Gray striped Renfrew maxi dress

Gray striped Renfrew maxi dress - finished

Summer is here!  And to celebrate, I made a maxi dress — my favorite type of garment to wear on hot summer days.  There’s just something so cooling and comfortable about a long, flowing piece of jersey hanging off your shoulders, with no cinching or pulling and plenty of room for a big lunch.  : )  And since I’m on the tall side, I think the long silhouette is flattering on me.  Comfortable *and* flattering?  Yes please, I’ll take it!

Gray striped Renfrew maxi dress - bodice while wearing

Project Stats:

Pattern: Do you even have to ask?  It’s my billionth Renfrew (ok, really my 12th), and I’m not apologizing for using this extremely versatile pattern over and over again.  : )  If you find something you like, might as well stick with it!

Fabric: Gray and white striped jersey, a luscious organic cotton/bamboo blend.  My local fabric shop, Gather Here, seriously has the most delicious and high quality jersey.  I **barely** squeezed this dress out of 2 yards, and I had to piece the neckband.

Gray striped Renfrew maxi dress - back

Modifications: Converted the pattern to a maxi dress using a RTW maxi as a guide.  I tried on the RTW maxi, marked my waist and hips with pins, and then matched up the waist and hip markings with the Renfrew front pattern piece.  (I could have just lined up the shoulders of the RTW dress and the pattern, but I wanted to account for vertical stretch during wear.)  Then I drew an A-line skirt extending from the waist of the pattern, following the angle of the RTW maxi.  That’s it!  Super easy.

I used my scooped-out neckline from Renfrew #10 and my “sleevettes” (aka angled sleeve bands) from Renfrew #11.

Level of crafty satisfaction: Can’t wait to wear this thing!  The scooped-out neckline is *just* a little low with the extra weight of the full skirt, but I think it’s still wearable.  I also suspect the hem is uneven – eek!  But that can easily be fixed later if needed.

Gray striped Renfrew maxi dress - side

I’m feeling more cool and comfortable just looking at these pictures!  As you can see, there’s really not much to this dress at all.  The front and back are cut as single pieces from shoulder to hem, and then I just added the neckband and sleeve bands.

I did attempt to match up the stripes when cutting, but the jersey seemed to be a little skewed, perhaps just from being wrung out in the washing machine?  Not sure.  And besides, my patience for stripe-matching on a garment like this is pretty low.  The stripes are so narrow, and it’s just a basic jersey dress.  No big deal!  If it were a fancy plaid blazer or something, I’d be matching everything up for sure.

Gray striped Renfrew maxi dress - whole dress

Here you can see the A-line of the skirt a little more clearly.  It’s just a straight line extending from the waist to the hem.  If you’re in the mood for a maxi dress and have a favorite t-shirt pattern already fitted to your body, this is probably the easiest pattern hack ever!  Just get out a long ruler and go for it.  : )

Gray striped Renfrew maxi dress - bodice stitching detail

I’m really happy with the stitching on the neck and sleeve bands.  After 12 Renfrews, I can sew these bands on auto-pilot.  I sew everything on my regular sewing machine, using the lightning bolt stitch for the seams and a zig-zag for seam finishes and topstitching.  It’s not nearly as fast as it would be on a serger, but it works.  : )

Gray striped Renfrew maxi dress - armhole detail

And look at this armhole – not bad!  No, the stripes on the band don’t match, but the band went in pretty smoothly around the sharp curve.  Definitely an improvement from my first attempt on my teal striped top.

Gray striped Renfrew maxi dress - twin needle hem frontNow, ladies and gentleman, I’m happy to report that I executed my first ever twin needle hem on this dress.  Yay for new techniques!  I don’t know why I waited so long to give it a try, or why I was so nervous leading up to it.  Seriously, it was super easy and took me all of 10 minutes to hem the entire dress.  Above you can see my test run on a scrap – it looks great!  First try!

Gray striped Renfrew maxi dress - twin needle hem back

And here’s the back – also great!  It gives such a professional finish and took WAY less time than sewing on the hem band that I do for all my Renfrew tops.  I’ll have to think about twin-needling all my hems from now on.  : )

Gray striped Renfrew maxi dress - uneven stripes at hem

The hem on the dress looks great – not a ripple in sight.  I couldn’t believe how well it turned out!

