Sew a summer maxi dress!
Are you a print lover or a fan of solids? A color lover or a neutral devotee? I find myself on the color loving print wearing side of the pendulum, but lately I’ve been craving more balance with solid neutrals. And this dress fits that bill perfectly.
Sewn in an olive rayon challis (which is my current fabric obsession) the simple lines and calming color of this maxi dress mean that I am going to be wearing it all.summer.long. I love how the fabric just skims over me, keeping me much cooler in what’s shaping up to be a super hot summer than you would think, given all the fabric in this dress.
And can we talk about the patch pockets? I originally intended to include side seam pockets, but I forgot to cut them when I cut the dress, and by the time I remembered them the side seams had been French seamed. So I quickly drafted some patch pockets instead, and I think I like them better. The break up the plain front of the dress just enough for me.
I’m also really happy with the amount of ease I ended up with in this dress. Sometimes maxi dresses are a struggle for me – I like the idea of volume, but with my petite frame that can get overwhelming quickly. Add in a fuller than average bust for my frame and dresses without a waist get really tricky. I feel like this one is perfect – not tight, but not so voluminous that it’s completely obscures my body underneath.
You’ll also need at least 2 yards of 60 inch wide fabric. Probably more like 2 1/4 yards so you have extra to make your own bias tape. And fabric with a lot of drape is recommended, as I mentioned I used rayon challis (similar here, affiliate link).
First, you’ll need to alter your pattern. I rounded off the front neckline because Vs are hard to sew on rayon and they often round themselves off anyway because of the fabric drape instead of hanging in a nice V. So why not make the front neckline easier for myself to sew?
Next, determine how long you want your dress to be and extend the pattern down that amount. Check to make sure that your pattern will have enough ease for your figure at hip level (you may want to swing side seams out a little more than I show above) and that the total circumference of the finished hem is at least the same as your height (otherwise you won’t be able to walk freely).
To draft the patch pockets, I made a 7 1/2 inch tall by 5 1/2 inch wide rectangle, then rounded off the lower corners and added a 1/2″ seam allowance all around. I cut each pocket from 2 layers of fabric, stitched those right sides together, leaving a gap to turn. Then I clipped corners and curves, turned and pressed and topstitched onto the dress front. I did this after the dress was constructed, take my word and do this before the side seams!
To sew up the rest of the dress, follow the instructions for the Bias Dress, binding the front neckline the same way as the back and eliminating the waist casing. I also eliminated the adjustable straps from this dress, but of course I sewed the first straps too short and then had to entirely unpick and re-sew them, so it’s probably easier to either keep the adjustable straps. Or maybe you could measure your straps first (unlike me). Do as I say, not as I did!
Finally, I added a 1 inch blind hem to the skirt and I was done! And yes, this was worth the trouble and the unpicking because I love the final result.