Can I squeeze one more summer make before we all move to coats, scarves and jumpers? Well, like it or not, here it is. I actually wore this dress yesterday, so clearly it’s not doom and gloom just yet. (T-shirt ) Maxi dresses really do make me feel like it’s still warm and sunny, and as long as my toes are not freezing in sandals just yet, I will wear what I like, when I like it. Especially since someone stopped me on the street the other day to ask me where I bought the dress from, because it’s amazing! *sewing pride bust*
I have not been sewing much this year, and I have been trying very hard to keep to the principles of my Meaningful Wardrobe project for most makes. But there comes a time when a project buzzing in my head just needs to jump ahead of the queue and just darn get made. Especially if it’s a quick and easy one. And you have a date night that you can wear it to right away.
T-shirt maxi dress and its place in my wardrobe
I love a maxi dress, me! I have a few in my wardrobe and they are such a great way to be put together in one swift move. All-in-ones (dresses and jumpsuits) do have that advantage, don’t they? I am quite tall, still, they always make me feel statuesque and way leggier than I am. And they can be great when the weather is so and so and maybe help protect against the elements when you don’t really feel like wearing tights. And if they are a bit more voluminous, there is also the swish factor…
This summer, in particular, I felt the need to supplement the two maxis in my wardrobe with another one, in a more neutral colour (they are both various shades of green). And navy is definitely one of my go-to neutrals, so I knew that this would be a great addition that will get a lot of wears. Three wears already since I made it less than a month ago, so well on its way to the 30 wears aim. I can’t say it goes with a lot of items in my wardrobe, but being an all-in-one item, that’s always harder. I have a few jackets and cardigans that it can be paired with, as well as a few shoes and bags (see one styling option at the end of the post). Also, in spite of the print, it has a timeless feel to it, and I think it can stay part of my wardrobe for a long time to come. So I would say it does score well on the wearability scale.
On the sustainability front, probably not the best possible choice. It does get points for being fabric from the stash (more on that below) and from having been bought from the remnant bin (salvaged unwanted fabric, cause I’m a hero like that). However, it’s viscose jersey which is not ideal (you can read a post about why viscose is not great for the environment by my friend Kate from Time to Sew).
However, the most important aspect is that I LOVE IT! As soon as I put it on, I fell in love with the silky smooth feel of the fabric against my skin, the drape and the swish. I just did not want to take it off. I have mentioned before that I’m a sucker for silky stuff on my skin, like my high-low shirt dress, so no wonder this maxi got my heart. So I am well assured on the emotional durability of it.
On the physical durability, I am always slightly concerned with fabrics that have lighter and darker prints in one, about the possibility of the darker colours bleeding into the lighter ones. I foresee hand-wash only for this one. If you have any thoughts on how to care for it better, please let me know in the comments. I am also slightly concerned about the fragility of the fabric. It really did not like my overlocker needles so I went back and reinforced all the seams with a jersey needle and a zigzag stitch on top. Hopefully, this will do the trick, as it would break my heart to have to part with it before its time.
About sewing this maxi dress…
I will start with the fabric first because it was the main reason I actually made this dress. I got this piece in Stoff & Still in Copenhagen in August last year, as a birthday present (I chose, my mum & auntie paid). Btw, you can read my full review of fabric shops in Copenhagen if you’re heading there at some point. I always like a good rummage through the remnant bins – especially those really well arranged and signposted ones like in Stoff & Still – and my patience is usually well rewarded. I can’t say what attracted me to this piece, as you know, I’m not a prints person, but it did make its way into my basket. According to the label (don’t you love those shops that even label the remnants with composition and washing instructions), it’s a viscose+a bit of elastane combo, but it’s on the lightweight side, and very very drapey.
I had not actually thought about it, but a friend suggested this looks like a Marimekko print, and having been to Finland this summer (where there is Marimekko everything everywhere), I can see where she is coming from. Not sure if it’s the real deal, but we can all pretend, right? EDIT: it turns out it really is the real deal. Here are a few examples of Marimekko garments in this print, called Jokeri.
The piece was only about 1.2m x1.5 width, with a large scale print, so there were not too many options as to what it could become. I had initially thought some sort of shift dress, like this one, but somehow the large-scale print did not quite work out. In the creative process of trying to figure out what to do with it, I started draping it around me and had a lightbulb moment when I realised just how awesome the print looked at full length (made me look quite skinny, yey for optical illusions). So I decided it needed to become a maxi dress.
I spend a Friday night (I know, saddo!) on Pinterest and then going through my Burdas, and any other pattern in my stash to figure out what kind of maxi dress it could be, but I didn’t find anything that worked. I wanted some sort of kimono sleeve, but quite fitted on the bust, then flaring on the hips towards an A-line-ish shape. I only has a limited amount of fabric, so couldn’t go all out on the swishy side.
So I ended up self-drafting something myself, starting from a top pattern in my stash. I would show you my sketch, but I am embarrassed, I really can’t draw for toffee. I used the Simple Sew Jersey Top view A front pattern piece as a base but I reduced the CF significantly, raised the neckline for the back, and extended and flared the side seams to the desired maxi length.
It’s an ultra-simple make, with effectively 5 seams (shoulders x2, sides x2 and the neckband) and it came together very quickly with the overlocker. I measured the neckline and used the pull and stretch method to determine the length of the band, but it took me a few attempts to get it to stay flat. As I mentioned before, on the second wear, I noticed some tiny holes on the side seams and realised that the overlocker needles had practically chewed the fabric and I had to go back and reinforce the seams. I find it very strange that the special overlocker needles I got for my Babylock are not actually ballpoint needles. I mean, we mostly sew knit with the overlocker, right?
You will notice that there is a slightly different pattern placement on the front vs the back, but there simply was not enough fabric to get it right on the back as well and I wanted to make sure it’s right where it matters. But it really does not bother me too much and I think few people actually notice really.
Wear & Style
Maxi dressed tend to go well with heels and I particularly like cork platforms, they also tend to be a summer staple. They are a definite plus while attempting to stop my hem from sweeping the floor, but I was happy to notice that I achieved that perfect length that allowed me to also wear flats with it.
Seeing that it’s aiming to be a summer make, I styled it in this pictures with my crop denim jacket (very very pls RTW) – in case it’s getting a bit cooler or for those summer evenings, my cork platform sandals and a very summer basket bag that, completely inadvertently, seemed to be all the fashion this summer. I’ve had this one for more than 10 years and took the opportunity to fix it (the sewn pieces were coming apart in places), and I’m sure I will wear it again next year, fashion or no fashion.
T-shirt maxi dress | Details Recap
AM I CRAZY FOR TRYING TO HANG ON TO SUMMER AS MUCH AS I CAN? ARE YOU A FAN OF MAXI DRESSED? TELL ME IN COMMENTS.
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