Now that I’ve given you a little taste of this 3/4 inch sleeve maxi dress, I know you’re just dying to learn how to make one for yourself. So without any further ado, here is what you’ve all been waiting for… the tutorial! But again, before we can talk sewing we need to discuss measurements and pattern-making. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: don’t let this step scare you! If you’re a bit new to pattern-making just take it slow, be patient, and double check your measurements– you’ll do great! The measurements that you’ll need for this maxi dress are outlined in the diagram below:
Once you have all your measurements, you can start drafting your pattern. I used sewable tracing paper that I found on Amazon for $14.21 to make my patter on, but feel free to use whatever you have (crate paper, newspaper, muslin, etc). There are 3 pieces to the dress that you will make a pattern for: the top, the skirt, and the sleeves. Remember to add about a 1/2 inch to all of these measurements for seam allowance and an addition 1 inch to all hems.
To create the 3/4 length, gathered sleeve follow the pattern below. This pattern only depicts half of the sleeve so as you are cutting, be sure to place the long edge of the pattern (shoulder to elbow measurement) along the fold of your fabric. Before cutting, also make sure that the stretch in your fabric is lined up across the sleeve not down it. For the skirt part of the dress, simply take half of your waist measurement then draw an A-line to the bottom of the hem. The length of the skirt should be your “waist to hem” measurement plus 1 1/2 inches for the hem and seam allowance.
Now onto the sewing! With right sides together, pin and sew both shoulder seams. I like to reinforce my shoulder seams with a small piece of ribbon. This step is not absolutely necessary but it definitely gives the garment more durability. There is nothing worse then spending time making something to have it come apart after a couple of wears and washes. I’m tough on clothes….I have a two year old….so I add in reinforcement!
Before you attach the sleeves, you’ll want to create the gather in them first. You do this by first marking the middle of each sleeve. Since I added an extra 2 inches (remember the sleeve pattern was folded in half) I measured 2 inches out from the center on both sides and placed a pin to mark it. Then, sew a basting stitch from one outside pin to the other. Pull on the bottom string to gather the fabric until you no longer have the 2 extra inches. Top stitch over the gathered fabric to hold it in place, then attach the sleeves to the armholes. If you are unsure of how to do this, follow the method I use to constructed the “Slouchy Tee“.
For of the bottom of the dress, sew the side seams of the skirt together. I don’t like clothes to be super tight around my mid-section so I measured my waist a couple inches bigger, then added a thin elastic band around the middle to give the dress a nice belted look. If you feel it is easier, you can forgo the elastic waist and make your maxi dress all one piece. That is what’s so great about sewing your own clothes… you can customize the pattern to how you like it. If you choose to do the elastic waist, cut a piece that is several inches smaller than your actual waist measurement then sew the two ends together to create a band. With the right sides together, line up the bottom of the shirt with the top of the skirt and pin the elastic band around the waist. As you sew all three pieces together, pull the elastic flat.
At this point you should have what looks to be a maxi dress. Now simply finish off the neckline and hem the sleeves. To finish off the neckline, I used the neckband method. The tutorial for adding a neckband can be found HERE. To hem the sleeves and bottom of the dress I used my twin needle on my sewing machine. If you’re using a stretch fabric for this project, you’ll want to do the same.
Thank you for following along, and I wish you all the best of luck! I hope you found this tutorial to be helpful. Please comment below or email me if you have questions or need a little guidance…I’d be more than happy to help!