Edit: All Greenstyle Patterns are on sale for mothers day with the code LoveMom
Grab this one and all the others for 25% off until Sunday at Midnight! Here
Summer where I live is HOT. And I have KIDS. That means I need to be able to survive outdoors, for long periods of time, without melting or eating too much ice cream. Enter Maxi dresses- stylish without constricting, and cool enough for our scorching summers, especially in lightweight fabrics like ITY and Rayon Spandex.
If you’re not familiar with these fabric bases, let me give you a little background. Rayon spandex is a lightweight, thin knit with great recovery. Unlike its woven cousin, it isn’t shifty, but maintains the drape rayon is famous for. It tends to be a little sheer (unless its a heavier weight base), so it may need lining or a lose fit to avoid showing off what’s underneath (but hey, if that’s your goal, I’m not going to stop you). I’ve used it before for my Waterfall Raglan here.
Similar to rayon spandex, but with some unique characteristics that set it apart, ITY knit tends to be heavier weight, but has the benefit of not wrinkling (yay for vacation clothes!) and is a little easier to sew, since it’s not so thin. It also feels “cool” to the touch, and has great drape, much like a summer version of brushed poly.
So, as the temperature creeps up, I’ve been thinking about creating an army of maxis to help me last out the summer- and the new fabrics from Sly Fox, designed in collaboration with Jessica Hooley from the DIBY club, were perfect for this goal. I was sent samples of two of the new prints to play with: the “feathers” rayon spandex, and the “pink boho” in ITY.
You’ll have to wait a bit for me to showcase the feathers print (which is gorgeous!) since I used it for a pattern test that will release next week from Made for Mermaids.
While you’re waiting, let me introduce you to my incarnation of the pink boho ITY (referred to on their website as “tranquillity in vermillion”, but lets just call it pink boho, mkay?) : a Lille maxi dress from Greenstyle Creations, hacked to have a curved, gathered bodice. Making this dress took 10x longer than necessary, because I kept trying it on and gazing at the fabric in the mirror, mesmerized by the vivid colors and slinky feel.
In case you’re wondering, the colors really are this vibrant, and provide the perfect POP that matches the upcoming season. I can’t wait to get my hands on some of this in swim- I’m thinking for a suit like this. And, in case you’re not a fan of pink/red, this design is also available in several other colorways, including grey/black, aqua/blue and emerald.
Enough gushing about the fabric, lets talk about the pattern and the hack!
The Lille maxi from Greenstyle Creations is awesome in itself, sporting a shelf bra (which I made out of mesh to help keep myself cool, no one likes sweaty boobs, even the baby), a fitted bodice that flares out nicely over the tummy and hips, and bound neck and arm openings for a clean finish. I could easily make this dress/top over and over as is, but I decided to take advantage of the amazing drape of this fabric and create a gathered skirt hack. I also curved the front bodice up slightly, to emulate some ready to wear maxi dresses I’ve seen floating around the interwebs.
Want to make your own? Here’s a brief tutorial.
Trace the front and back of the Lille maxi pattern in top length, and hold the front of the pattern up to yourself. Identify where you want the bodice to end (I was going for an empire look, so this was about 8″ down from the low scoop front for me) and mark this point. If you want a curve, draw a gentle sloping curve that is highest at the center front point you identified, and tapers down toward the sides. If you don’t want a curve, you can just cut it straight across where you’d like the skirt to start, taking into account seam allowances (I like to use 3/8″, since that is easy for me on my serger and consistent with the pattern instructions).
Now, we need the back to match. Use the side seams to identify the same point on your back piece, and cut straight across (I did not curve this part). If you were going to be all technical about it, you would draw in seam allowances and the like, but I simply put the sides of the front and back together and marked- this was exact enough for me.
The final piece you need to cut is your skirt. Having made a few maxi skirts recently, I knew the length that I needed mine to hit. If you aren’t sure, its better to cut it too long than too short. Since its just a rectangle, you can adjust the length from the bottom later if needed.
Measure on your body from the point where you decided you wanted your skirt to start (empire or natural waist) to the floor, or where you want your skirt ot end. Add seam and hem allowances (3/8″ for seam allowance and 1″ for hem allowance is my preference). This will be the length of your skirt pattern pieces.
Now we need to decide how full you want your skirt to be. I cut two pieces at 25″ wide, for my size, which is the xxs. This allows for plenty of gathering while accommodating the fabric I had available (I was able to do this in 1.5 yards), but you could cut the pieces even wider if you want a fuller look. This will be your width measurement for the skirt. Cut two panels, width (with the stretch going across) by length.
Time to sew! Assemble your bodice according to the instructions, including the shelf bra if desired (I used stretch mesh from Joanns). I find it easier to bind the neck and arm before attaching the skirt, since its so full. After sewing and trying on the bodice, I decided to take in the sides about 1/2 inch each, but this is a personal preference.
Sew the side seams on your skirt, and then gather. Do this quickly and easily using your serger according to my video here. I highly recommend adding in clear elastic to your bodice/skirt seam (you can zig zag it onto the wrong side of the bodice or attach while serging) to help stabilize the weight of the skirt.
Bodice with clear elastic zig-zagged onto the wrong side:
Skirt panels sewn together and gathered:
Finally, sew your gathered skirt onto the bodice right sides together, turn up the hem, and you’re done!
If you don’t own the Lille yet, visit this Greenstyle Creations blog post for a coupon code (and another Lille hack!)- but hurry- coupon code expires 5/8/17! Note: The lille is nursing accessible for me, but just barely. Future versions will feature a lowered neckline- another 1-2 inches should be perfect!
Love these fabrics? They are on pre-order here until 5/17 for only $16.50/yard for ITY and Rayon Spandex Jersey, and $22/yard for swim. If you’re familiar with custom knits, you’ll know this is a great deal!
Note: this post contains affiliate links, which means that if you choose to purchase something from these links, a small part of your purchase goes toward that BLCS coverstitch I’ve been eyeing. Help a girl out!