Maxi dresses are showing up everywhere this summer. Ladies are wearing them on the beach as an easy, breezy cover-up, at backyard barbecues for carefree style and as a cool, comfy day dresses while out shopping. Perhaps that’s why sewing dresses, specifically maxi dresses, remains such a popular summer sewing project.
And, because now is the time when you’d rather be outside wearing a dress instead of being inside sewing one, I came up with a simple maxi dress pattern that’s as easy to make as a summer breeze!
Add a summertime staple to your wardrobe with this maxi dress sewing tutorial!
Granted, a maxi dress is really nothing more than a longer version of a simple dress, so any regular dress can be “maxi-ed.” Silhouettes are generally quite straight-forward, making them quite easy to make.
Here is one that can be made in a matter of hours. The best part? No commercial pattern is needed. Three basic body measurements are all it takes to draft this pattern. One singular pattern piece is used to cut four equal panels that make up the dress.
Soft lightweight fabrics like jersey knits or airy woven cottons make for a comfortable dress that will drape beautifully over the body, no matter your shape and size. You can even scale up your fabric choice to make it a lovely evening dress for a night out on the town.
The dress is based on the principle of joining four equally drafted triangular shaped pattern pieces that come together at the shoulders and falls gracefully to the hemline. To give it a bit more shape, cinch in the waist with an elastic casing or wrap a fashionable belt around the waist.
What you will need:
- Some craft paper to draft the pattern, pencil, rulers
- Measuring tape to take the basic body measurements
- Approximately 3-4 yards (depends on individuals measurements) of lightweight, fluid fabric
- Matching thread
- Some type of closure at the shoulders such as buttons, hooks and eyes, or decorative rings
- The one-piece template:
Here is how to draft the pattern to your body measurements:
Note: The corresponding numbers in parenthesis match up with the marked numbers on the template.
1. Take the following body measurements
- Measure your body from the midpoint at the shoulder down to the bust point.
- Measure the circumference of the bust at the fullest point — not too snuggly!
- At the center front, measure the distance from the bustline to your desired hem length
2. Now grab a length of craft paper 3-4 inches longer than the sum of measurement a. and c.; and at least 18″ wide.
3. Draw a line down the center through the length of the paper. This will be the pattern’s grainline and centerpoint. Approximately 2″ from the top edge of the paper draw a line perpendicular to the centerpoint line. From this crosswise line’s centerpoint, mark a dot equal to measurement a. (1)
4. Next, draw a perpendicular line equal to measurement b. plus 2″ for ease, with equal measurement on each side of the centerpoint. (2)
5. From that point, mark another dot equal to measurement c.(3) This is the hemline.
6. Using a skirt circumference of approximately 72-82″, divide the number by four. Using that number, draw a line perpendicular at the hemline point to represent the bottom width of the pattern piece. (4)
7. Add a hem allowance of 2″ and draw another crosswise line. (5)
8. Now connect the dots and lines as shown in the illustration to form the shape of the final pattern piece.
9. Once that’s done, add seam allowances to the outer edge of the pattern — I used ½” seam allowances.
10. Next, draw a crosswise line approximately 2″ below the bustline. This will form the bottom edge of the facings that will be used for the dress bodice.
11. Duplicate the pattern to make two pattern pieces.
12. Layout the patterns and cut. You should have four long dress panels and four facing pieces. If desired, cut out interfacing for the four facing sections.
Now for the fun part, constructing the dress:
Wrong side Right side
13. Join all four panels together from the bustline point to the hem. Finish seams as desired — I serged the edges.
14. If using interfacing, fuse or sew them to each facing section. Join the four facing pieces together from the bustline point to the bottom edge. Finish the facing’s bottom edge as desired — again, I serged the edge.
15. With right sides together, join the facing to the dress stitching around each bodice triangle section.
Turn and press each point in place.
16. Connect the shoulder points with either buttons, hooks and eyes or decorative rings.
Hem the dress using a 1″ double rolled hem.
And that’s it! The next step? Go out and show off your beautiful finished work!
Love sewing dresses? Take your skills a step further by learning to draft your own pattern! Join fashion designer and expert instructor Paul Gallo in his class Fashion Draping: Dressmaking Basics to discover techniques for creating your own fitted dress.