Make an easy-to-sew maxi dress {sort-of tutorial}

maxi dress by

Hi my lovely readers!

Here is the promised tutorial for those of you who are interested in how I made my maxi dress. Warning! This post got way too long. I recommend reading through first, before starting to cut your fabric 🙂

As I mentioned in my last post, I always wanted to make a maxi dress. I’m not a big big fan of the slightly shapeless jersey versions you see everywhere, although I bet these are super comfy. I wanted to make something easy, yet a bit elegant and thought of something like this:


maxi dress by

What do you need to make it?

  • Some lightweight fabric, matching thread, stretch satin or jersey for an underdress and some bias binding for the straps (you can make this from the fabric you use for your underdress by cutting strips at a 45 degree angle). Make sure the underdress has a bit of stretch, so that you can skip the zipper. 

I used a chiffon (150x2m/60inx80in) and a stretch satin slip dress.

Of course you can make a fitted underdress/slip dress yourself, if you want to go all the way. Here are some pattern suggestions: Cami Dress 09/2013 #114B Slip 07/2013 #116










I was super lazy and used a stretch satin slip dress from a Zara lace dress I bought years ago. Who would do that to a lovely Zara dress?? Well, me. In a minute you will know why!
This is the dress without the underdress. Looks lovely, eh? It wasn’t.

So I bought this lovely lace dress during a Zara sale for just 6 Euro. I must have worn sunglasses when trying it on, because it turned out that the dress is super duper ill-fitting. I actually bought this to have something chic to wear for special occaisons, but um, no. Ill-fitting, wayyy too short and I really couldn’t tell what was the front and what was the back.

I wore this little number only once. This is a picture of that evening:

Where were we? Ah, making a maxi dress!

slip dress
no, it’s not super wide. it’s just super short.

So this is the slip dress. It has only two side seams and two darts at the bust. You could easily make this dress using your bust, waist and hip measurements, creating two hourglass shaped panels. If you want to do that, please use stretch fabric. Otherwise it might not fit.

slip dress

The bias binding/straps were made with the same stretch satin fabric. I decided to re-use them for my maxi dress.

Time to dig out my seam ripper!

making a maxi dress by thisblogisnotforyou.commaking a maxi dress by

If you’re making your own slip dress – just skip the bias binding and strap part!

Before continuing with the next step – make sure to turn the slip inside out.

If you do not have a dress form, that’s fine. I think it’s much easier to have one when draping and pinning, but this dress you can definitely make without one.

making a maxi dress by thisblogisnotforyou.comI loosely pinned the fabric (left side facing me) onto the dress form to see where the print would look best.

In the picture above you can see that I started pinning the fabric starting with the selvedge (see right side) pinned a few inches behind where the side seam would be. You just want to make sure to have enough seam allowance in the end. I just pinned the fabric flat onto the dress form, leaving enough seam allowance. I cut the fabric a few inches behind the left side seam.

making a maxi dress by thisblogisnotforyou.comI decided to make the waist fitted and the bodice part a bit longer, so that it would cover the shirred waist and would loosely hang, looking almost like a separate part.

To get the perfect length I just used my hand to push up some of the fabric at the waist, adjusting until the fabric part that fell over it was was long enough to cover a waistband of about 10cm/4in length. (see picture above. Hope I don’t confuse you too much.)

Mark the fabric length were the waistband would start, e.g. in the picture above this would be were my fingertips are. Don’t cut the fabric in the loosely hanging fold, since you want to create that “overhanging” part.

If you’re competely confused by now – just add about 15-20cm length at your bodice piece’s waistline. making a maxi dress by

Chop, chop! I acutally prefer clipping and then tearing – makes a much straighter edge!making a maxi dress by

Now cut around the shapeof the neckline of your slip dress, leaving enough seam allowance.making a maxi dress by

Since I couldn’t really pin the chiffon (the pins would keep falling out), I hand-basted the fabric to the slip dress neckline. I’d recommend doing that anyway, to make sure everything stays in place.making a maxi dress by thisblogisnotforyou.commaking a maxi dress by

I laid everything flat on the ground to make the side seam allowance more even. I made them straight (as compared to the fitted slip) so everything would fall a bit more loosely.

