measuring 21” x 60”.)

I used the back piece pattern of the Recital shirt instead of the Classic shirt.


Woman wearin shirtdress from the Liesl + Co Classic ShirtI also wanted to change the shape of the sleeve and used the instructions in the Building Block Dress book to make bell sleeves. I used the cut and flare method to make a new sleeve pattern and added some length to the sleeve pattern.

Sleeve pattern slashed and spread

When it was time to hem the sleeves, I finished the raw edge of the sleeve. Then I folded it to the wrong side by 1/2” and stitched it, leaving a small gap to insert elastic. After inserting the elastic, I sewed the elastic ends together and closed the gap.

Woman wearing shirtdress from the Liesl + Co Classic Shirt


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  1. Dara

    Your outfits are Very Pretty and Beautifully Sewn! Thank you for the tutorial on how you achieved it.

  2. Sharon

    Thanks for showing how you achieved this. They’re both fabulous.

  3. SShaw

    This pattern continues to show its versatility. I already have a tiered dress on the ‘to-do’ list but the first photo is making me think that a Classic shirt turned drop waist dress could be another nice addition. Thanks for the inspiration, Mire.

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