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—lisa g.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

knit maxi dress

someday i may win an award for super clever blog post titles. heh... or not.

ALL SUMMER all i wanted was a nice easy maxi dress. mcalls 6559 to be specific. it's just a simple tank dress, but i was forever set back by poor online fabric choices. the fabrics were fine, just to be clear, but i would order one and inevitably it was not right for this project... too thin, too stretchy or just not the right print for a garment that covers 90% of me.

then finally on a complete whim i ordered this giant granny floral from i heart them lots. seriously awesome and affordable fabrics over there. it was my last shot at finding the right fabric for the maxi i just needed to have.

fortunately the print was perfect! but again the fabric with the cream background was a bit thin and see through, so this time i decided to add a partial lining and call it a day. evidently finding solid cream colored lightweight knit is hard. and expensive. my shell fabric was $5/yd. my lining, $13/yd. grrrr..... whatevs.

i realize this is summer's end so most likely anyone who was going to make a knit maxi dress has already in fact done that. however, i also think this is a good transitional dress. i can easily layer it up with a jacket or add a sweater and belt.

so here's the nitty gritty...

this pattern has two lengths, so i cut the lining to the shorter length, sewed the shell and lining separately then layered them and attached the bindings. i cut the binding from the lining material so i would have a solid colored binding. the lining is slightly darker than the shell fabric, but close enough that i wasn't gonna sweat it.

i happened to notice the pattern layout for this and it instructs you to cut this on the cross grain. as in, having the stretch go up and down instead of side to side. whaaaaat? after a few minutes of that doesn't really make sense... i went with my gut and cut it on grain. lo and behold it worked out. i graded from a 6 up top out to a 12 at the hip and down and i am very happy with the fit. the neckline is a bit low and if i'm being picky i have a little bunching at my lower back. not sure there's really anything i could do about that, although i discovered a nifty swayback adjustment for this type of cut over on pattern-scissors-cloth (this is a long post on the topic, make sure you read all the way to the end!). i'll probably try that out next time. 

as always, i have to deviate from the directions somewhere and surprise surprise, i went my own way on the bindings. the pattern has you just turn the seam allowance twice and top stitch. not gonna happen. i cut off the seam allowances, cut strips of binding and serged them (on my widest setting, about 3/8") to the outside. then using the serged edge as a guide, simply turned the binding to the inside and topstitched it with my twin needle from the outside. worked like a charm! i may do a little write up on how to do this at some point, there is a knit wrap dress in my future i plan to revisit this technique on...

i love how this dress turned out. i'm pretty leery of any dress without a defined waist, but you just can't beat the ease and versatility of this look. you could easily knock this pattern out in an afternoon, or even use it to make a basic tank top—racer back or not (it has both options). heck, you can even put a giant star on your hip. i chose to do the racer back and solid colored bindings to contrast against the giant floral print. i feel like this combo is a little less expected. i've worn it several times and will definitely revisit this pattern. it even has a little tie cardigan pattern that i might make sometime. all in all this is a great little pattern to have in your stash!

—lisa g.


  1. I started on a shorter version of that dress and was having the same issues with bunching in the back, so I put it on hold til I decide what to do about it. Although mine looked worse, either sway back or I blame my butt. Yours turned out cute!

    1. thanks! if the pooling is really bad you might just put some darts in the back. there just isn't too much you can do to fix it otherwise.

  2. I LOVE this! I looked at that fabric too, but wasn't sure how it would translate into a garment. Looks amazing! Also, I wish I'd known about this pattern before I spent $$ on the Mission Maxi pattern! I really love that it has a non-racerback version. And I agree - this will be a good transitional piece. Awesome!

    1. so... i shouldn't mention that i picked up this pattern for $1 at joanns? ordering that fabric was a bit of a gamble, but the large scale print worked out perfectly! thanks!

    2. I figured as much - that's the only time I buy Big 4 patterns, for sure!

      I made a largish order from Girl Charlee's Labor Day sale last night. I love that shop!


i appreciate all the feedback, but will no longer be responding to comments left here. i have moved all my content to wordpress (see link at the top of the page!) and will now be posting there. all my posts can be found in my wordpress archive. thanks for reading and please visit my new page!