Phoenix Top and Dress Pattern Hacks

We love the Phoenix Pattern so much, and our clever hacks have made it even more versatile! In this post, we'll show you how to add a sweet hemline ruffle, a convenient shelf-bra, or a trendy gathered peplum to the Phoenix pattern. Check out the variations Rachael, Heidi and Caitlin have created for you below, and make sure to grab you Phoenix Pattern, on sale at 50% off now through Monday, July 12 noon PDT! 


Ruffled Hemline Hack

It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with the Phoenix pattern! I have a full Pinterest board loaded with ideas for my next versions. Many of the ideas that caught my eye had a cute little ruffle at the hemline. I immediately decided that I need a few of these to add to my growing Phoenix collection. This hack is so easy! You can follow the full tutorial video here:

First, I needed to alter my pattern just slightly. I determined the length I wanted the dress, without the ruffle added. I chose to cut at the Hankie Top Hemline. I drew a line from the Hankie Hemline point at the center front, straight across to the side seam. Next, I needed to curve this straight line slightly. When cutting a straight hemline, the hem needs to curve up slightly at the side seam in order to lay correctly. In order to accommodate for this, I measured 1 ½" up from the hemline at the side seam and drew a mark. I then drew in a new curved hemline easing it up toward my mark. You can see the straight hemline drawn here in blue and the new curved hemline drawn in pink.


I cut the pattern at my new curved hemline and then constructed the dress according to the standard tutorial with one small change. I left one side seam unsewn 2” at the bottom, as shown in this picture. This will help you attach your ruffle later on.

After constructing the dress I tried it on to see how long I’d like the ruffle to be. Fabric with greater vertical stretch will hang differently than fabric with less vertical stretch and it’s important to try the dress on for a proper fit each time. I determined that I wanted an additional 6” in length. I cut my ruffle 7 ¼" long to allow for the hem and seam allowance. Always cut the ruffle with the direction of stretch running lengthwise along the ruffle. I decided to cut my ruffle 1.5 times the circumference of the hemline. Simply measure the circumference of your hemline and multiply by 1.5 to determine the length, or cheat and just wing it like I did in my video. I choose to hem my ruffle before attaching and did this on my coverstitch. Once hemmed, I gathered the ruffle on my serger. You can see how I gather in this video. In the tutorial I used a gathering foot, but have found that it is not absolutely necessary. I simply set my serger tension settings and gather with my standard serger foot.

Once you have gathered your ruffle simply place it right sides together atop your dress, lining up the free edges and sew or serger to attach. Begin sewing at the side seam that you left open 2”, and once the ruffle is attached sew the side seam closed, sewing down through the ruffle.

I love how this simple hack elevates this already versatile pattern to enable you to create even more beautiful me made pieces!


Again, if you need a little extra help with this hack, please check out the following YouTube videos:

Gathering on your serger:

Shelf Bra Hack

**This hack also uses pattern pieces from the Catalina Tank Pattern.

Whether you’re just worried about your bra straps showing or you LOVE the comfort that comes with going bra-less, built in shelf bras are pretty fantastic. Today I’m happy to share how to hack the shelf bra from the Catalina tank onto the Phoenix tank!

 We’ll start by creating some shelf bra pattern pieces that you can use for the Phoenix.

 Start by tracing the outline of the top portion of the front bodice of the Phoenix tank onto a template paper. 

Next, place the Catalina bra front pattern piece onto that template paper, matching up the bottom corner of the armscye with the end of the line you drew in the first step. 

Trace down the side seam area of the Catalina bra front pattern piece, around the bottom, and over to the edge of the template paper that represents the ‘Fold’ edge of the pattern piece.

 Cut out your outline and you will now have a Phoenix bra front piece! 

 Repeat the above steps with the Phoenix back bodice piece. 

And the Catalina back bra pattern piece 

To get a new Phoenix back bra pattern piece. 

 To assemble your new shelf bra Phoenix, we’ll combine the construction techniques of both the Phoenix and Catalina tanks.  

 Begin with the back pattern pieces. Place the mirror image pieces right sides together and stitch the back center seam on both the bodice and the bra. 


