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??


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

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. 


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 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.


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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