If your fabric does not have any stretch (like mine) I’d strongly recommend cutting the side seams straight anyway. Otherwise you will have problem getting the dress over your unmentionables.

making a maxi dress by

Creating the back panel is super easy. Just line up a piece of fabric, leaving enough seam allowance at the top and using the egdes of your front panel at the side and bottom as a template for the back panel.

If you are using a print like I did, make sure everything is symmetrical. (You can easily forget that when you are super concentrated watching Project Runway, ask me how I know this)

I forgot to make pictures of the next steps, naughty me.

1. Sew the side seams first. Since I was working with chiffon, I used my favourite baby seams technique.

2. Stitch the fabric onto the slip dress neckline. I only had 0.5cm/0.2inch seam allowance on the slip dress, since I had removed the bias binding before. If you’re making your own slip, you can use more seam allowance.

3. Turn everything inside out and try it on. Make a happy dance.

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I pressed the turned dress (now right side facing you) and pinned the bias binding back onto the neckline. You need two strips of bias binding. One that goes all the way around the back and ends at the pointed corners at the bust, and one that goes along the neckline and the ends are used as straps.

Sew the one around the back and sides first, so you can cover the end with the one you use for the straps.

The straps are creating by simply stitching the binding together at the open side.making a maxi dress by

The ends of the straps are sewn onto the left side of the binding in the back. You can orientate yourself at your bra straps.

Now the skirt panels:

The length is really up to you. I made 3 tiers, each about 40 cm long since I wanted to gather the pieces like a petticoat. I didn’t do that in the end and now have two weird-looking seams that were absolutely unnecessary. If you just want to have a straight skirt, measure the length from waistband to your feet.

(Make sure to make the panels wide enough, so you can walk properly. Everything less than 150cm in cirumference might be problematic and you’ll walk like a geisha. My panels are 70cm each, that’s just about fine, but I’m thinking about altering that. I can’t run in this dress!)

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Now comes the fun part. We want the skirt panels to be shirred at the waist. (Alternatively, you can insert a wide elastic band, if you want to avoid the shirring)

To determine the width of the skirt panels, measure your waist. Shirring will make the fabric shrink in width so you need to add some extra width. As a rule of thumb you need to multiply your measurements with 1,5/2. The more lightweight the fabric is, the more width you need to add (because it will shir easier). I used chiffon and multiplied by 2.

Cut the fabric in half, so you have a front and back panel.

I left some seam allowance and then sewed 9 rows of elastic shirring, each about 0.7cm/0.3inch apart (orienting myself by the edge of my straight stitch presser foot).

Here’s a quick tutorial on shirring, if you don’t know how to do it. Try! It’s not hard at all. There are millions of other tutorials on shirring out there. Google it and make yourself familiar with the technique before you start.

For sewing the 9 rows I used 2 complete bobbins of elastic thread.

making a maxi dress by

Sew the shirred panels together at the sides. In the pic above you can see the baby seams. The shirred part I simply stitch together and finished with a zig zag stitch.

Sew the shirred skirt onto your bodice piece, right sides together. You will need to carefully pin everything in place first. With both pieces pinned together, you will need to gently stretch the shirred part as you are sewing so that it is the same length as the bodice fabric.

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By pressing the shirred fabric, the shirring will pull in nice and tight. Don’t pull the fabric, just press the iron down lightly.

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Looking good!

If you made one long skirt panel, you can skip the next part.

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If you made tiers (I recommend gathering them to create more width on the bottom), sew the tiers together. Then sew the side seams.

Pin the tiered part onto the bottom of the shirred panel and sew together.

I hemmed the dress using my narrow hem presser foot. It’s the perfect way to finish a chiffon hemline:draped butterfly shirt by

making a maxi dress by

maxi dress by

Phew! Are we done? I think so!

If this was way too confusing, don’t hesitate to ask questions in the comments.

When you’re done, please share our creation in the comments. I’d love to see it!

Happy Sewing!

Stay in touch!

Refashion It! The Summer Dress

Beach Dress tutorial and pattern by thisblogisnotforyou.comsummer dress refasion by

Hello my lovely readers!

After using this dress for making a fun and super easy Beach Dress pattern I finally got down to doing what I was supposed to do: taking off the sleeves. My mum gave it to me to alter the sleeves and make them less flutter-sleeve-like.

