Sewing for Me: Maxi Dresses

In the summertime, maxi dresses are kind of my thing.

I love the idea of dresses, and own a ridiculous number of patterns for them (JoAnn sales, I curse you), but not having inherited my dad’s coltish legs I tend to get very very self-conscious about the lower regions of my body. The maxi dress is the answer to all my needs. Legs hidden? Check. Comfortable? Check. Stylish? Well, depending on the maxi dress, check.

Let’s start with the attempt at color-blocking first. This was actually going to be your basic black maxi dress, but I didn’t have enough fabric and was initially stymied. Luckily, the grey jersey I used as the bodice lining for the navy stripes maxi happened to be on my cutting table, so I gave color-blocking a whirl.

The pattern is McCalls 6700, billed as “Easy” and yes it is. It took about three hours from start to finish, which is pretty good for adult-sized clothes, I would say. I cut out a grey sash to go around the waist, but ended up second-guessing myself and didn’t make it. I don’t hate the look of the elastic-cinched waist, though I did try it with a belt (the same one that K tried earlier this week). Oh hey, awkward pose. I look rather dazed here…

I like the tie detail in the back, and I am now discovering the benefits of taking pictures of myself in self-made clothes. I didn’t know my bra would be showing so blatantly – at least it kind of blends in so you might not have known what was going on without me pointing it out.

Both fabrics are some sort of jersey – mostly cotton I think. The grey one is slightly thinner than the black, and you can see it making waves where it meets the black at the seam. I like this dress a lot, though it definitely needs some tweaks. I’ve discovered that I have a freakishly long torso so I had to adjust the bodice which made the fit a bit weird somehow. But all in all, this is like lounging in yoga wear, so I can’t complain too much.

Speaking of freakishly long torsos…this v-neck maxi is (drumroll please) my own design.

What you’re seeing here is the dress before I put the elastic into the casing. I thought it would have a cool drop-waist effect, but the the hem kept stretching out more and more and the gathers puff out at my hips in a less than stellar way.

Still, I’m quite proud. I had only about a yard of this navy and grey striped knit from here (and again, I bought the last bit of their stock) and knew immediately that I wanted it to look like chevrons. I didn’t have enough fabric so I was only able to achieve the chevron look on the front. The cotton jersey is very sheer, so I fully lined the bodice – I love how it gives it more body and is totally bra-friendly (which is my biggest beef about a lot of store-bought maxi dresses). The skirt part is a jersey tube that’s been in my stash for about two thousand years, and it was perfect for this project.

I added the elastic, but now I’m not sure. To elasticize or not to elasticize? Hmmmm….

I winged the whole thing starting with a v-neck tank top that fits well, and I think the results are decent. It’s a wearable dress, which is so exciting! What say you? I’m going to try version 2.0 of this dress soon with improvements. Should I do a tutorial?

So today is my birthday. I’m feeling ancient, and we’ll leave it at that. I’m off to go celebrate for the next few days (yurt camping!) and may not be able to do a Monday post, but I’ll pop by briefly tomorrow to announce the giveaway winner!



28 thoughts on “Sewing for Me: Maxi Dresses

  1. they both look awesome, I really love them! I really like the blousiness of your self drafted one with the elastic (but that could be my preference for hiding my empty baby house talking), and I love the open back of the colour blocked one. Beautiful sewing as always. Happy birthday!! (mine is on Sunday so I totally get you on the feeling ancient, but you certainly do not look it!)

  2. Happy birthday, Sanae! And I love both maxi dresses. I’m gonna try some maxi dresses ( for me!) this summer, so tutorial, please!! I also happen to have stripe knit and jersey tube which is sitting in my stash like forever!

  3. happy birthday, sanae! i doubt an ancient person would pull of a maxi dress so well. recently, my kids are drawing a lot of comparisons between me and the old man at the end of the giving tree. “he’s old like you’re old, mom.” nice. that belt looks awesome with the color blocked maxi (and the “awkward” photo is my favorite!). of *course* you should make a tutorial! who wouldn’t want to lounge in classy looking yoga wear all day?! yes please.

