30 Minute Maxi Dress

Well, I have REALLY jumped in technology!  My first video!  Now, I'm not promising that this is super high quality or anything.  I filmed myself in my backyard, in bright blinding sunlight in the last 15 minutes of Sprouts naptime.  By the time I finished this, I could hear her yelling, "MOOOMMMMAAAA!  I'M AWAKE NOW!". There are plenty of assumptions made in this "tutorial" that you have some sewing experience to make this project.  This is not really a very technical "tutorial".

I'm sharing with you today what I call my 30 Minute Maxi Dress (although at the end I think I refer to it as a 30 second dress, it's not quite THAT quick but pretty darn fast to put together).  Here's the thing...there is not one thing about this that is very technically correct in terms of garment construction.  Real seamstresses will CRINGE at what I'm about to tell you on how to whip this together.

Seriously.  I wanted a maxi dress.  I picked up some fabric, stitched it together - never cut it at all, added elastic thread and extended the length some with a contrasting hem band.  Bam!  3pm on the sewing machine, 4pm out the door in a new dress.  It does the trick.  Sometimes, you just gotta break the rules!  Watch this intro and then come back for more details below...


I'm not sure that this will work for every shape and size, you be the judge.  I am {can't believe I'm going to share this} 5'5" tall and wear a dress size that is 8/10.  Yep, I did just share my dress size with the entire world.  You saw in the video that the top of the dress is the selvedge edge and by the time I put elastic thread in there, you can't even tell.  You may want to put a nice hem there - totally up to you.

I used 1 1/2 yards of fabric for my dress.  You would not want to use less than this for any adult size.  Here's why.  The longer the dress, below your knees, you need room to actually take a full stride step when walking.  If the dress is not big enough around, you'll be walking around like you have a cord tied around your ankles and hobbling little steps.  Make sense?

Also, to make the dress longer for you, just add some fabric to the bottom.  Cut a contrasting fabric to the same width as your dress.  When adding a hem band, I cut mine twice the size.  If I want a 2" tall hem band, I cut it 4".  Press it in half.  Then right sides of hem band to right side of dress, stitch.  Press seam up towards top of dress and topstitch all the way around.  I like doing them because you can see the underside of your hem quite often and this gives it a nice finished appearance rather than seeing a little 1" hem on the underside.

Again, the longer you make the dress, the more fabric I think I would use...if you truly make this fall to your ankle, and you are of average size, I might be very tempted to use a full 2 yards of fabric to give me more "walking room".


1) You've got your fabric ready to go.  You've added the extra length on the bottom with your hem if desired already.  Selvedge edges at top and bottom of dress.  With right sides together, pin and stitch down that long edge.  Use a serger if you have one or zig zag along your edge to finish.

2)  Adding the elastic thread.  Mark even lines where you want to put your stitching.  I made mine about an inch apart.   After about 8 rows, I tried on the dress to see how much farther I wanted to go with the gathering.  You could also do 3 or 4 rows at the top and then 3 or 4 rows at your waist only - wear a cute belt with it!  Up to you...Starting at the side seam, tie a knot in the end of your elastic thread (leaving it on your spool) and lay it down on the wrong side of your fabric leaving about 2" of a tail.  Zig-zag stitch over the elastic thread, pulling very gently until you get all the way around your dress.  Be sure you are following your marked stitching lines so that you have straight rows!  At the end, I tie the end of my elastic thread to the tail I left at the beginning so it won't pull out and holds securely in the wash.  If you pull your elastic too tight, you won't be able to get in the dress.  If it's too loose, you're likely to have a "wardrobe malfunction" and those results would not be favorable.  Just sayin...

Continue with your elastic thread stitching until you have the look you want.  Again, I kept stopping and trying on the dress to see how it looked.

3)  Straps.  Cut your straps the desired length x 2" wide.  Just like you are making bias tape, press your long edge to the center and then in half.Press your ends nicely tucked to the inside so you have finished ends and stitch your strap down the long edge.  With my dress on, I determined where my straps would fit best and pinned them on.  Take the dress back off...THEN stitch the straps to the wrong side of the dress.  I also added, using the straps, a tiny loop on the back so that I could run my ties through there to help hold it up in the back.

That's it!  You can adjust this dress to fit anybody!  Little girl to adult and it would be really fun for a little girls sewing project.  It's so quick and so simple - and she will feel SEW accomplished from making herself a cute maxi dress!

Will you try one for yourself?