Laurence Top Dress Hack

wearing Laurence top dress hack back view

This dress became my most worn dress over the summer so I thought I needed to share how I made it! It’s such a simple hack and actually these same techniques can be applied to a bodice of pretty much any pattern to turn it into a dress. This bodice of this dress is the Laurence Top by Vivian Shao Chen which also happens to be one of my favorite tried and true patterns!

How I made it

Check out my tutorial How to Sew Gathered Skirt to a Bodice for more detailed steps – I use a Laurence Top as my example!

I actually used two patterns to make the dress – the Laurence Top and the Orchards Dress skirt – both by Vivian Shao Chen. I started with the top and followed the pattern instructions as written but instead cut a bodice about at the lengthen/shorten line – but really you can choose to make it as long or short as you want.

The Laurence Top is designed with an a-line shape, so I cut the bodice straight from the base of the armscye (aka armhole) so that it wouldn’t be too wide where the skirt is attached. I also used the v-neck shape from the front piece to cut a v-neck in the back. And added inseam pockets – of course šŸ™‚ My tutorial How to Add Inseam Pockets goes into more detail!

wearing floral Laurence top dress front view

For the skirt I used the View A skirt from the Orchards Dress pattern and attached it following the pattern instructions. However you don’t need to have a specific pattern in order to add the skirt! I just cut two rectangles to the width and length I wanted.

A good rule of thumb for figuring out how wide to make a gathered skirt for a dress, is 1.5 or 2 times the total width of the bodice. So if the circumference of your finished bodice is 44″ and you want your skirt 1.5 times full, then you would two rectangle pieces 33″ wide each (33 + 33 = 66, which is 44 x 1.5). You can of course make your fabric wider if you want a fuller skirt – the math doesn’t have to be exact šŸ™‚

wearing floral Laurence top back view


I’ve also hacked the Laurence Top into a v-neck with buttons and made a version with two skirt tiers. I love how making even one adjustment can add more variety to a simple top pattern.

I hope that this was helpful to read! Maybe now you will want to try your own Laurence Top Dress Hack or make a dress using a different pattern you love. I haven’t tried this yet but you could also shorten the skirt pieces to make a cute peplum top!

Thanks for reading, and happy sewing!

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