Since it was a rather quick and easy refashion I thought I’d share it with you.

summer dress refasion by

This is how the sleeves looked before the alteration. I love them because they’re super comfy. First, I thought the refashion would be quite tricky since the dress is basically a rectangle sewn together at the sides, so I had to do more than simply chop off the sleeves. I decided to make the dress a bit more fitted, but to also keep the drawstring at the waistband so it wouldn’t need a zipper.
summer dress refasion by

I put the dress on the dress form and cut off the sleeves at the shoulders on one side only.

As you can see in the pic above, the shoulder part looks a bit weird and pointed. I made a simple dart to solve this problem, first just pinning the dart, and then sewing it before adding the binding to the armscye.

summer dress refasion by

Looks much better, right?summer dress refasion by

summer dress refasion by

I then cut off the side seams to give the dress a more A-line-like  shape. Clever me made sure to cut them off in a way that allowed me to keep the drawstring casing (If you read the Beach Dress tutorial, you hopefully know what I mean).summer dress refasion by

The quickest way to make both sides symmetrical is to simply fold over the dress at the center line and use the altered part as template.
summer dress refasion by

Chop, chop!summer dress refasion by

Keep the hem and remnants! I used them to make bias binding for the armscye.summer dress refasion by

I cut off approximately 2cm/1inch wide strips including the already hemmed part. For proper bias binding you usually cut the strips on the bias, but I was really lazy lazy and also wanted to make use of the already hemmed edges.summer dress refasion by

I pinned the strips onto the armscye part, right sides facing.summer dress refasion by

After sewing the binding onto the fabric I trimmed the raw edges and then, first folding them over and thereby enclosing the raw edge, topstitched the binding onto the right side of the dress.
summer dress refasion by thisblogisnotforyou.comI finished the side seams using the french seam technique where you first sew left sides together with a very narrow seam allowance. After pressing, you fold the fabric over, press again and sew the seams right sides together with a wider seam allowance, thereby enclosing all the raw edges. This technique is super useful when dealing with fabric that frays like crazy (this one did). french seams tutorial for pleated skirt by

Sleeve-less dress done!
summer dress refasion by thisblogisnotforyou.comsummer dress refasion by

It’s still super comfy and mum loves it. What more could one want?

Stay in touch!

Make it! Beach Dress tutorial + pattern

Beach Dress tutorial and pattern by

Hello fellow sewing enthusiasts!

My lovely mum recently sent me a dress to make alterations and I decided to make a pattern from it first before cutting it apart. It’s a super easy and super quick sew and I thought I’d share it with you. Beach Dress tutorial and pattern by

This is the dress I will refashion (taking off the sleeves). The blue one is the version I made yesterday.

In this post I’ll share the pattern and instructions on how to sew everything together. It’s one size fits all!

Beach Dress tutorial and pattern by

All you need

– a 90x180cm or 37×71” piece of fabric

– scissors, pins, matching thread

– matching ribbon or bias binding

Beach Dress tutorial and pattern by

Here’s the pattern!

Beach Dress tutorial and pattern by

As you can see, it’s super easy. It’s basically a rectangular piece of fabric you sew together on two sides and then add a waistband.

I used a 90x180cm scarf which was already hemmed on all sides. If your fabric has raw edges, hem it before you start. If you’re using lightweight fabric (which I recommend!) you can use a narrow hem foot. They work great!

You start with the neckline. You can either make it a V-neckline like in the pattern above or do something totally different. The V in the red dress starts 24cm/9.5” below the center fold. I decided to make a boat neckline which is even easier to do.

Beach Dress tutorial and pattern by

To get the boat neckline, I pinned the fabric to the dressform and cut off fabric until it had the shape I wanted. Try it on and see if you need to make changes!

Beach Dress tutorial and pattern by

I liked it the way it was and left it like that.

To finish the raw edges I used 7mm ribbon. Bias binding would be even easier. If you have neither at home but a bit of fabric left, you can make the bias binding yourself by cutting out strips at a 45 degree angle.

Beach Dress tutorial and pattern by

Pin the ribbon to the neckline, right sides together. Edgestitch about 2-3mm from the edges.Beach Dress tutorial and pattern by

Fold the ribbon over and topstitch it on 2-3mm from the edge.

Beach Dress tutorial and pattern by

It should look like this on the right side of the fabric. All raw edges perfectly enclosed!

