Thursday, July 28, 2011

Boho Maxi Dress: a tutorial



This dress is an incredibly easy make. By now you may have realized that I'm all about the simple projects. I'm far from being a master seamstress, I just work with what I know and try to learn as I go. 

I've never actually owned a maxi dress before, but now I might be hooked. They're so comfy and they have the added benefit of hiding my neglected, less-than-hairless legs. 

Want to make one too??


Materials:

1 4/5 yd Extra Stretchy Jersey Knit (60"wide) (You want a lightweight knit. If the knit is too heavy the dress will look frumpy.)
1/3 yd Trim Fabric
Dye

I know that there are many of you out there who have a fear of sewing with knit. Don't be afraid! Knit happens to be one of my favorite materials. It's extremely comfortable, breezy, and light. It's also a very forgiving fabric, especially in a project like this where there is a lot of gather. 


A couple of things to keep in mind when sewing with knit...

  • Let the material go at it's own pace when feeding through the machine
  • Use a zig zag stitch or a stretch stitch. This allows the seam to stretch unlike a straight stitch.
  • A walking foot and a ball point needle help avoid puckering. However I didn't use either of these. I just worked with what I had.
  • Knit doesn't fray! Another reason knit is awesome in my book. Leave your edges raw if you like. 


Tutorial:

Fold your panel of fabric in half along the 60" side.

Because it was so huge, it was difficult to get a decent pic of this step...so I drew up this nice little chart instead.

Sew everywhere you see the white dashed line.









After your 3 seams, turn your fabric inside out. At this point, you basically have a giant pillowcase.



At the closed, short end of the dress (what will be the top of the dress), determine the middle point. Cut Straight down 6 inches. This gave me a nice, modest neckline. Go shorter or deeper if you like. 




Cut out an 8" strip at both ends for the sleeves.






Now you'll have something like this:

reminds me of Cindy Lou Who


Plenty of length at the bottom even for my tall, 5' 9" self.  Don't cut just yet! I made this mistake and had to sew a trim at the bottom to add length after I washed and dried it. 


Now if you like the white, keep it as is and skip the next step.


Dye: 

So I searched long and hard for coral fabric dye to no avail. Finally I came across RIT's color formula guide and realized duh, mix the colors to create your own perfect hue! I guess that's kind of obvious. 

A little experimentation and I found the combination to achieve the perfect coral.

You'll need:




The pictures of the dress make it look a little darker than it really is. It's slightly lighter in person. Alter the recipe as you see fit. Less water will give you a darker hue and more water will give you a lighter hue.




1 whole package of tangerine RIT dye + 3 tsp. fuchsia RIT dye + 4 gallons hot water


You'll need a big pail, bin, etc. 



Dissolve the dye in a glass of hot water







Pour the concentrated dye solution into the pail with the other 4 gallons of hot water

Mix well and start dyeing your dress.





Keep the fabric moving constantly to avoid uneven dyeing. It only took a couple of minutes to get the color I wanted. Remember that the color you end up with will be 2-3 shades lighter than what comes out of the dye bath. 


Rinse well in the sink. Machine wash and dry. 





As I mentioned, I made the mistake of cutting length off the bottom too soon and had to add a trim.

It ended up adding interest to the dress and I'm happy with how it turned out. 


           If you want to add a trim too:
  •  Cut 8" strips of  your trim fabric
  • Sew together strips until you have a 65" long by 8" wide panel of fabric
  • Iron in half
  • Pin to the bottom of the dress, right sides together.
  • Stitch all the way around 







and done. 















Have fun in your new, whirly, twirly, boho-chic dress!






...



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236 comments

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