Rectangle maxi dress

I don’t have much to wear in beautiful sunny weather with temperatures in the upper 80s to mid-90s but that’s the kind of summer we’ve been having for the last month so I was very inspired by Carolyn’s recent maxi skirt project. I planned to copy it. But when I started draping the fabric around my hips, I realized I had nothing to wear with a skirt like that, nor could I imagine anything suitable that I could make to wear with it. Hmmm, but 2½ yds of this fabric could be enough for a dress! Maxi dress even.
Side 6Side 2

Pattern details
Too lazy to trace a Burda pattern, I looked through Rhonda’s Fabulous Free Pattern Friday posts and found the perfect starting point: the draped neck top. Two rectangles, practically no neckline finishing… this would be my pattern. (Thank you, Rhonda!)

The finished length is 57½” from the shoulder. I am not entirely sure where my head was when I was calculating the width of the rectangles (21″ for the back and 25″ for the front) because that gave me a full 10″ of ease through the hips. You can see in some of the pictures how full the dress is. I shift most of the excess to the back when I wear it.
Side 3Side 7

To reduce the excess ease, I took in the sides an inch on each side (4″ total) from the armhole to the waist and tapering back to the original hip line. Next time, I think 4-5″ of ease would be plenty all the way down to the hem.

I added a short slit on the left side to ensure comfortable stride (no hobble skirts for me, thank you). It’s only about 12″ long, which is just right for this dress. With a slightly narrower dress, I may need a longer slit. We’ll see.

Last but not least, I added a belt. Just another rectangle, 4″ wide across the width of fabric, sewn with ⅜” seam allowances, turned and pressed.

This is a rayon challis from Fabric Mart. I had ordered 2½ yds, not really sure what I was going to make with it exactly. Mostly, I wanted to see if I would like working with it. It’s a little shifty, but otherwise easy to sew. And I really like how it drapes and feels almost floaty when I walk.

Viewed from the front or back, this isn’t my best sleeve shape even though it looks fine from other angles. I think my best bet is either sleeveless like a tank top or a longer sleeve to just above the elbow. Also, I shift the shoulder seams forward a little when I wear it because I prefer a deeper neckline so then the dress looks a little shorter in the back. Not really noticeable while I’m moving, but you can see it in the side view picture.

Front viewBack viewSide 1

This was a great learning project – I learned to work with a new fabric, found out I love how it feels and looks, and figured out my preferences in maxi dresses. And as always, what I had intended to be a faithful copy looks nothing like the original but it is definitely me.

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8 responses to “Rectangle maxi dress

  1. Pekné šaty, páči sa mi vzor látky, ale v tej vrchnej časti je tej látky nejako moc veľa.
    Aha, čo som našla o maxi šatách: – podľa mňa je jedna z najlepších vecí na lete možnosť odhaliť kožu. Tak keď už dlhá sukňa, potom k nej majú byť holé ramená. Ňe?

  2. If you wanted to change the look at the sleeve, you could play with elastic and see if some ruching along the shoulder seam would please you more.
    or if you wanted to add length at the end of the sleeve you could try adding a black rectangle – even make a knitted edging.
    Also, have you thought about using a dart to get some shaping over the shoulder to the end of the sleeve cap?
    Beautiful fabric – both color and pattern design – and I love the overall look. (The sleeves don’t bother me, I was just reacting to what you wrote about them.) Enjoy wearing that dress for a long time. I hope it helps you enjoy the warm weather.

  3. You look great in this long dress. Nicely done, Alex

  4. I like the fabric choice a lot – great for a maxi! And you have the most amazing posture. I swear I sit up a little straighter after I see your photos! 😀

  5. Ladies, thank you very much for the compliments.

    Lulu, thank you for the link – lots of eye candy there and some neat tips.

    Miriam, thank you for the suggestions. I might try the dart idea, either on this dress or on a future project.

    June, that posture is the result of growing up with two ballroom dancers for parents. Slouching was not allowed. 🙂

  6. Thanks so much for giving the pattern a try. It really looks great on you and I am even happier that you tweaked it for your own personal style. That’s what I always hope that everyone will do!!

  7. Alexandra, you look lovely and oh so comfortable in the heat in your new dress. The colors are so pretty on you. Thanks for sharing your thought and construction processes. I hope you enjoy wearing it. P.S. A commenter suggested rushing the shoulder seams to bring up the “cap” sleeve; I like that idea and will keep that in mind.

  8. Wow, you look so good in that dress. On the other hand, you always do 😉

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