Finding a pattern specifically designed for the goth aesthetic is no easy feat. Yes, you can always pick a mainstream pattern and sew it with black fabric or a spooky Halloween print. You can adapt a costume and sew it as everyday clothing. You can use lace, velvet, or vinyl—depending on where in the goth spectrum you fall. But a goth pattern created by a goth designer for the goth sewist… good luck with that!
One of the very few pattern designers creating in this space is The Legend Sisters, a sewing pattern company and online shop selling fabric and sewing tools and notions for the crafty goth. When I first came across their stuff, my goth soul sang. I knew immediately I would have to make both available patterns, the Hazel Skirt and the Willow Dress. When I needed a special outfit for a very special occasion, it was time to sew my own Willow Dress.
The Legend Sisters Willow Dress is an advanced beginner pattern made for light-weight woven and knit fabrics. The dress has a round, gathered neckline, and three options of sleeves—extra long cuff bishop, 3/4 bishop sleeve, or shoulder frill. You can choose two options of skirt—full skirt with gentle dip hem or skater style—and in-seam pockets.
The pattern comes in two size ranges: 31 bust, 24 waist, 33 hips to 42.5 bust, 35.5 waist, 44.5 hips; and 40 bust, 33 waist, 42 hips to 60 bust, 53 waist, 62 hips.
Legend Sisters does not follow a numeral system for sizing. Instead, you select your choice with the help of cute symbols based on measurements. I picked an option based on my chest size (44 inches), and it turns out I’m a diamond 🙂 Since the dress is very flowy below the empire bodice, I did not worry about waist or hip measurements.
I got this black rayon with white moons and starts when I was back home (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) last summer. I knew I wanted to honor the drapey and delicate nature of the fabric in a flowy dress. The Willow is the perfect vehicle for such homage.
The rayon is slightly see-through, so I will have to use a slip under it. I could have added lining to the dress, but because there is so much fabric in the skirt, I was afraid that the dress would end up too heavy. I also use some black rayon for the bias binding.
The Willow is a very easy sew with a few more complex features. I made a muslin using some cheap red polyester, and I am happy to say that the dress fit without any adjustments! I made a few changes in the construction of the dress for convenience’s sake. I also changed the sleeves—I didn’t have enough fabric, so I had to make them short.
The front bodice has some gathering at the center of the neckline. This, combined with the bias bound neckline, bump this pattern from beginner to advanced beginner. The pattern instructions suggest one row of basting stitches for the gathers. I am always wary of just one row because if the thread breaks, I’m toast. I sewed two rows—more security in case one of the threads breaks, and more control of the gathers.
Making bias binding can be a pain, especially if you are working with slippery fabrics. I didn’t even try to make bias binding with the red polyester fabric. I used some of the plain black rayon to create the binding for the black dress.
Instead of binding the neckline of each bodice piece separately, I sewed the two at the shoulders and did the whole neck with one piece of bias binding. I think this provides a more finished look to the neckline. For the next Willow, I will make binding that is wider; I used 3/4″ inch bias binding, and it was hard to encase the gathered front.
When sewing the skirt, the most important thing—especially if you are sewing the dippy skirt—is to properly label your skirt pieces. With TEN skirt pieces, you really want to keep them labeled and organized.
The dippy skirt is made of 10 panels, five in front, five in back. The center and side panels have a straight hem; the mid panels have a curved hem.
When sewn together, the panels create a beautiful wavy effect. I finished the raw edges with my serger. Sewing all the panels takes time, but the result is simply gorgeous.
When I sewed the muslin, I used the bishop sleeve pattern without the cuffs. I loved the look and had every intention to do the same with the fashion fabric. When it was time to cut the pattern, however, I realized that I did not have enough fabric. I had to squeeze two shorts sleeves—and only got to do it because I ignored the grain.
Before sewing the hem, use the restroom. Grab a snack, make some tea, and get yourself comfortable. This is a VERY long hem to sew. I created a narrow hem by first using my serger to finish the raw edge of the hem. Then, I folded the hem twice following the serged edge as my guide. Finally, I sewed the hem using my sewing machine. It took forever! So worth it, though.
The Willow Dress
I love this dress. I feel like a more sinister version of Stevie Nicks—every time I look at the dress, I sing “Stand Back” in my mind. The skirt is so beautiful… all I want to do is wave it around!
The nice detail of gathered neckline adds shaping to the bodice, and the short sleeves work just fine. As I work to add more dresses to my work wardrobe, I know that the Willow is the perfect choice for a variety of rayon I have been hoarding under my bed.