Saturday, May 19, 2012

Tutorial: Maternity Tank Style Maxi

maternity tank style maxi

I’m officially declaring this the summer of the maxi for me. I showed you my first ruched maternity maxi in THIS post a few weeks ago. Since then I’ve made two more and perfected my pattern and methods.

ruched side maxi tank dress

This dress takes me less than an hour to make from cutting to finished. The most time-consuming aspect is finishing the hem, neckline and arm holes, but I’ve made those go even faster by not pinning first. And I could probably shave off a few minutes if I wasn’t so good at breaking twin needles. I love the simple tank style with the ruched side that will accommodate my growing belly. This dress would work great for a non-pregnant lady who either would just wear it straight or do less ruching to cover a little bit of tummy.

purple maxi 1

I’m finding that one of the best solutions to how I’ll store all my fabric once I move into a smaller crafting space is to actually use it up right now. I bought two yards of this purple with white polka dot ultra-stretch poly/lycra jersey months ago from for something around $6. It was too light weight for the scarves I intended it for, but perfect for a maxi dress.

To make one you’ll need two yards of a stretchy knit fabric and coordinating thread.

tank maxi pattern
(Consider this your sneak peak of my project for Kojo Designs’ Color My Summer. This picture turned out better than the one I took with the purple fabric.)

If you don’t already have a tank style maxi pattern (which I definitely didn’t), it’s simple to create your own pattern. Use either your favorite tank pattern or trace around a favorite fitting tank, and then extend down from the waistline (or just before it starts to curve in if it does that) for an a-line. For your maternity dress, curve out at your natural waist by an extra inch. I used my new Megan Nielsen Ruched Maternity T-Shirt pattern for the top and then freezer paper for the rest of my pattern because that’s what I had on hand. I like that it’s sturdy and lasts from dress to dress. To account for ruching the sides, just add an extra five inches of length to the front piece of the dress. If you aren’t making this maternity style but are still ruching for a more flattering fit, just add an extra 3 inches to the length.

2012-05-19 006

To ruche the sides, sew a gathering stitch starting about 6 or 7 inches below the arm (or just before your waist starts to curve out) to about 10 inches lower on both sides of the front of the dress. You can see in the picture above about how far apart the two points are. 

2012-05-19 008

Line up the front and back of the dress at the arm holes and hem, and then tighten your gather until they are the same length.

2012-05-19 009

Sew the dress together at the sides and then the shoulders.  This is how it will look when you sew it together. I needed to then unpick my gathering stitch since it was just inside the side seam. Then just sew your hem and finish the neck and arms. I love the finished look of a twin needled, but broke mine on its second use earlier today, so instead I did two rows of knit stitch around everything. I actually ended up loving the way the wonky zig-zag looked in the contrasting white thread on the purple fabric.

I love the way the dress fits, but while I am pretty slim, it does come awfully close to letting everyone see the lines where I have a little extra “me” on my back above the hips. I think even if I cut it larger, the nature of knit could still be a little less than flattering. So if you’re concerned about some of that extra-ness showing on you, I’d suggest cutting the back piece an extra 2 or 3 inches long and ruching it a little in the back as well.

purple maxi 5

I’m going to wear this to church tomorrow paired with a white cardigan and a belt. I love the way this look turned out! And considering if I use coupons at Joann’s, I can make a dress for about $9, I foresee my closet filling with these very quickly!

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  1. Very cute, love how it turned out! So funny, I have that same fabric :)

  2. So dang cute - the dress & the belly! =)

  3. It does look great! I've never sewn anything knit with success, but I'm bookmarking this in case I need one in the future:)

  4. Lovely dress, and perfect for a summer pregnancy. When are you due?

  5. I love the dress--it looks so comfy and adorable! And you are just looking so cute!

  6. Great job- it looks wonderful on you!
    Shannon @

  7. Love the dress & your cute belly! I wish I was up on sewing to make this but my machine hasn't been touched in forever... by the time I got it out, & figured out how to do it, this pregnancy of mine would be over lol.

  8. Oh wow this is gorgeous. I made up a pattern for a maxi dress the other day but i think I might have to steal this style too.

  9. Thanks for your post! I'm 22 weeks myself and have pregnancy varicose veins in my legs. Ugh. It's maxi skirts and maxi dresses all summer for me! I have the itch to get sewing right now!

  10. I am not pregnant and don't sew clothing, but I think this absolutely fantastic! Creative styling, flattering fit, and I love the polka dots. Well done!

  11. So, I have a question about the ruching. With this dress I noticed you just gathered at the sides, but I've noticed my ruched shirts used elastic. What is the main difference in terms of fit? Would the elastic grow better as my stomach grows? Or does one work better with certain body types? Or does it really matter? Thanks!!

  12. So cute and well done! Thanks for sharing!

  13. It looks lovely on you! Thank you for sharing the tutorial!

  14. Love it! Thanks for sharing! :)

  15. I think this is thoroughly bubblegum casting legitimate

  16. Very Lovely! Quick question on the cutting. Do you use the same pattern for both sides (front/back) of dress? I got two yards of fabric, hope that's enough!


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