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Topic: Summer Breeze Maxi Dress with Tutorial  (Read 25080 times)
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« on: June 02, 2011 05:10:03 AM »

Well, who HASN'T seen the maxi dress around?  BUT, it's not around that much on the web and I really wanted to try to make one.  A while back I purchased a thrifted sheet that was perfect in texture for a maxi.  I also only paid a $1 for it. Hehe.  

I am a short, petite, busty person...my measurements are 36 1/2", 29", 34 1/2".  So, my hips are pretty narrow.  I'm 5' tall.  Maxi's are NOT made for 5' tall girls!!  there were folds of fabric on the floor when I tried them on.  Sometimes, you would lose a foot or more of fabric.  What in the world?   anyway, I needed this dress to cover all of my heavyduty bra-straps, and even give me a bit of a cap sleeve effect.  In retrospect, the straps could've been narrower.  The first ones I made weren't wide enough so I widened them by 2"....and elongated them by a few inches also.  

Capped sleeve and closeup of the bodice.

In the midst, I decided I wanted a ruffle at the bottom instead of an A-line straighter skirt.  If you'd like to try this dress out, I posted a tutorial on my blog


C/C very welcome Smiley

Edited to add tutorial

1 flat sheet
1 yd 1/4" elastic
1 yd 1/2" elastic
matching thread
Here are the pattern pieces I started with

The rectangle on the bottom right was one of two.  So, 2 body pieces, 4 sleeves and 2 ruffles.  

To get your body piece pattern, measure your bust.  For me, 36 1/2" divided by 4.  So my bust # is 9 1/4". Measure your hips.  For me, 34 1/2" divided by 4.  My hips # is 8 3/4".  

Measure your overbust to underbust (x), then underbust to hip (y).

Fold your fabric in half.  Then cut your pattern based on this guideline

Source for this guideline is

To achieve the pattern for my sleeve, I used 18" length, 4 1/2" wide at the short ends and 6 1/2" wide at the widest part (the curve).  Cut a rectangle that is 18" x 6 1/2".  Mark at the 4 1/2" mark on the short side and fold in half.  Begin cutting a curve at this mark, ending the curve at the fold.

My ruffle pieces were 13" wide by twice the measurement of the bottom hemline measurement.  So, if your front hemline is 35", then the ruffle is 70" long.

Pin body pieces together and sew down each side.  Set aside.

**Change from the original pattern and tutorial**
Once I tried on the dress minus the sleeves, the back was too poofy.  To avoid this, take the tube you just sewed keeping it wrong side out, and arrange the tube (body of dress) so that the seams are matched up.  Measure about 2 1/2" down the fold on the back side.  Starting at this point, you will cut a slight curve that reaches from that back fold to about 1 1/2" past the side seam.  This will reduce the bulk (poofiness) in the back of the dress that I originally got.

Sew a basting stitch along the top of each ruffle piece.  Adjust the ruffle to be the same width as your hemline of the dress.  With right sides together, sew down each side seam creating a large tube.  Match up the seams in the ruffle to the seams in the dress with right sides together.  Pin together and sew with a 1/2" seam allowance.  Press this seam up.  Top stitch along the top of this seam.  (the part that is NOT ruffled)  


Using 2 sleeve pieces, pin right sides together and sew down the long straight edge and the curved edge.  Leave short ends open.  Repeat with second two sleeve pieces.  Turn right side out.  Press.  Topstitch down the same two seams.  Cut 2 three inch pieces of 1/4" elastic.  Fold the sleeve in half, wrong sides together and press.  Measure up from the fold 3" along the curved edge.  Place the end of the elastic here, place under pressure foot and slide needle down into the elastic/fabric.  Stretch the elastic out and sew in place using a zigzag stitch.  Repeat this step with second sleeve.  

Casing and Empire Waste

Take the body of the dress and turn inside out.  Fold down 1/4" along the top of the chest, then another 3/4" creating a casing.  Sew in place along the edge and be sure to leave a couple inches open for feeding the elastic through.  Using 1/2" elastic, wrap a long piece around your upper bust.  Stretch it around the upper bust until it feels comfortable.  For me, about 30".  Feed elastic through the casing using a safety pin.  Once elastic is fed all the way through, overlap the ends about 1/2" and sew in place.  Make sure the elastic is NOT twisted inside of casing!!  Sew hole closed.

Measure down from the casing using the measurement you got from the upper bust to the lower bust.  Using a fabric pencil, draw a line all the way around the dress at this measurement.  Wrap a 1/4" piece of elastic around your underbust and determine how long you want the elastic to be.  Place the end of the elastic at a side seam and set pressure foot on top, with needle down.  Stretch that elastic as you sew it down, all the way around the garment, using a zigzag stitch as you did with the sleeves.  Try on the dress.

At this point, I tried on my dress and the empire waste hung too low.  I fixed this by cutting of the original casing and making it again.  I also took in the sides as that was looking a bit boxy.  

Grab a friend or a hubby for this step.

Attach those sleeves!!  Pin them where you want them then sew them under the casing (following the casing seam) and above the casing.  This was difficult and time consuming for me because I only had myself.  I had to try it on 3-4 times before I had it right.  

Hem that dress!!!
« Last Edit: July 18, 2011 01:21:07 AM by MareMare - Reason: changed title to reflect that tutorial is now here » THIS ROCKS   Logged

« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2011 05:26:26 AM »

Gorgeous!  That is a beautifully made dress Wink  Being a height challenged woman myself, I understand the frustration of too long hemlines.  Even petite jeans drag the ground on me, sigh.  I've been trying to get up the nerve to make myself some dresses.  I have 3 jersey knit dresses that I bought a couple of years ago, that I LOVE.  But I wear them all the time, and they're starting to show it.  I think this would be a great dress to try. 

Thanks for the inspiration and the tutorial!  You look great in your adorable dress  Smiley

A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament.
  ~Oscar Wilde

« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2011 06:11:44 AM »

That dress looks great! love the fabric choice, it's very cute. I think I agree that the straps could be a bit narrower, but I think that's just my personal taste.
unfortunately I'm a VERY pear-shaped lady and my hips and bum make maxi dresses look absolutely ridonkulous on me, so I won't be able to share the comfort, but I really hope that YOU enjoy your lovely new dress!

« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2011 07:30:31 AM »

I'm usually not a fan of maxi dresses, but yours is great! I like the thick straps. Can't beat $1!

« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2011 11:22:41 AM »

Love it! It has moved pretty close to the top of my to do list (=
Thanks for sharing!
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2011 07:12:24 PM »

Such a clean, simple and pretty fabric!  The design is really flowy too, love it :0)

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« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2011 10:38:55 AM »

This is amazing! I was just stressing out about how I want to make a dress out of a sheet (already have the sheet) for a family reunion I'm going to next month but I wasn't sure how to do the empire waist. And here's your post! But for the ruffle at the bottom (which I kinda love) and the thick sleeves, it's exactly what I've been envisioning this whole time! Thank you so much for posting it!

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« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2011 03:20:20 PM »

so pretty I am loving the maxi dress this summer , yours is so lovely and I really like the wide strap effect

« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2011 02:06:00 AM »

Thanks for the Tute, I have been wanting to make a dress like this for a while!

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« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2011 06:59:56 AM »

i love this!

on behalf of all the height-challenged girls (I'm only 5'1!), THANKS FOR THE TUTE! Smiley

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