 Next, place the front and back bodice pieces right sides together and sew the side seams on both the bodice and the bra.  


 Now we will create the shoulder strap by folding it right sides together and sewing it into a long tube. 


 Turn the strap right side out using your preferred technique (I LOVE my strap turning tool!) 


 Next we will attach the bra to the bodice.

Put one piece inside the other so that the right sides are together, I find it easier to have my bodice inside the bra. Line up the top edges and pin around the entire raw edge so we can sew the bra and bodice tops together there. Before you finish pinning the front pieces, sandwich each end of the strap between the bra and bodice pieces at each top edge on the front.



 Sew around the entire top edge of the shirt, then turn it right side out so that your shirt is face up with the bra inside the bodice with wrong sides together. Lay the middle length of the strap on top of the inside of the back, and fold the top edge of the back over the strap to create a casing. Pin and sew, being careful not to catch the strap in your stitching. 

 Now we will finish the bottom edge of the bra with elastic. Take the loop of elastic you created based off the Catalina tutorial measurements, and pin it against the wrong side of the bottom edge of the shelf bra. Sew them together at that bottom edge, using a stretch stitch. 



Next, fold the elastic up toward the top of the wrong side of the shelf bra so that it is cased inside the wrong sides. Stitch once more along the bottom edge to secure the fold. 


 You now have a shelf bra inside our Phoenix tank!  Enjoy your fantastic new levels of comfort and style! 


Gathered Peplum Hack

I absolutely love the ease of the Phoenix, and adding a sweet ruffled peplum to the bottom of the top version is a fun hack that is super easy to do! Follow along to see how I did it:

First off, I decided how long I wanted the main bodice of the tank to be. For me, I found that 3 inches above the scooped hem crop cutline hit me perfectly at my natural waist. You can play with this to suit your preferences, but I loved this look best! 

I marked 3 inches above the scoop hem crop length on both my front and back bodice pieces, making my new cutline go STRAIGHT across the pattern pieces. I then cut my fabric accordingly. 


***Cutting your pattern straight across this way will give it a "shark bite" effect. If you'd like the finished product to be straight, please refer to the Ruffled Hemline Hack information above on how to alter your pattern accordingly!

Next, assemble the Phoenix top according the the pattern tutorial, omitting hemming your top. 

Now it's time to cut your peplum pieces. The trickiest part is deciding their width. Ready to do some math? Here we go!

First, measure the width of the bottoms of your front and both back pattern pieces, now cut at your new, shorter length. At a size small, my front bodice came out to be 21 inches wide at the bottom. My two back pieces were 13 inches wide at the bottom. For the total width of the back bodice piece, we'll add those together, subtracting .5 to account for the 1/4" seam allowance on both pieces.  13+13-.5= 25.5" wide. 

Now that we've done some math (phew!), the next step is to decide how full you'd like your peplum to be. I wanted mine full, so I decided to cut my peplum pieces TWO TIMES the width of the bottom of my bodice pieces. So that comes out to 42 inches wide for the front peplum piece, and 51 inches long for the back. Our peplum pieces will be 9" long.

So, you will end up with:

ONE 9" x 42" piece for the front, and

ONE 9" x 51" piece for the back. 

Take your two peplum pieces and sew together at both of the short ends. right sides together, to create a very long circle. Run two rows of gathering stitches across the top, and gather. 

**Before gathering, I like to mark the center front and center back of my peplum. Mark the center front and center back of your bodice as well. This makes it easier to line it all up correctly later!

Lining up your side seams and center front and center back of both your bodice and peplum, attach with a 1/4" seam allowance. 

Give it a good press, and voila! You now have a cute and trendy peplum top! 



We hope you loved all of these creative hacks for the Phoenix Top and Dress Pattern

Be sure to grab your copy of the Phoenix Pattern, 50% off now through 7/12 noon PDT. 

Happy Sewing! 

1 comment

Dawna Fennewald

Dawna Fennewald

Weekday fabric do you use for the shelf bra. I have power mesh can I use that?

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