Maxi Dress Tutorial

Posted by MelissaH on Monday, March 24th, 2014

Maxi Dress (using Mod Studio Fabric by Riley Blake Designs)

Course Instructor:  Melissa Houston

Hello!  Spring is upon us (at least I HOPE) and Springtime makes me think of Easter and summer dresses.  I got to thinking about how to make a cute dress for little girls that would not take me so long that by the time I would finish it, the child would have outgrown it!  So, here is what I came up with.  Fast and EASY!  I used Mod Studio by Riley Blake Designs for a very classic look.  I had to come up with some cute stuff for a black and white wedding; and the bride LOVED it.  :) 

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Materials list:


3-4 coordinating fabrics (you can use 3 if you use the same print for the top piece and the hem)

scissors and/or rotary trimmer

measuring tape

straight edge

fabric marker



Cutting instructions:

Cutting the fabric depends a lot on the size that you are making.  As a general rule, I have found that adding at least 10-15 inches to the previous measurement works fine for the length.  As for the width, this will depend on what length you want to end up with.  You can do a short skirt to a maxi dress, and a tea length to go in between.

For my example, I had her put on the shirt after I cut it, and then measured to how long I wanted the dress to be when it was finished.  I divided that number into 3, and then adjusted it slightly so that the pieces closer to the bottom were a few inches wider than the top pieces.  You can get creative here and do whatever you want to create your own unique style!

The first thing that you are going to cut will be the t shirt.  I measure 7" below each "armpit" and make a mark.

maxi dress

Then use a straight edge and draw a line to connect the two lines you made, and then cut along the line.  I cannot tell a lie, I just laid my straight edge to touch the two marks and went straight to the cutting part! 

Now that it is cut, you can use it to determine the sizes of your other pieces.  For this particular dress, it is a size 8.  I cut the top 2 pieces at 9" wide and 20" long, the middle 2 pieces at *10" wide and 28" long, and the bottom 2 pieces at 12" wide and 41" long.  The hem needs to be 2 pieces cut that are 3-5 inches wide and WOF. Just make sure that as you get lower on the dress, it looks better to get a little wider and you need a little longer to get the "ruffled" effect. 


For all sections of the dress, you need to take the 2 pieces and put them right sides together and sew down the width of the fabric on both sides.  This will create a "circle" of fabric.  Do this for all 4 sections, including the hem. 

With the fabric still right sides together, slip the t shirt top inside of the fabric and pin at least the side hems together. 

maxi dress

I am OLD, so I still do it "old school" and use pins to make the gathers as in this photo.  That "style" is reflected in the photo below.

maxi dress

Sew those pieces together, using a half inch seam.  Then, you are ready to add the next "layer."  I spread my wings a little and used the other, equally effective, method of putting in a gathering stitch or basting stitch.  You can do this be elongating the stitch length on your machine.

maxi dress

Put this piece on the outside of our t shirt top and top layer piece, right sides together.  Pin at least the side seams and gather the fabric to fit by adjusting the stitches so that the gathers are even along the edges.

maxi dress

Sew these raw edges together using a half inch seam.  Your dress should now look like this:

maxi dress

Attach the third row in the method of your choice the same way as the previous 2 layers.  Remember to put right sides together and use a half inch seam.  After you have all 3 layers attached, we are ready to attach the hem.  Fold the hem in half, WRONG sides together, lengthwise, and lightly press it together. 

To attach the hem....  put the raw edges together with the raw edge of the last layer. 

maxi dress

maxi dress

Again, use your favorite method to attach the hem layer to the bottom layer. 

Your finished dress will look like this:

finished maxi dress

Taa daa...  Easy.  Just like I like my sewing projects!  Feel free to visit my Etsy store for your favorite Riley Blake fabrics, and my Facebook page for upcoming fabrics, tutorials, tips, and advice or networking!  Happy Crafting!

Category: Apparel


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