Thursday, August 4, 2011

maxi dress tutorial

Yeah, I finally have the tutorial for the super easy maxi dress
Before we get started, I have to first thank Jess, from Craftiness is not Optional.  Not only has she given me the motivation to sew for myself, she also has a great tutorial for a raglan tee that helped make this possible. 

I really love wearing this dress. It is unbelievably comfortable. 

The raw edges and elastic thread made it super simple to put together.

I kept it plain so I could wear it lots of different ways. 

What you need:
2 yards of knit fabric (60" wide) or 4 yards (30"+ wide)
(you may need wider or longer if you are taller or wider than me.)
elastic and regular thread to match
preferably a serger, but you could try it with a zig zag stitch.
rotary board, ruler and cutter.

for the pattern:
a good fitting t-shirt
rotary ruler
freezer paper or wrapping paper

Step one: Make your pattern
Take a good fitting t-shirt and turn it inside out. Pull one of the sleeves inside itself and pin. Then with t-shirt folded in half trace around the edges the best you can.

Using your ruler draw a line from the armpit to the middle of the neckline.

Next line up your ruler with the shoulder seam and draw a new sleeve.

It should look something like this. I also re-drew the side seam so it gradually came down from the armpit and away from the body.
*I only cut a pattern for the bodice and sleeve of the dress.*

After I cut it out, it looked like this.

Step 2: cut out your pieces
This is probably the most difficult and nerve-racking part.  It is easier if you have someone helping you, but I was able to do it on my own.
My fabric was 60" wide and I wanted the front and back to each be 30" wide at the bottom. So I found the middle of the fabric and folded in one side at a time. I pinned down my bodice on the fold at the top and marked the length I wanted it to be on the bottom with a pin. (I cut it out to be longer than I wanted so I could have some wiggle room. I cut the excess off later.)

I cut out my bodice and continued cutting down the side with my ruler angled at the pin marking the bottom. When I got to the edge of my cutting mat I slid it down, being careful not to pull on the fabric. 

Cut a front, back and two sleeves.

Step 3: Sewing it together
The worst is over and the rest is a breeze.
Pin and serge the sleeves to the front body piece (right sides together). Next, sew the sleeves to the back piece.

Once the sleeves are on, serge up the armpit and down both sides.

Step 4: make adjustments
Try on the dress at this point and figure out if you need to make adjustments.
I wanted my neckline a little lower, so I cut that. The other adjustment I made was cutting some length off the bottom of the dress. One of your bottoms might be longer than the other, just cut them to be even.

Step 5: add elastic thread around the neck and sleeves
Don't be scared, it's really easy. You can buy elastic thread in the notions department. It comes in black, white and I think navy. Hand-wind the elastic into your bobbin and sew like normal. I sewed a zig-zag on the longest length I could. I sew two seams around the neck and one around the sleeve. You may need to play with your bobbin tension. If you have a brother machine you might want to read this tutorial. Practice on a scrap before starting.
Don't panic when you are done and the neck is itty bitty like this.  It will stretch and elongate with gravity once it is on.

See, no big deal.

(Optional) Step 6: sew waist line
I didn't sew a waist line on my dress because I wanted to be able to wear it with different belts. We did sew one on my sisters dress though.
While wearing the dress we marked were she wanted the waist line to go. After taking it back off, we drew a straight line all the way around the dress using a chalk pencil and the ruler.
Then, we sewed over the line with the elastic thread. We did two rows.

That's it, let me know if I left anything out or if you have any questions.


Erin said...

Thanks Kalleen! I will be adding this to my forever long list to things to sew. Btw, you look beautiful!!

Stephanie said...

This looks so comfortable and so easy! It would be so fun to have one of these! I have a party going on over at my blog if you want to join! I'd love to have you! Check it out under the "Stache Party" page on my blog:

Ashleigh said...

Oh my goodness! This look so comfortable! And you look so good in it! Rarely is there something so cute AND comfortable! Do you have a serger? Do you have any tips on which ones are best? I need one, bad!

Patrice said...

Great idea! Thanks for linking up with Lemon Tree today!

Jess said...

happy to help in any way! I love the dress-so many ways to style it and they all look comfy. Gotta love that! You look great too!

SweetwaterGifts said...

The tutorial is great and the dress is so fun! Thanks for the elastic trick - I've had a dress to fix for a while and lots of elastic tread I was having issues with. I will try your tip! I'm old-school when it comes to sewing...if you have a serger - try using the rolled hem to finish off the edges. I bet it would look great. I can see a black edge on that grey! :o)

Sachiko said...

I love how you show different options on how you would wear the dress, and not to mention the GREAT tutorial! Thank you for the link!

Alexandra said...

This is such a cute dress! Stopping by from Keeping It Simple.

Kara @ Mine for the Making said...

So awesome! Love the way it turned out!

Visiting from Craft o Maniac!


Kate said...

This is great I love the simplicity of the pattern making. I have some hand-dyed knit fabric that I made a few months back and I would love the use it for this. Thanks so much for sharing.

The Tootsie Wootsie said...

This looks great on you! looks so comfy too!

I want to make me one badly!

Come link and party at my woot woot wednesdays @

Andrea said...

I love a good comfy dress!! This looks great on you!

Andrea @

Peggy said...

I think I may have to make this dress for our anniversary but with longer sleeves to hide my chunky arms. Thanks for the great tutorial!

Katie said...

Oh my I love it! And you made the sleeves look so easy. Can't wait to give this a go.

Steph said...

This is such a great tutorial and dress! Love the raglan sleeves. Finally, a dress to sew for fall!

I'm sharing this today on

Alison K. said...

Ok... I look at this tute at least once a day trying to get up the gumption to make this dress. I even bought some beautiful purple fabric! But for some reason i am nervous about it. I love it though and i am going to make it one day...


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