Simple Maxi Dress Tutorial

Did you all see my post for The Pinterest Project Linky Party? Check it out here.



I made this maxi dress & belt:


I got a ton of compliments on it so now it’s time to show how I made it. I could just link you to the tutorial I originally found, but I had a thought. I ended up kind of combining a bunch of different tutorials that I found all over the internet and I improvised and improved on a few things, so I’m going to try to do my own dress tutorial and include all of the helpful little hints for problems I ran in to on the way. Sound good? Here we go.
You’re going to start with your fabric. You want a lightweight jersey knit. It’s going to be stretchy but don’t worry about sewing it. It’s not hard…I promise! I’m no expert when it comes to sewing clothing, but seriously all you need is the correct stitch for this particular fabric. I chose a black jersey knit. I live in black and I figured if I liked this I would get a ton of wear out of it. Just make sure it’s not see through. The first one I chose was a little too lightweight and I would have given someone a peep show the first time I wore this thing in public. You’ll need about 2- 2 1/2 yards depending on if you want it more like knee length or floor length. It’s up to you. (make sure you use a coupon for your fabric! That much jersey can be expensive, but I had a 50% coupon for Joann’s. $12.99/yd turned into about $6.50/yard) Or grab something that’s on sale. 
My measurement (when folded in half) was about 30 inches by about I don’t know, 56 inches from toes to top of shoulder? Not very specific I know, but you have room to play around. I left about 70 inches of length on to start with to give me room to play. Leave extra fabric at the bottom!
Then I pinned around the left, top, & right side. The bottom is the opening where your feet go out.
You’re going to use a special zig-zag stitch that will allow the seam to stretch with the fabric & not break or rip. Mine was #3 on my machine. (Consult your owner’s manual, or perhaps Google it if you’re unsure which stitch to use).
Next, sew!
Don’t be afraid of the stretchy fabric. I was a little bit at first, but the key is to give it a lot of slack & just take your time with it. You don’t want to pull on it or stretch it while it’s going through the machine or it will pucker. You want the fabric to be nice and slack. Just focus on taking your time and try to keep your sewing line as straight as possible. Don’t worry, you won’t mess it up if it’s a little curvy (mine was).
This is where exactly you will sew:
Now remember, you’re using your stretch stitch to sew this part.
OK. That’s the basic shape of your dress…a big huge pillow case. Keep it like this, don’t turn it right side out yet. Your seams should still be on the outside at this point.
Now, we cut.
This part IS a tad intimidating, I’m not gonna lie. I say this because I totally followed the wrong tutorial for this part & I cut mine incorrectly. I made the neck hole too big & it was a tad too…um, revealing. The tutorial I followed said to cut a straight line about 6 inches deep right in the middle for the neck hole. So I did that. Bad idea.
No no no!
Yeah, I don’t recommend cutting it like this. I totally messed it up, ruined my fabric, tried fixing it, made it worse, & had to start over. Listen to me people, just don’t do it like this even if someone on Pinterest says they did. Trust me!
You wanna cut the neckline & arm holes like this:
And be super jealous of my mad Photoshop skills.
Measure from the top seam & find the center for the neck hole.
The amount you cut off is up to you. Start with about 8 inches & try it on. See how it lays & if you want it looser or bigger adjust it accordingly. Stay close to the seam when you cut the arm holes, but the neck hole can curve down as much as you want it (so you can make it more U shaped if you want to. Just do it a little at a time so you don’t cut it too deep).
Next. try it on. It’s going to be a giant sack at this point. Just ignore that. Leave it inside out…it doesn’t really matter right now. This is just a quick check to see if the armholes & neck holes are big enough & to double & triple check the length. This is where you want to cut your dress to the exact length you want it, so mark it carefully. I can’t stress that enough. Measure twice, cut once I think is what they say. You don’t wanna end up with a dress that’s an inch or two too short.
Now it’s time to go back & do some extra stitching to reinforce where the openings are (so they don’t come unraveled).
Remember, your giant pillow case dress is still inside out with the seams totally on the outside, right?
OK, now go back & do a few regular stitches & back stitches where the stretch seams end (at the parts you stopped sewing or cut off). I made this picture black & white to make it easier to see the back stitched areas:
That’s it. You don’t have to hem any of the edges. Jersey knit doesn’t fray, so you can leave the raw edges just like this.You might have to go back & clean up some of your cut lines, but once you do that the edges will look perfectly fine.
Now you’ve got your finished dress.
Turn your sack….errrr, dress, right side out. Put it on, and admire your handiwork.
OK not quite. All you need now is your belt. Or a tie, or ribbon, or scarf, or whatever it is you are going to use to cinch the waist in. I used this super awesome hand made belt that I’ll teach you to make next week.. What do you think?
Tie or secure the belt around your waist. Then gently un-tuck the fabric around the top & bottom of the belt. Adjust all of the seams so that they go straight down your shoulders, that the neckline is right where you want it to fall (mine is a little different because I screwed it up, remember?), and adjust the seams that run down the sides of the dress so that they are where they should be (not crooked or like halfway across the back of your dress). The belt will kind of cinch everything in & then you’ll have to carefully tuck, un-tuck, twist, and adjust the dress a little to make it lay right. It’ll take a minute but you’ll figure it out. It’s going to be a little different for every one’s body shape, so play around with it and go with what works best for you! The beauty of this project is it doesn’t have to be exact and you can change it up.
Pretty easy, right?
And super cute. You can do so many variations of this dress, it’s crazy! Once you get the hang of it you can whip one up in about 15 minutes. I’m working on making some in different colors with coordinating belts, some with shorter length & even some with tank top straps. So stay tuned for more twists on the super simple maxi dress I just showed you how to make! And come back next week to check out my tutorial on this super cute belt I made to go with my dress.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the Pinterest inspired link ups we had on The Pinterest Project this week!!!!
Have a good weekend & happy sewing 🙂
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