Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Sewing: Easy Ruched Linen Maxi Dress (Tutorial)

I've decided this is the summer of the dress! For me anyway. I don't know why I haven't gone this direction previously--they are so easy to wear! I've always envied men and suits, because getting dressed well seems so easy. But really, wearing a dress is even easier: you just need shoes. And maybe a necklace if you are into accessorizing. (I got this gold one from Target.)

So I am happy to participate today in Melly Sews' 30 Days of Sundresses by sharing this simple tutorial for a ruched linen maxi dress. You can check out all the other Sundresses this month by visiting her blog, and don't miss entering her giveaway.

I've always loved linen, and I love it wrinkled! I purchased this pinstriped slub linen fabric from Jo-Ann last year and they still carry it, which is lucky for you, because it is beautiful! I really like using linen for this simple silhouette because it adds a bit of sophistication. It can be worn casual or dressy depending on how it's accessorized. And it's figure flattering while still being comfortable.

I was inspired to sew this dress after seeing this popular maxi dress pin on Pinterest and somewhere I saw some ruched shoulders, which I love.  Adds a little bit, and fun with the linen. I wanted to be able to wear this dress easily without a belt so I opted for an elastic "ruched" waist. I also added some topstitching, and generous hem, and finishing details on the inside so though this dress has a bohemian look, it's all tailored.

You can easily make this dress for yourself! Just take a few measurements and follow my tutorial below. Easy breezy!


You'll need:
  • About 2 yards of 58"-60" wide linen
  • About 4 yards of 1/4" elastic
  • About 2 yards of 3/4" elastic
  • Coordinating thread
  • Your measurements
Start with a few measurements:

  • Skirt length (measure from waist to top of foot) plus 6" (4 inches for hem and 2" for waist casing.
  • Bodice length (measure from your belly button, over one shoulder to where your spine meets your back waist) plus 7" (3" for ease, 2" for waist casing, and 2" for seam allowances).

Then cut into your fabric:

  • Cut a length of your 60" wide fabric equal to your "bodice length." For instance, my bodice length was 42", so I cut a piece of fabric measuring 42"x60". Then cut the fabric in half, parallel to the selvedge so you have two pieces your "bodice length"x30".

Stack these two 30" pieces and cut them in half perpindicular to the selvedge. So in my example you would then have two pieces, each measuring 21"x30".
  • Cut a length of your 60" wide fabric equal to your "skirt length." 

To sew your maxi dress:

Begin with the four bodice pieces. turn the top edge of each piece under 1/4", right sides together and zigzag stitch to finish.

Pin two bodice pieces, right sides together, along the finished top edge. 

Stitch using a .5" seam allowance. Press seam allowances open. Repeat with remaining two bodice pieces.

To gather the shoulders, lay a 1 yard piece of elastic underneath each seam allowance, on either side of the shoulder seam. Align the raw edge of the elastic with the edge of the bodice, and pin; baste in place. The elastic should be long enough to extend past the opposite edge of the bodice. 

Stitch close to the finished edge of the seam allowances to form casings.

Repeat these steps to create the elastic casings on the other bodice piece.

Now you will sew these two bodice pieces together, forming the neck opening. To do this, stack the bodice pieces right sides together, matching shoulder seams and the edges of the casings where you stitched down the elastic (not the edge with the elastic extending out of the casing). Pin along one edge perpendicular to the casings. This will be the center bodice seam. Use double pins to mark an area on either side of the casings to leave open, forming your v-neck in front and back. I recommend 6-7" for the back and 8-9" for the front. 

Baste the center bodice seam with a .5" seam allowance, leaving the neck opening you've marked off. Try on the bodice at this point and if you like the depth of the neck openings, stitch. Or adjust as necessary and then stitch. Iron the center seam open, pressing the raw edges of the neck opening out .5".

Turn the seam allowances on the center seam and neck opening under 1.4" towards the center seam and pin. 

Stitch close to the folded edge to finish.

Now we'll finish the bodice and create the arm openings. to do this, fold the bodice along the shoulder seams/casings,  right sides together, and pin the bodice along the raw edges (where the elastic is extending).

Use two pins to mark 9" down from the shoulder seam. You'll leave this area open for the arm opening. 

Stitch using a .5" seam allowance (or baste, try on to check depth of arm opening, adjust and then stitch).

Try on the bodice and pull the elastic to ruche the shoulder seams. I gathered the shoulders until they measured 7.5". Pin the elastic and baste it in place, holding the gathers, at the outer (raw) edges of the arm opening.

Press the side seams open and continue pressing the arm opening back .5".

Trim the extra elastic from the shoulder casings.

Similar to the center seam and neck opening, turn under the seam allowances along the side seams toward the seams, continuing around the arm openings, and stitch close to the folded edge of each seam allowance to finish.

Your finished bodice will look like this.

Now we'll sew the skirt by forming the front center seam.

Take your skirt fabric (the piece you cut your "skirt length" x the full width of your linen) and fold it in half parallel to the selvedge, right sides together, and stitch the selvedge edge with a .5" seam allowance. Press the seam open.

Finish this seam by folding the allowance under, as you did on the bodice, and stitch close to the folded edge. (or if you have a finished selvedge, which won't fray, you can skip the folding and just stitch 1/4" on either side of the center seam.

Now we'll join the skirt to the bodice, forming the elastic casings for the waist.

Turn the skirt inside out and insert the bodice inside the skirt, right sides together, with the raw bottom edge of the bodice aligned with the top raw edge of the skirt. Match the center seam of the skirt with the front center seam of the bodice. Pin.  

Stitch the waist seam using a 1.5" seam allowance.

Press the waist seam open. Turn under the edges of the seam allowances 1/8" and zigzag stitch to finish. Stitch along the finished edge of the seam allowances on either side of the waist seam to form elastic casings. Leave two inches open at one of the side seams for inserting the elastic.

Cut a piece of elastic the length of your waist measurement plus 4". Thread the elastic through both of the waist casings taking care not to lose either end inside the casing. Use large safety pins to secure the elastic.

Try on the dress and adjust the length of the elastic to your desired fit. Overlap the ends of the elastic and stitch to secure. Stitch the casings closed.

Turn the bottom edge of the dress under .5" and stitch. Turn again 3" and stitch to hem.

Slip into that maxi dress and enjoy!


Unknown said...

Lovely dress, thanks for sharing!

Anne said...

Beautiful!! I've got a Craft Gossip post scheduled for later today that links to your tutorial:

Ali said...

What a simple but elegant dress...just my style. Can't wait until the weather warms up down here in Oz so I can make it...I've got just the right piece of blue linen waiting! Thanks!

Unknown said...

First of all, YES to dresses! As much as possible all the time!
And this one is gorgeous Anneliese. You look beautiful, and the dress is fantastic!

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