Speedy maxi dress pattern hack


Speedy summer maxi dress

Last summer I made a no pattern maxi dress that was perfect for my holiday. I received so many comments whenever I wore it that I thought I'd have a go at another one. This time around I was looking to make something

  • with straps, 
  • that could double up for day and evening wear at home as well as on holiday
  • would take a day or less 



I had bought a bright summery viscose from Remnant Kings for £8.99 per metre, knowing that I would definitely use it for a summer project. There was definitely enough for a maxi dress. However, as I often tend to find with viscose fabrics, it is a little see through (not massively but thinking about being out in the sun...) so would need some lining. Luckily I had some black viscose in my remnant stash so I could use this to line the bodice panels.

I had been tempted to buy the Saltspring dress pattern, but was put off by the fastenings (as I was hoping to create another comfortable dress that only had elastic). So then I had a look around my pattern and book stash and came across this....

Maxi dress hack


This is a jumpsuit that features in Fashion with Fabric, a book by Claire-Louise Hardie that accompanied series 3 of the Great British Sewing Bee. This had enough features to use without buying a new pattern (I spend way too much on fabric and patterns, any saving is a bonus).

I think if you have any vest or cami style bodice pattern you could use that. Or do what I did in my other maxi dress, creating a simple bodice band, and add ribbon straps.

To create the dress I wanted I took the basic pattern pieces and

  • omitted the flounce at the top
  • omitted the facing
  • cut the bodice panels in lining and shell fabric
  • used a waistband technique I was already familiar with from my Bettine dress and Poppy playsuit
  • added a maxi skirt instead of trousers, gathered at the waist
I followed the instructions in the book to determine the pattern size I needed and traced it off from the multi pattern sheets that are included in the book. The book itself is full of tips for those new to dressmaking, and the instructions for each pattern are detailed enough to know what to do, as well as being written in easy to understand language. There are some illustrations along the way to help make it easier to understand what to do too.

Great British Sewing Bee book

I used the instructions to create the straps and attach them to the bodice. I made up the outer bodice and lining bodice pieces separately then joined the lining in the same way as the facing is joined at the top of the bodice. The lining isn't joined to the shell fabric again until the waistline. I considered basting the two layers together but decided it would be too bulky otherwise and not really floaty enough for a maxi dress.

Note on pattern sizing from this book....My first bodice was way too big. It gaped horribly at the underarms. I took in the side seams considerably, and it still gapes a little.

Maxi dress pattern hack


To make the skirt I was very lazy. I basically measured how long it needed to be, then added about 10 for hems and waistband. This was cut, folded right sides together and sewn along the selvedge with a 1.5cm seam allowance. (My lazy brain deduced that I wouldn't then have to finish this seam). As this was going to be gathered I stitched a line of longer stitches 1 cm from the top to fall within the waist seam.

To join the top and bottom I pinned the bodice and skirt right sides together, with the bodice hanging inside the skirt. I measured quarter points around the skirt and the bodice, then matched these up (with the skirt side seam matching one of the bodice side seams). Then it was a case of gathering the skirt and sewing a 3cm seam and finishing it. To make the waist channel I pressed the seam up to the bodice and stitched again 2cm from the waist seam. Because of the way I had joined the top and bottom I was left with a handy opening at the side seam which I could thread my elastic through on the end of a safety pin and pull out the two ends to overlap and join with a zig zag. As ever, I measured my elastic for a comfirtable stretch, made the dress, tried it on and realised I needed to drastically reduce this, so had to fish out the overlap join, chop it down and restitch.

Then decide on the bottom hem length, single fold hem and done! I added a belt for some definition amongst the busy pattern and to dress it up a little more.

What do you reckon? If you have any tips for sewing maxi dresses or know of any free patterns please let the rest of us know in the comments below!

Make your own maxi dress

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Hi, I'm Laura. Welcome to my journeys with modern, feminine dressmaking and delicious food.
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