This easy-to-make maxi dress by Torie Jayne is perfect for summer, stitched in a lightweight, drapey fabric. It can be easily adjusted for your size – simply make the bust larger or smaller by increasing the depth and length of the panel. To make the skirt larger or smaller, just increase the width of the panels. As for the hem, mark your desired length, plus 2cm for the hem allowance and 6mm for the seam at the top.
- Drapey fabric, 105cm wide x 200cm
- Elastic shirring thread
- Coordinating sewing thread
- Coordinating beads with large holes, four
- Size 10-12 (increase or decrease pattern to suit)
Sew a summer dress
1 Cut a bodice panel measuring 32cm deep x 138cm wide (increase or decrease for a larger/smaller bust) from fabric. Cut two skirt panels 138m at the top and 150cm at the hem x 107cm (length from bust panel to ankle, including a 2.6cm hem allowance). Fold the bodice rectangle in half lengthways, wrong sides together and pin to secure.
2 Hand wind shirring elastic thread onto your sewing machine bobbin so that the elastic sits firmly but is not stretched. Set your sewing machine to a straight stitch with the elastic thread bobbin in place as usual. As a general rule, you will want to lengthen your stitch to around 2.5 to 3 for shirring. You may also need to adjust your upper thread tension.
3 Starting at the folded edge with the print right side up, stitch a straight line 5mm to 6mm from the folded edge, back stitching at the beginning and end to secure. Starting 5mm to 6mm below the first line of stitching, using the edge of your presser foot as a guide, sew a second straight line, back stitching at the beginning and end. Continue stitching rows of straight lines until you are 6mm from the raw edge at the bottom. Use two hands to pull and keep the fabric flat as it starts gathering up more.
4 Steam and press the right side of the shirred panel. Fold the panel in half widthways right sides facing so that the raw edges align. Pin in place. Change the bobbin to regular thread and stitch together using a 1cm seam allowance and zig zag or overlock the raw edges together.
5 Pin the front and back skirt panels together, right sides facing. Stitch the side seams using a 1cm seam allowance and finish the raw edges with a zig zag or overlock stitch. With the skirt right side out, insert it into the inside out bodice panel, with right sides together, aligning the raw edges and matching the side seams. Pin, then stitch together using a 6mm seam allowance. Zig zag or overlock the raw edges together.
6 Turn the hem under by 1cm to the wrong side and press. Turn up a further 1cm, press, then pin to secure and stitch in place using a 8mm seam allowance. Press. To make the straps, cut four 2cm x 47cm strips. Fold each one in half lengthways, right sides together, then pin and stitch together using a 6mm seam allowance. Zig zag the raw edges together. Turn the straps out and press.
7 Fold over the ends of the straps by 1cm and press. Pin the straps 5cm in from each side seam at the front and back, with the raw edges hidden. Bar tack the straps in place 5mm from the top folded edge. Thread beads onto the end of the strap ties, knot and trim off the excess.