For the side seams, fold the fabric on the center line, left sides together. Sew the back and front together as shown in the pattern. Starting 20cm/8” from the bottom edge and 10-15cm/4-6” from the sides. The stitched line should be approximately 42cm/16” long.

To be on the safe side, you can pin the sides together first before you start sewing and see how it looks on you.

Now you need to add the casing for the drawstring/waistband. I used 2cm wide bias binding. You can also use ribbon or a strip of remnant fabric.

Beach Dress tutorial and pattern by

Stitch the casing//ribbon on in the front and back (left side of the fabric!) as shown above leaving the casing open at the side seams to form a tube for the drawstring.

In the front, sew on the casing only on one side as you need to make a little button hole first!

Now that you’ve secured the casing, mark the center of the waistband in the front and make a little buttonhole wide enough for your drawstring. Make sure it doesn’t get larger than the casing/ribbon is wide! I used the buttonhole setting on my sewing machine. You can also sew a buttonhole by hand, but I’m lazy lazy!Beach Dress tutorial and pattern by

Now stitch on the rest of the front drawstring casing.

To get the drawstring through the narrow tube use a safety pin. (Start on the right side of the fabric)Beach Dress tutorial and pattern by

Make a few knots or add some beads to the ends of the drawstring to keep it from slipping back into the casing.

And you’re done!

Beach Dress tutorial and pattern by

Now I feel a bit silly wearing blue dolphins here in London city, but I’ll be in Germany over the weekend, so hopefully I can take this dress on a little trip to one of our bathing lakes (and look slightly overdressed. Certainly no dolphins there either haha).Beach Dress tutorial and pattern by

As always, if you have any questions just pop me a comment! I also LOVE seeing and featuring your makes! If you’re making this dress, sent me a picture of it. Contact details on my about page!

Happy Sewing! xxx

Stay in touch!

A draped butterfly shirt and a lot of handsewing {sort of tutorial}

draped butterfly shirt by

Hope you all have a great weekend! Mine was full of sewing so far, but now I finally have to get started with finishing my last essay EVER! (Sounds more fun than it actually is)

Anyway, I took a couple of days off of uni work to finally start working on all the ideas that came to my mind over the last couple of months and I was pretty busy sewing, painting and crafting (as you probably can tell by the increased frequency of blog posts lately 😛 )

After watching waaaaaaay to many episodes of project runway, I really wanted to do some draping on the stand, nothing too elaborate, just some sleeves or a shirt. Then I found parts of a sheer white shirt, you might remember from my embellished sweater post.

draped butterfly shirt by

embellished sweater

I had thought about making something out of it for a while, but wasn’t really sure what to do with it. After going through my fabric stash I found some remnants of the butterfly chiffon, which you probably recognise since I used it many times before:

Petticoat tutorial 3 layers

Minidress with asymmetrical overskirt by

The lovely three-layered Petticoat and the chiffon overskirt dress.

(This is so easy, you can do this too! All you need is some drapey fabric and a wide shirt!)

I started loosely draping the fabric and pinning it in place and then chopped off the rest.

draped butterfly shirt by   draped butterfly shirt by

draped butterfly shirt by

Chop, chop, chop!

draped butterfly shirt by

I did all the hemming with a narrow hem foot. It makes it super super easy to get very neat looking, very narrow hems.

draped butterfly shirt by thisblogisnotforyou.comdraped butterfly shirt by

Pretty, right?

draped butterfly shirt by

I then draped everything a bit more carefully, pinning everything in place. draped butterfly shirt by

I folded the fabric over and started handsewing the draping onto the white shirt. That took a while, phew!

draped butterfly shirt by

Same procedure at the bust line, this time right sides together.

draped butterfly shirt by

I stitched over the handsewn seam at the bust line after everything was in place, to give the seam a bit more strength. (Some experimenting with ribbon and trim)

I decided to use the same trim I used for the overskirt dress since it matches the butterfly chiffon perfectly.

draped butterfly shirt by

I stitched it onto the left side of the fabric first to hide the raw edges, then on the right side to cover the stitching. I did not use topstitching, but sew the two trims together by hand with a hidden stitch.

draped butterfly shirt by

The shirt can be worn two ways:

draped butterfly shirt by          draped butterfly shirt by thisblogisnotforyou.comdraped butterfly shirt by

It’s quite big (a size 20) but I like that it’s so flowy and wide, perfect for summer. I might try wearing it with a belt, to cinch it at the waist a bit.draped butterfly shirt by

This is how it looks in the back:

draped butterfly shirt by

The keyhole might be a bit distracting, but is has a lovely golden button and I did not want to remove it 🙂

draped butterfly shirt by

It’s lovely to wear during these incredibly hot summer days and looks a bit more chic than jersey tank tops.

