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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. : )
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. : )
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.
Now, 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!
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. : )
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?
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?
Of course Maggie had to get in on the photoshoot action. She wouldn’t smile for the camera though. What a diva! : )
Do you wear maxi dresses in the summer, and have you ever sewn one?