Tutorial in Pictures: How to make a Simple Maxi Dress

I found this brilliant tutorial on how to make a basic maxi dress some years ago which started my love affair with jersey fabrics. Since then I’ve made several dresses using the same method. I love how easy it is to follow, and how, in a couple of hours you can make yourself a simple and versatile dress that you can dress down or dress up depending on your mood. I’m now sharing that method with you.

Project: Basic Spaghetti-strapped Maxi Dress

Material: 2 meters of 60″ wide cotton  Jersey knit fabric

Instructions:

First, divide your fabric into two parts. Spread your fabric on a flat surface, measure 10-12 inches down from the top edge along the selvedges, and cut across from selvedge to selvedge. You will use the smaller rectangle for your bodice, the bigger rectangle for the bottom part of your dress.

Next, make the front bodice.

basic maxi
Start with a square 10×10 inches
Stretch the fabric over one side of your dress form and mark your neckline, armhole, and strap locations.
Finalise your markings on the fabric and cut it out, making sure to leave ample allowance at the bottom. Use the pattern to cut out 3 more pieces.
Refer to this tutorial to make the straps.
Attach one strap by sandwiching it between two of your bodice pieces,  right sides together.
Stitch along the top edges, catching the strap between as you go. Do the same thing with other strap and the remaining bodice pieces.
Front bodice pieces with straps, turned right side out.
Attach the two front pieces at the middle. Open the pieces up and with right sides together, align the center seams, pin, and stitch
Completed front bodice

Now, let’s make the back bodice.

Put the front bodice on the dress form to help draft the back bodice
Take a bigger piece of fabric and stretch it over the back of the dress form, making sure that the top and bottom edges match those of the front bodice
tutorial-16
You should have a simple rectangular piece after cutting along your marks. Cut another rectangular piece using this pattern. With right sides together, stitch the pieces together along the top edge.
Attach the back bodice to the front bodice at the sides. Open up the front and back bodices, align the center seams, pin, and stitch.
To prevent the bodice riding down your back, we will put elastic at the top edge of the back bodice. First, measure the length of the back bodice with your elastic without stretching it. Take 2 to 3 inches off this measurement and cut elastic to length. Make an elastic casing by sewing a horizontal stitch along the back bodice, about 1/2 inch from the top edge. Insert the elastic in the casing using a pin or a bodkin. Secure the elastic by stitching it at both ends.

Now, on to the bottom part of the dress.

Take an elastic 1/2 cm wide and at least a meter long and wrap it around your underbust. Find a comfortable fit, take 2 inches off that, and cut elastic to length. Take the big rectangle of fabric for the bottom part of the dress and pin each end of the elastic to the two end corners of the fabric. Using the zigzag stitch and 3/4 inch allowance from top, begin sewing the elastic along the edge, stretching it as you go. To ensure even gathers, help the sewing process along by gently pulling at the fabric as it goes through the presser foot. You will have a perfectly gathered fabric when you finish.

All you need to do now is to attach the bodice to the bottom part of the dress.

Hope you had fun with this tutorial as I did when I found it years ago.

Happy stitching!

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