What did you make over the weekend? I’d love to see!

Stay in touch!

Sewing with chiffons – Baby seams

baby seams tutorial by thisblogisnotforyou.comHi everyone! It’s incredibly warm here in London at the moment, one of the reasons why I haven’t been sewing a lot lately.But the fridge loaded with ice cream and cool drinks, I finally got around to editing the pictures for the baby seams tut! So here it is!

Baby seams, a specific seam finish, are particularly helpful when sewing with very lightweight and sheer fabrics, like chiffon. Bill Travilla, designer for many Hollywood actresses, used this technique for Marilyn Monroe famous white halter bodice dress from The Seven Year Itch.

When sewing with transparent fabrics, it’s often difficult to hide the raw edges of the seam. This technique perfectly hides the raw edges.

Step 1

You will need  about 5/8 inch or 1.5 cm of seam allowance.(Less does also work if you already cut out your garment. But it’s easier to work with a bit more). Straight stitch 1/2 inch or 1.3 cm from the edge, right sides together.

baby seams tutorial by

When sewing with very lightweight fabrics like chiffon, there’s  the risk that your machine eats the fabric by pulling the end of the seam into the needle hole. To prevent that from happening you can use a straight stitch foot. If you don’t have one, you can simply place a small piece of tissue paper under the end of the seam to give it a bit more strength (see picture above).

A straight stitch foot is quite inexpensive and very useful if you sew with lightweight fabrics like chiffons, silks or satins often.

sewing with chiffons straight stitch foot by thisblogisnotfotyou

The small hole keeps the fabric from being pulled into the needle hole. It also helps the fabric from sliding away when sewing. I just bought one (after sewing the panda blouse and I love it!) Just be careful with your machine settings. With this presser foot you can only use the straight stitch (the name says it all 😛 ). The needle might break if you accidentally set your machine to zigzag stitching.

Step 2

baby seams tutorial by

Fold the seam on the stitched seamline. Press it flat if you want to, it might help to keep things in place (I always prefer getting it done quickly…). Then edgestitch 1/16 inch or 1-2mm from the folded edge.

baby seams tutorial by

baby seams tutorial by

baby seams tutorial by baby seams tutorial by

Hehe, see what happens if you don’t press it? The stiched line is not perfectly parallel to the other, but that’s only for the perfectionists.

Step 3

Now trim very closely to the edgestitching. Use your fabric scissors (I tried the cutter and accidentally cut into the seam. Not a good idea). Try to keep the scissors parallel to the fabric.

baby seams tutorial by

Step 4

Now fold the seam again so that the raw edges are enclosed and hidden. Edgestitch on top of the last stitching line.

baby seams tutorial by

Don’t get confused by this picture. I had turned the fabric 180 degrees, thats why the folded seam is facing in the wrong direction.

Step 5

Now you’re almost done. Just press the seam flat and start admiring how nice it looks!

baby seams tutorial by thisblogisnotforyou.combaby seams tutorial by

I used this technique for all seams of the Panda Blouse. The above picture shows the peplum of one of the sleeves. I first edgestitched the hem and trimmed the raw edges, then sewed the side seams with the baby seam technique. After pressing the baby seams I folded the hem on the stitched line, enclosing the raw edges and edgestitched.

Burda 128 8/2012 by

You can barely see the side seams in this picture -nice, eh? (Don’t look too closely though, I screwed up the hem at one point… :P)


I love this technique! I know you’re going to ask if it takes much longer than other seam finishes. NO, it doesn’t! You’re basically sewing the seams and the seam finish at once, so it’s not more complicated than other techniques. And since you’re straight stitching it’s much faster than finishing the raw edges with a zigzag or overlock stitch!

And seeing the results you’ll find it’s totally worth th effort!