  4. Happy, happy birthday Sanae!!! I wish I had known earlier . . . a bday card in the mail is always good for bringing a smile to one’s face:) Yurt camping? Wow – that sounds adventuresome and a great way to celebrate your bday. Any new Japanese pattern books on the bday wish list?
    Love your maxi dresses! And your self-drafted one is my favorite of the two, though i do love the colorblocking on the grey/black one. Last night I stayed up trying to piece a striped piece of fabric together in a chevron pattern to make a tank for my daughter – I had struggles that you clearly did not! Love the comfy, stylish look of your dress, and if you’re tallying votes, chalk one up for elasticizing the waist. You must bring these dresses along to your vacation in MI:)

    1. These will definitely come with me to Michigan, Lucinda! As for birthday wish lists, fabric all the way, I think…(a shopping spree has been granted, but we’ll see). 🙂

  5. Happy birthday sweet friend!!!
    The color blocking maxi is beautiful! Good thing you didn’t have enough black, because your version made the basic black dress to FAB-YOU-LOUS. I love the back (woohoo, sexy!), and the belt is the perfect accessory. Your own design of the maxi is clearly my favorite. Jersey knits is either your friend or foe and creating a chevron?! “Oh, show me the way, Sensei!” Sanae… you rock!

    I think a tutorial is definitely a must!

  6. Happy Happy Birthday! It seems all my favorite women are geminis! I hope you have a wonderful little trip! Those dresses are amazing! I adore the color blocked one, that back detail is fab and the bra showing is sexy. Great job!

  7. these are both so lovely! i love how fully you’ve embraced this sewing for you endeavor. i think some maxi dresses might be in my future…especially for the post-baby (or maybe even pre-baby) summer.

    and happiest of birthdays to you sanae! so happy i found your blog, i really enjoy coming here and seeing your amazing clothes and other projects. hope you have a great day. (yurt camping sounds AMAZING!)

  8. Yurt camping?! Cool! I love the gray and black color block- very wearable. And I think I like the second maxi sans elastic. Both are fantastic. I’m a huge maxi dress fan myself.

  9. I love them both… I think the grey belt looks great with the black/grey dress and I’m a fan of the elastic on the chevron dress, although it looks great both ways.

  10. Feliz cumpleaños Sanae! may this new cycle bring you lots of beautiful things!. I love the dresses. Maxidresses are my most have for summer too. Although summer is a bit shy in this side of the planet!

  11. Happy Birthday!! Have a great break! I LOVE both of those dresses – would love to try them myself – if you ever find time a tutorial would be great 😀

  12. Happy birthday, dear Sanae! I just made fabulous triple chocolate brownies and I will eat one in your honor! Have a beautiful camping trip! I can´t decide which one of the dresses I like more! I want both! And a tutorial? Yes, please!

  13. Happy Birthday! You look fabulous in both dresses and I prefer the elasticated waist but it looks lovely without too. I’m with the others, bring on the tutorial. I would love to have a go at making a maxi dress; a little nervous about jersey though, I wouldn’t it clinging to all my lumpy bits but it would be so comfortable.

  14. Happy Birthday! How fun to have 2 new dresses to rock for your yurt weekend- they both look great… and yes to a tutorial! yes yes yes….

  15. The dresses are beautiful. Very flattering and the drape is just lovely. Happy Birthday and happy camping!

  16. sanae, i love the chevron stripe! it looks gorgeous on you.

    the colorblocked one.. i really like the picture where you belted it and spread the skirt.. it looks asymmetrical in that picture.. and i think an asymmetrical colorblocking would be a great design detail!

    great work, sanae.

  17. Thank you, thank you, thank you everyone for all the kind comments about the dresses and for the birthday wishes. Every day, you make me happy 🙂

    Clover and Cate, Happy Birthday to you, my fellow June babies!

  18. Happy Birthday!! You are really becoming a natural in front of the camera, even the so-called ‘dazed’ photo looks pretty and relaxed! Love these maxis, especially that dipped tie back. When doing photoshoots, you really notice things you never knew were happening if you didn’t…well…take a bunch of photos of yourself, ha. I have a feeling my bra straps show a lot more than I realize. Also–I hear ya on the long torso thing!

  19. Happy Birthday! I love the blue one. I really like how the elastic waist makes it look like two separate pieces. You are tempting me to try the maxi dress……

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