Pattern Hack - Marsha Style Cortney Dress, hacked with the Leila Dress. Boho patterned dress pattern hacked by oh sew fearless

Pattern Hack – Marsha Style Cortney x Leila – The Marsha Mashup!

I think I’ve said it before that I am not very good at following instructions. I often get started well, but quickly my own ideas pop into my mind and I am thinking of different ways to finish up what I have started. So, just as my cooking rarely follows the recipe, neither does my sewing!

I was a tester for Taree as she was in the very final stages of getting ready to launch the Cortney dress. I had eagerly watched the development of her test garments over the last year and so as I received all the files I did something very unusual. I read the instructions.

I don’t think I have ever done this for a project that I expect to be straightforward but as I was testing, I read the document thoroughly.. in doing this I saw Taree’s comment about how she thought this dress would be great for hacking.. and off my mind went. 

In fact, wouldn’t it be great to hack this dress with a Marsha Style Grace dress  (I think I even made this note in my testing feedback). Yes it would. But, wouldn’t it be even better to hack it with a Leila dress!

The Marsha Style Cortney Dress Hacked with the Marsha Style Leila Dress - in the picture the dress is flaring out in a twirl.
Marsha Style Leila dress made in a lightweight black linen fabric.

The Leila Dress

The Leila dress was the first Marsha style pattern I bought and I made my dress way back before the blog. I think it’s a bit of an unsung hero in the boho dress genre.

It has a flattering top bodice, fab flared sleeves and pretty tiers that aren’t too gathered. I love my Leila and I wear it often and so for me, it was the perfect choice to hack with the Cortney.

As the Leila hasn’t featured here before, here’s my version. I made this about a year ago, so end of 2020 in a lightweight black linen and cotton. In this photo I have a black cami top layered. under as the deep v in this dress is a bit too much for my 40-something bust 😉

and my boho dress of dreams was born…

My recent make of the Marsha Style Cortney was a big success, in my opinion. It was the first placket of this kind that I have sewn, and so I learnt a new sewing technique but moreover it’s just a great style. The sleeves are beautiful. The shape of the dress is so flattering and comfy to wear. And, well those sleeves!

I just had it in my head that this needed a tiered, swishy bottom half. So I got to it!


Cortney on the top

The sleeves are the version 2 sleeves from the Cortney and the dress is the Cortney until about an inch under the placket point.


Leila from the waist down

I adapted the shape of the bodice seams to mirror the shape of the Leila and then added the Leila gathered panel skirt.

Step 1 – Bodice Fitting

The most important part of this hack was getting the bodice to fit into the skirt. In true ‘fearless’ style, I wasn’t following a method, more just using common sense and the ‘fearless force’.

The ease in the Cortney dress is very generous. My Leila dress is a Marsha Style 16, and the Cortney a. 14 but they are very different shapes. As a result, there is. alot more fabric across both back and front bodices than was needed to fit into the Leila top tier panel.

The first thing I did was to overlay the Leila bodice pieces (this is thee top 2 sections of the dress) over the Cortney so I could see what I was working with.

In doing this, I reshaped the seam edges of the Cortney to match the Leila at the front and matched my bodice length to the length of the Leila bodice. This still meant I had more fabric at the back, but I’ll come onto that in a moment.

the bodice pieces of the two patterns layered over each other
the back of the marsha mash up dress hack
showing the full width of the Marsha Style Cortney Dress

Sewing it up

As this was a pretty straightforward hack, I didn’t hang around too much and set to cutting out my newly shaped bodice pieces and used my existing Leila tiers (3 &4) to make the skirt of the dress. 

Even though I knew about the ease difference, I didn’t really think about this and how it would affect the back of the dress until I was pinning the first tier of the skirt to the bodice. I had far too much bodice at the back! argh!

All was not lost though. The Cortney has gathers around the collar and so I extended the length of the gathering stitch at the collar and then ‘kind of gathered’ the bodice into the central part of the skirt.

Now I realise there will be many more experienced sewists reading this with their head in their hands at my heavy handed approach to this. But, it all worked out well in the end and I am here for the learning experience!

Whilst my method may have been clunky, the result maintained the Cortney feel and shape of the dress at the top and as the dress has so much crinkling and gathering it just looks like it’s supposed to be like this.

But… when I make my next version of this I will taper the back bodice piece a bit more.

Getting the ‘Swish’

The thing that got me giddy when I first tried this on is the swish. I made this dress with a very crinkly rayon crepe, that really has the texture and stretch of crepe paper. It was not so fun to sew, but the final result is this extra volume.. worth noting this if you are keen to replicate this make. There is more fabric in here than the pattern would suggest as I cut the pieces without stretching out the crinkles. This made pattern matching extra fun (that’s some British sarcasm for you 😉 .

In terms of modifications, I did also add one half a panel to the bottom tier only and I added 2″ of length,  also to the bottom tier as I wanted this a bit longer than my Leila.


Getting the swish with the Marsha Style Cortney Dress hack

My new favourite make

The final steps of sewing this up were straightforward. I added the Cortney Version 2 sleeves, that have a beautiful shape but without the pleating and super volume of sleeve 1 – I thought that would just unbalance the dress with huge volume everywhere.

So after adding the tiers, I added the elastic to my sleeves, and hemmed the skirt after letting it hang for a day.

Honestly, this is my best make. I have a few items that are my go tos, my Zadie’s, a hack of the McCalls 7948 that I made last year being items that I always reach for.. but this new Marsha Mash up trumps them all.

I have a rule that I don’t wear a make until I have photographed it, but for this I broke the rules. As soon as it was finished, I just wanted to wear it and twirl in it!

Aside from how it looks, this is just so comfy to wear. Its maintained all the gorgeous comfy ease of the Cortney, yet the Leila skirt has really added something.

This is my perfect, boho, dress of dreams!

Leighanne, stood outside in her garden wearing her new Marsha Style Cortney x Leila dress
The ballon sleeve of the Marsha Style Cortney Dress
The Placket detail on the Marsha Style Cortney Dress
Showing off the skirt in the Marsha Style Cortney Dress, hacked with the Marsha Style Leila Dress


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