Sleeves be gone: A sleeveless Wilder Gown pattern hack

The Wilder Gown from Friday Pattern Company is iconic in sewing circles. That gathered neckline is so recognisable, and it’s a style that suits everyone. Although the pattern has been around for a few years, I only got round to making it last year for my friend’s birthday present. I loved the project and the dress turned out gorgeous (I used a black viscose from Minerva which worked a treat), but it was only this month that I made one for myself. Well, I actually made three; the Wilder really is as good as everyone says. I started with a sleeveless hack of the design, so here’s a quick how-to so you can try one too!

black and white sleeveless Wilder Top
  1. Cut the front, back and ties. There’s no need to snip the notches along the edge that would join the bodice to the sleeves. Assemble the front as per the instructions, then join the side seams.

2. Fold the long open edge (the one next to my scissors in the photo above) under by 1.5cm. Press. Work all the way round the big curve. This will be the front piece, all the way round under the arm and up the back.

The lowest part under the arm might be a bit fiddly because it’s the tightest curve, but just do your best, it’s ok if it’s not *exactly* 1.5cm.

3. Fold the 1.5cm you just pressed in half (to encase the raw edge), then press again. Pin in place all the way round.

4. Edge stitch in place. Press again. Repeat the steps for the other side and you’ll have something like this:

5. Follow the instructions to create the channel for the tie. The only difference from the original instructions will be that this is in three separate sections, whereas at this point in the original design you’re creating one large channel.

6. Make the tie as per the instructions and thread it through the channel. It’ll be exposed in the gaps between the front and back pieces, creating a lovely feature.

7. Hem and you’re done!

As you can see, this is very drapey and loose at the side. I really like how it sits with this floaty viscose. If, however, you want to create a bit more shape, you can add in bust darts like this:

8. Put on the bra that you’ll wear with the top, and then put the top on inside out. Tie it up as you would when you wear it properly. Pinch the side of the top where a bust dart would sit on you, and continue to create a dart shape (a long triangle) towards your bust apex (sewing term for where your nipple is, which is why it’s important to wear the bra you’ll wear with this top). Pin in place.

Step 8 might take a few tries, but just do your best to get the dart sitting comfortably. Bear in mind this pattern isn’t drafted for a bust dart, so it won’t be absolutely perfect! This is definitely a pattern hack for the non-perfectionists.

9. Sew the dart in place and press. As mentioned, the pattern isn’t drafted for this dart to be added so it won’t sit flush with the side seam (as shown below). This is something you’ll only be able to see on the inside of the garment, but again, if you’re a perfectionist, it might not be for you. I added darts to a different sleeveless Wilder Top, hence the change in fabric here!

As you can see, adding these darts pulls up the side a bit and takes away the ‘drop’ under the arm of the previous version. This is made in a cotton lawn, so the drape is very different from viscose, so that’s also something to bear in mind. The great thing with this hack is that you can make it without darts and try it on to see how you feel, then add the darts in if you feel they’re needed.

And there you have a sleeveless Friday Pattern Company Wilder Gown and Top hack! I think this would look so good in the dress version, and the top is the perfect way to use up leftover scraps of fabric. Both of these are made with offcuts and they’re now tops I can’t wait to wear!

I hope you enjoy making your own sleeveless Wilder Gowns and tops. As always, if you have any questions please just drop me a message either here or on Instagram.

2 thoughts on “Sleeves be gone: A sleeveless Wilder Gown pattern hack

  1. This is absolutely lovely! Thank you for showing how you made the changes. I’ve avoided this pattern because of the voluminous sleeves and dress (just not my jam) but this changes my opinion! Thanks for sharing!


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