Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tutorial: Sunshine Poured Out Maxi

yellow maxi

This tutorial was originally shared over at Kojo Designs as a part of their Color My Summer Series. I thought you might enjoy seeing it here just in case you missed it!

I love the color yellow. I think it could even be called the happiest color. Just making this dress made me feel like I was working with sunshine. And as much as I’m sure everyone else could say the same thing, I think I got the best color for Color My Summer.

yellow maxi dress

With a baby due in October, I’m claiming this as the summer of the maxi; so what better combination than my favorite color and favorite style of the season? This tank-styled knit maxi dress was very simple to make with a few added details to make it stand out. The stripes of white and yellow at the bottom make me smile every time I look at the them and the layered strips of white and yellow fabric across the chest make it very flattering and dress it up a bit. And since I have to accommodate a growing belly, my dress has ruched sides. This  dress could be made just straight, or if you have a little something to cover up, with less of a ruche than I did.

I used two yards of the yellow knit, half a yard of the white, and coordinating thread.

tank maxi pattern

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. I used freezer paper for my pattern because that’s what I had on hand. I like that it’s sturdy and lasts from dress to dress. Cut it to 11 inches short of the length you like. If you’re ruching the sides, just add an extra five inches of length to the front piece. Repeat this for the back of your dress so you’ll end up with two pieces.

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For the stripes, cut out one five inch wide band of contrasting fabric and one seven inch wide band (only my 5 inch band is shown here because the 7” one was added as an effort to lengthen the dress and I’m so glad I did!) and then cut them into two pieces matching the widths of your front and back of the dress. For the decorative lines at the top, cut out a few strips of 1.5 inches in the contrasting color and 1 inch in the main color. (I was going to originally use a more mustard color, but then didn’t like the contrast so I changed my mind. That’s how sewing goes for me!)

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Measure six inches up from the hemline of the skirt pieces and cut.

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With right sides together, sew the 5 inch white band to the main pieces of the front and back of the dress. Then, again with right sides together, sew the bands of yellow that you cut off to the white. Finally, attach the 7” white strips to the dress.

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With the front of the dress laying flat, line up the 1.5” strips of white fabric in diagonal lines in a pattern you like. I ended up later removing the bottom line because I thought having the last one be the one that crosses the whole dress was the most flattering. Then lay out the 1” yellow strips and pin everything down.

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Using a wide zig-zag stitch, sew the strips to the dress. All the decorative elements of the dress are now done! If you are ruching the sides, sew a gathering stitch starting about 7 inches below the arm to about 10 inches lower on both sides of the front of the dress. 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.

Sew the dress together at the sides and then the shoulders.

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I used a twin needle for my hem and finishing off the neck and arm holes. I love the professional finish it gives to a knit piece.

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You can see the double line of stitching here along the neckline. A twin needle is not complicated to use at all—just check your machine’s manual for how to thread the twin needle.

yellow maxi 2

And then enjoy wearing your comfortable, stylish, cool dress!

I've loved wearing this dress and have gotten so many compliments on it!

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. This is so cute, and looks super easy. Now if I can just get motivated to make stuff for myself! :)

  2. That is so pretty!! I love the stripes! They definitely give it a little something extra!
    I had to Pin this! I am going to try it out! :)

  3. Wow, thank you! Soooo cute, love that you made it maternity too. Pinning!

  4. I LOVE it! Both the dress and YOU in it:)

  5. I always look forward to your blog posts - you have inspired me to take existing clothes and make garments and for that my budget and I thank you ;-) Would it be too much trouble for you to measure the tank straps? That is "exactly" the look I want in my "yet to be sewn back to school garments" to look - my store bought tanks have a thinner strap and I want my undergarments to be totally covered as per our new dress code. Hope all is well with you and yours.

  6. You-Are-Adorable!! I love the dress too, but you are glowing in these pics! Great job!!

  7. I wish I could wear long dresses, I always look like a potato in those... You look very beautiful, so well done! And the yellow is so fresh and vibrant Maybe I should try a shorter version?

    Perfect for summer, thanks for sharing your tutorial. I found you at Simply Designing :) Thank goodness for linking parties!!


  8. Great dress! I really want to make a long maxi dress... so I'm definitely pinning this.

  9. Can you give more details about the kind of knit fabric this particular fabric you used was? I'm SO wanting to attempt this as I can't find any tall maxi dresses for myself (I'm 6'1) that I like- but I'm definitely a beginner. I want to head to Joanne's and look, but I thought asking first would be smart. Thanks!!! The dress is beautiful!

    1. Thank you so much! I just used the basic knit from Joann's. My store carries three types of solid colored knits--one with an odd texture and a sheen to it, one that's super soft and stretchy, and one that's a little more sturdy but still soft. Use the sturdy but soft knit for this type of dress. If you're going for a more flowy style, do the super soft one. Good luck with making a dress! I did a tutorial a while back for sewing with knits which you can find here:


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