However, here you can see that the stripes are a little skewed at the bottom of the dress.  The hem is cut straight, but I think my fabric got pulled out of shape beforehand.  If the hem turns out to be uneven during wear, I’ll just chop off the excess and even it out.  Kind of annoying, but not a big deal.  Any tips for making sure your jersey dries on grain after pre-washing?

Gray striped Renfrew maxi dress - with belt

As for styling the dress, I think I like it just plain with a necklace.  I tried belting it, but I’m really not crazy about how it looks.  In theory a belt would be nice to somewhat camouflage my stomach sticking out, but I think it breaks up the long silhouette too much.  What do you think?  Do I just need a fancier belt?

Gray striped Renfrew maxi dress - with Maggie

Of course Maggie had to get in on the photoshoot action.  She wouldn’t smile for the camera though.  What a diva!  : )

Gray striped Renfrew maxi dress - frontWell there you have it, the easiest summer dress ever!  So easy and comfortable, in fact, that another one *might* just show up on the blog at some point.  Maybe.  Who knows, really.  : )

Do you wear maxi dresses in the summer, and have you ever sewn one?


15 thoughts on “Gray striped Renfrew maxi dress

  1. It looks great! I’m wearing mission maxi today, which is a really similar style. I love how long jersey dresses look elegant but feel like pyjamas!


    • Thanks Gillian, well said! It’s truly amazing how comfortable they are while still looking like real clothes. I like the Mission Maxi pattern too, and it makes me think about scooping out the back neckline a bit.


  2. I love it! So comfy yet stylish! I agree that it looks better without a belt, but I think it could work with a belt too if you put it a bit higher at your natural waist. You’re so lucky the twin needle worked out the first try! I still struggle with skipped stitches a lot of the time. I love wearing maxi dresses in the spring and summer, but I haven’t sewn any yet – I really need to change that!


    • Thanks Chantal, and good idea about the belt. I always feel strange wearing a belt that high, but I agree it would look better that way. I’m going to try it and report back. 🙂 As for the twin needle, I wonder if I just got lucky? I was really surprised how well it worked right out of the gate. What do you think is causing your skipped stitches?


      • It tends to be the worst on thick fabrics so I think I just can’t find a heavy enough needle size for those. Also, switching from a ballpoint to a universal twin helped a lot! It mostly works now, but I still get a few skipped stitches.


  3. It looks so comfy! I love it without a belt, but if you want to change things up every once in a while, a wide belt in a bold colour would probably look awesome. (I’m seconding the comment about the natural waist!)


    • Thanks! Yeah, I think I need a real belt – I don’t have any! I just tried my fabric belt at my natural waist, and it does indeed look better, but I still think I like it better plain. We’ll see how I feel once I wear it out. 🙂


  4. I really love this dress! I never thought of the Renfrew as a maxi, but it works really well.

    While I like Tasia and her patterns, Sewaholic is not participating in Sewing Indie Month. Because of the many hours of behind the scenes work that went on for months in order to get Sewing Indie Month to be the best it could, only patterns from participating companies are eligible to win a prize in the sewalong.


    • Oops – sorry about that! I guess didn’t read the rules carefully enough! No problem at all. We all appreciate all the work that went into it, and I’ve been loving all the cross-company posts and tutorials. Keep up the good work! 🙂


  5. May I say, woman, you look FAB!!!!!!!!!!!! What a fab idea to make your fav pattern into a maxi!! Horrah for sewists! I like it plain with the statement necklace – that’s all you need because it’s so FAB!


    • Haha, thanks so much Kat! I wore it all day yesterday and did indeed feel kind of fabulous. It’s amazing that such a simple and comfortable dress can look elegant. I wonder what’s next for my beloved Renfrew? It’s basically my knit block now!


    • Thanks Heather, and I totally agree! If the weather would cooperate and such a low neckline were appropriate for work, I’d totally wear a maxi everyday. They’re the ultimate in comfort.


  6. This is fabulous!! I adore the sleevelets and it’s such an ‘essential’ wardrobe piece – more than time for one in mine I think, so Thank You for the hack! 😉


    • Thanks! It was so easy to convert the pattern into a maxi dress – you should totally give it a try! No complicated drafting involved – just a long straight line. Glad you like the little sleeves. They’re just a baby step beyond sleeveless. 🙂


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.